From Jollibee to Kahayan Fiesta, the culinary art of Filipinos is spreading by word of mouth in the Sultanate.
"Filipino cuisine could easily be the original fusion cuisine, said Datin Hjh Zainah Bujang, General Manager of the Sheraton Utama Hotel.
"After all, more than 400 years of Chinese, Hispanic, American and various other influences have blended together in perfect harmony for a very individual, very unique cuisine that is simply `sarap' (delicious),"
Datin Hjh Zainah Bujang said of the Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Ms Virginia H Benavidez, for the hotel's first ever Filipino Food Festival, "She has graciously allowed us to ransack her house and, to quote her, `take anything you want.'
"Her 'bahay kubo' (nipa hut), 'banggerahan' (neither sink, room, kitchen nor bathroom, but parts of all of the above) and the lanterns look so good at our pool terrace, I think we will borrow them permanently."
"It is said that the culture of a country and the warmth of friendship are best understood and reached through the belly, the palate and around the dining table.
"It is a well-known fact that Philippine cuisine has been enriched by foreign influences that came to our shores. Throughout the Philippine archipelago, there is a wealth of regional food that is as eclectic as its more than 7,000 islands and as distinctive as its more than 172 languages and dialects.
"Distinctly Malay influence can be seen in our coconut-based foods and peanut sauces. The Chinese introduced noodles, subtle flavours and mixing courses in one plate.
"The Arabs and Indians brought a variety of spices and food plants.
The Spaniards brought Mediterranean spices and indulged the Filipinos' penchant for rich flavours and thick stews.
"These contributions from the cuisine of other cultures, adapted and indigenised according to Filipino taste and imagination as well as availability of local ingredients, have led to the development of a truly Filipino food as we know them today," said Ms Benavidez.
"The ongoing fiesta season back home in the Philippines has now been transported to Brunei. I am sure that you will agree with me that the festive atmosphere and the authentic Philippine decor, paintings brought by Mr Jose Fajardo, member of the Filipino community in Brunei, even the 'bahay kubo' (nipa hut) near the poolside, have dramatically turned Sheraton Utama Hotel into a Filipiniana setting.
"Even the way the buffet tables were set up and decorated reflect the way Filipinos would like their food to be presented - a complete meal laid out so that a serenade of flavours and an assortment of dishes can be enjoyed simultaneously," she said.
"Adobo," perhaps the best-known Filipino dish, comes from a Spanish pickling sauce made with olive oil, vinegar, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, oregano, paprika, and salt, she added.
After the Independence Day flag raising ceremony, visitors were served a Filipino breakfast of dried danggit (crispy fried fish) from Cebu, dried squid from Palawan, dried milkfish from Pangasinan, Sungee pomelo from Davao, and Argentina corned beef "air flown from the Philippines by Engineer Pio Benavidez," said Attache Virgilio Cajaljal, the master of ceremonies.
For the diplomatic reception, Engineer Benavidez flew in tubes of Batangas suman, a delicacy of glutinous rice, wrapped in banana leaves, sweet and fragrant Philippine Sungee mangoes from Davao as well as gallons of mango and purple yam Philippine ice cream.
Sheraton Utama served chicken adobo, stuffed squid and pancit palabok for the 'main courses during the reception to mark the 106th anniversary of Philippine Independence at the Main Hall of the International Convention Centre.
Pancit palabok are noodles shaken in hot water and bathed in sauce and sprinkled condiments like chicharon or crispy chicken skin, tokwa (soybean curd) cubes, slivers of tinapa (smoked fish), hard boiled egg slices, then sprinkled with fish sauce and Philippine lime (kasturi) to taste.
The appetiser was lumpiang sariwa or fresh vegetable spring rolls. Desserts include putong puti or white steamed rice cake, kutsinta, a snack made from a steamed mix of ground rice, brown sugar and lye, and ube halaya, a dessert paste of purple yam, milk and sugar.
From the stall came halo-halo, a mixture of sweetened black and light beans, cooking banana (saba) slices, chewy sago, gelatin squares, nata de coco, fragrant langka (ripe jackfruit). Best served in a tall glass, with crushed ice is a slice of sweet leche flan (custard in caramelised syrup).
A topping of Manila mango or
purple yam ice cream makes halo-halo super special. This is a
fitting feast to mark 20 years of the establishment of
diplomatic relations between Brunei Darussalam and the