It was a “busy” Saturday that I spent at Ayala Malls by the Bay last June 11, as I savored the food on sale and got a taste of the different regional delicacies featured in the Department of Tourism’s Kain Na!
I was happy to see and be in the company of a growing number of mall goers, some of them with their doggy companions in tow, in this fourth hybrid serving of Kain Na!—a food and travel festival of DOT.
Kain Na! is a yearly effort of the DOT, which started in 2018.
“The festival aims to satisfy the food cravings of mall visitors, tourists or non-tourists, through regional booths with food and food trip adventures that can be enjoyed in the country — now that we are opening more and more after two years,” said Tourism assistant secretary Verna Covar-Buensuceso at the Kain Na! food stalls. “Foodie Adventures continues to serve Kain Na!’s signature lineup of digital food tourism talks and discussions from June 9 to 11, while on-ground festivities of specially curated foodie pop-ups of regional cuisines and delicacies are here at Ayala Malls Manila Bay from June 10 to 12.”
Beyond the pop-up
At the opening of Kain Na!, a virtual talk entitled “Global PROSPECTives” was livestreamed on the official DOT Facebook page. It featured interesting discussions with Pinoy chefs and foodie personalities based overseas who have made a name for themselves. The talks included chefs Nicole Ponseca of Jeepney NYC in Miami, Wynwood; Peachy Juban and Ewald Notter of Dote Coffee in Washington; Francis Ang of Abacá in San Francisco; Erica Paredes of Reyna Restaurant in Paris; Rex De Guzman of Turo Turo in London; and Bulawan Callanta of Ayan Filipino Streetfood in Berlin.
There was the TED talks-inspired Food Tourism 101, which covered inspirational food tourism experiences from Theodore Day Salonga, Dino Datu, Gel Salonga-Datu of Teds Bed & Breakfast and Gerald Garigade, Ken Chan, and Ryan Kolton of Café Claus Corp.
Meanwhile, the “Food Tourism Exchange: Talks About New Foodie Destinations to Discover,” featured Northern Luzon, introducing the Cordilleran Culinary Food Circuit, ADAMS Inuwayan: Ilocos Norte's Trunk for Agri-Tourism Industry, Sustainable AgriTourism: Stakeholders' Responsibility & Accountability, and “A glimpse of the culinary treasures of Nueva Ecija.”
The National Capital Region and Southern Luzon showcased Foodie Adventures in Metro Manila, and “Agri-Cul-Tour: Farm-To-Table Adventure in CALABARZON.”
Western Visayas highlighted Negrense Heritage Cuisine and our close connection to the sugar industry, followed by “Kadto 'ta! Kaon 'ta! - A Food Trip Guide to Capiz.”
Mindanao then uncovered “Foodie Adventures: Come Ta! Mangan Ne! Kaon Ta!” “The Zamboanga City-Isabela de Basilan-Zamboanga Sibugay Food Crawl,” “Fusion of Filipino-Italian Flavors,” and “Farm to Table in the City.”
Curated foodie adventure tour packages designed to reintroduce destinations and drive regional spending were also available onsite during the four-day food affair.
Town hall, too
A Foodie Townhall session on food tourism and business-to-business meetings with the Philippine Tour Operators Association, Food Tourism Consortium, and regional stakeholders was also held.
This year's Kain Na! mobilized 30 national and regional food and travel exhibitors on ground. Traditional cuisines and indigenous delicacies featured were bagnet, empanada, and longganisa from the Ilocos Region; breakfast fare and snacks such as suman, tablea, and tsokolate bars from MIMAROPA; durian, jackfruit, marang, artisanal chocolate, and Mindanao fruit jams and pastries from the Davao Region, to name a few.
Interesting value-for-money tour packages offering food, leisure, adventure, and special-interest tours to the Cagayan Valley region, Bulacan, CALABARZON, Davao, Siargao and other popular foodie destination booths were also available at the festival.
This much-anticipated food and travel festival — Kain Na! — was a yummy way to get a glimpse of the very diverse Filipino culture through taste, and it helped in opening up new means of traveling amid the new normal.