The local food world was shaken during the Holy Week when the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that international food congress Madrid Fusion Manila was going to be canceled this year.
In her column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer titled "Madrid Fusion Manila is no more," Margaux Salcedo wrote that the Tourism and Promotions Board—the Department of Tourism arm, headed by Cesar Montano, in charge of the event—would no longer push through, due to the "gargantuan task" of putting the "gargantuan gastronomic event" together. During Madrid Fusion Manila, international chefs are flown in for talks, vendors and booths also peddle Philippine products, and local chefs wow with their interpretaions of the year's theme.
The Philippines has been contracted to host the Asian leg of the congress for five years, 2018 supposedly being its fourth year. It was a deal struck by then Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez in 2015 with the Madrid Fusion organizers in Spain.
Salcedo also wrote: "The present administration, it seemed, did not really appreciate the project. The reason, Montano says: Many are of the impression the government is spending so much money promoting other cultures." Instead of Madrid Fusion Manila, the Tourism department will hold Buhay Carinderia, a program that aimed to redefine the humble eatery. It was set to launch on April 11, allegedly five times bigger in size than MFM.
The announcement was met with backlash and disbelief (considering it was made on April Fool's Day), especially remembering how the event helped put Philippine gastronomy on the global stage. On Wednesday, April 4, TPB declared on their Facebook page that the congress was back on.
In the statement: "In light of new developments and [changes] in logistical requirements which are advantageous to the government for the International Gastronomy Congress and the Fusion International Manila Expo; the Tourism Promotions Board is assessing the possibility of staging the fourth edition of Madrid Fusion Manila later this year."
The statement is murky at best, but at the very least there's hope for the congress to push through. With Madrid Fusion Manila on shaky ground, there have been no reports on the status of Buhay Carinderia.