12th essay contest focuses on coconut

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The Doreen Gamboa Fernandez (DGF) Food Writing Award opens its 12th year competition, focusing on the “coconut,” which is an essential ingredient in many Filipino dishes. The DGF Award committee has chosen “coconut” to make people aware of the problems that plague what is considered our “tree of life.”

In the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) region, trees have been afflicted with a pest known as scale insect making the leaves yellow because the insects block the opening where the food for the tree passes through. Recent typhoons have killed so many of the trees as well and those that have been replanted will take years to grow. And then there is the indiscriminate felling of trees for coco lumber.

In the book Palayok by Doreen Gamboa Fernandez, she wrote that coconut “is a constant in the Philippine diet.” As a drink, the sweet juice of the buko (young coconut), grate the flesh into noodle-like strands for pansit buko, cook it with shrimps or crabs in packets called pinais, sweeten the mature grated flesh into bukayo, gather the juice for tuba (toddy), make the heart of palm into lumpia (spring roll). And because to get to the heart means the tree should be killed, Fernandez wrote, “the coconut does indeed serve the Filipino palate from birth to death.”

Competition essays should be submitted in English, with 800 words or 5,000 characters in length. Contestants can submit up to two essays but with a different pen name each. A separate file should include author’s information such as pen name, real name, address, and contact numbers. Entries will be screened according to content, research and style.


Submissions should be forwarded through the email dgfawards@yahoo.com.ph. Deadline for submission is on October 31. For more information, go to the Facebook page of the Doreen Gamboa Fernandez Food Writing Award.

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