Winnipeg’s first Food-O-Rama a success

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Food-O- Rama 2016- So Yummy!

Levy Abad

August 7,2016

Winnipeg -I had a great time at Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba’s (PCCM) 1st Food-O-Rama 2016 (August 6-7, 2016) event held at the grounds of 737 Keewatin St.!

The two-day event was a success, kudos to the organizers, vendors, advertisers, fellow musicians and artists, volunteers and of course, to the community. Everyone was looking forward to Food-O-Rama, and just like me, they imagined and guessed the food that will be exhibited and sold. It was worth the wait and met my expectation because all the Filipino food that I wanted to taste and that I can boast to my friends in the multicultural community were there.

It was back in May when Bong Roscuata of the Asian Community Guide Magazine told me that they are cooking a great event that would complete the presentation of the Filipino Community. He added that he and Lou Fernandez, President of PCCM, conceptualized the event.

I asked Kuya (older brother) Lou Fernandez about the significance of organizing Food-O-Rama and he said, “This is meant to feature culinary diversity in Winnipeg and promote Filipino cuisine in the multicultural buffet of the city.”

Johsa Manzanilla, one of the volunteers and an officer of ANAK or Aksyon Ng Ating Kabataan Inc. said, “We often don’t think about where the food “comes from”- how the dish has developed over time, how it was made to be served, and where and how each ingredient was grown and gathered. We just consume it and enjoy it with our taste buds and senses. Learning about the history of our dishes connects us to the history of our culture and makes us think about how our people have been coming together for generations to eat, drink and be.” 

These words set the tone for the holding of this important event. Viewing it from the perspective of the community’s cultural history in Winnipeg, we already have the Manitoba Filipino Street Festival, now on its 5th year, showcasing different Filipino cultures. There is also the Filipino Music and Arts Canada Inc. (FMACCI) under the leadership of Ernesto Ofiaza, that organized the First Filipino Folk Music Festival back in 2014.

Now, here we have the Food-O-Rama to complete the cultural landscape and thus bring more colour and diversity to the multicultural texture of Winnipeg. 

I like to mention some of the Filipino businesses that participated: Ems Lan Bistro, Jimel’s Bakeshop, Bakerite, Noemi’s Cuisine, The Modern Carinderia, Charita’s Cuisine and Tessie’s Catering Services. They brought the best recipes that they can offer for the community to savour with gusto.  Other food businesses were also invited like Churros Stop, Kyu Grill (Japanese Cousine), Simba Safari Grill, Habanerosombrero and of course, main stream Mini Donuts.

Food and music

Aside from the food that triggers the taste buds’ memories, there was the entertainment part of the program scheduled from 6:00 to 10:00 in the evening. It brought back memories of the old country through songs performed by Winnipeg’s popular band, Traffikk Jamm, Cabuyao Band, Emogen Ventura, Geena Navales and yours truly. These artists rendered cover and original Fil-Canadian music.

On the second day of the event, August 7th, other artist also came to participate like the Fusmado Band, Vina Dimayuga, Dolly Atillo, AJ and JZ, Hazel Escano and Geena Navales, Sherylyn Padua-Policarpio  and myself again singing Dito sa Winnipeg (Here in Winnipeg), I Love Canada (A song about love’s betrayal), and Buti Na Lang Nariyan Ka Pa (It is good that you’re still around as a friend)
Excellent audio engineering

As a musician familiar with the work of audio engineers, I can say that Bobie Nepomuceno of Vocal Arts Centre and Audio Services, who provided the lights and sounds, did a great job. This is worthy to mention because even if you have all the best speakers and performers in the world, if the audio is garbage then the event crumbles The musicians were inspired to perform because of the sound mixing by Bobie .

Also, one cannot forget to mention the assistant of Bobie, Kaiser “Kai” Bermudo and Jun Isla, President of the Filipino Seniors Group (FSG), for helping out with stage management, sound system set-up and clean-up. Bobie shared that Paul Morrow of Filipino Express, who is also an able sound engineer himself, provided assistance during the event by patching cables and doing some “live streaming” of the performances for both days. Jojo Yso of Traffikk Jamm also shared his talent in the management of some technical aspects of the audio.

I would also like to mention Aksyon ng Kabataan’s (ANAK)  that organized Filipino traditional games like Piko, Patintero, Tumbang Preso ,Dr. Kwak Kwak and many more, which the  kids and even adults really enjoyed playing. These traditional Filipino games seemed trivial, but they were powerful since they managed to evoke nostalgia of my childhood friends when we were playing these games.

Sponsors key to success

We know very well that in order for an event to be successful, funding plays a crucial role to make this happen. So where do you get the support to sustain a big community event like this? This was the million dollar question that Kuya Lou Fernandez answered. He told me that sponsors like Vickar Automotive Group, Young’s Ethnic Food Store, CASERA credit union, Jim Gauhtier, Saladmaster, Charmaine Hernandez Mortgage Broker (Centum) TRI –M Windows and Doors, Maneet Jassal Realtor, played a key role that brought to fruition PCCM’s Food-O-Rama.

FB_IMG_1470707037318Other business establishments that contributed and actively participated: (Caldwell Banker), RONA, Moneris, Birchwood Honda (Regent), Forex Cargo, Vocal Arts Centre, CKJS (AM 810), Pilipino Express, SARBIT, Sunshine’s Creations Party, Sahara Oasis Spa, UPS McPhillips, Jackie De Quiroz (Century 21), Joel Duque, Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC, DSMACS Consulting Inc., KFC, Yoli Better Body System, DMC Production, CCFCC, Pratts Wholesale Limited, Baon Manila Nights, International Minute Press, Twist Bistro, Entrepreneurship Manitoba, M. PALAPUZ Construction Inc., Daylight Electrical Ltd., Small Farms Manitoba, Norwest Coop Community Food Centre, Culture Card, Fun Shots Photo Booth, Lente Photography, I-Remit Global Remittance and  204 FM.

‘Bring PCCM closer to community’

Knowing the process of organizing community events, it takes a great of deal of time, effort and resources to realize Food-O-Rama. Liza Fontillas, one of the Food-O-Rama volunteers and an I-Remit staff said “the goal of the event is to bring PCCM closer to the community and open PCCM to the people.”

She adds that “the Board of PCCM (Jonalyn Espero, Pastor Reymus Cagampan, Cezar Villamayor, Rey Sangalang,Jing Asperin,Sonny Balmes,Lito Taruc, Eril Deculing, May Deculing,Joanne Viviesca, Rodge Lopez, Chito Barcenas, Nap  Ebora, together with all the volunteers   from Tau Gamma Phi, Isabela Association of Mb, Friends of Filipino Immigrants and Aksyon ng Kabataan or ANAK INC. and Lourdes Federis, the event organizer/coordinator, all played a decisive role in the success of the event.”

The 1st Food-O-Rama was indeed a memorable experience not only for those who have grown to the taste of Filipino food but also for those who want to introduce their taste buds and savour traditional Filipino food. At the end of the day, everybody was happy. This early, they are already looking forward to the next Food-O-Rama. It surely made everyone feel home away from home!

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