A new book about old food speaks to future food security
When I look at my travel bucket list, one of the places that I have always wanted to go is Batanes. Every time I look at its photos on blogs and travel sites, I always ask myself when Marc and I can go there for a vacation. But while that time hasn’t come yet, I think we’re good with viewing Batanes on the internet.
The popular images of Batanes are those of breathtaking verdant landscapes and blue waters that are alternately agitated and calm. These northernmost Philippine islands have long been part of a traveler’s must-go-and-experience list. But Batanes is more than just a weekend getaway.
This beautiful Philippine tourist destination has more things to offer, especially when it comes to food and nature. One way to discover them is by reading“A Delicate Balance: Batanes Food, Ecology and Community”. A project of The Museo ng Kaalamang Katutubo (MusKKat), this informative book explores how food, ecology, nature, and tradition have shaped the Ivatan way of life in the last 4,000 years.
Written by Corazon S. Alvina and Marian Pastor Roces, and complemented with insightful photographs by Neal Oshima, the book displays the intricate but robust relationships within the Ivatan communities. It also shows how traditional Ivatan food is interconnected with its microsystem.
“A Delicate Balance: Batanes Food, Ecology and Community” was launched November of last year at the Bayanihan Center and was attended by members of the academe, arts, cultural, and culinary fields. In her welcome speech, MusKKat Executive Director Alvina acknowledged and thanked those who collaborated and contributed to the making of the book. This work of art is a result of the collaboration and the consolidation of the substantive research work of archaeologists, anthropologists, boat makers, botanists, Ivatan cooks and nutritionists, a professional urban chef, geologists, sea current specialists, and zoologists.
In walking the guests through the book, Pastor Roces said that while “A Delicate Balance: Batanes Food, Ecology and Community” is a food book, it does not necessarily talk the delicacies. Food is only an access point into the Batanes man-in-biosphere ecosystem.
Dr. Fe Hidalgo, former secretary of education and one of the book’s key resource persons, expressed her gratitude for its conceptualization and development. An Ivatan herself, Dr. Hidalgo shared her own experience living and growing up in the Batanes, and how the Ivatan have managed to remain true to their culture and traditions.
Unilab EVP and COO Benjamin O. Yap shared his own experience of Batanes, where the islands and the Ivatan captured his heart. When he set foot on the islands for the first time in 2015, it is as if time stood still and the poetry of the islands stole his heart.
Each chapter of “A Delicate Balance: Batanes Food, Ecology and Community” is keyed with an Ivatan word that sets the tone of the storytelling. Then, it explores and elaborates domains beyond food, such as biodiversity and sustainability.
“A Delicate Balance: Batanes Food, Ecology and Community” is now available for purchase at www.phfoodecosystems.com for P3,850.