ILOCANDIA, a culinary and historical journey


A film review by Armando Chavez

Warning: Do Not watch this Film if you’re on a diet. I was salivating the whole time I was watching it. And ready to have a big Filipino lunch even though I had just had breakfast. Another cinematic triumph for Filipino filmmaking. Deserves to be entered in a food film festival. Excellent cinematography featuring mouth-watering food closeups and homesickness-inducing scenery of Ilocos Norte’s seashores and aerial views of this northern Philippine province with its heritage houses, churches, and 18th century structures, that set and maintained the feel of the region. The description (in Ilocano, with English subtitles) of the dishes, did much to add to the gustatory pleasure one can enjoy from the visual shots of the dishes.

If the purpose of art is to communicate a thought or share an emotion, the film “ILOCANDIA” (view trailer here) through its images and the ongoing narration in the background has certainly accomplished this. But a more important aspect of art’s raison d’etre is to inspire thought or elicit emotion from the viewer or audience. And here the film succeeds exceedingly well. I felt homesick for Ilocos Norte and I’m not even from there. It made me want to make a trip to the Philippines and visit the locales feature in the movie.

The film whets one’s appetite not only for Ilocano food, but also for Ilocano life. The glimpses of the province’s natural and man- made beauty –the period architecture of the houses and churches–make one wonder if a film about life other than just the food in that part of the country might be worthy of a whole other film. This reviewer says, Resoundingly, “Yes, Please!

About the Film:

Celebrity Chef, Cocoy Ventura, wrote and directed the film. Though a novice in film making, the art form is not far from his DNA. And he knows what he speaks of. Born and raised in his beloved Ilocos region, the topic is dear to his heart and he knows its history deeply. As a young boy growing up in a farm in Isabela, he saw his father feed farm hands with produce straight from the earth. Simple, tasty and savory. At a young age, he learned to feed as many as 30 or more people. Later, his love of the culinary arts brought him to great heights from Manila to Napa Valley and beyond. Though a novice film maker, Ventura was able to successfully stir into the colorful flavor of the land as well as its cuisine. And add to it the current sentiments of many of its people now finding themselves far from home and pining for its simple life, simple food and idyllic surroundings. Producer Fides Enriquez, of “Harana, the film” initiated the project after being cooped up and quarantined last year during the pandemic. Not one to stay inactive, she cooked up the project ILOCANDIA. Director of Photography was Donald S. Castillo with Music by Florante Aguila. There will be a worldwide virtual screening party of ILOCANDIA on April 3 and 4. This limited release is free and for one weekend only. Facebook Page