By Jay D. Balnig
The Traveljournal-CREAM Magazine
The Czech Republic and the Philippines have several similarities such as the food that we like, our flags as well as our culture and traditions.
In the Czech Republic or Czechoslovakia, families celebrate Christmas eve (December 24) by gathering families for dinner and ensure that there is one seat vacant just in case a visitor arrives. They love to eat pork, beef, poultry and innards like liver and kidneys; quite similar to the Filipino’s hospitality and gastronomic preference.
Her Excellency Ambassador Evelyn Austria Garcia, Consul Jed Dayang and Cultural Affair Office Ramon Bong Gaspar and Fil Czech business group.
It is no wonder that the Filipino taste was warmly welcomed in the Czech Republic when last July 7, 2012, P-Noy Taste of Asia store opened in the busy street of Karmelitska in Mala Strana, Prague City. They sell Filipino groceries that include buko juice, bangus, tilapia and more. P-Noy Taste of Asia also promotes the food and culture of the Philippines’ neighboring Asian countries namely Korea, Thailand, China and India.
According to Ramon “Bong” Gaspar, former Cultural Officer of the Philippine Embassy in Prague City, P-Noy Taste of Asia is the first Filipino store in the Czech Republic. It is owned by Martin Nizaradze, a Czech and his Filipina wife Myra.
A year after its opening, P-Noy Taste of Asia expanded and the inauguration was led by former Philippine Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Evelyn D. Austri-Garcia.
P-Noy Taste of Asia is situated across Our Lady of Victories Church where many Filipinos visit and which houses the St. Niño, also a popular saint among Pinoys. Legend has it that St. Niño was born in the Roman province of Cappadocia and raised by a nun. He preached Christianity in Iberia and since then, the number of his devotees has grown. It was also said that the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Niño.
Aside from the image of St. Niño, the church also houses the image of the infant Jesus of Prague (the oldest since the 1400’s) and the image of St. Niño de Cebu (since 1521). These images were imported from Spain. Now, that is another aspect that Filipinos share with Czechs.
Additionally, many Czech investors come to the Philippines and venture in the local food industry, according to former Czech Republic Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Ritcher. They organize a Czech food festival in order to promote their delicacies to the Filipinos.
Meanwhile, Filipino tourists in Prague will definitely feel the spirit of Europe because of its old towns and rivers that are situated in the middle of the city./JDB