‘Boost PHL food culture, fight food insecurity’


THE recent pandemic and shortages in vital food ingredients have put more focus on the importance of Filipino food and its production.

In a speech to celebrate the launch of Filipino Food Month (FFM), Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement (PCHM) founder, Chef Jose Antonio Miguel “Jam” Melchor, said, “More than ever, food isn’t just a matter of consumption, but also of production. More people are asking questions about the ethical aspects of eating: ‘How is my food grown? How does it affect the environment? How does my food affect my body? How does it affect my financial capabilities? Thankfully these challenging times have led Filipinos to adopt  the spirit of bayanihan. Organizations and individuals are setting up food-rescue initiatives,  hosting discussions on the economics and socioanthropological elements of gastronomy, advocating for the importance of going and growing local, as well as cooking with both a respect for tradition and push for innovation.”

He likewise underscored the “unique opportunity to build a stronger and better food system to address several systemic issues, and to ensure that everyone has access to good, clean, and fair food. It is a must for all of us to work together in preserving the Filipino food culture to fight food insecurity. Food will always be an essential part of our culture and identity as Filipinos. We must celebrate this uniqueness as it conveys the story of the country and unites the spirits of the Filipino people.”

The determination of April as Filipino Food Month, or “Buwan ng Kalutong Pilipino,” was made by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte through Presidential Proclamation No. 469 signed on April 13, 2018. The presidential directive, for which the PCHM had actively lobbied, also designated the Department of Agriculture and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) as lead agencies for the celebration, working closely with the Department of Tourism in the implementation of their respective programs and projects for the month.

FFM was recently launched at the Metropolitan Theater, with the theme “Pagkaing Sariling Atin, Mahalin at Pagyamanin.” Melchor said the national celebration “aims to appreciate, preserve, promote, and ensure the transmission of the vast Filipino culinary traditions and treasures

to the future generations.” FFM is also poised to support various industries, farmers, and agri-communities.

Among the most globally-popular Filipino dishes is the Adobo, which was celebrated in a Google doodle just last March 15.

Meanwhile, Melchor said he hoped, “We are able to someday host tourists from across the world in a huge Filipino food festival, wherein foreign nationals can enjoy the rich, diverse flavors of the Filipino cuisine.”

By observing the FFM national celebration each year, he added,  “a more in-depth research, attention and appreciation will be given to Filipino food culture, culinary heritage, and gastronomy.”

In a video message, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said of the FFM, “Aside from highlighting our rich culinary tradition, may this event provide a platform to acknowledge the role of our local communities especially our farmers, fisherfolk, and other sectors involved in food production, the culinary industry, and national food security.” Marcos Jr. is also the concurrent Agriculture Secretary, but has overseen the importation of vital commodities like sugar and onions to temper the rise in their retail prices.

Several events have been slated for the celebration of FFM including KAINCON, a Filipino food conference (April 3-5); Ang Sarap! Philippine Food Festival (April 21-23 at the SM Megatrade Hall);  Hapag ng Pamana FFM concert (April 16, 2023 at Rizal Park Open Air Auditorium), in partnership with the National Parks Development Committee; and Hapag ng Pamana food fairs (Laoag on April 18-19, Samar on April 24-27, and South Cotabato on April 28-30) in partnership with select local government units.

Click https://bit.ly/42xIVC0 for the full calendar of activities in Metro  Manila, regions, and international locations.