These Filipino Ulam Dishes Are From The Hometowns Of Your Presidential & VP Candidates

Let's go on a mini food trip with our presidential and VP candidates!

Election day is fast approaching, and though it seems many Filipinos are ready to cast their votes, you still have some time to know more about your chosen candidates, especially the presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

This year, the candidates for president and vice president hail from all over the Philippines. Just as these presidential and VP hopefuls have been traveling around the country and going to sorties, why not go on a little food trip of their hometowns as well? You might discover you might want to try some of the beloved Pinoy food from the regions most associated with your presidential and VP candidates.

Here are some regional Filipino food from your vice presidential candidates’ home provinces:

Walden Bello – Rizal

This “drunken” shrimp dish is ironically perfect as a pulutan!
Photo by Bianca Laxamana

Walden Bello was born in Rizal in the municipality of Cardona. Rizal is just east of Metro Manila and is known for its many Instagram-worthy cafes and dining spots. (We’ve covered quite a few of these pretty places!) Some of the dishes you might enjoy are nilasing na hipon or “drunken shrimp”, which is a deep-fried shrimp dish marinated in alcohol, and the ginataang kuhol, or snails in coconut milk. Rizal also boasts buro or balaw-balaw, a fermented rice paste that can be eaten as a side or used as a condiment.

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Sara Duterte – Davao

Sinuglaw comes from sugba (barbeque) and kilaw (vinegar-cured fish or meat).
Photo by Zoe del Rosario

These days, it is hard to disassociate Davao with the Dutertes, whether it’s Rodrigo Duterte (who is the current Philippine president) or his daughter Sara Duterte, who is running for vice president. Davao, which was recently dubbed the Chocolate Capital of the Philippines, is one of the country’s biggest producers of cacao. But aside from its delicious chocolates, Davao is also known for its affordable yet fresh seafood, sweet suha or pomelo, and of course, the smelly durian.

Lito Atienza, Willie Ong, Kiko Pangilinan, and Tito Sotto – Manila

Beef pares is a flavorful beef stew commonly found in Manila.
Photo by Majoy Siason

While these four vice-presidential candidates could not be more different from each other, they share a common birthplace: Manila. As the capital of the Philippines, Manila is a melting pot not only of international cuisines, but of regional food cultures as well. From fusion Filipino food to celebrating local flavors, Manila boasts a wide array of Pinoy ulam dishes such as the beef pares that are exciting yet nostalgic to many a Filipino.

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Here are some regional Filipino food from your presidential candidates’ provinces:

Leody de Guzman – Oriental Mindoro

Suman sa lihiya is made with the addition of lye water and is served with latik.
Photo by Judgefloro on Wikipedia Commons

Leody de Guzman was born in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, which, among its many bodies of water, is home the Naujan Lake, the fifth biggest lake in the Philippines. While Oriental Mindoro is known for Puerto Galera and its famous dive spots and beaches, it also offers kakanin like suman sa lihiya. You can also enjoy Occidental Mindoro dishes like adobong pugita (octopus) and ginataang puso ng saging (banana heart in coconut).

Isko Moreno Domagoso – Tondo, Manila

Monok, a spicy double-cooked chicken dish found in Tondo.
Photo by Channel News Asia

Just like Isko Moreno Domagoso, popularly nicknamed “Yorme,” is proud of being someone who is laking-Tondo (Tondo born and bred), Tondo too boasts some unique dishes that have even been featured on international Netflix shows. Tondo’s Ugbo Food Strip in particular celebrates the variety of unique and Filipino-favorite street food from all over Manila.

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Ping Lacson – Cavite

Pancit Puso is one of the many noodle dishes you can try in Cavite.
Photo by Majoy Siason

Ping Lacson was born in Imus, Cavite. Known for its deeply historical background, Caviteño cuisine is heavily influenced by our Spanish heritage as well as its fishing culture. One such dish that celebrates both is the paella negra. Cavite is also known for calacandras, a soup that is served on special occasions, that is very similar to sopas. Other unique delicacies include bibingkoy, glutinous rice dumplings filled with sweet mongo bean paste and slathered in a sweet coconut cream sauce. Aside from these, you can also enjoy a variety of pancit, such as the pancit puso, in Cavite.

Bongbong Marcos – Ilocos Norte

Bagnet is a flavorful, crunchy, deep-fried pork belly dish.
Photo by David Hanson

Though Bongbong Marcos was born in Manila, the Marcos family is well known for being Ilocano, and he would later serve as the governor of Ilocos Norte. Ilocano cuisine boasts some of the most popular Filipino dishes and features hearty pork dishes like bagnet, which is a flavorful, sun-fried pork belly dish, as well as delicious vegetarian dishes, like poqui-poqui, a meatless dish made with roasted eggplants, tomatoes, and eggs. Other famous Ilocano dishes are pakbet or pinakbet and the unique Ilocos empanada.

Manny Pacquiao – Sarangani

Sarangani is known for its fresh tuna.
Photo by Bianca Laxamana

Dubbed as the “Pambansang Kamao” for his achievements in boxing, Manny Pacquiao was born in Bukidnon, though later on, he would enter politics as the representative of Sarangani. Sarangani is famous for its prolific tuna fishing industry, and it is where you can source some of the freshest tuna in the Philippines. Aside from tuna, you can also enjoy merienda classics such as sikwate and puto maya.

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Leni Robredo – Bicol

Bicol Express was made in Manila, but inspired by Bicolano cuisine.
Photo by Miguel Nacianceno

The current vice president of the Philippines, Leni Robredo, famously hails from Naga City in the Bicol region. Bicolano cuisine is known for its spicy dishes, like laing, taro leaves cooked in chili and coconut milk, and kinunot, flaked fish in (you guessed it) chili and coconut milk. While Bicol Express might be the first dish that comes to mind when you think of Bicolano food, it was actually created in Manila by Cely Kalaw, who, having spent her childhood in the same city as VP Leni in Naga, was inspired by Bicolano cuisine.

Are you preparing a food fest inspired by any of these dishes in support of your chosen candidate this May? 

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