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Juana Change and Chico & Delamar are Sooo Pinoy and proud! |

Travel and Tourism

Juana Change and Chico & Delamar are Sooo Pinoy and proud!

OOH LA LAI - Lai S. Reyes -

Make no bones about it, Filipinos are just beginning to learn about and appreciate Philippine cuisine. But our travels around the country and the various cooking shows we watch on TV have led us to take interest in food items we only used to read about in cookbooks or food magazines.

Although there are still some dishes that are yet to be explored by many, it helps that various local restaurants do their share by serving interesting and delectable Pinoy fare that even foreigners come to appreciate. Indeed, dining at a Filipino restaurant has become a very tasty option for Pinoy food aficionados.

In an effort to increase Filipinos’ appreciation for local dishes even more, Unilever Food Solutions (UFS), one of the world’s leading foodservice businesses, launched a movement dubbed “Sooo Pinoy” campaign in 2010.

The advocacy dares to challenge our taste buds to discover what is authentic Pinoy cuisine, where to best enjoy it, and learn its variations and uniqueness. 

Eat’s a date: Popular hosts and Sooo Pinoy ambassadors Chico and Delamar eat out frequently to bond over their latest food finds.

This year, UFS is making Sooo Pinoy bigger and better through the help of its brand ambassadors — Mae Paner, and the cool duo Chico and Delamar — who are tasked to promote “food tourism” throughout the islands. After all, if other facets of our culture, like dance and song, have its own patrons, Pinoy cuisine should certainly have its own advocates.

Let There Be Change

Popularly known as Juana Change, Mae Paner realizes that eating the right food should be part of her personal advocacy. And so when Unilever Food Solutions approached her to be one of the catalysts to promote Pinoy food, she readily agreed. 

“I’m huge fan of Philippine cuisine. I entertain my friends through food. I’m a good cook, too. I can whip up adobo, sinigang, and bopis in a jiffy. I experiment a lot with food and I like to try out new dishes. Isn’t it obvious,” she says with a hearty laugh.

As a brand ambassador of Sooo Pinoy, Juana Change not only gets to encourage people to patronize local restaurants that serve the best Pinoy fare. It also serves as a vehicle to educate the dining public about making healthy food choices. “You can have lechon, leche flan, adobong baboy, or chicken inasal in one go for as long as you eat in moderation,” she shares. “Last January I tipped the scale at 275 pounds. Now I weigh 236 — that’s 39 pounds I lost, and for me it’s an achievement already. I can now see the results of my journey. I’m so happy. As Sooo Pinoy food ambassador, I can still enjoy food and promote eating out and wellness at the same time,” Juana Change enthuses. 

To get to know Pinoy food more, Juana Change dares Filipinos to get out of their comfort zones. “Don’t be afraid to try new and exotic dishes. You won’t appreciate good food just by looking at it. In Mindanao, they have this pancake with buco filling. I was hesitant to try it at first. Well, I’m glad I did because it’s so delicious,” she relates. During the interview, she also extolled the variety of eats at Seaside Dampa along Macapagal Highway, her favorite place for fresh, inexpensive meals.

I think food is a great way to discover our culture. If we change our mindset, eat out more, we’ll learn better and appreciate Pinoy food. At the very least it could make for interesting table conversation, but then, we could also talk about our cuisine as passionately and as knowledgably as the food in other countries.”

Sooo Pinoy ambassadors Juana Change, Chico and Delamar show off the Team Manila shirts.

Juana Change is so excited about her new advocacy as she will be brought to different provinces and try their specialties. A foodie’s dream trip, indeed!

He Says, She Says

Newspaper columnists and radio jocks Chico and Delamar highlight their involvement in UFS’s Sooo Pinoy campaign through resto-hopping.

They will dine at 15 Filipino restaurants, try something that’s very Pinoy, and talk about their culinary journey on-air and online (through their blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts).

Our food should spur conversations from simple topics like how it is cooked to the more profound aspects like its origin and how it defines the Filipino as a race.

“And these conversations start during our travels. When you travel, resto hopping tops the itinerary. Even airline magazines always feature the best restaurants you shouldn’t miss,” says Chico.

Chico has a blog where he features a particular dining establishment and documents the whole dining experience. He takes photos of the food — from starters to the main dish — and writes a review, which serves as a dining guide to readers.

“So even before this campaign, going out and sharing my experience has always been something that I love doing. On a big scale, I get to encourage people to go out and try, say, the sinigang na corned beef at Sentro because it really tastes good,” he adds.

Food plays a big role in Chico and Delamar’s partnership. Enjoying a meal with your friends is a social thing.

“We bond over food. Eating is not just a way of nourishing your body. It’s a means of communication. We appreciate it when we’re dining with people we love, people we enjoy talking to,” Chico relates.”And here, it’s not so difficult since the servings are often big enough to share!”

To keep the friendship alive, Chico makes sure that sweet spaghetti and sweet viands are not on the menu when Delamar is around.

“I don’t like anything sweet unless it’s dessert. And anything that has pineapple on it,” confirms Delamar.

According to Delamar, there’s more to Filipino food than adobo and sinigang. And as Sooo Pinoy brand ambassadors, it’s their duty to educate the dining public of what they’re missing.

“Through the Sooo Pinoy campaign, we get to dine at various restaurants, try their specialties, and share our dining experiences to the public through our radio program, and social networking sites. What Filipino cuisine needs is exposure,” Delamar adds.

Fit To A Tee

To create more hype for the campaign, Team Manila will come up with special Sooo Pinoy tees featuring the Sooo Pinoy Dish of the Month such as Sinigang the Movie, Sooo Pinoy Pancit, Halox2, or Berto’s Bulalo.

* * *

Log onto Facebook and search for the Sooo Pinoy fan page ( to learn little known facts about Filipino cuisine and vote for what you think is the best restaurant that serves the featured dish of the month. Also, keep reading Philippine Star’s Lifestyle section for more delicious updates on the campaign.

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