Korea. The Philippines. Festivals. Three of my favorite things. Taking a quick look at ‘Tastes Seoul Good‘ on YouTube will show just how much of my life revolves around these three things.
Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to hear about the ‘Feel the Phil‘ festival in Seoul, South Korea. This 3-day weekend was held Friday October 25 – Sunday October 27th in the Shinchon area. The festival featured various cultural events, as well as plenty of food and beverages. Most surprisingly – the food was FREE! I was pretty (pleasantly) surprised to see the Philippines Tourism Board offering such an event totally free of charge to the public!
#Feelthephil Festival was held to commemorate 70 years of the Korea-Philippines diplomatic relationship. Furthermore, the Philippines are a huge tourist destination for Koreans (even more these days as an increasing number of Koreans are actively avoiding traveling to nearby Japan). A recent trip to Boracay proved to me just how many Koreans are choosing to make the Philippines their travel destination of choice.
I attended the festival with Tasha (from Travelandtash on YouTube). Together, we set out to experience a variety of cultural events, sample Filipino foods, and enjoy some great San Miguel beer.
One of the great things was checking out start-ups from the Philippines that are hoping to make it big in the Korean market. We were able to meet and chat with various vendors as they explained their product.
I was personally really impressed with Pik-a-Pikel – a company from Quezon City. They are selling a variety of pickled fruits that are imported into Korea. I tried a variety of pickled guava and papaya. My personal favorite though was the spicy mango version. The mangos were crisp, fresh tasting, and a slight spicy aftertaste. This apparently goes quite well with Korean BBQ.
We then checked out a small booth selling pilinuts. Personally, I had never heard of a pilinut. I was told that it is a rare nut that grows in the Philippines. The fruit is washed, and the seed is dried. The nut was described to taste like a cross between an almond and macadamia nut.
Wrapsody and Y-Nut! Pili Nuts is selling a variety of flavors including honey and salt and pepper. I was a huge fan of the spicy flavor! I definitely bought a bag, and was surprised to see that they were being sold for only 5000 KRW.
The flavor of the nut was light and buttery. I would say it was like a softer macadamia. I later tried it with Korean BBQ and a bottle of soju – and it was a great match. Hopefully the product will launch in Korea in the future!
We were also greeted by a vendor cooking and serving banana cue. This is a saba banana that is dipped in boiling hot sugar. The banana is then skewered, and served hot. The result is a delicious sweet treat that hits the spot. The saba banana isn’t overly sweet, so it goes perfect with the caramelized sugar.
This is a popular street food in the Philippines, and one that I will definitely check out again!
One of the highlights of the festival was checking out the complimentary sisig offered by Hapunan – a Filipino restaurant in Seoul. While I am familiar with sisig – Tasha wasn’t aware of the ingredients.
Sisig can come in many different forms and variations. Today’s dish would consist of pork face meat, chicken liver, and (what I assume to be) mayonnaise. It was topped with chicharon and peppers.
The flavors were strong, and the consistency was creamy. For those not familiar, it might sound strange to try something made from pig face – but the result is an amazing dish full of flavor that you simply must try.
The sisig was served with fresh Shanghai Lumpia – a kind of spring roll. This is a dish I would gladly order up again! It also went especially well with an ice cold San Miguel beer!
One of the last things we ate – and perhaps the most popular at the festival- was lechon. Lechon is a whole roasted pig. The outside is cripsy while the inside is moist and juicy.
This dish is so good that Anthony Bourdain said it was the best pork he had ever eaten – and I might have to agree!
Unfortunately, at this festival, the lechon was served with a sweet Thai chili sauce, rather than spicy vinegar like I have eaten it in the Philippines. I thought the flavor of the sauce took away the flavor of the lechon.
Regardless, it was still pretty tasty, and something that I miss when I’m not in the Philippines.
There were also plenty of activities and photo-ops to be enjoyed at the festival.
The 3D photo zone was especially cool. Festival goers were able to pose in front of a backdrop of different cities in the Philippines, and then use a variety of props to make it look like they were actually there.
If that wasn’t enough – you could win free flight tickets by posting the photo on Instagram! I tried my best with this shot – as if I were in Boracay!
I thought the mermaid costume was especially fun! Pretty sure I deserved that free airline ticket – but, alas, no dice.
We were even able to make our own halo halo! The last time I had halo-halo was in a small shop in Boracay. I missed this shaved ice dessert! I was happy to be able to try it at the festival, even though I believe it was missing a few key ingredients!
Overall – I thought this festival was really well done. I visited on Saturday, and found it to not be too crowded. Perhaps it could have been marketed more?
I was also shocked to see so many things being offered for free (I may have had a few too many free San Miguels!).
However – one of the best parts was meeting so many people at the festival. As always, Filipinos were polite, kind, and welcoming. Being a YouTuber while traveling in the Philippines is a unique experience. Being able to do it at a Filipino festival in Korea is just as fun.
Overall – this was one of the best festivals I have been to in a long time. I had a great time, and I hope something like this will take place again in 2020!
Watch the entire experience here!