Iloilo is UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Iloilo City was recently hailed as UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) First Creative City of Gastronomy in the Philippines. The city is among the fifty-five new cities to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) – joining 350 other cities representing seven creative fields: crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts, and music.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas shared his excitement about the development, thanking active partners and stakeholders for the achievement.
“The UNESCO Creative City Network on Gastronomy recognition for Iloilo City is the product of the community effort by the LGU, academe, NCCA, DTI, and several nameless persons who worked hard to prepare the documentation required, the videos, and other submissions. This recognition is not only for one person or for a group of persons. This is for all Ilonggos – whether you are from the city or the province. Let us all be proud to be Ilonggos,” statement of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas.
UNESCO is a specialized agency formed by the United Nations focused on promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, arts, sciences, and culture.
“On World Cities Day, 55 cities join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), following their designation by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. New cities were acknowledged for their strong commitment to harnessing culture and creativity as part of their development strategies and displaying innovative practices in human-centered urban planning. With the latest additions, the Network now counts 350 cities in more than one hundred countries, representing seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music.” – excerpt from an article by UNESCO, entitled ‘55 new cities join UNESCO Creative Cities Network on World City Day‘.
The UNESCO City of Gastronomy project is part of the Creative Cities Network, a flagship program of the said agency to promote culture and creativity. The Creative Cities Network is organized into seven creative fields: crafts and folk art, design, film, literature, media arts, music, and gastronomy.
“The cities in our Creative Cities Network are leading the way when it comes to enhancing access to culture and galvanizing the power of creativity for urban resilience and development,” states Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General.
To be recognized as a Creative City of Gastronomy, the city must have a well-developed gastronomy and community of traditional restaurants and/or chefs. It must also have traditional culinary practices in place – intact traditional culinary methods, markets, festivals, and awards, as well as innate public interest in gastronomy, sustainability, and local products.
Other Cities of Gastronomy include Popaya (Brazil), Chuengdu (China), Bergen (Norway), Rashi (Iran), Tucson (Arizona, USA), Alba (Italy), Bergamo (Italy, and Macau, to mention a few.
Batchoy is a noodle soup made with pork organs, crushed pork cracklings, chicken stock, beef loin, and round noodles. The origin of batchoy is traced to the district of La Paz, Iloilo City, and is often referred to by its iconic name, La Paz Batchoy.
Tracing the roots of batchoy, one origin came to existence in 1938 when Federico Guillergan Sr. concocted a dish made by mixing noodles, broth, beef, and pork. When asked for the recipe’s name, the inventor would usually say ‘Bats’ and, later on, appended ‘-choy’ from chop suey, a popular vegetable dish. Moreover, another origin tells that the first batchoy shop was put up in the district of La Paz by Teodorico Lepura in 1945. Back in the 1930s, Lepura concocted his own version while working for a Chinese merchant. The earliest price was 20 cents a bowl.
Popular batchoyans in Iloilo:
- Ted’s La Paz Batchoy
- Deco’s La Paz Batchoy
- Inggo’s La Paz Batchoy
- Netong’s La Paz Batchoy
- Popoy’s La Paz Batchoy
Read: La Paz Batchoy
An icon in the City of Iloilo, Roberto’s is much more than a household name. It has become a living legend and an institution in terms of business longevity. Established in 1978, Roberto’s is one of the strongest culinary forerunners in the metro, taking pride in its signature versions of lumpia shanghai, meatballs, and the iconic siopao.
Well known for its siopao, especially queen siopao, the Filipino-Chinese restaurant also offers different versions and sizes of it. The queen siopao consists of bacon, Chinese sausage, chicken, pork adobo, and egg. The king siopao, meanwhile, consists of ham, Chinese sausage, chicken, pork adobo, and egg. Its jumbo consists of Chinese sausage, chicken, pork adobo, and egg; and its regular only has pork adobo with egg.
‘Don’t go home without it’ might just be the tagline when it comes to pasalubongs from Iloilo – it definitely has to be Biscocho Haus. Biscocho Haus is a crowd favorite and is Iloilo’s prime pasalubong to other parts of the country and the world. Butterscotch, Barquillos, Piaya, Pinasugbo, and Barquiron are just some of the specialties of Biscocho Haus – and, of course, the famous Biscocho.
“Iloilo Original Biscocho Haus began in 1975 as a cottage industry of specialty food products in the Jaro, Iloilo home of the Guadarrama-Jalandoni family. We are proud that today we have grown to offer more than biscocho to become the preferred pasalubong center in Iloilo with our wide array of favorites — butterscotch, yemas and merengue.” – an excerpt from the Biscocho Haus website.
To date, the Iloilo Original Biscocho Haus has expanded its business empire to different parts of Panay – Jaro (Main Branch), SM City Iloilo, The Shops at Atria Park District, Robinsons Place Iloilo, Gaisano Capital Iloilo, Megaworld Iloilo Business Park, Molo, JM Basa, and Iznart Street, Pavia, and Passi. Branches outside Iloilo include Kalibo, Roxas, Antique, and Bacolod.