It was on May 16-19, 2013 that Iloko cultural community was invited through the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) by the Center for International Trade and Exposition Missions or CITEM, a bureau under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to join and showcase culinary crafts at the International Food Exhibit (IFEX): Asia's Ethnic Food & Ingredients Show at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
I got excited when I was informed by the office that I have to bring to Manila food craftsmen to showcase Ilocos empanada and tupig. CITEM requested first patupat but they were thinking of another version of it. So I explained to them what it is all about, took the photos of the delicacies and sent them. I later suggested tinubong but not possible logistically, then I finally proposed tupig but we studied how to cook without the charcoal. It worked well with electric oven upon trying it.
I had difficulty finding people because the elders at the Laoag City market wouldn’t want to travel because of health reasons. After asking several people, I found these young people who nodded positively. I was able to request from the provincial government of Ilocos Norte, empanada maker Romando Figuracion of Johnny Moon Café with assistant Ian Briones and the longtime tupig/patupat makers Mary Rose Julian with assistant Glaiza Julian of Flong’s Special Tupig.
Despite some problems we were able to showcase and demonstrate cooking empanada and tupig. It was a big hit since many people queued up for a sampling of the food. There were some celebrities who dropped by like Chef Claude Tayag who enjoyed empanada very much. There were foreigners too. The photos used on the backdrop of our exhibition area were my output which I used for presentation before the CITEM staff. Same photos were also used on the agency’s website Also featured on the show for the culinary craft spot are the pili nut cracking from Bicol region and making burlas for pastillas and candies from Bulacan.