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Saturday, February 17, 2024

Philippines promote Mindanao’s unique halal cuisine

The Philippines is keen on propelling the southern island of Mindanao into the international culinary spotlight.

The Philippines is keen on propelling the southern island of Mindanao into the international culinary spotlight, with a focus on highlighting the diverse and rich tapestry of Muslim Mindanao food. Myra Paz Abubakar, serving as the Department of Tourism’s undersecretary for Muslim affairs, has conveyed the nation’s enthusiasm for promoting Mindanao’s distinctive halal cuisine. She extends a warm invitation to global travellers, encouraging them to dive into the array of flavours deeply embedded in centuries of Islamic history.

Tourism as an Economic Pillar

In 2019, tourism played a significant role in the Philippines, contributing almost 13 percent, equivalent to around $44 billion, to the country’s GDP. The nation acknowledges the crucial impact of the tourism sector on its economic framework. In response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Manila shifted its focus in the tourism sector, aiming to revitalise the industry. It strategically positioned itself as a destination friendly to the Muslim community, seeking to appeal to a wider audience.

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Mindanao’s Muslim Population

Mindanao distinguishes itself as one of the limited regions in the largely Catholic Philippines characterised by a significant Muslim population, constituting approximately 6 percent of the overall 110 million people. Muslim communities extend their presence to the Sulu archipelago and the central-western province of Palawan. Abubakar underscored the importance of Mindanao’s Islamic history, asserting its influence in shaping the distinctive and globally acclaimed cuisine that defines the region.

Celebrating Filipino Heritage through Cuisine

In a recent event hosted by the Department of Tourism in Makati City, Mindanao cuisine took centre stage. Envoys from various countries were treated to a feast prepared by Muslim chefs, featuring halal dishes that reflect the vibrant colours and flavours of the region. The culinary offerings included the Filipino take on ceviche, kinilaw, with scallops, sea urchin, and Spanish mackerel, as well as dinilutan a seda, a grilled swordfish with coconut and lime dressing from Maguindanao province.

Impressions from Global Guests

The culinary introduction left a lasting impression on attendees, with Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino expressing his delight. The flavours of Mindanao transported guests, creating an immersive experience that showcased the region’s culinary diversity.

Call to Explore Mindanao

Philippine Secretary of Tourism Christina Frasco seized the opportunity to encourage travellers to explore Mindanao. She hoped that the gastronomic experience had provided visitors with “more reasons to love the Philippines.” Frasco emphasised the diversity, vibrancy, and heritage reflected in Mindanao’s culinary delights, inviting global tourists to savour the offerings of Muslim Mindanao.

Commitment to Halal Tourism

Myra Paz Abubakar affirmed the Department of Tourism’s commitment to attracting international Muslim travellers. Expressing a strong desire for the Middle East market to explore the Philippines, she reiterated the push for halal tourism. Abubakar highlighted ongoing efforts to make Mindanao an appealing destination for global Muslim travellers.

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As Mindanao emerges as a global culinary destination, the Philippines is embracing its diverse heritage and inviting the world to embark on a culinary odyssey. With the tantalising flavours of Muslim Mindanao food, the country aims to not only revive its tourism sector but also foster cultural exchange and appreciation on a global scale.