Experience Maranao Cuisine and Explore Quiapo's Muslim Town with This Virtual Tour
The best parts of travel are experiencing new cultures and tasting new flavors. Unfortunately, the current COVID-19 situation makes staying at home the safest and most ethical choice. Thankfully, agencies like Meaningful Travels PH are making it possible to explore the world from the comfort of your own home with their Quiapo Muslim Town in a Box virtual tour.
Unlike other virtual tours that just use slides and videos, they do their best to engage the five senses. And that’s why they send all participants a box of delectable Maranao food good for two. The box includes rice, a main dish, and dessert, along with the famous palapa. Made from sakurab—native scallions that grow in Lanao, this spicy condiment is a staple at every Maranao table.
There’s also a hijab-wearing lesson for female attendees, so make sure to prepare a scarf and safety pin for the tour. Meaningful Travels PH founder Ann Marie Cunanan, Shari’ah lawyer Amanah Lao, and Salaam Radio host Nords Maguindanao discuss history, culture, and religion while taking you through the area on Google Street View.
“If you look at it on your own, you can still get the feel. But where we add value is we really fill it with stories,” Cunanan explains. “Paano nagkaroon ng community dito, paano na-build yung mosque? Tell us a story about the way you dress, bakit ganoon kayo manamit?”
Cunanan, Lao, and Maguindanao see Quiapo Muslim Town in a Box as more than just a tour—for them, it’s a vehicle for promoting cultural understanding. The tour includes a Q&A session, which Lao describes as a safe space to ask them absolutely anything about Islam and Muslim culture. After all, as a Shari’ah lawyer, she’s well-equipped to answer questions about anything from Islamic law and women’s rights to why Muslims have to uphold halal as a lifestyle.
“If you have questions, feel free [to ask] so that your curiosity can be satisfied. It’s a good way to converse. It's a platform to address hard truths, difficult truths. And it's a way for all of us to actually appreciate who we are as Filipinos,” Lao says. “So it's good to have them out, raise them, and satisfy your curiosity. Ako naman, I'm happy to be able to answer. It's like Miss Universe lang di ba? The question and answer [portion]. Of course it's hard, but if you want to set the record straight, if you want to get a positive image of us then we have to address hard questions. So what I do is to try to be firm yet gentle in the way that we handle issues na hindi sila mahihiya that they asked the question or feel sorry that they raised such questions.”
During the trial run of the virtual tour they got a lot of positive feedback from their attendees, including a mom who attended with her eight-year-old daughter Julia. “According to the mother it left a positive impact on her, which was the [mother’s] motivation [for] joining the [tour]. Sabi ng nanay, ‘Julia has met Muslims, but not in this situation where there's a discussion about culture, religion and women’s rights.’” Lao recalls. “It’s good to have her daughter learn from someone doing women's rights and Muslim rights. So masaya ako din because it's good that in a way meron tayong impact especially for younger generations.”
The Quiapo Muslim Town in a Box tours are held every Saturday via Zoom. The next tour dates are May 22 and 29 at 8:00 PM, and they send the Maranao meals at around 6:00 pm so you can have them for dinner before attending the tour. While the food boxes are only available for residents of Metro Manila, the tour itself is open to all. If you live outside NCR, they’ll still try to send you some goodies such as palapa. The ticket fee is P1,800, inclusive of the meal for two and a certificate of participation.
Meaningful Travels PH has always been about giving back to the places you visit, and their virtual tour is no different. They’re currently raising funds together with Anchored Philippines and Al-Mujadilah Women’s Association (AMWA) to send Ramadhan care packages to 250 families displaced by the Marawi Siege. Each package only costs about P500 and includes 5 kilos of rice, vegetables, eggs, sugar, coffee, soy sauce, and oil. They’re accepting donations via the following channels:
GCash Number - 09614025572
PayMaya Number - 09175678116
BPI Account of AMDC Meaningful Travels Ph - 1729-1842-99
BDO Account – 012480014394
If you’re donating, send your screenshot of the deposit to [email protected] so they can properly document every contribution. For questions and inquiries, you can contact them at 09178974619.
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