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Diving deeper into diverse Malaysian culture at Iftar

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Text and photos by Marinel Peroy

The Malaysian Embassy in Manila gathered media representatives in the Philippines to celebrate Iftar, and provided a deeper understanding and meaning of the observance of Ramadan among Muslims.

Held at the Ambassador’s Residence in Makati City, on April 3, the celebration was a unique gastronomic adventure for the media guests as authentic Malaysian food was served all in the spirit of camaraderie amid a joyous mood.

During his speech, Ambassador Dato’ Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino said that there would be a lot of events from the embassy. The envoy highlighted the embassy’s utmost initiative of promoting more halal products in the Philippines, while also noting the potential of more Malaysian-Philippine ICT and digitalization company partnerships.

His Excellency Ambassador Dato’ Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino, Ambassador of Malaysia to the Philippines welcomes media guests at his residence.

“We have prepared many activities for the year, especially this year [2024], we’re celebrating Malaysia-Philippines relations… Malaysia is a close friend of the Philippines — and we share many traits we want to continue to work in,” said Ambassador Castelino. Hence, there are a lot of projects and initiatives to expect from the Embassy of Malaysia as bared by the Malaysian envoy.

Fusion Malaysian-Filipino food, culture, and music

Gathered around a table brimming with culinary delights, guests at the residence were treated to an array of dishes that not only satisfied taste buds but also served as a bridge between cultures.

One dish that stood out was the Malaysian specialty called “Lemang”. Crafted from glutinous rice, enriched with coconut milk, and seasoned with just the right amount of salt, Lemang is slow-cooked in bamboo for approximately three hours. Its unique preparation and savory flavors, often accompanied by chicken or beef floss, make it a distinctive counterpart to the Philippines’ “Tupig,” though it leans more towards the savory spectrum.

In an interview with THEPHILBIZNEWS, Chef Ammar, the maestro behind these culinary creations shared that the Iftar event was a feast to the rich tapestry of Asian culinary traditions, blending Malaysian, Filipino, Indian, and Chinese influences into a symphony of flavors.

This intimate dining was elevated by the presence of dishes like the fusion of Malaysian-Chinese in the Salted Egg Chicken and the Malaysian-Thai interpretation of Teh Tarik—a hot milk tea that dances between the strong taste of tea and the creamy sweetness of milk, both of which hold a special place in my heart.

“For those who love spicy food, come to Malaysia and try Malaysian cuisine,” said Chef Ammar.

Furthermore, Chef also emphasized the cultural and values-based kinship between Malaysians and Filipinos, highlighting the politeness and humility that define peoples from Southeast Asia.

As the evening drew closer, the event transcended into a vibrant celebration of culture, music, and shared values. The air was filled with the sound of karaoke, as attendees sang some classic English hits and beloved Original Pilipino Music (OPM) tracks, weaving together the diverse threads of their backgrounds into a tapestry of shared joy and camaraderie.

This event was more than a culinary journey; it was a vivid reminder of the power of food to bring people together, bridging differences and nurturing a sense of community. Indeed, this gathering filled with meals, symphonies, waves of laughter, and stories manifest the strong 60 years of diplomatic ties between Malaysia and the Philippines.

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