Culture + Food = Explosion of Philippine Experience

on Friday, May 18, 2012

Imagine 7,107 islands, 17 regions and 94 million in population. That's Philippines. A country that is rich in cultural influences, domestic and foreign. With 3.5 million tourists last year, then Filipinos must be doing something right for them to keep visiting time and time again. The numbers are going up and even exceeded the expected arrival of visitors.

                What is a Philippine experience?

An experience means nothing without tasting food. Filipinos love to cook and eat. Hence, great dishes are created in each region of the country. Let's see the list of most popular dishes and desserts.

Ilocos' pinakbet is the best. It's a tasty dish of various vegetables such as eggplant, squash, bittermelon, okra and tomatoes. Actually, any vegetabes that you prefer can be made as pinakbet. A more traditional way of cooking is by using clay pot and take note, they don't stir it with ladle. They just keep on tossing and moving the pot in a circular way till it cooks. As opposed to pinakbet which is a vegetarian dish, they have bagnet and longganisa (native sausages). You've got to watch out for your blood pressure because these foods are high in cholesterol.

Kare-Kare (stewed oxtail in peanut sauce), stuff chicken rolls and pot roast are the specialties of those from Bulacan. Near Bulacan, have a stopover at Pampanga to taste their Halo-Halo special. It's a mixture of shaved ice with milk, sweetened banana, mongo, leche flan, purple yam, beans, tapioca, jackfruit, crushed young rice, nata de coco and ice cream. Mouthwatering isn't it?

Fancy some dinuguan or pork blood stew from Batangas? Dinuguan is a very savory dish combining vinegar with the blood and innards of pig. Rich, spicy and dark soup blended into one. It is best eaten with rice cake.

Bicol region brags their laing (taro leaves) and bicol express (pork meat). Both dishes are cooked in coconut cream and lots of Asian's bird eye chillies. Wash those chillies away with something sweet like their pili nut candies. Outside, it's crunchy but it is soft inside. It is truly a combination of textures in your mouth.

That's just some of Filipinos best foods. Now, let's take a peek in Philippine cultures. Celebrating festivals or fiesta is one way of seeing culture in action. Like food, regional celebrations are part of the country's enigmatic influence to every person from all walks of life. Here are a rundown of festivals every month of the year.

January - Ati-atihan festival in Aklan, people dance in colorful costumes dance in celebration of feast of Sto. Nino; February - Feast of Our Lady of Candles, the blessing of candles followed by procession; March - Eid El Fitir, part of Muslim's celebration of Ramadan; April - Manaoag Pilgrimage, devotees flock their patroness believed to be miraculous; May - Flores de Mayo, parade of young women with young men as their escorts in honor of blessed Mary; June - Pintados Festival, parade of men in body paint representing bravery of ancient warriors; July - Sandugo Festival, street dancing and programs commemorating blood compact of native Filipino and Spanish conquistador. August - Kadayawan sa Dabaw, parade of wild orchids and fruits; September - Feast of Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia, the patron image is carried in river with candles floating around; October - Masskara Festival, parade of people in masks representing Bacolod's smiling faces; November - Higantes Festival, parade of patron image with giant paper mache figures in the background and December - San Fernando Giant Lantern Festival, a whole month celebration where beautiful lanterns are made and displayed by the locals. 

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