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Do-it-yourself guide puts spotlight on Philippine heritage dishes, tourism

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine tourism was experiencing a good ride and gaining more momentum when the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and travel, just like everything else, came to an abrupt halt.

Aside from being personally affected by the lockdown and the strict safety protocol that came with it, Clang Garcia, a known advocate of Philippine culinary heritage tourism, worried about the movers and shakers of the industry she had long supported.

What now? What lay in store for them and their staff who would suffer even more than them? But at the height of the pandemic, there was nothing she could do to help them. So she waited it out for about a year, when the lockdown loosened up a bit to enable her to do a little traveling again.

Garcia gathered her team and set out on a mission — to check on the key players in Philippine culinary heritage tourism, document interviews and food spreads in photos and on video footages, and embark on a project that would help Philippine tourism rise again when the pandemic is over.

The result is a book titled "Philippine Food Holidays," the first do-it-yourself guide highlighting heritage dishes and culture bearers around the country. It is balanced with cultural and historical explorations complete with contact details and the recommended number of days to stay in a destination.

It marries the confluence of print and digital experiences, bringing the publication's pages to life. Scan the QR codes and watch the destinations and precious interviews with guardians of traditions. 

"Philippine Food Holidays" was recently named Best Food Tourism Book in the World Philippines at the Gourmand Awards Ceremony, which was hosted by the Saudi Feast Food Festival, held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

Garcia crafted the book mid-pandemic in 2021, and the publication is meant to support culinary and cultural heroes badly hit by the pandemic whose livelihoods hinge on tourism. 

"Philippine Food Holidays" is a humble contribution and an invitation to travel across the islands in a different light: to learn local culture and history through food. 

A crusader of Philippine gastronomy tourism, Garcia is the food and travel host of Cignal TV's