United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared Iloilo City as one of Creative Cities of Gastronomy in the world, the first to be given such recognition in the Philippines.
Known for its batchoy, pancit molo, and biscocho, Iloilo City earned the prestigious title of UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy for its rich culinary heritage, unique ingredients and flavors of traditional cuisines, innovative creations, and other gastronomic initiatives.
Another vital piece in the city’s submission to UNESCO is the Ilonggo cookbook “Flavors of Iloilo,” which showcases the contributions of heirloom recipes from prominent Ilonggo families. A brainchild of Iloilo City’s First Lady Rosalie S. Treñas and Chef Rafael ‘Tibong’ Jardeleza, the 208-page cookbook aims to promote the city as a culinary destination and strengthen the identity of Ilonggos by preserving the heritage and tradition of famed culinary arts and skills.
“Proud that our city was recognized and included by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network on Gastronomy – the only city in the Philippines. We worked hard for this recognition, and together with our collective efforts we are now here,” said Mayor Jerry P. Treñas.
Iloilo City and 54 other cities around the world were added in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), following their designation by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay in a press announcement on Tuesday, October 31. The network now has 350 cities in more than one hundred countries, representing seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music.
Iloilo City, who failed to make it in 2021, was finally recognized after re-submitting the bid this year. The application was endorsed by UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines (UNACOM), with assistance from Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
UCCN is a network of cities worldwide that have been recognized for their commitment to and achievements in various fields of creativity, including gastronomy. The designation of “UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy” is given to cities that have demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting and preserving their culinary heritage, supporting sustainable food systems, and fostering creativity and innovation in the field of gastronomy.
These cities are acknowledged for their efforts to use gastronomy as a tool for cultural and economic development, and to highlight the role of food and cuisine in promoting cultural diversity and sustainable development. The network includes cities that have vibrant food scenes, strong culinary traditions, and a dedication to promoting local and traditional cuisines while also exploring new culinary innovations.
Created in 2004, UCCN fosters international cooperation within and across cities that have invested in culture and creativity as an accelerator of sustainable development.
The recognition as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy can bring global attention to a city’s food culture and culinary initiatives, leading to cultural exchange and cooperation with other cities in the network to further develop and celebrate gastronomic creativity. It also helps boost tourism and economic development by positioning the city as a culinary destination.
These cities often engage in various initiatives, such as food festivals, culinary education, gastronomic research, and culinary innovation, to strengthen their status as creative hubs for gastronomy.
As the first UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in the Philippines, Iloilo City is invited to participate in the 2024 UCCN Annual Conference in Braga, Portugal on July 1-5, 2024.