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Opinion

Our strength is in diversity

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya - The Freeman

Culture is dynamic, and it changes with time and in different groups of people. Although it is conceivable, tracing the origins of one's own shared manner of doing things is complex. For example, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is working to “standardize” a popular Filipino dish called adobo.The intention is undoubtedly admirable for anyone who would like to try their hand at making the cuisine to have a guide on what the primary ingredients are. Bringing together a group of food specialists to reach a consensus on the basic ingredients is difficult, but not impossible, because there is literature to support the authenticity of such ingredients.

However, as with other Filipino cuisines, adobo comes in a variety of forms and flavors as people move, and the dish takes on a new flavor profile based on the local preferences. If a family from Bohol moves or migrates to Cavite, for example, the main ingredients will be retained, but new and varied substitutions may be used depending on the availability of ingredients in the new location.

When a newcomer to a community has an influence, a new taste might be introduced, and if the community agrees, it becomes a part of the common way of life. True, after 300 years of Spanish rule, the Philippines' native dishes are inevitably influenced by the Spanish, and adobo is one of them.

As a result of these human dynamics, it's extremely likely that we have multiple versions of adobo. Each region or province has its own flavor profile for adobo, which differs greatly from what they consider to be the "original" version of the dish. However, because taste is largely subjective, it is no longer a question of originality. After all, such changes in flavor are caused by compelling factors such as ingredient availability, changing tastes, and other dietary requirements for health reasons.

While we recognize the basic ingredients in an effort to achieve authenticity, we also identify popular variants in other locales that are either emerging or have already established a name for themselves.

The uniqueness of each variation is what distinguishes it. Whether it's with coconut milk, yellow, combined with seafood, or pure squid instead of the traditional chicken and pork, there's enough to pick from. As a result, we can't say one is better than the other.

Diversity must be acknowledged in order to effectively reduce prejudices and foster unity in human endeavors. Let us no longer believe that our differences make us better or worse than one another. We don't differ because of our diversity. Diversity is about appreciating and respecting one another's differences. Our differences aren't what separate us. It's our unwillingness to identify, accept, and celebrate such differences that's the problem.

We hope that a seemingly inconsequential discussion on a particular dish will provide a valuable lesson, and that we will emerge as a beautiful mosaic rather than a melting pot, because we are diverse people with different ideas, beliefs, desires, and cultures.

DTI
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