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May 12, 2019


The past weeks have been a difficult one for my family, having lost my stepdad unexpectedly on Maundy Thursday. While it was a peaceful passing the way he would have preferred, it was doubly hard for my mom since she had already lost my first dad when I was just five years old and had to raise five kids singlehandedly until most of us were in our late teens.

As I look back on my life, I know a lot of the things I have learned to appreciate and the work that I do today are based on the knowledge that I have gleaned from her, as she passed on lessons and tools that would best equip me to shape my destiny and make a difference in my chosen field.

So in honor of my mom, I would like to share some of the recent foodservice discoveries I have made and advocacies I have been part of which I can wholeheartedly and unabashedly attribute to her influence.


Whenever I have the chance, I always look for the nearest ECHOstore for their range of locally-sourced organic groceries from vegetables, root crops, meats, milk and cheese from reputable dairies and pantry staples. My mom has always appreciated the healthy kamote chips I bring home, as well as adlai grains from Bukidnon.

I have become a scrupulous shopper thanks to her, scrutinizing labels down to the last ingredient. Being able to trace back these goods to the source of provenance has made me and my family more complacent, knowing that we are eating better choices while also supporting local communities.


I am not a vegetarian nor a vegan but I applaud Grand Hyatt Manila’s decision to embrace the green lifestyle with the launch of a flavorful array of mouthwatering vegan and vegetarian offerings at the Grand Kitchen. While our meals at home would not be considered extremely healthy, my mom did make the conscious effort to trim the fat, lessen salt and use healthier cooking methods when possible.

So, I am quite certain that this offering would be something she would wholeheartedly approve, especially since the creations defy normal expectations with sinful selections of plant-based burgers and sausages from Beyond Meat.

“Making healthier choices easier for our guests is one thing, but add to that actually serving up choices that took into consideration your health, environmental impact, and sustainability is really going beyond just enjoying good food and enjoying food that is actually good for you. We are rolling out Green Mondays first and then gradually introducing more plant-based choices and expanding it into our six other restaurants,” says Executive Chef Mark Hagan.

Green Monday is only one of the many environmental efforts that the hotel has undertaken to do its part of the environment.

Beyond Meat BBQ Burger

The Grand Kitchen’s BBQ Cheeseburger topped with coleslaw, doused with bbq sauce, cheese, onion rings and jalapenos, and Chili Cheese Dog with gochujang aioli, chili con carne, grated cheese and jalapenos, are equally juicy and bursting with flavors while also being antibiotic free, hormone free, high in protein, no soy, gluten free, no GMOs, with zero cholesterol in comparison to your regular burger.



City of Dreams Manila has long been lauded for its long-term commitment sustainable programs, including vermicomposting and plant propagation in its own herb garden and greenhouse nursery. Through the eco-efficient operations on the property, the resort’s waste management has lessened organic wastage from vegetable trimmings, fruit peelings, eggshell remains and used coffee grounds.

“We are not only known in the business of providing unique experiences within the luxury integrated resort; as we are also making a mark as a socially and environmentally-responsible business. Together with the proactive participation and spirit of volunteerism of our employees, we are taking bold and forward-looking initiatives to be agents of change for the people within our organization, the communities we partner with, and for the environment as a whole,” Kevin Benning, City of Dreams Manila Chief Operating Officer, said.

City of Dream Manila’s herb garden includes spearmint, peppermint, coriander, sawtooth herbs, betel leaf, kaffir lime, Thai basil, holy basil, Vietnamese mint, and curry tree. When harvested, it can support the properties’ kitchen supply needs. Also in the pipeline is the growing of plants through hydroponics, which when adapted, is seen to further reinforce this self-sustaining initiative.


As one of the founding members of the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement, I could not avoid beaming with pride once we learned that Presidential Proclamation 469 was signed last year. This effectively announced that Filipino Food Month would be held every April, beginning in 2019. PCHM was one of those who lobbied for the government-mandated initiative and seeing it come to fruition last month was worth the long wait.

The month-long celebration heralded the opportunity to renew our passion and rekindle our appreciation for our local cuisine. Supporting our local gastronomy is also a chance to contribute to the natural and cultural diversity of the region.

President Jam Melchor emphasized its importance when he told me that “Filipino Food Month will champion the preservation of our culinary heritage. Celebrating Filipino food culture and food traditions through this national activity is extremely important because it is recognizing that our cuisine is part of our identity as Filipinos. It is something that everyone will be able to relate, something that will bind us together.”

This is something that I was keenly aware of growing up, since our meals would always include Filipino food in its many iterations and forms. Being part of PCHM and Filipino Food Month brought back its importance in my own cultural identity.


In the end, we are all responsible for our food choices and how it influences the food industry. By demanding for less waste, traceable produce, sustainable choices, we can help demand for new solutions that can create a better foodservice community.

Just as my mom helped influence me, I hope we can all help shape and influence our community to become more socially and environmentally responsible.



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