Originally posted on March 06, 2013
WAS over at InterContinental Manila’s Café Jeepney yesterday (March 5, 2013) for the launch of its Stopover Aklan food, fashion and culture festival, which is ongoing until March 24, 2013. Three components – food, fashion and culture – go into the Stopover Aklan promotion, which was put together by InterContinental Manila in partnership with the Provincial Government of Aklan and the Aklan Provincial Tourism Council.
A Western Visayas province, Aklan is famous for its beautiful beaches, mangroves and mountainous landscapes. It is best known for its world-class tourist attraction, Boracay Island, which keeps both the Boracay Airport (or Godofredo Ramos Airport) in Caticlan, Malay, Aklan, and the Kalibo International Airport in Kalibo, Aklan very busy. Aklan is also quite famous for its Ati-Atihan Festival, which is held annually in the province, mainly in Kalibo. It’s a Mardi Gras-like festival featuring street dancers whose exposed skin has been colored black and garbed in colorful costumes.
The food component of Stopover Aklan comes in the form of an Aklan food festival held at Café Jeepney, where featured Aklanon chefs, including Chef Arlyn Conanan, prepared a number of Aklanon dishes to include in the daily lunch and dinner buffets. On opening day yesterday (March 5, 2013), there was a spread of appetizers – Fish Kinilaw, Ubod Atchara and Shrimp Kinilaw – and there was the Aklanon version of Bulalo at the soup station.
Among the hot dishes were Bangus Cordon Bleu, Inubarang Manok, Linabog na Langka, Ati-Atihan Rice (black rice) and Chicken Binakoe. Over at the carvery, a crisp and golden lechon that was flown in from Aklan turned out to be a big hit with Café Jeepney diners. The Chicken Binakoe already gave diners a glimpse – or flavorful taste – of Aklan’s culinary heritage, as the native chicken, all cut up, had been cooked with coconut juice in bamboo tubes, just like it is traditionally cooked.
When it comes to desserts, Aklan was not to be outdone either, as the dessert spread presented generous servings of Cassava Bicho-Bicho (caramelized fried cassava cake), Latik (glutinous rice cake topped with caramelized coconut strands) and Cassava Pichi-Pichi (cassava cake with grated cheese).
The menu cycle will change over the duration of the food festival, but an authentic taste of Aklanon cuisine will always be there.
Over at the Lobby of InterContinental Manila, Amazing Weaves: An Aklan Fabric Show takes place until March 24. This represents the fashion and culture of Aklan that is on spotlight during the Stopover Aklan promotion. It features fabric installations by Rachy Cuna; piña fashion by Cesar Gaupo, Rajo Laurel, Jojie Lloren, Frederick Peralta, Barge Ramos and Milka Quin; and fabrics by La Herminia of Aklan. The exhibit showcases some of the most beautiful hand-woven fabrics of pineapple, raffia and abaca fibers, as well as cutting-edge but easy-to-wear pineapple fabric (piña) dresses by the top Filipino fashion designers mentioned above, who have designed them to go well with the modern lifestyle.
In a corner of the lobby, hotel guests get to witness actual handloom weaving demonstrations on certain days, and people will get to purchase Aklan fabrics, handicrafts, novelty items and food products from a counter that has been put up specifically for this purpose.
On opening day, Ayala Center shoppers and not just InterCon guests got an extra treat when 45 KSAFI Ati-Atihan dancers from the Province of Aklan paraded down East Street, Ayala Avenue and Courtyard Drive towards dusk. The smaller scale version of Aklan’s famous Ati-Atihan Festival finally converged at the InterCon front lawn for an exciting fire dancing exhibition led by former beauty queen and model Rachel Lobangco.