CULTURAL POTPOURRI| Marco Polo Davao Salutes Pinoy Cuisine

LAST June 12, 2017, I started my day early by attending the Independence Day Flag Ceremony at the SM Lanang Premier.  I’ve been doing this annually without fail.  This year though, it was a rather solemn celebration held, for the first time, in the atrium inside the mall instead of the parking lot fronting the mall.  After the ceremony with the marked absence of Davao’s politicians, Carmina Mapa-del Rosario’s delicious native delicacies were served to the guests.  I then promised myself that I would feast on native cuisine for lunch and dinner that day.  Thanks goodness that Marco Polo Davao’s Sarah Dayrit reminded me of the Hotel’s dinner invitation for a taste of its festive buffet of “Favorite Filipino Cuisine for Independence Day” at the Cafe Marco.

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CAFE Marco staff led by Marco Polo Davao GM Dottie Wurgler-Cronin sing the Philippine National Anthem

     Guests were warmly welcomed by the bright Marco Polo Davao GM Dottie Wurgler-Cronin who, like the rest of the staff, was dressed in a fine Filipiniana outfit.  “Celebrating our country’s national day or Araw ng Kalayaan is very timely and important in our times today.  Food is a representation of our freedom and culture as Filipinos from which you can savor the influences of Spanish, American, Japanese and Southeast Asian countries.  Filipino cuisine is becoming recognized globally to be truly appetizing and sumptuous,” GM Dottie mentioned.

     For the Filipino-themed dinner, Marco Polo Davao’s Exec. Chef Alex Destriza lovingly prepared such Pinoy favorites like kare-kare, caldereta, mechado, sinigang na manok, afritada, pinakbet and sizzling sisig which he tweaked for personal expression.  His curated cuisine was interestingly presented in clay pots which only brought about Pinoy pride. Cafe Marco was festooned with Philippine flags, buntings and tropical plants creating so effectively that barrio fiesta atmosphere.

     In the midst of our sumptuous Cafe Marco dinner, GM Dottie talked about her youth growing up in what is now the troubled Marawi when her father was a ranking officer then of the military stationed there.  “It was such a beautiful place naturally endowed with the bounty of nature.  It pains me that the city has been ravaged by this prolonged clashes with the government forces and the Maute militants at a time when we are celebrating the 119th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence,” she said.  Ms. Dottie’s recollection only reminded me of the speech of Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio delivered that morning when she mentioned, “Exactly 119 years ago, the Philippine flag was officially hoisted in celebration of the liberty that we continue to enjoy today.  This is an occasion to pay tribute to the heroic deeds of the brave Filipino men and women who fought for our sovereignty and to be reminded that we all share in the accountability of preserving the peace and freedom of our nation.”  Just to think about the siege of Marawi and the Chinese incursion into Philippine territory will definitely give you indigestion.

     After dinner, the Restaurants, Bar and Events Manager of Marco Polo Davao, chef Chel Yabut, who is also a food historian, blogger, recipe and culinary director, put on her toque to demonstrate how to prepare an ensaladang talong and Cavite’s Pancit Pusit ni Asiong.  “It’s my way of introducing authentic recipes from Southern Luzon to the Heart of Davao’s kitchens,” she told the eager guests.  Ably assisting chef Chel that evening was Exec. Chef Alex Destriza.  Indeed, a new culinary love team was born that evening.

The gift of Pinoy cuisine and the gift of freedom bestowed on us by our ancestors are among the best comprising our Filipino heritage that we have to pass on to the future generations of Filipinos.  Salud, Marco Polo Davao!

Posted in Lifestyle