A dedicated Forum will provide an opportunity to discover and taste the flavors of the Cordillera, with a focus on Benguet and Ifugao Provinces.
On August 9, the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (of the UN FAO), Slow Food, and the Department of Tourism in the Philippines will participate in WOFEX (World Food Expo Philippines – the largest and best export-oriented food show in the country) to launch the “Food and Tourism for Mountain Development” pilot project* with a focus on local products and gastronomy of the Benguet and Ifugao areas, where the project works directly with family farmers and artisan producers to promote agrobiodiversity and agroecological food systems to improve the livelihoods of mountain communities.
The Forum “Sustainable Food and Tourism in the Cordillera” will take place at 2 p.m. at the WOFEX Function Rooms 1 – 5, 2nd Floor SMX Convention Centre Manila. During the event, two mountain products of the Cordillera will be presented:
- Itogon Arabica Coffee: It has been cultivated for over 80 years, mainly by local indigenous Igorot people in their backyards. But when typhoon Ompong hit in 2018, deadly landslides lead to the closing of the Itogon mines and the locals lost their main source of income. Through the Henry & Sons initiative, the local farmers have been encouraged to cultivate Arabica for the national market, and this is transforming Itogon from a mining community into a sustainable coffee-growing community. Fifty women and four men from Itogon are organized in the Saddle Hartwell Lumbag Coffee Growers Association (SHALCOGA) to grow and process the coffee correctly.
- Ulikan Red Rice: It is an heirloom variety cultivated by women farmers in the rice terraces of the Pasil River Valley, Kalinga. Due to the versatility and adaptability of Ulikan red to the elevated rice terraces, it has become a popular source of food for the barangay of Pasil. Strongly linked to local culture, the rice is often given as a gift to newlyweds as a sign of prosperity and food security. The importance of Ulikan red rice has been passed orally from generation to generation. One legend states that when the great leader Likan of the Taguibong tribes went missing after a hunt, this rice variety grew from his remains. The tribe brought the seeds home and planted them in remembrance of their leader. It was said that the color red was a sign from Likan that he was happy that his descendants had honored him. The name “ulikan” means that Likan will live on, as long as the rice does.
These two products have been identified as an expression of the area’s biodiversity, and they will be included in the project. Slow Food will start to work with local producers in order to support these two Ark of Taste products. During the Forum, the Heirloom Recipes of the Cordillera cookbook will be presented as well: The cookbook gathers recipes from people’s daily lives and reflects the indigenous cultural heritage of the Cordillera peoples as embodied in their diverse food cultures.
Among the speakers will be Federico Mattei (Slow Food), Pacita Juan (Slow Food International Councillor for South East Asia), Jovita A Ganongan (Officer in Charge, DoT CAR), Jill Carino (Project Leader of Heirloom Recipes of the Cordillera cookbook), Ms. Elma M Serna (President of SHALCOGA), Michael Harris (from Henry and Sons), Rowena Gonnay (co-ordinator of Ulikan Red Rice growers), and Lam-en Gonnay (from Rice Terraces Farmers Co-operative Kalinga).
After the event, Chef Charlynne and Laarni Andam of Green Pepper, and Mr Kalugdan of Ibulao-Ibulao B&B Kiangan, will present various Cordillera heritage gastronomy dishes. The products, recipes, and tastes of the Benguet and Ifugao Provinces of the Cordillera are a powerful testament to the hard work that communities dedicate to producing good food and consuming it in a framework of conviviality and pleasure.
* The “Food and Tourism for Mountain Development” pilot project developed by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (hosted by UN FAO), Slow Food, and the Department of Tourism in the Philippines will help identify high-quality products (such as Itogon coffee), enlist them in the voluntary labelling scheme for mountain products, train small-scale producers in agroecological and Slow Food practices, and support them to market their products by connecting them to tourism service providers, chefs, and specialized food businesses and outlets across the country.
For further information:
Slow Food Press Office: Giulia Capaldi – [email protected]
Department of Tourism – CAR: Sylvia Chinayog – [email protected]