MANILA -- It’s not unusual to hear the different advocacies of beauty pageant candidates, ranging from environment protection, gender equality, health and other issues.
But Binibining Pilipinas 2021 candidate Faith Garcia from Olongapo pushed the advocacy level even further by zeroing on her specific campaign to promote rabbit meat as a food staple.
Garcia prepared an unusual buffet of rabbit dishes Thursday at a Quezon City reception hosted by her mentor Rodgil Flores that included rabbit meat cooked four ways -- barbecue, lumpia, sisig and lechon!
She was supported by staff of the Department of Agriculture who backed her mission by showing a sample of upland kangkong, a basic food of rabbits.
“Nag-order ako ng rabbit dishes because it’s a way to help the new rabbit meat industry kasi 'di pa lahat ng tao alam ito," Garcia told ABS-CBN News, citing the prejudice against eating rabbit meat as it is still not an integral part of traditional Pinoy cuisine.
“'Yung acceptance lang talaga, it will probably take years bago malagay fully sa market pero okay lang, we have to start somewhere."
Garcia was encouraged by feedback from guests that the rabbit spread tasted like chicken. “In fact, mas healthy pa," she added.
The Department of Agriculture’s Bureaus of Animal Husbandry and Plant Industry reached out to Garcia after reading an ABS-CBN News feature about her rabbit farming and other agriculture-related hobbies like raising tilapia and gardening.
“I’m very happy ang dami kong natutunan sa agriculture and very supportive sila sa pagtulong sa akin,” she enthused. “Aside from kangkong, willing ako na magtanim pa for our community. Na-connect ko nga lahat sa overall advocacy ko for a healthy lifestyle.”
Department of Agriculture spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Noel Reyes, lauded Garcia’s advocacy. “We appreciate the efforts Ms. Garcia to be an agri advocate through her agricultural engagements," he told ABS-CBN News. “It is part of the campaign of Agriculture Secretary William Dar to build an army of Filipino youth and millennials to widen awareness of agriculture and make it sexy.”
It had been previously reported that the Department of Agriculture was studying the production of rabbit, given the issues confronting hog farmers, including pricing, supply and demand and animal disease.
Garcia, who has 21 rabbits to date, had also earlier stressed that there are two kinds of rabbits -- one for human consumption, the other as pets.
One of 34 candidates of Bb. Pilipinas 2021, Garcia looks forward to the pageant’s coronation night slated in May. No matter the results, she will continue her rabbit farming.
She emphasized: “Hindi ito pakitang tao lang. With or without the pageant ginagawa ko ito para makatulong sa ibang tao!”