Exactly one week ago, the much talked-about Madrid Fusión Manila finally concluded and many believe it successfully accomplished what it was supposed to do, and that was to bring Philippine culinary heritage and innovation to the global stage. Madrid Fusión Manila was a gathering of passionate individuals who are committed to promote cuisines which are rooted in tradition and fuelled by an innovative spirit.
Indeed, we still have a very LONG way to go in making our cuisine world-renowned. Several government agencies and departments have to work hand-in-hand, and we saw the fruits of such collaboration during the said event. From the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Tourism, to the Tourism Promotions Board – groups and individuals have to make a rigorous campaign or process of being able to cultivate, sell, export and display our local ingredients and flavor profiles (borrowing Myrna Segismundo’s term) in order to make these highly sought after. Madrid Fusión Manila was an event that proved that with everyone focused and committed, we CAN sell “The Flavors of the Philippines” to an international market.
We have so much to offer, and one is the unique Hispanic heritage of the Philippines, which is its most unique asset in the region.
As the farthest outpost of the former Spanish Empire (to which the “sun would never set”), the Philippines’ dishes, cooking procedures, means of entertaining diners/guests, and ingredients speak of its history as a cultural melting pot during the 250-year old Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade. As the major trading post in the Far East, goods from China, Indochina and even India ended up in Manila, then were shipped to Mexico, and eventually to Europe. Similarly, occasional goods from Europe, and many raw ingredients from Latin America, ended up in the Philippines.
When the Suez Canal was opened and when the Galleon Trade ceased, European traders chiefly the French, Swiss, German, Dutch and British merchants also brought goods to Manila and other major Philippine ports.
Cuisine was a conduit for all these exchanges. Even during the American occupation, the Philippines’ cosmopolitan populace (those residing in Manila, Cebu and Iloilo) adopted and adapted culinary facets that showcased Filipinos’ ease in integrating foreign ingredients and practices into local cuisines.
Madrid Fusión Manila supports the proposition of the Philippines re-enforcing its importance in the region. Through Mother Spain’s intervention and support, her only child in Asia, the Philippines has once more proven its rich cultural heritage’s potential for attracting growth.
For more on my experiences and thoughts on Madrid Fusión Manila, check out my entries at Cuchara Tenedor: