During Cagayan Valley-themed dinner at ADMU
THE Mama Sita Foundation (MSF) threw its full support behind “DISCOVER CAGAYAN VALLEY COOKING” a dinner symposium organized by Dr. Fernando Nakpil Zialcita’s class on “Introduction to Cultural Heritage” under the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU).
Held recently at the roof deck of the Ricardo and Rosita Leong Hall, the dinner was curated by Jan Karl Coballes of the Philippine Information Agency and Cagayan Heritage Conservation Society. Guests from government, the academe, and various advocacy groups feasted on dishes boasting of the region’s unique flavors, owing to its lush and fertile valleys, which is flanked by deep mountain ranges, and crisscrossed by the longest and widest river in the country.
The healthy dinner, served buffet style, featured of an array of Cagayanon specialties: Chicharabao – Carabao rind crackling, a delicacy from Tuguegarao; Sinanta – a comforting and tasty noodle dish with clams and chicken, served with Pinakufu, a fried rice cake; Sarabasab – a robust meaty dish of flame-grilled pork, chopped and seasoned with vinegar, chili, and other spices; Inabraw – assorted vegetables stewed in fermented fish sauce, garnished with clams, dried shrimp, and fried fish or smoked fish; and for dessert, Binallay – a sticky rice delicacy wrapped in banana leaves and served with coconut sauce; and Carabao milk candies, another specialty of the valley which is famous for raising Carabao herds. For drinks, guests were served the refreshing Binarayang – liquor distilled from the nipa palms of Pamplona, Cagayan, doused with lemon juice and syrup.
Learning outcomes and aspirations
In her welcome remarks, MSF President Clara Reyes-Lapus linked the dinner symposium’s desired learning outcomes to the Foundation’s vision of achieving agricultural sustainability and food security for the nation. “This is a rare opportunity to share our thoughts on farming and Cagayan Valley’s unique culinary heritage. Both subjects are core concerns of the Mama Sita Foundation. It has been our aspiration to bring together diverse groups of people to make an implementable long-term development plan to keep our farmers happy and equip them to produce more food for Filipinos. These are not just corporate platitudes but genuine objectives founded on the goals that my mother, Teresita “Mama Sita” Reyes wanted to achieve for her family and her kababayans – healthy food for every table, no one hungry, sustainable, abundant harvests, thriving communities enjoying all-weather roads, affordable electricity, reliable transportation, communications, and potable water systems”.
Lapus went on to say that the dinner should serve as a prelude for more interactions among Cagayanons, government officials, community leaders, students, educators, and private investors to come up with solutions that will enable farmers to plant more diversified crops, meet higher yields, and connect them to dedicated buyers and processors who are looking for quality raw materials.
Meanwhile, Nancy Reyes Lumen, multimedia personality exhorted the guests to have empathy for farmers through a fun onstage rendition of the much-loved Filipino classic “Magtanim Ay Di Biro”. She also spoke about the Foundation’s annual food essay writing contest “Mga Kuwentong Pagkain” which focuses on holiday dishes this year.
Dr. Zialcita shared a presentation on possible projects for Cagayan Valley in 2024.
Under the umbrella theme of “Heritage for Sustainable Development”, next year’s intersessions would include field studies focused on the region’s long-held traditions in pottery, bladesmithing, fruit and vegetable pickling, and bakong craftsmanship.
Dinner guests – academics and advocates
Notable dinner guests include Assistant Secretary Genevieve Velicaria-Guevarra of the Department of Agriculture; National Scientist Raul V. Fabella of the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics; Prof. Jed Abaya Gomez of the UP School of Land Use and Regional Planning; ADMU’s Dean of Loyola School of Social Sciences Czarina Saloma-Akpedonu, Dean Raphael A. Guerrero of Loyola’s School of Science and Engineering; Chair Jowel Canuday of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, ADMU; Coordinator Filomeno Sta. Ana III of the Action for Economic Reforms; Executive Advisor Lorraine I. Gomez of the GHD Advisory Engineering Services; Prof. Pedro “Edru” R. Abraham Jr. of UP, Mylene Lising of Crania Heritage Sciences, Inc.; Architect Michael T. Tabao, Instructor at University of Saint Louis, Tuguegarao City and President of the Cagayan Heritage Society; authors and culinary advocates Ige Ramos and Nina Daza-Puyat, 45th CMMA’s Best Children’s Short Story awardee, among others.
At the MSF’s booth, guests also enjoyed generous samplings of Mama Sita’s Balitanaw Heirloom Rice Champorado and assorted vinegars which are part of the brand’s artisanal product lines.