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June usually marks the end of summer and the start of a new school year. That’s the reason why for so many food-related businesses, the focus on packed meals for school is a yearly occurrence. But June isn’t all “back-to-school”. This month, we also celebrate Philippine Independence Day. Sadly, being free and independent doesn’t sell as much as other products you can eat and place in a takeaway container. We hardly even pay attention to festivities every June 12. On the food front, however, all is not lost. Last April, I was fortunate enough to tag along with my wife and my brother-in-law to an event held at Manila Hotel. In celebration of the newly declared National Food Month every April, Filipino food lovers gathered, shared, ate and drank, all with the aim of promoting local cuisine and produce. It was actually last year when the President declared April as National Food Month, so those behind the advocacy set a series of activities for April of this year. Of all the events in April, I got to attend two—the Bangsamoro lunch at Chef Jessie’s Place in Makati and the Gala Night of the National Food Month at Manila Hotel. If it weren’t for my brother-in-law and my wife, I might not have had the opportunity to witness such a gathering of people investing time and resources to preserve and promote our culinary heritage. There are sumptuous dishes from provinces that we haven’t even heard of. As representatives of Laguna cuisine to the Gala night, we introduced fellow attendees to dishes like Minanok, Ginataang Yapyap and a Kesong Puti Cheesecake with Lipote. Like most of you, I’ve never heard of these dishes as recently as a year ago. And to think that Laguna is practically part of Metro Manila, there’s a lot we haven’t heard of, much less tried. Thanks to people who work to preserve and promote eating local, traditional food, there just might be hope that these dishes will live on for long.

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