FILIPINOS are game and open to just about anything, from new food and beverage concoctions to an avant-garde government, expats said during Spain’s San Fermin celebration in Manila.
During the festival in Manila, which is a commemoration of the annual bull-running event in the city of Pamplona in honor of Saint Fermin, Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (La Cámara) Executive Director Barbara Apraiz said the event sparks adventurous spirits not just in the bull-running sport, but in trying out new dishes and cuisines.
Apraiz said the level of awareness for the San Fermin celebration is increasing every year, with more Filipinos traveling to Pamplona to witness the event firsthand.
“The most important thing is that it is a very open party. Everyone who wears a red scarf is from Pamplona. It does not matter if you are from the Philippines, everyone feels like he or she is from Pamplona, not like other parties in Spain, which is more closed. Pamplona is for people from all over the world,” Apraiz said.
Apraiz lauded the Philippines in choosing to make a change in the country’s recent elections, and she is optimistic improvements under the Duterte administration will come quickly.
“It is a very good decision that Filipinos vote to change things, because this country is worth it. The economy is growing every year at around 6 percent. But in the day-to-day of the Filipinos, it is not felt. President Duterte is very open to improving things,” Apraiz said.
According to Apraiz, the new administration should look into infrastructure, connectivity and communication on the islands, while opening the country to foreign competition.
“Competition is good for every country. It is a way of improving things, and I think this is going to happen. I am optimistic about the future of the country,” Apraiz said.
For his part, Chef Robert Spakowski of the Tapella restaurant said the San Fermin event suits the Filipino lifestyle well, because they are open to new things and are foodies.
“A lot of the Spanish food kind of translated into Filipino cuisine. It became a staple in certain households, which means the Filipinos are very open-minded and welcoming, when it comes to trying out Spanish food. Who has not had a lola who can cook mechado. It is something almost as acceptable as Filipino food,” Spakowski said.
According to Spakowski, the growing travel culture in the Philippines contributes to more foodies and people wanting experimental restaurants and drinks.
“There are a lot of well-traveled people nowadays. People want to try different things, and they get exposed to different wines in different cultures, gins and what not. There is a big boom in craft cocktails. We are slowly catching up with regard to the evolution of the palette,” Spakowski said.
Similarly, Apraiz noted the culture of food and beverage in the Philippines but also commented on the opportunities for exports, especially with items like sugar, mangoes and coconut oil.
“Filipinos love to eat. It is very important for them. They realize wine that is good, and wine that is not so good,” Apraiz said. “In Spain there are a lot of people buying coconut oil for the hair and for the face, and it is good for cooking, too.”