Opinion
21:45 23 November 2021
Post by: WBJ

Ambassadors’ Corner 6

Philippine Ambassador Leah M Basinang-Ruiz about vegan food, migrants, and Christmas 2021

Ambassadors’ Corner 6

In Poland, the plant-based protein sources market increased by 28 percent in 2020, which is more than €130 million, according to a Polish business daily. Meanwhile, Warsaw has been named as the sixth most vegan-friendly city in the world by Happy Cow, the world’s largest guide to vegan and vegetarian-friendly businesses worldwide. How popular are vegan and vegetarian dishes in your country? How big are the vegan and vegetarian food markets in your country?

Leah M Basinang-Ruiz: Philippine cuisine is typically heavy on meat (pork, chicken, beef, fish and seafood). A meal must have meat and vegetable-based dishes. There is a growing awareness among Filipinos today about the benefits of plant-based diets. Philippine food companies have started to recognize this. Plant-based meat products have been launched since early 2021. Restaurants have partnered up with companies and introduced more plant-based dishes in their menus. While still a niche market, industry experts are projecting that it will grow 3-5% this year. As the Philippines has abundant supplies of agri-products (bananas, broccoli, cassava, cauliflower, coconut, mango, mung bean, mushroom, peanuts, soybeans and sweet potato), exporters are being encouraged to tap into the growing demand for plant-based products around the world. The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry projects the Asia Pacific market alone to be around $30 billion by 2027.


An unprecedented number of migrants have moved to Poland in recent years. For the fourth year in a row, Poland has granted the most first residence permits to immigrants coming into the EU, the latest Eurostat data reveals. How popular (in numbers) is your country with migrants? Where are they primarily from?

Historically, migration flow has been outward rather than inward for the Philippines. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) estimates the number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who worked abroad at any time during April-September 2019 at 2.2 million. If permanent migrants are included, the current number of Filipinos overseas is about 10 million, with top destinations being the US, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Malaysia, UAE, Australia and Japan. The Philippines has attracted foreigners who have married Filipinos and have made the Philippines their home. The PSA counted 177,368 foreign citizens in the Philippines as of May 2010, primarily from the US, China, Japan, India and Canada.


Christmas 2020 was the first Christmas to get through the Covid-19 restrictions. In your country, how are Christmas 2021 celebrations going to be different than those of last year’s? Are there any limits on indoor gatherings or travel (domestic/foreign)?

Christmas 2021 is expected to be better than last year when there was a total lockdown and travel from overseas was severely limited. As of October 27, more than 24% of the estimated total population of 109 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated while more than 28% have received the first dose. We can improve this record by receiving more vaccines and increasing the average daily doses from 500,000 to 1 million. The number of daily cases has recently been falling significantly, raising hopes for more easing of restrictions so that our tourism industry will start to recover and more businesses can resume operations. For Filipinos, celebrating Christmas will always be happy and joyous, even if we still have to attain the target of 70% full vaccination. Let’s pray for a Merry Covid-free Christmas and a Happy New Year!


the philippines
leah m basinang-ruiz

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