Sunday, December 26, 2010

100 Towns.100 Dishes.United for a Cheesy Christmas Season

San Felipe Neri Parish during Simbang Gabi
Simbang Gabi or Misa De Gallo is one of the highlights of the Christmas season here in the Philippines. It is held every early morning nine days before Christmas Day. Last September, Kraft Eden launched the search,Kraft Eden Queso De Gallo, for the best Christmas cheese dishes the town has to offer. The contest will depend on how many votes the food entry gained by submitting with empty Kraft Eden boxes. The contest run for exactly 100 days before Christmas. During Christmas Eve, Kraft Eden joins all Filipinos for the last Simbang Gabi of towns who mostly got the top nine spots for the best Christmas cheese dishes in the nation. The ninth and last Simbang Gabi was held in San Felipe Neri Parish, Mandaluyong City, the city that submitted the ninth winning entry, the trio cheese delight. The winning entry that got the most votes was from Guimbal, Iloilo for their entry, the Pininyahang Manok with Cheese.
Chef Celine prepares the meal entry

The event was also broadcast live on Umagang Kay Ganda, a morning television show. I got to meet Chef Celina David of Magsaysay Institute of Hospitality and Culinary Arts or MIHCA, who showed us the ingredients and the actual dish that we will be having for the event. Chef Celina stressed that MIHCA has no influence on deciding the winning entries and it was done only by voting. Chef Celine presented the recipe of the trio cheese delight on live television. She said that she prepared the dish exactly what was given in the recipe of the city it represented and she only helped to show it for live broadcast.
Kraft's Ana Sapitan(2nd) and Alex Tacderas(3rd)

Kraft's Mr. Alex Tacderas, Category Manager and Ms. Ana Sapitan, Senior Brand Manager were also present and told us during an interview how happy they were for the outcome of the whole event. They said how grateful they were for the towns and its people who respond with community spirit. Mr. Tacderas told how thankful he was for the massive promotion and campaign made by ABS-CBN to spread the word. They told us the recipes are now available online at Sarap Ng Pasko website and next year, the recipes will also be available when you buy a box of Kraft Eden. Kraft was also involved with the record breaking event of 6,750 cheese dishes served in one place last year. When asked what we will expect from Kraft to happen next year, they simply answered that it will be different but it will be a bigger event.
Trio Cheese Delight:9th Winning Voters' Choice
(L-R)Ana Sapitan of Kraft, Winnie Cordero and the 9th Winning entry recipients

Mr. Tacderas and Ms. Sapitan's message for Christmas was simple. That Christmas is the only one time in the year that a family is together that if we celebrate Christmas we should also give our best to prepare and not worry about how much are you going to spend.

For me and my fellow Filipinos, this contest helps build up camaraderie just like the participation of many Filipinos when contributing dishes that counted 6,750. It brings back the old Filipino spirit called Bayanihan. I was reminded about this when I spoke with a family matriarch during the event when she told me their story and how they were chosen to be recipients of a house and lot in Pasig courtesy of Habitat for Humanity. As a regular volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, I experienced working on the project with other volunteers who don't ask for something in return and worked alongside the recipients to finish the houses. It is also the same Bayanihan spirit that drove people to help fellows in need during the Ondoy Crisis and the participation of the people to support their town's entries for the Queso De Gallo event. The Bayanihan spirit still does exists in us Filipinos.

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