From fiesta-inspired buffets to stately sit-down meals–a gastronomic welcome for ADB delegatesBy Joy Rojas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
It won’t be all business for the 67 finance ministers and 4,000 delegates participating in Asian Development Bank’s 45th Annual Board of Governors Meeting on May 2-5. As the host country of this year’s meeting, the Philippines will fete key delegates to special dinners to be held today in the homes of nine prominent Filipino families.
Given our reputation for pampering out-of-towners with genuine hospitality and endless rounds of delicious food and drink, these dinners will definitely be in the minds of lucky guests long after the ADB meeting is over.
Ambassador and Mrs. Jesus P. Tambunting
On the guest list: H.E. Josaia Bainimarama, Fiji Prime Minister and ADB Governor; Aldrik Girveld, Netherlands head of delegation, Deputy Director Minister of Foreign Affairs; Bo Goran Sundstrom, United Kingdom head of delegation, UK Department for Internal Development; Ramon R. Jimenez Jr., Philippine Department of Tourism Secretary
Going for a relaxed, Old Manila ambiance with a personal touch, the Tambuntings will treat 50-60 of their special guests to a cozy dinner held at the lush and breezy garden of their newly renovated home. The ambassador’s children—Mia Tambunting-Padilla, Victoria Tambunting-Alfonso and Steven Tambunting—will greet guests at the main door before leading them to their assigned white-and-green-themed rattan tables, each adorned with jusi tablecloth, candles, prettified anahaw fans, and an elegant centerpiece of lilies, stargazers and ferns arranged by Mabolo Flowers.
Serenaded by a pianist and the Madrigal Singers (whose repertoire for this occasion includes songs from the international guests’ countries of origin and some favorite Filipino classics), ADB delegates will have a taste of Filipino dishes in a trio of appetizers (dulong sa biscocho, fried lumpiang kesong puti and chicharon, and shrimp ukoy) followed by a buffet-style setup by Via Mare.
Guests are free to sample what they want to try and in manageable portions, though with these mouth-watering selections, indulging is not a surprise.
Grilled prawns with dayap butter sauce and chili garlic sauce, boneless agachonas adobado, hinornong lomo at keso, roast suckling pig and pancit puti make up the main course menu.
Vegetarians, meanwhile, will appreciate the native salad bar (ensalada suha at labanos, lumpia ubod fresco in pouch and ensalada verde with vinaigrette dressing). And those with a sweet tooth will not want to miss the staples of Filipino desserts—mini halo-halo topped with mango and ube ice cream, pastillas de leche in cutout wrapper, bibingka galapong and puto bumbong.
Having hosted many a gathering in her capacity as wife to the former Ambassador to the United Kingdom, the very gracious Margarita Tambunting hopes that this dinner will impress upon guests a Philippines that is “hospitable, friendly and relaxing. More than artificial fun, I’d like to project a sincerity in something down to earth,” she says. “We don’t entertain just because we’re the host country of this event, but because they are our guests and we appreciate their coming over.”
Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Philip Romualdez
On the guest list: U Than Nyein, Governor, Central Bank of Myanmar; Wayne Swan, MP, Australia; Natan Teewe, Kiribati; Sunia Manu Fili, Tonga; José Rene Almendras, Philippine Department of Energy Secretary
A lively barrio fiesta theme sees the home of businessman Philip Romualdez and his wife, Philippine Daily Inquirer president Alexandra “Sandy” Prieto-Romualdez, transformed into a fun provincial party scene, complete with colorful buntings, torches and bahay-kubo serving as food stations for the buffet dinner prepared by Via Mare.
The celebration starts as soon as the guests arrive. Entering to a rousing rondalla rendition of “Mabuhay,” each delegate is welcomed with sampaguita garland placed around his neck by one of three receptionists. Friendly food staff offer various drinks (refreshing fruit juices or flavored lambanog for the adventurous) and canapés (tasty triangles of flaked chicken and mushroom adobo or dulong sa biscocho), but if a guest prefers to save his stomach for dinner, he should head off to the garden immediately.
Via Mare specialties make up the hefty menu: There’s an oyster station (eat them fresh off the shell or go for baked oysters Rockefeller and Boursin cheese); ihaw-ihaw kubo (pinais na alimasag, grilled sugpo, and tanguigue with different sauces); main entrée kubo (manok with kesong puti and mangga, lomo with asparagus and capsicum in kaldereta sauce, lechon, kanin sa dahon ng saging, sotanghon guisado with apulid and Chinese chorizo); ensalada kubo (ensaladang suha at labanos, ensaladang lato, lumpiang ubod in pouches); and a dessert kubo (petit bibingka galapong and puto bumbong cooked on the spot, halo-halo and guinomis bar, turrones de saba, fresh tropical fruits).
Delegates settle down to good food and company in the lanai, where tables are laid out with a red tablecloth, amakan (ruffia-type material made of abaca fiber) runner and a uniquely attractive arrangement of tropical flowers, fruits and sampaguita balls. Rattan chairs with colorful banig seat covers complement the unmistakably native motif.
Of course, no barrio fiesta is complete without the entertainment. After dinner, guests repair to the garden to witness traditional Filipino dances performed by the Folklorico Dance Troupe. A Kalinga dance from the Cordilleras, Maranao singkil from Southern Mindanao, and dances from rural Philippines that end with the popular tinikling are sure to give ADB delegates a sweeping experience of Philippine culture all in one evening.
Mr. and Mrs. George S.K. Ty
On the guest list: Zhou Xiaochun, Governor, People’s Republic of China; Nguyen Van Bihn, Vietnam; Jack J. Ading, Marshall Islands; Professor Ignazio Visco, Italy
At the Ty residence, the sampaguita takes center stage in a dinner that, like all dinners organized before it, represents the warmth, hospitality and generous spirit of the business tycoon and Metrobank founder.
From the minute delegates enter his well-appointed home to the time they sit down to a buffet dinner prepared by noted chef and caterer Margarita Fores, the distinct fragrance of our national flower lingers in the air, thanks to a “curtain” of sampaguita that welcomes guests as they arrive, and a lawn lavishly embellished with the delicate white and green flower.
Capiz is another element of this exclusive affair. Countless capiz floaters and abaca globes fill the family pool, to be illuminated by tea lights in vases swathed in sinamay. Guests can admire this lovely sight from inside a transparent tent near the lanai, one fitted with beautiful capiz chandeliers, vibrant colored lighting and tables spread with a fabric reminiscent of an exotic malong. The centerpiece is a unique gathering of sampaguita, casablancas, roses and orchids in capiz boxes.
Dinner is Filipino fusion, an innovative execution of dishes using locally sourced ingredients. From Davao and Bukidnon produce and kasuy from Antipolo, to cacao from Batangas, chorizo from Vigan, red eggs from Pateros and lechon from Bacolod, this is a veritable “food trip,” a must-try for any first-timer in the Philippines.
Halo-halo and cheese, mango or dolce de leche-flavored gelato are among the irresistible desserts.
Speaking on behalf of his family and his colleagues from the Metrobank Group, Ty considers this dinner a “great privilege” as well as “an honor we will treasure. The opportunity will surely strengthen our ties with development organizations and explore areas where we can work together.”
On the guest list: Tigran Davtyan, Armenia; Chongsoo Kim, Bank of Korea Governor; Timothy Geithner, US; Armin Luisitro, Department of Education, Philippines
As a host of countless dinners in his home, including those that introduce every incoming US Ambassador to the Philippine business community, Washington SyCip knows exactly what he wants for his ADB gathering of 30-40 delegates.
An eclectic menu is expected from his go-to chef and caterer, Margarita Fores. Starters are a choice between paté di fegato on toast squares with stanol mostarda di frutta and lumpia Pangasinan bangus tinapa, sotanghon with Negros blackberry vinaigrette, while soup is a toss-up between creamy (Bulacan river prawn bisque) and clear (molo dumplings with river prawn and ubod).
The pasta-chorizo Bolognese cannelloni with Davao Malagos ricotta besciamella and queso de bola sounds like a meal in itself. But guests should save space for the main course—braised and grilled US Angus short ribs, or the classic bistek Tagalog.
For dessert, there’s the palate-cleansing fresh fruit platter, and for delegates who can’t refuse sweet treats, a Baguio strawberry or mango trifle and arellanitas tiramisu.
Serving a sumptuous meal, of course, is only a springboard to the true message the founder of the Asian Institute of Management and the accounting firm SyCip Gorres and Velayo hopes to impart to his esteemed guests.
“It doesn’t matter what we serve, what they eat, and so on,” says SyCip. “What matters is that we give them a true picture of our country—that in our country, the people are good. They all know about the corruption, but let them know that the people are good.”
Doris Magsaysay Ho
On the guest list: Masaaki Shirakawa, Governor, Bank of Japan; Kieren Keke, Republic of Nauru; John Baird, Canada; Pehin Dato Abdul Ibrahim, Brunei Darussalam
“Secretary Purisima’s idea of having families host dinners for our ADB guests is a wonderful idea,” says the entrepreneur and philanthropist Doris. “I believe the best way to know the Philippines is to experience the Filipino tradition of entertaining in one’s home, where one can feel the warmth and sincerity of the Filipino’s spirit.”
While Magsaysay Ho will personally attend to the details of table setting and flower arrangements, she has tapped chef Gilbert Pangilinan to prepare a three-course sit-down meal that makes use of the finest locally sourced organic ingredients and classic Pinoy cooking techniques.
Foreigners and Filipinos alike will appreciate the spectrum of tastes and textures in a menu that includes pako at itlog na maalat with Palawan honey dressing, lumpiang ubod with pili nuts, river shrimp kinilaw and cilantro, Davao goat cheese and cherry tomato, and Wagyu bistek Tagalog with onions and kalabasa florets.
“Hopefully,” says chef Gilbert, “this dinner leaves a lasting impression of the warmth of genuine Filipino hospitality, and as gracious hosts who carefully and tastefully prepared a delicious dinner served in an exquisite ambiance inside her beautiful, welcoming home. This whole experience aims to project a Philippines that is uniquely diverse in its own cultures, yet at par with the world’s best, a country you want to come back to many times over.”