A Legacy of Flavor: Dr. Robert Lo’s “Pimamanan” Celebrates Pampanga’s Culinary Heritage | Craving a culinary adventure that goes beyond the plate? Look no further than Pimamanan: A Taste of Pampanga’s 65 Heirloom Dishes. This stunning coffee table book, featuring 65 heirloom recipes, transcends the typical recipe collection. It’s a portal to Pampanga’s rich past, where each dish whispers tales of tradition and heritage. In Pimamanan, Kapampangan cuisine is elevated to its rightful place in the culinary spotlight, highlighting time-tested methods often overshadowed by modern trends. The book promotes the beauty of indigenous and intergenerational cooking traditions. It’s a powerful statement for inclusivity, empowering the Kapampangan community and enriching the culinary landscape with its unique flavors and stories. A Legacy of Flavor 1

Unveiling the Culinary Treasures of Pampanga

The title Pimamanan translates to heritage, a fitting tribute to the precious legacy of heirloom dishes passed down through generations of Kapampangan families. This book embarks on a dual mission: preservation and celebration. Within its beautifully designed pages, you’ll find a meticulous documentation of unique flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques that define Pampanga’s distinct identity in the culinary world. Each dish is more than just a list of ingredients and instructions; it’s a window into the past, enriched by a captivating story about the dish’s origin. An insightful anecdote from the dish creator or a resource person adds a personal touch, weaving together food, history, and the enduring spirit of the Kapampangan community.

A Collaborative Labor of Love

As publisher, Dr. Robert H. Lo’s passion for Pampanga’s culinary heritage fueled the creation of Pimamanan. A respected veterinarian and the Founder  and CEO of RDF Feed, Livestock & Foods, Inc., Dr. Lo might seem an unlikely champion of culinary heritage. But beneath the surface lies a deep love for Pampanga, his home for a significant part of his life. Dr. Lo’s love for Pampanga’s culinary landscape is more than just an appreciation for its delicious fare; it’s a mission to protect a heritage at risk of being lost in the modern culinary world. Pimamanan is his love letter to Pampanga’s culinary soul. Driven by a desire to ensure these gastronomical treasures are cherished and passed down, he embarked on this ambitious project. In his own words, Dr. Lo explains, “The goal was to come up with a coffee table book that will feature 65 traditional dishes from across Pampanga, and launch it on my 65th birthday on April 23, 2024.  He tapped the services of Wil Maligalig to bring his vision to life.

The Team Behind Pimamanan

A Legacy of Flavor 2 At the helm as Project Manager of Pimamanan was Wil Maligalig. Leveraging his extensive experience in media relations, sales, marketing and research, Wil, who currently serves as a PR consultant for Dr. Lo’s company, brought a wealth of knowledge to the project. In 2019, he launched “Passion and Legacy,” a coffee table book about Dr. Lo. Wil wasn’t alone in this culinary adventure. Ruston Banal, the book’s author, brought a unique perspective as a visual anthropologist and art historian. His deep understanding of cultural traditions and his passion for visual storytelling were crucial in weaving together the rich history behind each dish. Ruston’s expertise in image analysis and image forensics ensured the book’s content was not only captivating but also accurate. The visual magic of Pimamanan wouldn’t be complete without the talents of designer Gia Hasegawa. A graduate of the prestigious University of the Philippines’ College of Fine Arts, Gia’s artistic vision was instrumental in capturing the essence of each dish. Gia’s internationally recognized photography, including her award-winning portrayal of the Sama Di Laut community in Pampanga, adds another layer of depth and cultural sensitivity to the book. Together with tourism officers, researchers, local cooks, and passionate food enthusiasts, this team embarked on a remarkable journey, crisscrossing Pampanga to unearth culinary secrets and stories. They faced challenges, but their dedication was unwavering, fueled by a shared passion for Pampanga’s culinary heritage. The result? A symphony of flavors meticulously documented and brought to life.

A Celebration of Heritage Hailed by Experts

A Legacy of Flavor 3 The dedication poured into Pimamanan resonates with culinary experts who recognize its significance. Renowned Filipino culinary historian Felice Prudente Sta. Mariaoffers a powerful testament: “PIMAMANAN reminds us that food need not be simply symbolic of national belongingness but a persuasive instrument for participation in positive social benefit.” Executive Chef Jam Melchor, Founder of the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement and Country Head of the Slow Food Youth Network Philippines, echoes this sentiment with his praise. He commends Pimamanan as a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Kapampangan people who have kept their cuisine alive and relevant for centuries.” Melchor further emphasizes the book’s role in preserving cultural identity: “It is a celebration of the flavors and memories that make up the culture, and a reminder that tradition is something to be treasured, preserved, and continuously distributed.

A Taste of Tradition: Bobotung Asan

The experts’ praise for Pimamanan highlights the book’s ability to capture the essence of Pampanga’s unique culinary traditions. Take, for instance, Bobotung Asan, a fascinating heirloom dish from Candaba. This dish features fermented catfish or mudfish. A Legacy of Flavor 4 Bobotung Asan tells a captivating story of resourcefulness and a deep connection to the land. Faced with an abundance of freshwater fish in Candaba’s swamps, the Kapampangan people developed a unique fermentation process to preserve their catch. This method not only extended the shelf life of the fish but also imbued it with a complex and savory flavor profile. This single dish exemplifies the essence of Pimamanan. It’s a testament to the Kapampangan people’s ingenuity in the kitchen, their deep respect for their natural environment, and their ability to transform local ingredients into culinary masterpieces.

A Lasting Culinary Legacy

Pimamanan goes beyond the typical coffee table book. Yes, it boasts stunning visuals that will leave you hungry for a glimpse (and taste!) of Pampanga’s culinary treasures. But this exquisite volume offers so much more. It’s a captivating chronicle of the region’s rich heritage, with each dish whispering stories passed down through generations. A Legacy of Flavor 5 By preserving these 65 heirloom dishes, Pimamanan ensures that future generations can savor the authentic taste of their heritage. It reminds us that food is more than sustenance; it’s a powerful link to our past. Each dish is a celebration of shared history, a window into the lives and traditions of the Kapampangan people. A Legacy of Flavor 6 With Pimamanan in hand, we’re all invited to become stewards of this culinary legacy, ensuring its flavors continue to grace tables for generations to come. Catch Visual Feast, a photo exhibit at SM Telebastagan featuring a selection of the highest quality images ever created to depict Kapampangan cuisine, as well as some of the finest images ever created for the book. The exhibit runs until May 31, 2024.