Iloilo is the food haven of the Philippines

Published November 25, 2021, 6:23 AM

by Tara Yap

Iloilo has always been known for its culinary wonders, and is now on its way to becoming officially recognized as the hotspot of diverse ingredients in the country thanks to a recently passed resolution

Photos by the author

MEETING FOR THE FUTURE OF FOOD Iloilo City’s vice mayor, councilor, and Chef Tibong

As Iloilo is gaining ground in the country’s culinary map, it is only fitting that the Iloilo City Council has formally declared the city and province of Iloilo as “The Food Haven of the Philippines.”

“This is not just a dream anymore,” says Rafael Jardeleza Jr., more fondly known as Chef Tibong.

The long-time advocacy of the chef and restaurateur has finally become a reality with the Nov. 9, resolution.

For the Iloilo City Council, the declaration means that Iloilo has a “unique way of capturing the taste buds and the stomach of the locals and while continuing to give a meaningful and extraordinary experience of Ilonggo cooking.”

ILONGGO SPECIAL Batchoy

And that’s precisely why there’s more to Iloilo than the ubiquitous soup-based dishes of La Paz batchoy and the pancit Molo. 

The declaration means that Iloilo has a ‘unique way of capturing the taste buds and the stomach of the locals and while continuing to give a meaningful and extraordinary experience of Ilonggo cooking.’

There’s the KBL, the acronym for the soup-based dish of kadyos, baboy, and langka (pigeon peas, pork, and jackfruit), which has another key ingredient of batuan, a sour tropical fruit endemic in Panay Island.

Then there’s also the rustic laswa, another soup-based dish made out of a variety of vegetables such as squash, okra, eggplant, patola, and tomato.

Iloilo City Councilor Rudolph Jeffrey Ganzon, the principal proponent of the resolution and a culinary enthusiast himself, explains that the declaration is long overdue. 

The “Food Haven of the Philippines” declaration is also timely as Iloilo City is vying for the Creative City of Gastronomy title from the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN).

For Ganzon, the declaration can also pave way for the realization of a sustainable tourism development that can help pump up Iloilo’s economy that has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another key aspect of the Iloilo City Council’s declaration is recognizing Chef Tibong’s long-time advocacy in promoting Ilonggo cuisine.

“This isn’t about me. This is about Ilonggos and our heritage cuisine.  I want others to continue advocating our cuisine,” says Chef Tibong.

The Iloilo City Council’s declaration will formally be presented during the 8th Tabu-an: the Ilonggo and Western Visayas Heritage Cooking Competition on Nov. 26 at SM City Iloilo.

 
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