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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO is known for the Dinagyang festival, the delicious batchoy and crunchy biscocho.

 

And it would be better if tourists start the day with a truly Ilonggo breakfast to enjoy the sights, smell and taste of the place.

 

The Iloilo City Tourism and Development Office (CTDO) recently launched the search for the authentic Ilonggo breakfast or “pamahaw” which will become a regular fare in restaurants, hotels and other food outlets. 

 

The idea struck Benito Jimena, CTDO chief, when he was browsing through a hotel menu.

 

“I saw the usual offerings – American breakfast, continental breakfast and the standard Filipino almusal. So I though of coming up with an Ilonggo breakfast that will help create a truly Ilonggo culture and lifestyle. We must show to our visitors that they are indeed in Iloilo,” Jimena said.

 

Jimena said he met with representatives from the academe and hotel and restaurant operators to discuss the possibility of a competition on the typical Ilonggo breakfast.

 

Using a thesis by Dr. Lilia Teves of the University of San Agustin on Ilonggo food ingredients, the group came up with the criteria of the contest, particular the culinary pattern and menu components.  

 

“Initially, the academe suggested the basic culinary pattern consisting of fruits, hot beverage main dish and dessert. Members of Iloilo Hotels Restaurants Resorts Association (IHRRA) also have their innovations and twists. After a series of meetings, we were able to harmonize the parameters,” Jimena said.

 

Jimena added: “To make it distinctly Ilonggo, it must be an original concoction or mix of food making use of locally grown raw materials and locally processed foodstuff. It must be affordable and low-priced and easy to cook – a short-order menu.  It must be healthy and nutritious.”

 

The contest has two categories – student and professional. Five finalists from each category will be announced July 11, 2009 while the public cooking competition is on July 25, 2009, 2pm, at Robinsons Place mall.

 

IHRRA president Angela Abenir said hotels and restaurants must promote and offer Ilonggo breakfast aside from the usual batchoy.

 

IHRRA spokesperson Robert Ferrer said their group will promote the winning pamahaw in their establishments’ menus.

 

Ferrer, general manager of Sarabia Manor Hotel and Convention Center, said the Ilonggo breakfast will be offered side by side with the American and Filipino bill of fare. 

 

Jimena said operators of “home stay”, or private homes offering accommodations to transients in areas with no hotels, can also offer pamahaw to their visitors.

 

“We will also include Guimaras Island in the promotion of Ilonggo breakfast to help their home stay accommodations take off. Ordinary households can also adopt the Ilonggo breakfast recipe,” he added.

 

Jimena said hotels and restaurants should observe the standard pamahaw menu “although it will eventually evolve depending on the demands and requirements of the market.”

 

“Culture and tourism is not just about festivals and destinations. The gastronomic feature must also be given attention so that visitors will keep coming back for more,” Jimena said.

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