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LASA EXPLORATIONS is an independent food documentary series dedicated to discovering hidden culinary gems around the Philippines. “Lasa” means taste in Filipino, and lasa is our gateway to learning more about our own culture and history.

The Philippines is scattered across 7,000 islands comprising several regions, each with their own distinct cultures and countless subcultures. Among these, only a relative few are known about beyond their places of origin.

Lasa Explorations wants to contribute to expanding the conversation, to explore and appreciate the diversity of Filipino food and culture--one dish at a time. No matter where we come from, nothing brings us together like sharing a good meal.

I was honored to be a part of this group which opened my eyes to the wonders of the Cordillera Region. We barely scratched the surface in this four part mini series and I'm looking forward to going back and discovering more.

In episode 1 of LASA EXPLORATIONS: CORDILLERA, the Lasa crew arrive in Baguio City and are welcomed with a ritual to start their journey, during which they are introduced to some of the region’s signature dishes.

Even if the ritual may be offensive for some, the honor and respect given by the community is undeniable.

Warning: there are some very graphic images in this episode 

Amidst the dramatic backdrop of the mountain outpost of Lubuagan, the group learns how to prepare the unique and little- known signature dishes of Kalinga.

It was our pleasure to meet Ruel Bimuyag and Irene Bawer-Bimuyag alongside their family. I personally enjoyed learning about the rice terraces, its ecosystem and how the community is essential in preserving our cultures. 

Surrounded by the Ifugao’s legendary rice terraces, the group learns the process of making local smoked meat, rice wine, and more from Ifugao elder Santos Bayucca.

Santos is a very interesting character who actually used to be a hired Japanese bone collector for fallen soldiers during the war. I really enjoyed his stories of adventure mixed with his specialty tapuy or rice wine.

The group explores the Baguio City Public Market, one of the largest and most important public markets in the entire Philippines, and looks forward to the journeys ahead.

Being with a group of chefs and food entrepreneurs, we immediately bought all the best bargains. Majority of our produce from Manila actually comes from Baguio and beyond so prices were at least halved. 

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