Last year, Presidential Proclamation no. 469 was signed, declaring April as the official Buwan ng Kalutong Pilipino or Filipino Food Month. The month-long celebration aims to honor our native food, and it debuts this year. While the concept may be similar to Buwan ng Wika, it is still something very new to us Filipinos, that’s why the occasion needs to be discussed.
Three years ago, the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement (PCHM) lobbied to the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Commision for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), requesting Malacañang to have every April as Filipino Food Month. The Presidential action took only 20 months since the first draft, and on April 13, 2018, the Presidential directive became official.
President of PCHM, chef Jam Melchor, explained, “Just like our beautiful old songs, antique houses, and folk dances, our long-standing culinary traditions need to be served as well, especially since many of our heirloom food products and practices are slowly disappearing in the face of globalization of food culture. That is our stand.”
Filipino Food Month is commemorated to promote, preserve, and ensure the transmission of the vast culinary traditions and treasures of our country for future generations, as well as to support those who produce our food from the various industries, like farmers and agri-communities.
The launching of the first ever Filipino Food Month took place just last March 27, at the Manila Hotel, Café Ilang-Ilang Atrium. The venue was chosen for being one of the few heritage spots offering quality Filipino fare.
“Filipinos love their food. I believe there are two reasons why. The food itself and how they enjoy eating with other people. How food plays such an integral part in bringing the whole family together is something that I’ve been privileged to experience being born in a Kapampangan family kitchen,” chef Mechor shared.
Realizing the need to educate and inform Filipinos of the potential of Philippine gastronomy, he also stated, “I personally think there are a lot of work to be done to encourage our countrymen to learn about, appreciate, and honor our culinary traditions as a strong pillar of our national cultural identity. But I am hoping that this national celebration will jumpstart more in-depth research and discussion about our local food culture and gastronomy.”
Chef Melchor adds, “Afterall, Filipino food is never just a pantawid gutom. Never. It is our soul, it is our identity. May this national celebration be a reminder to every Filipino that we should value our food and thank the hands of our farmers and fishermen folks that feed us everyday.”
He ends his message, saying, “The Philippines has all the right ingredients to become a truly international gastronomic destination so long as we can cultivate the home-grown cultural appetite. Global tastebuds will soon to follow. Naway mahalin natin ang ating sariling pagkain, sa isip, sa salita, at sa gawa.”
Government agency for arts and culture, NCCA in collaboration with the DA, PCHM, are spearheading the first ever 30-day food festivity with a series of activities themed Ang Sarap: Piyesta ng Pagkaing Pilipino. (source: www.mbites.ph)