Eating has always been my favorite preoccupation, so it was a most pleasant surprise when an invitation landed on my desk, to join the launch of the Department of Tourism’s "Kaon Ta Food and Travel Festival" in Davao. And because I haven’t been to that city for quite some time, I grabbed the opportunity and found myself on my way there in no time.
As our Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat correctly puts it, the most common greeting we, Filipinos, give our visitors is the invitation “let’s eat” (kaon ta, for Cebuanos like me, or kain tayo, in Tagalog). It is but fitting for a festival that promotes our culinary tourism to be labelled this way, further bolstering the country’s reputation as one of the world’s gastronomy hubs.
With the support of Ayala Malls, the festival was launched at Davao’s Abreeza Mall, the first Ayala Mall in Mindanao, with over 300 stores which include a
wide array of retail choices with popular local and foreign brands. The mall’s activity area was transformed into a big buffet section, offering delicious local culinary specialties, highlighted by a beautiful, towering art installation centerpiece made of indigenous materials.
The Tourism secretary launched “Kaon Ta” to promote the Philippine culinary culture and tradition, capitalizing on the richly diverse authentic cuisine in the different regions of the country which can easily become attractive culinary destinations.
Through this festival, the Department of Tourism not only conveys an invitation for local and foreign visitors to sample local dishes but also showcases our Filipino brand of friendliness and hospitality. Food will always be a top-of-mind consideration in the different places tourists visit, as proven by statistics showing that food comprises a third of total tourist expenditures while in the country.
The Tourism chief explained that this event launched in Davao is actually part of a series, all in partnership with Ayala Malls, which aims to promote distinct regional Filipino cuisine as tourism destinations. Two simultaneous events were launched in Legazpi City and Cebu City in October, while the launch in Cagayan de Oro was done in November.
The Davao event was done simultaneously with Pampanga and Laguna, after which the roadshow will be brought to Bacolod. Other regions will also have their turn.
Secretary Romulo-Puyat said this series of events also showcases the skill, talent, and creativity of our local chefs, many of them world-renowned; and inspires budding culinary artisans to strengthen our position as a gastronomy hub.
During the Davao launch, the Tourism secretary thanked President Rodrigo Duterte, who also graced the event, for being a staunch ally in her advocacy to promote our food products and help our farmers.
Each of these events allows exhibitors, which include hotels and restaurants, farm resorts, agro-industry groups, eco-farm adventure parks, transport operators, and the academe, to showcase whatever products they may want to put the spotlight on. The Tourism offices in each of the regions also present specialty food products, coffee, vegetables, juices, handicrafts, and culinary tour packages for visitors to avail of.
Secretary Romulo-Puyat encourages everyone to gather family and friends alike for a trip around the country, to rediscover its beauty and diversity through a gastronomic journey. After all, food trip, as we Filipinos love to say, is definitely “more fun in the Philippines!”
Entry to this nationwide food and travel festival is always free of charge to the visitor, who is the lucky beneficiary of this Department of Tourism initiative because every region tries to show off their best culinary delights. So, let’s start the New Year right by savoring the precious delicacies our country has to offer. Tara na, kaon ta?
For feedback, I’m at [email protected]YOUR weekend CHUCKLE
A Mexican magician tells his audience he will disappear on the count of three! He says, “Uno...Dos...*Poof*” He disappeared without a Tres.
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