Ambassadors Raul S. Hernandez of the Philippines in Seoul said, “Food feeds the soul and every dish is a reflection of our country’s norms, values, history, and traditions, it plays a role in constructing and shaping our identities – how geographical attributes and the historical evolution of cuisines, whether local or regional, help in the formation of a national identity.”
Ambassador Herandez made the statement at the opening of the Philippine Food Festival opened at the Millennium Seoul Hilon on June 8, 2017 when it started a seven-day run.
The mouth-watering Filipino food and beverage, perhaps, merit some additional remarks made by Ambassador Hernandez that evening. He said, “Filipino cuisine evolved through centuries of cultural and geographic diversity with different regional foods spread across the archipelago and when we look back at Philippine history through its cuisine, we see a blending of Spanish, Chinese, Malay, Japanese, Indian, Western and other cultural influences.” (See excerpts from the speech toward the end of this article.)
The guests attending the opening ceremony and sampling (and then relishing) the extremely tasty Philippine foods, besides Ambassador Hernandez, were Ambassadors Tito Saul Pinilla Pinilla of Colombia, Thura Thet Oo Maung of Myanmar and Nguyen Vu Tu of Vietnam; Director-General Ryu Jeong-hyun of South Asia and Pacific Affairs; Commanding General Vicent K. Books of the US Forces Korea; Executive Assistant Manager Siddharaj Sinh Solanki of Millennium Seoul Hilton; Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media; and celebrities from various other segments of Korean society, including Traditional Korean Culinary Association Chairperson Ryoo Hyun-mi.
General Vincent poses a clear contrast with most of his predecessors in Korea in the fact that he is frequently seen at diplomatic functions of various countries of the world. Against the backdrop of continuously aggravating tensions on the Korean peninsula followed by repeated provocations by the North , including the testing of improving nuclear weapons, it appears that Gen. Vincent is viewed among Koreans as a source of relief against the backdrop of the continuously growing threats from the North.
The welcome address of Ambassador Hernandez was followed by one by Director General Ryu Jeong-hyun from the Korean MOFA, who made some very nice remarks about the Philippine cuisine and relations between the two countries and those of the Southeast Asian region.
Ryu said in part: “Our new government’s policy toward the Southeast Asian region aims to elevate our relationship to a new level. Though details of the policy are still being forged, I am confident that our new administration will strengthen high-level exchanges, identify areas of cooperation in which both parties can prosper together, and increase mutual understanding between Korea and ASEAN countries.”
(See excerpts at the end of this report.)
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Hernandez of the Philippines:
It is with great pleasure that I welcome all of you, our dear friends, to this Philippine Food Festival in celebration of the 119th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine independence.
Please allow me to thank Millennium Seoul Hilton and its General Manager, Mr. Eric Swanson, for making possible this Philippine Food Festival which will run from today up to 11 June.
It is said that food feeds the soul and that every dish is a reflection of our country’s norms, values, history, and traditions. It plays a role in constructing and shaping our identities – how geographical attributes and the historical evolution of cuisines, whether local or regional, help in the formation of a national identity.
Filipino cuisine evolved through centuries of cultural and geographic diversity with different regional foods spread across the archipelago. When we look back at Philippine history through its cuisine, we see a blending of Spanish, Chinese, Malay, Japanese, Indian, Western and other cultural influences. This fusion of different cultural backgrounds and culinary inspiration has resulted in the creation of unique Filipino dishes with a wide-range of flavors – some are sweet, some are sour, some are salty or spicy, while some are a combination of these flavors. This evening, we will introduce to you some of these unique dishes enjoyed by Filipinos and gastronomes familiar with the culinary aspects of Filipino culture.
We are fortunate to have in this Philippine Food Festival a distinguished chef who came all the way from the Philippines – Chef Michelle Adrillana. She has won many culinary awards and is one of the most sought-after chefs at Philippine food festivals in different parts of the world. I am confident that with Chef Michelle’s masterful cooking, you will have a satisfying gastronomical experience this evening.
To complement the rich flavors and aroma of Filipino food, we will entertain you with traditional Filipino dance, music and costumes. This will give everyone a holistic Filipino cultural experience.
Please enjoy the delicious tastes, smells and flavors of the Filipino cuisine we have prepared for you, and the Filipino cultural show that you will witness. I hope you will go home later tonight with a full stomach and an invigorated spirit.
Excerpts from the speech of Director General Ryu Jeong-hyun from the Korean MOFA:
I am highly honored to attend this reception hosted by the Philippine Embassy. I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my warmest congratulations and good wishes to the Republic of the Philippines and its people for the upcoming 119th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine independence.
I am a big fan of Food Festival. It’s not just because I love food. Food Festival gives me an opportunity to measure depth and width of bilateral relationship.
Food is universal language which can connect different cultures. The more familiar they get with other countries’ food, the more we understand each other. The more we get to know each other, the closer the relationship between two countries become. “Family” means a lot to us, and here in Korea, family can be translated as “Shikgoo,” which means “eating together.” So this evening we are family.
The relationship between the Republic of Korea and the Republic of the Philippines is exemplary. Every year, more than 1.4 million Korean people make trips to the Philippines. More than 500,000 Filipinos visit Korea annually, which makes the Philippines people the largest tourists coming to Korea among ASEAN countries.
Furthermore, the Philippines was the first ASEAN country to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea. Our two countries fought shoulder to shoulder to protect our shared values of democracy and market economy during the Korean War. Since then, we have indeed forged very strong and close ties in a whole range of areas including politico-military field, the economy, and culture.
But I feel that our two countries can do more and should do more to enhance the bilateral relationship. This year is the perfect time for us to achieve this goal for two reasons. First, the Philippines assumes the ASEAN Chairmanship this year. I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the Philippines for assuming the Chairmanship in this meaningful year of 50th anniversary of ASEAN.
Second, our new administration’s policy toward the Southeast Asia aims to elevate our relationship to a new level. Though details of the policy are still being forged, I am confident that our new administration will strengthen high-level exchanges, identify areas of cooperation in which both parties can prosper together, and increase mutual understanding between the Republic of Korea and ASEAN countries.
In closing, I am looking forward to the continued prosperity and development of the Republic of the Philippines and an everlasting friendship between our two countries. I also extend my best wishes for continued good health and happiness of everyone. Thank you.