UNESCO Crowns Iloilo City as Philippines’ First ‘Creative City of Gastronomy’

UNESCO Iloilo City ‘Creative City of Gastronomy’
A sumptuous spread of Iloilo’s finest food showcasing the rich culinary traditions that earned Iloilo City the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy title. Photo from Iloilo City government FB.

Iloilo City has earned the distinguished honor of being named the first ‘Creative City of Gastronomy’ in the Philippines by UNESCO. This accolade was announced as part of the celebrations for World Cities Day 2023, formally inducting Iloilo into the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) and highlighting its commitment to sustainable urban development through cultural innovation.

Joining 54 other cities in this year’s selection announced on October 31, Iloilo City is now a proud member of the 350-strong UCCN, representing the crux of creativity in over a hundred countries. This network unites cities across seven creative fields, including Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts, and Music.

For Iloilo, this international recognition comes on the heels of being declared the “Food Haven of the Philippines” — a testament to its diverse Ilonggo cuisine and its celebration of indigenous ingredients, featuring delights such as La Paz Batchoy, Pancit Molo, and Biscocho.

Mayor Jerry P. Treñas shares the community’s joy and pride with the world, affirming, “I share this award with the Ilonggos like me who love to cook our traditional food. Now, we can proudly say Ilonggo cuisine is taking the stage in the international gastronomy scene.” This declaration not only recognizes Iloilo’s gastronomic culture but also marks a moment of pride for Filipinos everywhere as their local flavors earn global recognition.

Iloilo City and the new member cities were acknowledged by the UCCN for their “strong commitment to harnessing culture and creativity as part of their development strategies, and displaying innovative practices in human-centred urban planning.” They are expected to cooperate with the UCCN members to face the challenges of climate change, rising inequality, and rapid urbanization as urban areas are projected to host 68% of the world’s population by 2050.

Further cementing the importance of cultural inclusivity and creative collaboration, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay comments on the broader impact of the Creative Cities Network, “The cities in our Creative Cities Network are leading the way when it comes to enhancing access to culture and galvanizing the power of creativity for urban resilience and development.” Iloilo City’s designation is more than an emblem of culinary excellence; it is a beacon of sustainable cultural practices shaping the future of urban life.

Iloilo City, the capital city of Iloilo province on Panay Island, is no stranger to pioneering sustainable development initiatives. It was the lone Philippine city invited to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s Bridge for Cities forum to showcase its sustainable city lifestyle with biker-friendly lanes and green urban spaces.

As Iloilo joins the ranks of UNESCO’s Creative Cities, it stands shoulder to shoulder with Baguio City and Cebu, previous Philippine inductees to the network, representing Crafts and Folk Art, and Design respectively. Together, they pave the way for a future where culture and creativity are cornerstones of urban development.

Celebrate Iloilo’s vibrant culinary heritage by sharing this story of success and cultural pride. Let’s bring the flavors of the Philippines to the world stage. Share this story and spread the word about Iloilo City’s remarkable achievement.

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Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.