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Sustainable diets on every table

My Vision is to see sustainable diets on every table produced and consumed in a sustainable manner

Photo of Maria Julia Gubat
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

University of the Philippines Los Baños - Institute of Human Nutrition and Food

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Government

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Just beginning now

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Los Baños, Laguna

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Bulan, Sorsogon

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Bulan, Sorsogon is my hometown - a community that depends basically on rice-fish farming systems. I left when I was a teen to pursue an academic degree, but I visit every 3-5 years. While my town is essentially agricultural - naturally blessed with farm lands and waters - food and nutrition security is apparently an alienated concept. Food (rice, vegetables and fish) prices are relatively higher and unaffordable for most households. Nutrition situation is also unfavorable. In particular, the farmers' food an nutrition needs are in a (more) disadvantaged situation. In my younger years, food seemed abundant and I have noted transitions in the food systems of the community that impacts its nutrition situation.

My Vision is for Bulan. I enjoyed the richness of fresh food in the past. I have witnessed how it changed in the past decade. And I do not want to see it completely out of reach of the inhabitants, especially the farmers who labor every day to put food on their tables. My town has watched me grow and I want to see it grow as well.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Bulan is located at the tip of Bicol peninsula in the island of Luzon, Philippines. Its people are called Bulanons and are known to be naturally jovial, good-natured and resilient. Popular local dishes include literally any thing cooked in coconut milk, with a touch of chili. Every May, the town is filled with the buzz of high school reunions celebrated alongside the much celebrated Town Fiesta. After this event, the town goes back to its day-to-day feels.

The population of Bulan is "young". In the latest published census of the Philippine Statistics Authority, total population is 100, 076 with majority of the population are within 0-19 years old.

Bulan, Sorsogon is a community abundant with natural resources for food production. It is a coastal community which serves as an important source of livelihood. Fisherfolks typically set on small fishing boats overnight and come home with abundant catch of fresh fish. In addition, the town has vast agricultural lands suitable for rice, rootcrop and vegetable production. Its major agricultural exports include fish, rice, copra and abaca fiber. But in the past decades, it is apparent that these resources were not fully exploited to bring progressive changes. Still, the town remains “sleepy”, oblivious to the agricultural, economic and health development in the country. Street names change every quite so often, but economic/ livelihood progress is sluggish. For a decade now, there is only 1 commercial and 2 rural (cooperative) banks in town. Several households rely on monthly remittances from family members working in other parts of the country or overseas, or lending assistance from a number of micro-lending institutions. Only 1 government hospital (classified as level 1 health facility) exists; the local airport remains unfinished for more than 20 years. And while, the town's port is filled with fresh catch every dawn, the price of fish in the market is relatively high. Little is published about agricultural economic policies and/ or programs in Bulan. When asked, an ordinary Bulanon hopes for a better life - this means at least one of these aspirations: (1) children in the family are able to finish a tertiary-level education; (2) the family is able to improve its residential house; (3) acquire assets; (4) eat "better" food.

In the recent years, diet transitions can be noted evidenced by the presence of 1 local fastfood franchise and a slowly increasing number of specialty bistros/ bars although in general, people still mostly consume home-cooked meals. No data is available to determine the effects of diet, dietary patterns and transitions on nutrition and health of the towns people.

In the recent years, diet transitions can be noted evidenced by the presence of 1 local fastfood franchise and a slowly increasing number of specialty bistros/ bars although in general, people still mostly consume home-cooked meals. No data is available to determine the effects of diet, dietary patterns and transitions on nutrition and health of the towns people.

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

My vision is to see sustainable diets on every table in Bulan. I dream of farmers wanting to be farmers. I dream of a generation of farmers that till lands and harvest oceans with happiness and pride. I want to Bulan to be known as a town of progressive agriculture, with zero hunger.

A vision for a progressive, healthy and sustainable food system in Bulan, Sorsogon is confronted primarily by the absence of a governance systems focused on the development of a food chain that integrates technological innovations and socio-economic development. Despite the increasing number of technological and social innovation models for sustainable food systems, unstable political environment and organizational structures impede its adoption. The political agenda is almost always dependent on the priorities of whoever wins in the elections. This becomes more complicated when the bureaucracy in budgetary allocations are factored in.

There is also an apparent lack of collaboration within and between relevant sectors in the community. Programs to address environmental concerns are more often fragmented from agricultural programs which is also disjointed from health and nutrition agenda and social development reforms. Divergent efforts and financial allocations need to be integrated in a workable system with minimal trade-offs, and grounded on shared cultures and values.

Lastly, there is a noticeable “consumerist shift” in the local food system in the past decades, i.e., demands for food production and supply are dictated by the changing preferences and cultures. Considering the global and national data, this dietary shift could persist in the future and can be considered as an important facet in the changing food systems.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

My Vision is to see nutritious food on every family table, produced and consumed in a sustainable manner. Ultimately, this points to interdisciplinary research and education to establish efficient governance systems. These systems integrate technological and socio-economic developments in the food chain, and must be propelled by an encouraging political climate and cohesive local institutions working with shared ideals.

Considering the multi-dimensional nature of challenges, establishing a sustainable food system require an integration of different disciplines, strategies and interventions. It would be necessary to perform environmental systems analysis/ audit to identify and link agricultural technologies and practices, consumption drivers and patterns, local markets, infrastructure and local government policies. Consequently, technological and social inputs together with agricultural economics will be assimilated with local policies and programs in the context of Bulan’s agricultural landscape (i.e., natural, political, financial, human, cultural and social capital).  These efforts are substantiated with consumer education, empowerment of the local markets, and engagement of women and youth.

My Vision will empower the local community as a whole. Farmers will be encouaged because they have sufficient resources and support, and because they know that THEY MATTER. It will inspire the youth. It will create ripples of impact across sectors. Behavior change will be intergenerational. 

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

My Vision for sustainable food systems in Bulan, Sorsogon is an ultimate product of interdisciplinary research, education and governance. 

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website
  • Colleague


Join the conversation:

Photo of Thu Nguyen

Hi Maria Julia Gubat 

Welcome to the Food System Vision Prize Community!

Thank you for sharing your Vision about the food system in Bulan, Sorsogon.

There are a few days left to refine your Vision and here are some tips and questions that could help you build your Vision stronger:

- As your Vision will be designed specifically for Bulan, we encourage you to learn more about the needs, aspirations, motivations, and challenges of the place and its people and bring the top insights together to your Vision. You can find some inspiration and tools to help you with your research in the Vision Prize Toolkit in Chapter 2 under Tools of Transformation:

- Have you had a chance to share your Vision with your key stakeholders and listen to how they feel about it? It would be great to synthesize their feedback and incorporate into your Vision.

You can also check criteria of evaluation the Vision on the Food System Vision Prize website in the section "How Your Vision will be Evaluated"

Please note that the last day to submit your final Vision is on Jan 31, 2020 5 PM Eastern Standard Time. Look forward to seeing your Vision evolving :)

Photo of Thu Nguyen

Hi Maria Julia Gubat 

For the last days before the deadline, make sure you have reviewed your final submission through the Pocket Guide to support you through the final hours of wrapping up your submission. This will give you the most important bullet points to keep in mind to successfully submit your Vision.
Here is the link to the pocket guide:

Look forward to seeing your submission finalised by 31st January, 5:00 pm EST :)

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