Food and Leisure

DOT throws support to Iloilo gov’t’s bid for ‘Creative City of Gastronomy’ tag from UNESCO

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
DOT throws support to Iloilo govâtâs bid for âCreative City of Gastronomyâ tag from UNESCO
This composite photo shows Pancit molo, a traditional dumpling soup and La Paz Batchoy, a prominent noodle soup dish.

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism on Saturday backed the bid of the Iloilo City government to be designated a Creative City of Gastronomy by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Creative Cities Network 2021. 

Created in 2004, UNESCO Creative Cities Network seeks “to promote and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.” There are seven creative fields namely crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts, and music.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said it is high time for Iloilo to become recognized by UNESCO as she describes the city as a “gastronomic hotspot.”

“Iloilo, as a gastronomic hotspot, offers two of the country’s well-loved dishes--the La Paz Batchoy and Pancit Molo. We are giving our full support to Iloilo for this initiative. We believe that it is high time for the city to join the prestigious UNESCO-recognized cities, especially now that we are exploring strategies to hasten the revival of the sector,” Puyat said.

La Paz Batchoy, a prominent noodle soup dish from La Paz, Iloilo City, composed of savory meat stock, pork organs, and chicharon, among others.
Pancit Molo, a traditional dumpling soup that originated in Molo, Iloilo City

At present, there are only 36 Cities of Gastronomy all over the world.

If selected, Iloilo will be the first Philippine city to make it to the list.

The country has only two UNESCO Creative cities. These are the cities of Baguio and Cebu, which were hailed as UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art in 2017 and UNESCO Creative City of Design in 2019, respectively.

Food events

To back Iloilo’s bid, the DOT Western Visayas provided assistance to the Megaworld Museums and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) for a three-pronged program focusing on Ilonggo heirloom dishes called “Timplada: The Art of Ilonggo Cuisine.” 

There would be a series of virtual educational programs titled “Merienda Talks” from August to December 2021 to provide a more profound knowledge of Ilonggo ingredients and cooking.  

Here’s a rundown of the upcoming gastronomic events:

  • Opening of the Timplada exhibition - August 21,
  • Ark of Taste Talk by Reena Gamboa that highlights food and tourism for rural development in Western Visayas - August 28;
  • Pangyam-is Talk by Gilbert Marin (component of the Western Visayas Sugar Trail) – October 9. 

Meanwhile, the art exhibition will tell Ilonggo food stories through the eyes of ten Iloilo-based artists and in collaboration with ten local food establishments.

The art pieces will be showcased at the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art (ILOMOCA) on August 21. 

The DOT said an Ilonggo food map will also be drawn and printed for both local and international audiences to highlight the food trail.  

Puyat said the Western Visayas Office’s initiative for Iloilo would help spur culinary as a tourism product.

“We are hoping that through the activities lined up for this bid, we will get the nod of the UN organization,” the tourism chief said.

The DOT’s regional office has been pushing for Iloilo City to be considered a world-class gastronomy hub.  

It has conducted gastronomic activities such as Kaon Na ‘Ta Food and Travel Festival; Iloilo Dinagyang Hawkers Food Festival; Iloilo Batchoy Festival; Flavors of Western Visayas; Tabu-an Ilonggo Heritage Cooking Competition; and the annual Sabores de Visayas.  

In 2019, the DOT also led the launching of the Philippine Cookbook Photoshoot with Korean-American chef Chistina Sunae and World Food Expo, the biggest food show in the Philippines.

Iloilo was also chosen as one of DOT’s “Chefs’ Food Trip Project destinations,” a culinary immersion of US-based Filipino-American chefs to promote the Ilonggo food culture.

In its push to make the country an international culinary destination, the DOT has staged various gastronomic events in various parts of the country.

Amid the pandemic, it initiated such as the reinvention of Filipino culinary to adapt to the food industry trends and challenges in the new normal, Tabu-an Cooking Competition, Slow Food Travel, and exploring the potentials of farm tourism destinations.  

The DOT also teamed up with the Department of Agriculture to demonstrate heritage dishes for the Filipino Food Month Celebration.

Last month, the tourism agency likewise partnered with one of the leading destinations for short-form mobile video, TikTok for a campaign called #SarapMagingPinoy, that encourages locals to discover food recipes and celebrate Filipino culture.






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