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Island-hopping feeding project for the Dumagats and Mangyan IPs

By Marilie Bomediano
Photos by: Marilie Bomediano
July 27, 2016


Philippines. FILIPINO-Australian executive chef Marx Canoy, sponsored and accompanied by environmentalist Regina ‘Gina’ Lopez of the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, conducted a food hygiene and safety training safari in the Philippine hinterlands as part of a feeding program for rural and disadvantaged townfolk.

“It is for this reason that I am not in favour of mining in our islands- because mining will kill whatever possibilities that beauty can give us.”, Ms. Lopez, chairperson of ABS-CBN media network also added.

Ms Lopez and Mr Canoy share a passion for conservation and service to the common tao. Both have collaborated to work toward a shared goal to uplift the daily lives of Filipino kapamilyas; to make their poverty more bearable, improving their way of life through sustainable and practical use of their local crops, and to encourage their active participation in ecotourism.

“We need not look any further than our own backyards for healthy inexpensive food options.” Mr Canoy said.

“My aim is to educate people into being creative about their food processing and cooking, with an emphasis on using fresh local and exotic ingredients, thus minimising the consumption of imported and canned foods, ultimately reducing expenses on food.”, he added.

Mr Canoy has spent much of his working life seeking new ideas and developing new recipes from locally available ingredients.

Along the way, he has published two “pinoy pride” cookbooks:  Marx Canoy’s Food Feast cookbook (Revesby Press, Australia), a bronze award-winner at the 2014 Living Now Book Awards in the United States; Cookbook for the Superfit (Katha Publishing, Philippines) again a bronze medal winner at the Living Now Book Awards in 2015 under cookbook award category - natural, organic and vegetarian.

Mr Canoy revisited Manila as a guest of   Ms Lopez. They planned their food safari across the Philippine islands with media support from the ABS-CBN radio and television network

In March their advocacy immediately kickstarted during his primary cooking lessons at the Paco Market’s vicinity.

The session’s primary task within Paco’s inner Barangays is to educate the Filipino community in proper food handling and the usage of healthy and affordable recipes specifically designed to generate more income among the Filipino micro-entrepreneurs, an empowerment that Canoy has shared.

ABS-CBN’s Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig (KBPIP) was the next project on where chef-author Canoy has demonstrated food safety training and cooking demo using eggs and chicken to small stall vendors and housewives.

Chef Canoy’s  sanitation  awareness  advocacy  sub-story:
Amidst the fury of Luzon’s BUTSOY tropical storm last July 8, Chef Marx Canoy’s sanitation and feeding advocacy kept rolling towards Northern Luzon penetrating the Ipoh Dam’s region of Norzagaray Bulacan where the DUMAGATS’ ethnic minorities are scattered along the rugged river banks.

The term Dumagat may have been derived from the word gubat (forest) and hubad. The more logical origin of its name is taga-dagat which referred to "sea gypsies".They typify the outstanding negrito physical traits of dark brown to black color and curly hair. The few cases of straight hair and light complexion may be chiefly the result of mixture with lowland Christians.²

The Dumagat people are of the Agta Negrito groups found in Luzon. In the past, these people lived in coastal areas of Aurora and Quezon provinces and were lords in their own domain. However, because of the coming of Filipino homesteaders into the Agta area they were pushed into the mountains, and dispersed in small groups. ²

Dumagats are semi-nomadic. They move from place to place in search of better habitation. Recently, they have learned to live permanent settlements. They are reported found scattered in different locations. They are also divided into six languages. ²

The Kabulowan are one of the subgroups of the Dumagat (also known as '"Baluga"). Their livelihood ranges from hunting and gathering to having gardens and raising coconuts.  ²

A sanitation awareness, feeding and sanitary packs’ distribution was administered by this writer,  Canoy’s Filo-Aussie protége, also researching for his upcoming Philippine cultural heritage cookbook “Ang Muntingnayon”  soon to be released in 2017.

As Sydney’s Kalatas NewsMedia correspondent, the broadcast presenter of Radio Rizal 100.9 FM 2BACR and Sandigan Radio 88.1 FM 2RDJ and Canoy’s army, I was fully equipped when accompanied by the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples’ (NCIP) management team consisting of  Ms. Imelda Bangug (an Aeta minority herself)  joined by Ms. Mamerta Samson and Lady Ann Bernardo with the guidance of Ms. Regina p. Panlilio, NCIC Chief, Bulacan Service Center of Bigte Norzgaray, Bulacan.

That afternoon, we shared a sumptuous boodle fight lunch of sinugbang isda at baboy, inihaw na mga talong at okra and sweets with the 12 Dumagats IP elders  followed by the distribution of  their sanitary gift packs  with towels, bath soaps, pain medications and vitamins.

This brought tears of joys to their eyes that are often widely focused on the traditional hunting of the wild forest’s exotic dish “bayawak” meat or Iguana lizard, the old fishing ways of  freshwater fish or their basket weaving skills using raw materials like Buho and Rattan.

Other good samaritans and loyal supporters who joined my mission were our MSU-IIT High School  ’81 batchmates spearheaded by physician Dr Rhodora Falcon-Pesebre with psychologist Dr Marlene Mallo-Monterona, homemakers Josephine Beleta-Lasam, Arlene Alasan-Torres and pastora Zenaida Villarosa who all displayed the warmth of camaraderie and compassion towards the local natives.

Dr. Pesebre returned the very next day July 9 to the same location along with the more doctors from the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians Bulacan Chapter: Dr Prima Leah Chua, Dr. Agnes Esperidion, Dr . Lourdes Gubatan, Dr. Perlita Santos and Felicidad Hernandez- Medical Assistant as they delivered slippers, food packs and goodies along with a medical mission to the rest of the Dumagats natives  and their tribal families.


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