THE HALAL WAY OF LIFE
The Holy Month of Ramadan has just ended last June so in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters, we are going to talk about something very important to them.
There is a significant number of Muslims in Mindanao, particularly in the Davao Region and the word HALAL is heard or read quite often. However, the big question is do we really understand what Halal is about?
Ustadh Eisa Javier, Executive Manager of Mercy Islamic Foundation, explains that understanding Halal is quite simple. It is what is “permissible, lawful and allowable” in daily life practices, not just in preparation of food, in accordance to the Shariah or Islamic Law. It is therefore a way of life based on religious law.
“It does not just begin or end with the process for slaughtering, even the issue on feeds are discussed. It is the whole process, even the money used for the business should come from pure means,” Ustadh Javier said during the recently held Halal Open House for Hari Raya, an event spearheaded by the Department of Tourism XI that is aimed at raising awareness for Halal in relation to food and tourism.
Ustadh Javier added that although it is a requirement for all Muslims, people of other faiths can opt to enjoy Halal food as well as it is healthy and well-prepared.
The Halal Open House for Hari Raya: A Training and Awareness on Creating a Halal Experience and Halal Food Preparation was held in partnership with Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), TinHat Boutique Hotel and Restaurant, Mercy Islamic Foundation, Mensahe TV, City Government of Tagum, Hijo Resorts Davao, The Moropreneur and Davao Association of Tour Operators (DATO).
Also in attendance to support the event were Alim Muhammad Pasigan – Grand Mufti of Davao Region, Sheikh Abu Muhannad Al Kholaqi – President of Mercy Islamic Foundation, Mr. Sedick Murod, Ustadh Abdulfatah Zacaria and Alim Jamal S. Munib. Mayor Justina Yu of the Municipality of San Isidro was also present.
The event concluded with a business-matching opportunity for suppliers and tour operators including El Bajada Hotel, Sunny Point Hotel, Tinhat Boutique Hotel, and Restaurant, Hijo Resorts Davao, Makkhan Aliments, Nanay Rebecca’s Halal BBQ, Chilli Park, Kabsa House, Naj’s Haven, Halal House and meat suppliers – Contora Halal Slaughterhouse and Alkhaizen Halal. Exhibitors such as MS3 Agri-Ventures, Pearl International Museum, Balay Balay 3D Architecture Puzzles and The Moropreneur, participated in the event as well.
HALAL TOURISM and LOCAL READINESS
Tanya Rabat-Tan, Regional Director of the Department of Tourism XI, said the challenge to develop and promote the Philippine Halal becomes easier with gatherings like the Halal Open House that aims to address issues and facilitates enough understanding of Halal.
“We would like to create awareness about Halal as well as to increase Halal-related tourism offerings in Davao Region,” Rabat-Tan said adding that the Davao Region and Mindanao as home to Filipino Muslims should take advantage of the opportunities provided by Halal Market which about $177 billion especially now that Qatar Airways has opened Davao-Doha flight.
Rabat-Tan also said that there is already a good number of Halal-friendly establishments in Davao Region but only a few of them are certified. However, DoT XI reiterated its commitment to help the region become ready and be a “respected member of the global Halal tourism ecosystem”.
According to Vernon Prieto of Aneka Kartika Tours and Travel Service based in Indonesia, local Halal tourism still has a long way to go but is up on a good start.
Prieto explained that there are special needs for Halal tourism that must be in place in order to attract tourists like prayer rooms, washrooms and bidets in accommodations and activities suited for the market, for starters.
If Davao Region can emulate what Korea has done, Prieto said, it can capture a large part of Halal tourism. Korea, which has a very low Muslim population, has become ready and capable for Halal tourism in the recent years in order to recoup their losses from the decline of Chinese tourists.
In Davao City, there are only three Halal-certified accommodation and food establishments. One of which is TinHat Hotel and Restaurant. The other two are El-Bajada Hotel and its restaurant and Sunny Point.
“In relation to food, what is most important is the source of ingredients and the way food is prepared. We make sure that we buy from Halal-certified suppliers,” Ms. Marnellie Mallorca Sabroso, Managing Director of TinHat Hotel who underwent Halal training in Malaysia, said in an interview.
Tinhat’s certification came from PRIME which is a certifying body based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Sabroso said it took them a lot of time and documents to be certified due to stringent requirements from sourcing to processing and actual preparation and thus happy to pass all assessments and finally get their certification.
Tinhat’s restaurant serves all kinds of dishes from Filipino to touches of Middle East but their specialty is the spicy fried chicken roasted with all kinds of herbs.
THE SPOT at Hijo Resorts
Now, if you’re traveling up north of the Davao Region pass by the Hijo Resorts’ The Spot restaurant. Not only do they serve Halal food but the ingredients are also organically-grown. That’s two healthy things in one serving. What’s more, you dine with a very nice view of the lake.
Rosanna Tuason-Fores, CEO and Vice-Chair of Hijo Resources Corporation, said their inclination towards Halal food was inspired by the communities of Moro tribes that live in the area.
“Halal does not only imply a dietary structure but also a way of living. It is inclined within Hijos’ vision to nurture today for the benefit of tomorrow. Our value for stewardship is complementary to the very principle of Islam – to live purposefully and responsibly”, Tuason-Fores said.
The offerings of the Spot restaurant include dishes from the Kagan and Tausug tribes.
✓ Dish mainly from the: Sama/Tawi-tawi
✓ Light and refreshing salad of greens, predominantly fresh cucumber and ripe tomatoes with coco cream dressing and dried salted fish flakes
Ipasagan na Manok or Pyasagan na Manok (Spiced Halal Chicken)
✓ Dish inspired from the Grilled Chicken of the Kagan –
✓ The dish is inspired from the Kagan (in Kagan, Ipasagan means grilled) and using their techniques, like using turmeric to clean the meat which removes the “langsa” or gamey smell/taste. This dish is given a more international twist by adding middle eastern influences like yogurt and halal chili oil.
✓ A favourite of many guests, including Volcanoes Rugby player and Marine Biologist Harry Morris
Bungos nga Ligbos
✓ Dish mainly from the: Mandaya
✓ Native fresh mushrooms (ligbos), grilled inside a banana pouch (bungos) with Turmeric Leaves, ginger and and lemon grass.
Gyatan na Layagan
✓ Dish mainly from the: Kagan
✓ Kagan word for Crab is layagan
✓ Cooked in coconut cream, turmeric, salt and onions
✓ A Kagan dish made of mashed bananas and fried in coconut oil into a form resembling a small dumpling.
✓A Tausug dish made of glutinous rice flour balls/dumplings with filling. The filling is traditionally similar to bukayo or coconut strip jam.
✓The name means “the princess is taking a bath” as it involves “bathing” the delicate white balls/dumplings in a pot of heated water.