Iloilo City is the Philippines’ first UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy as announced via a press release last October 31, 2023. The recognition is granted to applicant cities for their culinary history, tradition, culture, and identity – which integrates education, science and technology, crafts and farming industries, and environmental endeavors that contributed to the sustainable gastronomic heritage. Several members of the UP Visayas community, from faculty members, research and extension personnel, and alumni shared their expertise with Iloilo City to make the recognition possible.
Leading the pack was Mr. PJ Arañador as head consultant. Faculty members of the College of Management composed of Prof. Ruben Gamala, Dr. Mary Rose Rebueno, Prof. Nathaniel Samson, Ms. Pearl Diano, and Ms. Mary Ann Sedero designed and facilitated a two-day workshop on May 25 to 26, 2023 to bring out the vibrant Iloilo sources of food and sustainability.
The workshop titled “Iloilo City Gastronomy Stakeholders’ Workshop” was held at the Penthouse of the Iloilo City Hall, in collaboration with the Iloilo City MICE Center (ICMC) and the Local Economic Development Investment Promotion Office (LEDIP). The workshop was designed to get inputs from the various gastronomy sectors in Iloilo City, which include representatives from the academe, hotels, restaurants, farmers, cooperatives, market vendors, event organizers, food bloggers, shopping malls, Iloilo City government, national government agencies, and other businesses and members from the private sector. The results of the workshop were further validated with the conduct of a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) with selected gastronomy stakeholders on May 30, 2023.
As facilitators and moderators, the UPV team also shared their knowledge of gastronomy, sustainable development, and cultural heritage during the workshop and FGD. Their insights and recommendations were presented to Mayor Jerry Treñas last July 11, 2023. Mayor Treñas acknowledged the collaboration with UP Visayas to “enhance Iloilo City’s endeavors in promoting the City’s gastronomy on a global scale.”
Anna Razel L. Ramirez, also from UPV, shared information regarding food and culinary traditions from the rest of Panay Island. The water bodies, seas, arable lands, and forests are a rich and vital source of ingredients for delectable food preparation. Lastly, Prof. Celia Parcon supported the application efforts as language editor of the final application form submitted to UNESCO.
Following the designation of Iloilo City as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, it will have to work with other members of the network to “strengthen their resilience” against the dangers posed by increasing urbanization, rising inequality, and climate change. It is expected that by 2050, 68% of people on Earth are predicted to reside in cities. “The cities in our Creative Cities Network are leading the way when it comes to enhancing access to culture and galvanizing the power of creativity for urban resilience and development,” says Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General.