Experience Mindanao’s Halal Cuisine and Cultural Diversity
Manila, Philippines- In a bid to further showcase Mindanao as a destination that’s able to offer a multi-dimensional tourism experience, the Department of Tourism gathered members of the diplomatic corps and a few members of the international community to experience the region’s halal cuisine and culture on Tuesday (Nov. 22) at Dusit Thani Manila, Makati.
Titled “Bismillah: An Evening of Faith, Love, and the Flavors of Mindanao”, the DOT-hosted event was a celebration of vibrant cultural unity and gastronomic richness of the region. The initiative is a continuation of Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco’s push to totally reopen Mindanao to tourism which she cited as a priority of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. originally of his administration last 12 months. In accordance with Secretary Frasco, efforts of the Department of Tourism towards constructing confidence within the region and raising awareness on the steadiness of the safety situation would also aid in urging certain countries to upgrade or lift existing travel restrictions.
To recall, in May of this 12 months, Secretary Frasco led the signing of a DOT agreement with the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), to work together to advertise the region as a peaceful and viable destination for domestic and international travelers.
“Beyond partaking of the delectable halal meals, this evening of religion, love, and the flavors of Mindanao is the beginning of something recent that’s opening your eyes, your palate to the probabilities which are countless within the promise that’s Mindanao. As our President has said, Mindanao is the land of promise to be fulfilled,” Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said in her speech.
The highlight of the event was the unraveling of the intricate and diverse halal cuisine of Mindanao to a global audience. Esteemed ambassadors, dignitaries, and officials from different foreign embassies within the Philippines were present to experience the flavor-filled odyssey through the colourful tastes of the Mindanao Islands’ cuisines with the final word intention to spread the invitation to their countrymen to return and visit Mindanao.
Inviting tourists to reconsider their perception of Mindanao, Secretary Frasco enthusiastically encouraged travelers, each local and international, to explore this vibrant island.
“Within the pursuit of reinforcing the country’s image as a halal-friendly destination the Department of Tourism has pursued various programs and projects began within the previous administration and continued under our President’s administration. Other recent initiatives which have manifested the commitment of the Marcos administration to totally reopen Mindanao to tourism is the milestone agreement that we signed with the Department of National Defense and the Department of Interior and Local Government to be certain that the reopening of Mindanao to tourism is firmly based on a data-based approach by way of the very stable peace and order situation of the Mindanao regions,” she said.
DOT Undersecretary Myra Paz Abubakar, whose DOT Office on Muslim Affairs organized the event, prolonged her heartfelt gratitude to all attendees, emphasizing the importance of cultural exchange and appreciation in fostering a more interconnected global community.
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police Chief of Security Operations Division Coronel Crisaleo Tolentino provided a glimpse of the present safety environment that the Mindanao regions enjoy.
“The issuance of EO 70 (creation of NTF-ELCAC) and its implementation in Mindanao Island institutionalized the whole-of-nation approach in achieving sustainable peace in Mindanao,” PCol. Tolentino stressed.
“For our ways forward, we are going to sustain the present efforts, especially tourist police deployment in identified areas with heavy tourist density, increase capability of tourist police units on scales and resources in partnership with the Department of Tourism, strengthen partnerships with tourism stakeholders to enhance their services, and lastly conduct oversight activities to enhance existing policies and methods,” the police officer said.
Treating guests with Gustatory Delights
While the event was formally opened by Chef Jam Melchor, revered because the founding father of the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement and a visionary behind the Filipino Food Month, the centerpiece of the evening was the specially curated halal degustation crafted by renowned Muslim Chefs akin to Datu Shariff Pendatun II and Miguel Cabel Moreno. These culinary experts crafted an exquisite spread that tantalize taste buds while serving as a gateway to understanding the nuances and depth of Mindanawon cuisine.
Exquisitely and methodically served on the dinner tables was a rundown of Kinilaw (scallops, sea urchin and Spanish Mackerel in Three Lime Dressing) from Muslim Mindanao, Pisawawan a Sapi (Beef Shoulder, Turmeric, Chili, and Cassia Leaf Broth, Roasted Bone Marrow) from Lanao, Piyanggang Manuk (Grilled Free Range Chicken, Burnt Coconut Sauce) from Sulu, Dinilutan a Seda (Grilled Swordfish, Coconut and Lime Dressing) from Maguindanao, and Piyaren a Udang (Prawn, Coconut Meat Saute, Palapa Scallion Relish) from Lanao. These skillfully arranged delicacies are partnered with alternative Davao, Tausug and Pandan rice.
The luxurious pageantry of food was ended with a pleasant serving of Mindanao Bounty, a dessert concocted from Malagos Dark Chocolate, Coconut Milk, Durian Ice Cream, Saba Banana Compote, Mango Compote, Dehydrated Pineapple and Coconut Dacqoise.
The dinner transcended gastronomic delight; it was an immersive experience designed to acquaint guests with the multifaceted features of the southern Philippines food. Throughout the event, this system guided attendees through an exploration of notable tourism locations across the five (5) Mindanao Regions and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The event was graced by various ambassadors to the Philippines namely Brunei Ambassador H.E. Megawati Manan, Malaysian Ambassador H.E. Dato Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino, Netherlands Ambassador H.E. Marielle Geraedts, Russian Ambassador H.E. Marat Pavlov, Pakistani Ambassador H.E. Imtiaz Ahmad Kazi, UAE Ambassador H.E. Mohamed Obaid Alqataam Alzaabi, Egypt Ambassador H.E. Ahmed Shehabeldin Ibrahim, in addition to representatives from foreign embassies: Peace and Program Officer Johnson Badawi of the British Embassy, Deputy Head of Mission Mathias Kruse of the German Embassy, Japan Information and Culture Center Director Shigehiro Matsuda and Japan Information and Culture Center Press Officer Rintaro Shigeyoshi, A.H. Consulate of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Consul Michael Alexander Ang, Second Secretary Hasan Mehanna Al-Ajmi of the Qatar Embassy, Public Relations Specialist Awab Elahmar of the Qatar Embassy, Second Secretary Amanda Cheah of the Singapore Embassy, Cultural and Tourism Affairs Officer-in-Charge Witsarut Piyavongsomboon of the Royal Thai Embassy, and JUSMAG Training Programs Chief Major Khoa Tang of the Embassy of america of America.
The DOT considers the event as a testament to cultural harmony, exemplifying the fantastic thing about diversity through the universal language of food.
Because the Secretary aptly said at the top of her message, “May this experience be as savory because it is memorable, and most of all, may the culinary delights of Mindanao that mirror that region’s diverse, vibrant, and brimming with heritage, encourage all of you to entice your fellowmen to go to Mindanao and to savor Muslim Mindanao’s varied tourism offerings. May the quantity of affection poured into the Halal Mindanao Cuisines this evening, as demonstrated by our Mindanaoan chefs’ masterful artistry, show you more reasons to Love the Philippines.”