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Pampanga’s ‘manyaman’ cuisine kicks off Central Luzon reopening, food tour

By Tanya Lara Published May 26, 2021 5:50 pm

Are you ready for all the deliciousness that Pampanga offers? The province with inaurguably the best home cooks and chefs in the country kicks off the Department of Tourism’s “culinary pilgrimage tours” on Friday, May 28.

“Flavors of Pampanga: Manyaman!” will showcase the diverse culinary heritage and rich food history of the region, particularly Pampanga, the Culinary Capital of the Philippines. 

“The desire to eat good food and immerse oneself in a culture through its cuisine is a powerful motivator for traveling,” DOT Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said. 

Pampanga’s stature in the culinary scene has conditioned Filipinos to think that every Kapampangan is born a cook, with the ability to weave magic in the kitchen and the desire to cook for the entire barangay.

Kapampangan cuisine staple sisig.  Photos courtesy of DOT 

I’m here to say that’s not true. Many Kampampangans like me (from Pampanga and Tarlac) are unfortunately born to be disgruntled cooks—but we do enjoy eating because how can you not growing up with the kind of kitchen and family traditions that culinary movies are made of?

Pampanga’s food—from the farm-to-table setups in San Fernando to Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung in Angeles City and the numerous holes in the wall around the province—is always worth the drive from Manila.

Sisig empanada. 

DOT’s Flavors of Pampanga will be held in Clark and will feature the region’s diverse food heritage through cooking demonstrations by culinary experts including chefs de cuisine from hotels in Clark.

“Pampanga is a leading proponent of culinary tourism in the Philippines and we would like to thank everyone from this region who has supported, promoted, and furthered culinary tourism,” Puyat added.

Mulberry at Wilsons Instant Tree Bank in San Fernando, Pampanga

The event will be broadcast live and streamed on DOT-Region III’s official Facebook page. 

Through its Central Luzon Regional Office, the DOT is also organizing the “¡SABROSO!—A Filipino and Spanish Food Fair,” which will highlight and showcase Filipino dishes that were influenced by the Spanish people. Such dishes will be prepared and demonstrated by renowned celebrity chefs from Central Luzon. This event is expected to be held in November. 

“Food is one of the strengths of the region and we want to enrich tourists’ experience by sharing with them our heritage and culture through our food. We will conduct food mapping for the provinces of Pampanga and Bulacan so that we have an inventory of the heirloom dishes and where all ingredients are coming from. This will be significant in a more sustainable culinary tourism plan,” said Puyat. 

She also emphasized that one of the tourism circuits the DOT is creating is a Farm, Food and Pilgrimage Tour covering the provinces of Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija

The tour includes farm-to-table activities, savoring authentic Kapampangan dishes while enjoying scenic views of Mt. Arayat; and visiting the Herencia de Bacolor farm resort in Pampanga, the iconic Monasterio de Tarlac, the Dueg-Kapya Ken in San Clemente, Tarlac, which has breathtaking views, and the Mudita Glamping Resort in San Jose, Tarlac, where rooms are nipa huts in the middle of a rice field.  

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In Nueva Ecija, tourists can visit the Argamosa Farm, a Balinese-inspired resort with farm-to-table activities, the scenic , and Mt. Bulaylay in Cuyapo, as well as the Shrine of the Holy Face of Jesus in Nampicuan.  

The department said its Region III office will also launch the “Slow Food, Slow Travel Caravan,” featuring Slow Food of Bacolor, Lubao and Sasmuan heirloom recipes in Pampanga. Slow food is a concept that seeks to preserve traditional cuisines and promotes sustainable preparation of food. 

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Aside from this, the DOT has also created tourism circuits for travelers who want different kinds of adventure. The region’s circuits include Eco and Adventure Tour in Nueva Ecija and Aurora; River Adventure in Bulacan and Eco and Wine Farm featuring various farms and vineyards in Tarlac; and a Soul Circuit, an inter-regional circuit that will include the Manila Bay Cruise, Cavite’s Corregidor, and Bataan’s Mt. Samat and Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. 

Leisure travel is now allowed in Pampanga, subject to health protocols. Pampanga and Clark are open to all. However, NCR Plus—Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal—is still under general community quarantine with heightened restrictions until May 31. Only essential travel is allowed in and out of NCR Plus.