I t was in 1928, when education was restrictive and selective, that Dr. Nicanor Reyes Sr. built a school that opened doors for the middle and working classes who aspired to become accountants. More than eight decades later, Far Eastern University (FEU) continues to celebrate 87 years of transforming the lives of the Filipino youth—instilling fortitude, excellence, and uprightness in every member of its community.
Throughout these years, FEU has withstood the test of time, going through decades of change, innovation, and progress.
“Academic Year 2013 to 2014 turned out to be about setting future directions in the face of the Asean integration, grounded by the founder’s vision for the university,” said FEU president Dr. Michael Alba.
“In the past years, FEU has strived to be inclusive and flexible, providing opportunities for higher learning without prejudice and discrimination to any segment of the population.”
This vision as articulated by the institution’s founder and upheld by his successors, is testament to Reyes Sr.’s foresight, where the clamor for quality education as a foundation for a stronger and more united Filipino society is as important as ever.
Where education plays a central role in political, economic, social, and cultural life in the Philippines, FEU has led the democratization of higher education in affording quality education to the working classes of the country.
Cooking up a feast
Today, FEU continues to thrive as an educational institution deeply rooted in its pride and passion for Philippine culture and tradition.
With this thrust, and as part of its 87th anniversary celebrations, the university paid homage to an important and unique part of Philippine heritage—the country’s world renowned festivals—in a cultural fair dubbed “Banchetto 3.” The event was held on January 22 at the FEU Manila Campus on Nicanor Reyes St., Sampaloc, Manila.
Representing 15 festivals, Banchetto 3 showcased the uniqueness of the Philippine palate, and the culinary skills of FEU students in the catering course of the Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (ITHM). From Sinulog, to Maskara to the Moriones Festival, Banchetto 3 is one of the many reasons why celebrations are more fun in the Philippines.
Banchetto 3 drew out the creativity of the ITHM students through a four-part competition, highlighting the unique characteristics of local festivals. They did so through costumes, festival dances, and booth designs. But of course, the main highlight of the event proved to be the scrumptious feast prepared by the students to vie for the title of “Best Festival Dish.”
Each festival was represented by two dishes, each one boasting of local flavors, ingredients, and plating unique to the province they represent. The ITHM students prepared 30 sweet, savory, and original dishes taking inspiration from their interpretation of their respective Philippine fiesta.
The list of the winning dishes for Banchetto 3 and the spread of unique Philippine dishes created by the students of the Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management are as follows:
The Best Festival Dish was given to the International Bamboo Organ Festival’s Suman Pinipig headed by student chef Lala Guilalas. The traditional kakanin was tossed with rice crisps, deep fried and served with a special sweet white sauce.
The rest of the students’ exhibit depicted the celebration of the International Bamboo Organ Festival, which focuses on the unique masterpiece located inside the St. Joseph Church in Las Pinas. Created out of bamboo, wood and metal, this famous organ is praised for its unique rare and melodious sound and is regarded as the only organ of its kind in the world.
The team of chefs headed by student chef Mark Borja bagged the first-runner up award for their Giant Lantern Festival’s Pastillas Filled Yema. Their version of the carabao’s milk treat featured peanut yema stuffing in the middle of the sweet and creamy roll.
As the students presented in their booth, the Giant Lantern is an annual festival held every December in the city of San Fernando, Pampanga, known to be the Christmas Capital of the Philippines. The parol or star lantern is of course the Filipino Christmas symbol, and is masterfully crafted by Kapampangans in huge proportions, such as the Parul Sampernando, which is a 20-foot diameter lantern lit with thousands of dancing lights. It is this display of gigantic lanterns that has made the city famous all over the country and even around the world.
The second runner-up festival dish went to the Paraw Regatta Festival’s Seafood Salad, which was made by the students with shrimp and crab, combined with green and red cabbage, a lemon-mayo dressing, and finally topped with sweet fried dilis. The budding chefs behind the dish were led by student chef Beverly delos Santos.
According to the group, the Paraw Regatta Festival is only celebrating its 40th year in Iloilo City, but is also known to be the oldest sailing craft event in Asia.
Other notable dishes that Banchetto 3’s participants produced were the Sinulog Festival’s Otap and Dried Mango Sans Rival, featuring Cebu’s most favorite treats; the Masskara Festival’s Mini Chicken Inasal, which is a variation of Bacolod’s famed grilled chicken dish; Carabao Cheesy Bacon for Baguio City’s Panagbenga Festival; Bibingka with Salted Egg and Butter for the Moriones Festival of Marinduque; and Haridnera, a steamed mixture of diced meat, sausages, carrots and raisins for the Pahiyas Festival of Lucban Quezon.
“The Banchetto festival is our way of highlighting the diverse beauty of our different local customs and practices, which are highlighted in our festivals, food, and rich culture,” enthused ITHM Dean Melinda Torres.
“Banchetto 3 encouraged our students to learn more about the history and relevance of each festival as expressed through the different costumes and dishes unique to each region” she added.
Celebrating Filipino talent
After the successful Banchetto cultural food festival, FEU also lined up other celebrations for the innate talent of its Filipino students.
The month-long foundation officially began on January 20 at the Main Campus in Manila with a thanksgiving mass attended by the whole FEU network of campuses.
Activities are now ongoing until February wherein the Manila, Makati, Cavite, and Diliman campuses will be holding alternative classes and academic competitions among its students, as well as art and cultural exhibits, fairs, and concerts that are open to the public.
But among the many happenings for 87th Foundation, FEU is highlighting its faculty members who will also showcase their talent in the different fields of art.
The Institute of Architecture and Fine Arts (IARFA) launched the Sinners and Saints exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines as early as December 2014, and running until February 14.
The exhibit aims to provide opportunities for higher learning and uplifting cultural standards. It also hopes to instill the spirit of innovativeness and creativity by encouraging students and the public to take a close look at the scholarly-crafted works of painters, graphic artists, photographers, digital designers, restorers and even architects who compose the faculty of IARFA.
The 87th Founding Anniversary was also punctuated by The Triumphant Spirit 2015 Philippine concert tour of virtuoso pianist-tenor Carlos Ibay at the FEU Auditorium on January 29.
No less than CCP president Raul Sunico shared the stage with Ibay as they perform the challenging “Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto # 2.” Both artists played on Steinway grand pianos, including the newly refurbished piano of FEU built in 1947.
Activities continue in February through the Valentine’s concerts in various campuses, the first being the Mula sa FEUso concert on February 4 at the FEU Chapel to serenade the FEU Community.
This will be followed by The Voice of FEU at the Diliman Campus on February 12, and the Homecoming and Valentine Concert at the Cavite campus on February 14.
All three concerts will be featuring FEU students in their continuous pursuit to hone the talents of their students beyond the classroom.
The university will cap its 87th foundation with student competitions for the Basic Education Departments of FEU Diliman and Cavite. They will be holding several art and culture competitions amongst the different classes in the campuses, inter-school activities, which will challenge the students to interpret the history and heritage of FEU throughout the years.