In line with the directive of President and concurrent Department of Agriculture  (DA) Secretary Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to address hunger and make nutritious food available for every Filipino, the DA spearheads this year’s celebration of the Filipino Food Month (FFM)— also called Buwan ng Kalutong Pilipino —in collaboration with the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement (PCHM), the Department of Tourism (DOT), and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA),  to preserve, enrich, and promote Filipino cuisine as part of the nation’s cultural heritage, history, and identity.
“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 sector involved in food production, the culinary industry, and national food security,” said President Marcos.
This year, with the theme, “Pagkaing Sariling Atin, Mahalin at Pagyamanin,” the FFM kicked off with a media launch today, March 21, 2023 at the Manila Metropolitan Theater. The month of April will also be packed with conferences, cooking shows, concerts, and other events all over the country. Representatives from the national and local government, diplomatic corps, academe, civil society groups, and the private sector are expected to take part in the FFM events.
According to the PCHM, Filipino food is often referred to as one of the world’s earliest fusion cuisines, having its ancestral cooking influenced mostly by the surrounding environment of people’s settlements and early foreign visitors such as the Mexicans from the galleon trade period and the Muslims from neighboring countries.
PCHM adds that Filipino cuisine has complex and distinct flavors—mostly a combination of salty, sour, sweet, and bitter, although spicy dishes are also highly concentrated in Bicol and in the Muslim areas of Mindanao. Majority of its dishes are also best served as viands with rice—the country’s major food staple—and dipping sauces and condiments such as buro (fermented rice and fish), bagoong (fermented salted fish or shrimp), and suka (vinegar).
As one of the world’s largest archipelagic countries, the Philippines boasts of a cuisine that is “local, regional, seasonal, and being influenced by a number of different foreign cuisines” as described by the PCHM.
Dishes vary from one region to another, province to province depending on the local ingredients available in the area. Notable Filipino dishes that were recently featured in the FFM Facebook page include Camarines Norte’s crispy pili nuts, Bicol’s sili (hot chili-flavored) ice cream, Catanduanes’ stir-fried bagisara (river clams), Masbate’s pinakro (saba banana stewed in sweetened coconut milk), and the world-famous adobo, which was also featured in a Google Doodle last March 15, 2023.
The FFM also sheds light on the State’s support to the Philippine agriculture sector, aiming to achieve food security and accessibility “through appropriate technology and research, and adequate financial, production, marketing, and other support services” as mandated by the 1987 Constitution. ### (Krystelle Ymari Vergara, DA-AFID)