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A Filipino Culinary Godsend

How often has it happened that we have a foreign guest come to Manila, or have friends who have spent years abroad; and they say they want to sample or they miss Filipino food, and want a little slice of Filipino culture, and we’re left scratching our noggins, wondering where to take them? If it’s not a super-expensive Filipino degustation concept eatery, it’ll be dependable Filipino food restos; but there won’t be much in terms of culture or Folklore. And if we head to venues where these folk dances are performed, it’s either outdoor, or without the benefit of having good food while watching! 



Issa Litton, Gaita Fores, Hannah Yulo and Lara Fernandez-Barrios at Islas Pinas


Double Dragon has always done things their own way, so when they devoted 3,000 square meters of the Ground floor of their new Double Dragon Plaza, at Meridian Park, to celebrate Filipino Food & Culture, they made sure it would be done in a big way. To handle the Food aspect, they turned to no other than Margarita Fores, Asia’s Best Female Chef of 2016, to run the kitchen and various food stations. And for the interiors, it’s Lara Fernandez-Barrios and Larawan Ink creating ‘zones’ of Filipino culture and tourist destinations. An Instagram and selfie paradise, this would literally be the first Filipino food and culture village that’s indoor, very comfortable with air-conditioning, and operated in a manner to make it unique and convenient.



Ferdie Sia of Double Dragon and your author at Islas Pinas’ authentic Sarao jeepney.


The indoor Bahay Kubo and market at Islas Pinas


Sailing in a Vinta, with the right appetite; at Islas Pinas

Upon entering Islas Pinas, one is given a ‘card pass’ that serves as your ‘passport’ to order food, drinks, and souvenirs. Rather than holding cash each time you order, or having the food vendors hand out change, things are kept relatively hygienic; and it’s only when leaving the food village, that your ‘card’ is swiped, and the POS tells you what your total bill is.

And get ready for those pangs of hunger to be satisfied, as Margarita has created food Zones—from Sinag, to Alamat, Bilao, Tusok Tusok, Pampang, and Panulak. There’s a Bahay Kubo, a Vinta, a vintage Sarao jeepney, a Rice Terraces section, a mini-Intramuros, a tribute to Paoay church, and nods to other inspiring Philippine icons and regions. 

The Tusok Tusok zone at Islas Pinas.


At Islas Pinas, the cry is ‘Taaahoooo!’


Quite literally, it’s a centrally located answer to all that I was mentioning in the first paragraph. Now there is a place to bring those tourists or balikbayans, there is a place where our children can get a sampling of Filipino culture, and where different types of regional Filipino cuisine get a chance to be showcased and eaten with gusto!