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Growing up in the 80s, I remember how limited our choices were when it came to food. If you wanted pizza, you went to this place, Japanese food was good at this place and for burgers, this place serves the best. Nowadays, we are spoilt for choice. We have so many options, it can get confusing sometimes. Go to any of the bigger malls, think of a certain cuisine you’d like and chances are, there will be one or more to cater to your cravings. It seems that more than for shopping, people go out to malls and shopping districts to eat. Every few weeks, it seems that a new food trend or much-awaited restaurant sprouts on social media. As someone in food media, we at COOK get invited to these new places, often during preopening or at their media launches. While we get to go to some, we can’t really attend every event. Personally, I’d rather go on my own, a few months after the opening rush has died down and the lines shift somewhere else. I recently tried two new establishments, both franchises of international chains, and was underwhelmed at best. I understand the hype and excitement that comes from new brands coming or returning to our shores. But there are so many better places for what they offer, homegrown establishments that offer better products, better value. More importantly, these local restaurants keep the money in our country, creating more local jobs, buying from local suppliers, and so on. Of the countless restaurants that open yearly, I am really proud of those who promote Filipino cuisine, especially regional dishes. While these restaurants may find it difficult to compete with international chains and large local restaurant groups, their existence means that local cuisine has a following. We see these restaurants at dining “districts” like Maginhawa and Scout Area in Quezon City, Marikina, Kapitolyo in Pasig, Poblacion in Makati and BF Paranaque. I hope more people discover local and regional cuisine. While we welcome imports, we must first love our own.

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