Melbourne Community Gathers at Queen Victoria Market for the Inaugural Ube Festival “Colour Our World Purple”


MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – On 11 February 2024, the historic Queen Victoria Market was a vibrant scene of purple as it hosted Australia’s first Ube Festival. Themed Colour Our World Purple: An Ube Festival in Melbourne, the festival was a celebration of the Filipino community’s rich culture and culinary heritage, drawing an impressive crowd of over 10,000 participants. This event was a collaborative effort between the Philippine Consulate General in Melbourne, Australian Filipino Community Services (AFCS), Filipino Chefs Association of Victoria, Pinoys in Melbourne, and numerous community leaders and volunteers.

Above: The Ube Festival begins with a parade. Below: various participants and performers after the declaration of Ube Festival as ‘open.’

On 30 January, Consul General Salcedo participated in the Annual Australia Day reception hosted by Governor Gardner at the Government House, with High Officials, the business community, and the Consular Corps in attendance.

Ube or purple yam, was promoted as an indigenous Philippine product cherished for its unique flavor and color. Traditionally used in Filipino desserts like ube halaya, ube ice cream, and ube cakes, its popularity has surged globally, including in Melbourne, Australia’s culinary capital. The festival aimed to celebrate ube’s cultural significance, promote its authenticity, and introduce it as a gateway to Filipino cuisine and products.

Left: members of the Consulate General march in the parade; Right: the Ati-Atihan Group performs during the festival.

The day was filled with a variety of activities, including a multicultural Ati-Atihan parade themed “We were all migrants once,” which paved the way to a worship dance performed by the Seniors Choir and SaYaweh. Mr. Gerry Ocampo, Chairperson of the AFCS, opened the event with a heartfelt welcome. This was followed by remarks from Consul General Maria Lourdes M. Salcedo, who underscored the cultural significance of ube within the Filipino heritage. She stressed the imperative of recognizing ube as an inherently Filipino product and the necessity of safeguarding it against cultural misappropriation while promoting it in the wider community.

Left: MP Anne-Marie Hermans addresses the crowd; Center: PH Consul General Maria Lourdes Salcedo harks on the need to know more about ube; Right: Special Trade Representative Alma Argayoso speaks of the commercial importance of ube.

Special messages were delivered by MPs Wayne Farnham and Anne Marie Hermans of the Philippine Friendship Group at the Victoria Parliament, MP Moira Deeming of Western Metropolitan Melbourne, Deputy Victorian Multicultural Commissioner Bwe Thay and Ms. Alma Argayoso, Consul and Commercial Attaché, who highlighted ube’s commercial potential.

Chef Miguel of Uling: The Charcoal Project presents five curated Ube-inspired degustation dishes at the Long Table.

The festival showcased the culinary versatility of ube through a one-day only Chefs Long Table event, “Around the World with Ube”, curated by Uling: The Charcoal Project, featuring five ube-infused degustation dishes. The festival also featured two ube cooking contests, offering participants a chance to showcase their culinary skills with ube as the focal ingredient. Mr. Arvin Garcia clinched the top spot in the ‘Ube Cake category,’ and Digna Schmid secured the win in the ‘Ube Savoury Dish category’ with her standout Ube Gnocchi. An ‘Ube Halo-Halo Eating Contest’ was held for children, sparking the nostalgic joy of ube in childhood.

Attendees were treated to a variety of cultural performances featuring the traditional Singkil and Bulaklakan dances, performed by the AFCS Cultural Ambassadors, the FilAus Seniors, and the Young Generation. Additionally, a demonstration on ‘suman-making’ and talk on the ‘Joys of Active Old Age’ were presented by the 96-year old Nanay Auring, with Luisa Rivo, Melvin and Frances Espiga from the Philippines-Australia Foundation, Inc. (PAFI), enriching the cultural experience for all participants.

The Philippine Consulate General recognizes community leaders and advocates.

The Consulate General also honored Australian-Filipino Community Services (AFCS), 5Bs Humanitarian Incorporated, The Silent Witness Network (TSWN) and photographer Mr. Angelito Valdez Jr. with certificates of recognition for their contributions to the wider community in Victoria.

Senior citizens enjoy banana cue and turon at the festival.

AFCS seniors welcome the Ube Festival mascot with AFCS leader Norminda Forteza (second from left facing) and ConGen Salcedo at the Chefs Long Table.

In recent years, the global fascination with ube has significantly increased. Melbourne’s embrace of this trend has seen the city’s vibrant culinary scene incorporate ube in various forms. Colour My World Purple: An Ube Festival in Melbourne serves to raise the prominence of Filipino cuisine and establish ube as an inherently Filipino ingredient, with deep historical and cultural ties to the Philippines.

“With Ube Festival, we are raising awareness of Filipino culinary and cultural traditions, encourage exploration of other Philippine ingredients, enhance and boost the visibility of Filipino chefs, food supplies, and businesses in Victoria and beyond,” according to Consul General Salcedo.


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