Saturday, July 28, 2012

Food for Thought: A Celebration of Good Taste Exhibit @ DLSU Manila

I was at the De La Salle University (DLSU) Manila yesterday afternoon to view the Food for Thought: A Celebration of Good Taste exhibit honoring the late author Doreen G. Fernandez. I had not been able to visit DLSU since I graduated yearsss ago and it was nice to finally see the university again. A lot of things have remained the same but a lot of things have also changed. Back when I was still studying here, the Yuchengco Hall was still non-existent and there were no turnstiles yet at the entrance.

Food for Thought: A Celebration of Good Taste exhibit honoring Doreen Fernandez at The Museum in De La Salle University Manila

Who is Doreen Fernandez?

Doreen Gamboa Fernandez (born Alicia Dorothea Gamboa) was born in Manila but grew up in Silay, Negros Occidental. She graduated Cum Laude from St. Scholastica's College in 1954 with a degree in English and History. She earned her M.A. in Literature (English) in 1956 from the Ateneo de Manila University and got her Ph.D. in Literature (English) in 1976, also from Ateneo. Doreen married architect and interior designer Wili Fernandez, who shared her passion for art and good food. She wrote many books about Philippine art, culture, and food and received praises and awards for her work as a writer and as a teacher. She passed away last June 24, 2002, surrounded by family and friends.

At the core, Doreen considered herself a teacher, with her other pursuits stemming from that. One of her students was the historian (and a teacher himself) Ambeth Ocampo. Ambeth's recent column about Doreen is a light and touching piece. Apparently, Doreen got criticized for always writing positive restaurant reviews (no negative ones) on her Inquirer column even though she always paid for her meals. This part hit a note and made me rethink my negative reviews:
Doreen explained that she wrote once a week for the Inquirer Lifestyle page and there were far too many good restaurants for the fifty-two reviews she did each year. Why, she asked, should I waste effort and column space on a bad restaurant that was best ignored when I can get people to go to a good restaurant?

Good point.

The Museum's "Food for Thought: A Celebration of Good Taste" exhibit honors Doreen Fernandez as a teacher, friend, writer, and benefactor. It also commemorates the 10th anniversary of her death.

The press viewing yesterday opened with The Museum's curator Ms. Lalyn Buncab who offered a brief history of how DLSU became the custodian of the Wili and Doreen Fernandez private collection. She also discussed the various artworks comprising the collection. Next, Ms. Della Besa, the younger sister of Doreen, shared some anecdotes regarding how it was to be the younger sister of such an accomplished woman.

opening remarks by Lalyn Buncab and Della Besa
Ms. Lalyn Buncab (L) and Ms. Della Besa (R)
art collection
art collection

Items in the exhibit include Doreen's books and artworks, as well as personal memorabilia such as awards, photos, and letters. Many of the books are livened up by displaying them with clay pots and plastic fruits and vegetables.

Lasa Philippine food books by Doreen Fernandez
the Lasa series, co-written with Edilberto Alegre (LASA: A Guide to 20 Baguio
and Metro Manila Restaurants, LASA: A Guide to 100 Restaurants, LASA: A Guide
to Dining in the Provinces, and LASA: A Guide to Dining in Metro Manila)
Fruits of the Philippines book by Doreen Fernandez
Kinilaw book by Doreen Fernandez
Palayok (clay pots) book by Doreen Fernandez
Sarap Philippine food book by Doreen Fernandez
plastic vegetables
Tikim Filipino cuisine book by Doreen Fernandez
books by Doreen Fernandez
Doreen Fernandez's last and unpublished book
Doreen's last book (unpublished)

Some of Doreen's personal belongings are also included in the exhibit.

favorite wardrobe of Doreen Fernandez
Doreen's favorite wardrobe
letters sent and received by Doreen Fernandez
letters written and received by Doreen

Looking at the letters she wrote and received made me nostalgic. When I was young, handwritten letters were still popular. I loved sending and receiving such letters. Nowadays, handwriting letters seems to be a dying art. Such a shame. Emails just can't compare!

Some of the artworks from the Wili and Doreen Fernandez collection:

art collection paintings and sculpture
art collection paintings and sculpture
art collection paintings
art collection paintings

I like looking at paintings and sculptures but my favorite items in the exhibit are the pictures of Doreen with her sister and her husband. It's weird. I don't usually appreciate family pictures (even of people I know in real life) but I like the personal photos in the exhibit. They're sweet and happy. Gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling yesterday.

sisters Doreen Fernandez and Della Besa
sisters Doreen and Della
wedding picture Doreen and Wili Fernandez
Wili and Doreen's wedding picture
happy couple Wili and Doreen Fernandez
the happy couple

Looking at the pictures, it is obvious that Wili was a food lover early on. And I mean that as a compliment -- I like people who can appreciate art and good food.

The press viewing was a simple yet great event. I expected there would be many guests but the event was more intimate. The DLSU staff -- from the lady at the visitors' registration area to the Museum personnel -- were friendly, polite, and helpful. The bloggers appreciated the items on display and had a fun time posing with the artworks. Arvin Ello (the guy who coordinated with the bloggers) and Marge Liggayu (from the DLSU Office for Strategic Communications) welcomed us warmly and made us feel at ease the whole time we were there.

bloggers and guests at the Food for Thought event
some of the guests

The exhibit will run at the DLSU Museum until August 24, 2012. If you want to see it but don't have the time or are living in a far area, you can view the exhibit through the DLSU Museum's virtual tour feature.

For more info on The Museum, you can visit their Web site or call 524-4611 loc 368.

Food for Thought: A Celebration of Good Taste Exhibit
The Museum
2/F Yuchengco Hall
De La Salle University
Taft Avenue
Manila, Metro Manila
The Museum Web site
Doreen Fernandez Facebook page


  1. I like her attitude on not wasting her time on a bad review. Maybe some things are not worth the time and effort to be written.

  2. Critiques have their own world. They do point out the bad side of the thing they encounter. They've the reason why they do that. But in criticizing, it should be one in balance. To say or write good points to an issue or review is of the best job a writer could do.

  3. Thanks for the virtual tour link! I love her artworks and those Handwritten letters, I still have hundreds of mine on storage... Hehe. Sometimes I open and read them and my love letters from my suitors during my teenage years.., priceless! ;)

    1. Wow good thing you were able to keep those. I lost some of my childhood/teenage letters. It would have been one big nostalgia trip to read those letters :D

  4. It is good to hear that you were able to visit your old school. That gathering may not be boring as you have learned from it.

  5. LOL... i agree with her. and besides, speaking something bad to others may give you bad karma... talk of something good, maybe our media can learn something from her. not only always showing the bad portion of things but also most importantly the good side... in this way, we may affect more people to do good rather than the opposite. making good things looks more cooler. Yahweh bless.

  6. For sure, food lovers and cooking enthusiasts would want to own those books on display. The paintings in the exhibit are also appealing.

  7. Wow, oonga naman, why would you waste your time rambling about something, right? Waste of space. It's better to tell others in person nalang in IMO

  8. As much as I love international cuisines, Filipino cuisine is still the best. Cooking and food itself is my bonding moment with my mom. We buy cookbooks and we try to cook recipes together. Will definitely keep those books in mind :)

  9. Nice! Got a really great reason now to take a trip back to my alma mater.

  10. I am interested to have the Lasa series books especially the LASA: A Guide to Dining in the Provinces.. I remember when we are out of town, we always look for a guide to great dining in provinces.

  11. I have a copy of her book Tikim which I specifically bought because she mentioned our restaurant Ambos Mundos. From that book, I can say that she tells things as they are.

    1. Nice. I'll borrow bf's Tikim book to see what Doreen Fernandez wrote about your resto :)

  12. My daughter also a graduate of DLSU but since we transferred here in cavite, she's not able to be updated with it's activities...Good thing you post this...Pretty sure she is reading it too... :D


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