“We should really start to look at our indigenous heritage cuisine, not because we eat them but because we really have to be proud of them. It is our heritage, it has to be given a chance," said Marie Venus Tan, chief operating officer of TPB-Department of Tourism, during the opening of the "Mangan taku" (Let us eat) food fair.
“Tourism is all about story telling. Tourism is all about immersion and experience. They don’t just go to beautiful places. Tourism should be sensory, you feel it, you see it, and most importantly you taste it. Food is the center of our culture, we must give it a chance," Tan said.
She said tourism has evolved to tourists wanting to be part of the place and to be immersed, saying "people want to experience everything."
Tan said coming up with the "Mangan Taku" event and bringing the indigenous food of the various provinces to the region's center will promote the destinations and entice tourists to visit the Cordillera.
She said the event was the first food fair in Cordillera that aims to promote its cultural heritage cuisine for tourism.
“Mangan Taku literally means let’s eat. But more than an invitation to partake of the food is a social call and a greeting,” said Jovita Ganongan, officer-in-charge of the DOT-Cordillera.
The food fair was participated in by Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province having their own booths to showcase their original cuisine or presented with a twist.
Meanwhile, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Marie Rafael, said on the sidelines of the opening of the food fair, "when we promote our food, our dances, we are promoting our culture."
She also said the event is participatory when the young people, old ones, and various offices joining hands and getting involved in an event that is geared toward one goal.
"For all of these things we’ve seen the younger generation, the older generation perform and take part, business people take part in promoting tourism and of course promoting a culture, promoting our local products. This is something worth congratulating, participatory and very, very innovative and very inclusive," Rafael said.
Rafael, who represents the department in the subcommittee for culture and the arts, lauded the region for coming up with the event.
"I'm so grateful for this event especially that it is first of its kind for the whole region and of course I congratulate the Department of Tourism, the City of Baguio, the Department of Agriculture for coming up with such an activity," she said.
"It’s a variety of everything about the Cordillera so even from pizzas to 'pinuneg' (blood sausage) and everything. Everything is just here -- pizza, pastries and all kinds of things, a fusion of a lot of things that’s Cordilleran that it is so good that people are discovering, rediscovering the things that they can innovate to come up with something to promote our culture and of course the Cordilleras," she added.
She hoped that the next 'Mangan taku' food fair will be brought to other provinces of the region.
"Yes, we sit in the subcommittee for the culture and the arts with NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts), the Department of Tourism and other agencies. This is a good event and this is one of the things that we are trying to conceptualize other than the festivals, simple but meaningful," Rafael said.
The Mangan Taku food fair opened on April 8 and will last until April 14. (With reports from Hasreel Sandee Gano, OJT/PNA)
By Liza Agoot