Opening Ceremony of Hapag ng Pamana in Antique

April 28, 2024

Mayad nga aga ka ninyo nga tanan.  I am elated to be able to speak before my fellow Kasimanwa as we celebrate Filipino Food Month. Antique is still truly a place I call home.

Food is pamana. It is our rich cultural heritage.  Food sustains us, identifies us, and connects us as a nation.  Everytime I miss Antique, only a bite of bukayo and butung-butung and I am transported back to the province and connected to the generations of Antiqueños who have created recipes, cooked native ingredients, and shared meals in their homes, in banquets and fiestas.

As you know, I have a passion for heritage conservation, sustainable agriculture, and regenerative food systems, and for empowering our farmers and fisherfolk.

This is because I recognize that throughout history, food and culture are inseparable, influencing our homes, our communities, and our nation.  The cultivation, preparation, and partaking of food are intricately interwoven with our cultural identity, our traditions, our values, and even our stewardship of nature.

I have filed Senate Bill 244 or the Philippine Culinary Heritage Act of 2022.  This bill hopes to promote Filipino culinary practices in the education system and preserve our native ingredients and cooking methods through food heritage mapping.

Here in Antique, we have indigenous ingredients like batwan,  alupidan leaves,  and lupo-lupo.  We also have the exquisite nilaga nga tatus and banag. These dishes are uniquely ours, and they carry the traditions of the Antiqueños. These are a few of the many cooking traditions that Senate Bill 244 hopes to preserve and promote.  If we are able to discover, map out, protect and promote these recipes, the heirloom seeds, native varieties, or ancient breeds, we might be able to support the resilience of our food system as well as the small-scale producers who are the key actors in protecting food heritage.

I am glad to support the Slow Food Biodiversity and Cultural Mapping of the Provinces of Aklan, Cebu, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and our home province of Antique. There are more than 100 listed products across the whole province of Antique, 34 of which are for nomination to the Ark of Taste Catalogue such as the Sapal and Bandi Mani. The Ark of Taste aims to preserve these unique products that are in danger of disappearing. We safeguard these products by recognizing and keeping them on our plates.

Lastly, I also filed the Zero Food Waste Act bill confronting the rising issue of food waste.   Tragically, we are rich in food resources, and yet millions of Filipinos are hungry.  A third of all food produced is wasted. Filipinos waste up to 308,000 tons of rice per year. And it’s not just the food we are wasting, but all the resources used to grow that food. If food waste were a country, it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases.  The Zero Food Waste Act intends to promote food waste reduction through redistribution and recycling.

The way we produce and consume our food has an enormous impact on the world around us. Changing the way we eat, protecting food biodiversity, promoting our culinary heritage, and supporting our small-scale producers, should be the path we take towards better food systems.

Duro duro gid nga salamat. Isang luntiang Pilipinas sa ating lahat!