Mon, 06 Jul 2020

Philippine ?kamote? popular to early Chinese as survival food

Philippine Information Agency
24 May 2019, 18:38 GMT+10

BEIJING, China, May 24 (PIA) - Unknown to many, the Philippine kamote, also known as a poor man's crop, had sustained early Chinese during calamities dating back the Ming dynasty at the turn of the 16th century.

Prof. Wu Jiewei, Deputy Dean, School of Foreign Languages and professor of Southeast Asian Cultural Studies Department of Peking University in China, traced the entry of kamote or sweet potatoes to China during the Galleon trade in 1584 from Manila to Acapulco, Mexico.

"China could barely afford to buy food during calamities like floods and abnormal weather conditions. But after kamote entered China, the people learned to cultivate the crop and they were able to survive by eating kamote," he said.

"Part of the reason why China's population is big is due to Kamote.... because early Chinese peoples owe their survival to kamote," Wu said in jest. The United Nations places China's current population at 1.4 billion.

Wu cited a book written during the Ming Dynasty showing the root crop's entry to Fujian province in 1584.

"The book noted that from 1584 to 1585, the potato seeds were brought from Wenling to Jinjang," he added.

Since then, China moved to cultivating sweet potatoes in large areas as a major food crop.

Garbed in Filipino's traditional wear Barong Tagalog, Wu on Wednesday, May 22 also presented the long tradition of trading partnership between China and the Philippines at the on-going seminar for government information officers and private media practitioners at the Research and Training Institute in Beijing China.

Wu, who speaks Filipino, studied the Philippine language from 1992-1997 courtesy of his Filipino teachers from the University of the Philippines and Ateneo De Manila University who taught in Peking University.

Early Chinese writings showed that China began trading in the Philippines as far back as 7th century AD with ancient coins and porcelain as trading goods through the Galleon trade.

Chinese traders would barter China wares, iron, lead and sink with Philippine products such as condiments, beeswax, betel nut and pearls.

The two-week seminar for the Philippine media that began on May 15 is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce and the China International Development Cooperation Agency, and organized by the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA)-Research and Training Institute.

It serves as a platform for China and the Philippines to exchange and share their development experience, discuss new scenarios and issues facing the radio and television industry under the backdrop of media integration.

Zhou Jihong, NRTA's Deputy Director, Department of International Cooperation, and Liu Ying, NRTA Vice President welcomed the delegates at the opening of the two-week conference.

"I'm positive that you'll gain friendship and perspectives, and push forward exchanges and shared development in the radio and television sector during this visit," Zhou said.

For her part, Liu said: "the workshop will build an extensive communication platform for media professionals in China and the Philippines, actively promote the in-depth media convergence and promote the common development of the media industry of the two countries." (MCA)

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