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Eat pray love Lipa

You may think that this quote is just for the movies and from the movies, but let me tell you that it holds true for this city set upon the hills of Batangas, enjoying a 330-meter above sea level (masl) elevation. We recently went for the 14th National Food Showdown, held in conjunction with the 11th Batangas Food and Beverage Expo at the De La Salle Lipa Sentrum.

Organized by long-time college friend Myrna Segismundo and De La Salle’s chef Patrick Maravillas, the two-day food event was primed by a city tour for all the judges who came from as far as Cebu City and Cotabato.

PRAY. Chef Patrick is a member of the Third Order of the Carmelites, a religious congregation. Being close to the Church, he was able to borrow first class relics of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina and St. Therese of Lisieux, France which he displayed at the De La Salle chapel from Nov. 11 to 18, exactly when the food event was also being held. That was our first important stop within the school grounds.

What a treat for the devout Catholics in the group, especially when Chef Patrick brought out the Crucifix from its glass case, holding the holy cross with his gloved hands. PRAY was the first activity of the day and rightly so. This day was already blessed before we even got started.

EAT. In cooperation with the local government of Lipa City, we were escorted to the Lipa City Public Market for a taste of what the city has to offer chefs and foodies like myself. As we were led by the market administrator himself, we saw a slice of the local food basket, albeit peppered with imported fruits like grapes, oranges and apples. That is a microcosm of what the whole country now has – imported fruits enjoying equal display space with local finds.

But our delegation was on the hunt for everything local, everything Batangas. Passing these imports by, we headed to the dried fish section to see a wide array of marine life, in its various forms, as a Filipino breakfast staple – dried fish, bulad, tuyo, daing which were quickly bought by chef Glenda Barretto and Café Laguna’s Lita Urbina, two very respectable women in the culinary world.

Glenda and Lita comfortably sat on stools as the merchants weighed their