Expo 2015 and Filipino Food: An Opportunity Slowly Slipping Away

A lot has already been said recently about Filipino food and how the world reacts to it, so I won’t be covering much of that issue here. What matters I suppose is that, in spite of what foreigners think of our local delicacies, we have an opportunity to show the world that our food has the potential to become the best of what it can be, if we only knew how to exploit such a potential.

As a matter of fact, within the coming year (2015), a huge opportunity to showcase what Filipino food can be has been slowly building itself up, away from the glamour-ridden immediacy of the Philippine worldview. However, with what I’ve been seeing so far, even that opportunity is slipping away.

The Universal Exposition, more popularly known as Expo, is set to be held in the city of Milan in Italy this 2015, from 1 May to 31 October. The six-month Exposition’s theme is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” Timely, given the state of our 7-billion strong human population. As of this writing, 147 nations have pledged to join and present to the world their own ways on how to feed the planet. For some reason, despite its vast natural resources, the Philippines is not one of these 147 nations.

Detractors would claim that the country still has more than a year at this point to sign up and represent. Given how the Expo is on par with the Olympic Games in presenting a nation on a global level, having the Philippines sign up late (or even not at all) would personally be a huge embarrassment. Many of the 147 nations that have so far committed to participate in Expo 2015 signed up as early as 2011. If indeed Filipino food is palatable and unique as many claim, wouldn’t it be reasonable to sign on at the earliest possible time for a global stage that specifically showcases food?

The Philippines’ participation in previous Expos could be said to be sort of okay at best; the Philippine pavilion in the previous Expo in Shanghai (2010) resembled a silver bayong, or handmade bag, which I thought didn’t quite exude the overall theme of being in a “Better City, Better Life.” Compared to those of other national pavilions, the Philippine pavilion was easily overlooked. Back in 1970, however, the Philippine pavilion in Osaka’s Expo was one of the most spectacular based on its sweeping architecture and imposing sail-like shape:


Since then the country’s pavilions (along with our participation) have become less imposing. Those of other countries with less economic clout on the other hand have become more impressive and memorable, leaving a visual imprint on visitors the best of what a culture can show. The Philippines couldn’t apparently even host a minor Expo; citing economic constraints, Manila withdrew its right to host after it won the bidding to host the 2002 Expo.

Digression aside, is the Philippines capable of presenting the best of its delicacies to the world in an appropriate time and place? Expo 2015 in Milan is waiting; and yet here we are, a supposed East Asian powerhouse of biodiversity, unable to get over the butthurt of foreigners reacting to our food. There has never been a better time and venue to prove that Filipinos are capable of improving the quality of its food, if only we were to at least sign up. Now.

By the way, both Vietnam and Thailand, supposedly economic equals to the Philippines, are now busy constructing their Expo pavilions.



Malaysia already has a full documentation of how their pavilion would present food sustainability, and even Cambodia already had a similar concept ready as early as 2012. Our ASEAN neighbors are more than willing to showcase in Expo 2015 how they could sustain our planet’s food supply, despite their own unique culinary preferences. So, Philippines, is your food worthy of international admiration? Prove it by joining Expo 2015. No excuses.

(Expo 1970 Philippine Pavilion photo courtesy of designKULTUR. Expo 2015 Vietnam Pavilion photo courtesy of Inhabitat. Expo Milano 2015 on Facebook hosts the photo of Expo 2015 Thailand Pavilion.)


Post Author: MidwayHaven

But enough about me.

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24 Comments on "Expo 2015 and Filipino Food: An Opportunity Slowly Slipping Away"

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Jerry Lynch

Here are the major complaints against Filipino foods.
1. Many of them have too much sugar (bread, mayonnaise and spaghetti for instance)
2.The meat has a lot of the trash parts still in it, gristle and connective tissue and bone.
It is left out to reach room temperature rather than being served hot.
3. Pork (lechon) is not cooked long enough
4. Beef is overcooked
5. Hot dogs NEVER belong in spaghetti


It has been almost ten years since I gave up all pork for health reasons. You don’t realize how much pork Pinoys ingest in their everyday existence until you do something like that and realize how much eating you are excluded from. Besides how many times are you eating pork and someone says have more , it’s good for you?


Is there even an on-going or planned competition regarding proposal for the pavillion’s design?

I have not heard or read anything about it.


Hyden Toro
If you love to travel; you can sample the foods of different countries. I have found that each country, has a unique way to prepare and cook its food. Germans are known for their sausages. Italians for their Pastas (spaghettis), with lot of cheese and olive oil, on their food. Mexicans are known for their chilis…(“sili, “siling labuyo”). French is known for their escargots (edible snails). Chinese for their stir fries. British for their organic spices. Japanese for their Susi. Spanish for their lechon de leche. Wine goes with each kind of food. One kind for vegetables…another kind for meat…another… Read more »
Jaime Veridune

The Philippine Pavilion for Expo 2005, in Aichi, Japan; and Expo 2008, in Zaragoza, Spain, won the Gold Prize. The former goes with the theme of coconuts being a versatile resource, while the other goes with aquatic life.

Maybe the Philippines has a shot – if whoever organizes our entry pushes the envelope in making, at least, a note-worthy concept and design.

Hyden Toro

We have many Architechs or Architechtural Students…concept designers. Maybe the concept design can be fururistic/modern facade that will blend with inner dwsign native to our country…

‘Put your food where your mouth is’ Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, traditional filipino cuisine has a limited appeal to many international travellers ( a review of tripadvisor/lonelyplanet etc would confirm that) – and the country is generally not a great inspiration to chefs, unlike thai, vietnamese, chinese, and obviously japanese, but I agree the issue is not to have a meaningless p!ssing contest, but to apply the principle – ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’, and to develop the industry as appropriate, highlight excellence where it exists, take advantage of opportunities, create dishes which excite, and strive to… Read more »

If ever Philippines joins this, I hope they won’t present dishes like dinuguan, papaitan, pinakbet and bopis. These are mediocre dishes at best and it takes an acquired taste to like them. No matter how much you try, there will never be a gourmet version of them.

JT Jerzy

problem with the food is PESO’s, not enough of them and the quality suffers.
The answer to the question is undoubtedly:YES.

Banapple Fan
Well that is the perfect venue to place those butthurt’s so–called ‘Pinoy Pride’! Our food is great,then show it at the Expo 2015! The annoying thing with some butthurt Filipinos, they’re so easy to get angry at anyone who criticizes them, no matter how objective and unbiased the opinions of those people. And when the right time comes for them to prove that those people are wrong they wither and shut-up on a corner and cry foul and use social media together with their ass-kissers army to defend them. Daym, pathetic, another one of those government’s ‘last two minutes’ shots… Read more »

I just read that one of my all time top 10 chefs is opening/going into partnership with a culinary school in taguig – alain ducasse – surprising to me, but a great boost and opportunity for aspiring chefs in the philippines – if any of them stay here after training!
His restaurant – jules verne – in/up the eiffel tower in paris is a wonder to behold/enjoy.

Couldn’t resist thinking about my top 10 chefs from all the michelin restaurants i have been to. it has been a life-long pursuit of pleasure/hobby. Roger verge – cuisine de soleil – moulin de mougins – a stunning restaurant in a beautiful village high above Nice, south of france. My introduction as a child to the good life. Albert roux – the godfather of french cuisine in UK – le gavroche, ( the Queens favourite restaurant) – and a dynasty of chefs – brother michel and his also his son michel – more 3 michelin stars at the waterside, bray,… Read more »

i don’t think thailand economic is equals to philipines thailand is better i when to thailand for one time there are have everything we don’t have like beautiful road and railway skyscraper most of them are rich now no poor people 98% no slum since 2012 GDP is 11600$ per capita everything in thailand is go forward but philipines is stuck in same thing in my opinion


I can’t believe Philippines haven’t signed up yet!

I really hope they will still join this global Expo and showcase the many products Philippines should be proud of. …not much in the gastronomy, but the vast range of products the filipino land can produce.

It’s a great opportunity to share with other countries technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity related to food.

Let’s go Philippines… let’s feed our minds!


PH will officially NOT be joining Expo 2015. THIS SUCKS!

And for all the wrong reasons, I might add:



“The next party is the Milan Expo 2015 (1 May-31 October); but we won’t be there.

“PENNY WISE, POUND FOOLISH? The Milan Mayor’s office said we didn’t sign up; and CITEM confirmed that killjoys in the Aquino administration decided not to participate because of budgetary reasons.”

Welp, it only proves that when an opportunity for showcasing what’s good about the Philippines presents itself, the Aquinos would always put a damper on the party.

I am reluctant to criticise Filipino cuisine, it is your country, your culture, it’s what you grew up with and know. However, I have to agree that the food here is BLAND and UNHEALTHY. There is no doubt that in SE Asia, it is the least flavoursome in a region that elsewhere explodes with flavours and excitement. Filipino food knows nothing of spices that exist in all the other nearby countries…for god sake I can’t even buy coriander here, a staple of all other SE Asian dishes.I don’t know why this is the case, it must go back a long… Read more »