It all started with a mouth-watering food photo posted on Facebook.

Sooner, the 12,000-member Discover Panay Island (DPI) FB group was all eyes on what’s cooking in Iloilo City’s culinary scene and word of the mouth has it for the tasty specialty menus.

DPI founder Hawili Hurom who is based in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, noted that it took a post of food blogger Jorry Palada of Flavours of Iloilo to generate the interest of an Ilonggo balikbayan from Canada to get a taste of native gastronomic experience at home.

A scrumptious buffet set on a boodle fight dining as seen on Jorry’s photo was taken in one of Tabu-an’s sessions.

Tabu-an (food market) was first organized in November 2011 by Ilonggo chef Rafael “Tibong” Jardeleza, owner of the famed Tib’s Rock in Mandurriao district. The maiden edition of regional native cooking contest sizzled at the garden area of Esca’s Restaurant in City Proper to give hundreds of guests the best traditional delicacies.

Sir Hawili Hurom, as fondly called by DPI friends, said the balikbayan lady from Estancia, Iloilo contacted him through FB’s private message (PM) saying she was interested to try Tabu-an’s deliciously fun experience.

Hawili then contacted Jorry who referred Tibong also through FB’s PM to ask about the reservations for Tabu-an lunch gathering.

The DPI boss said the balikbayan then offered to treat 30 DPI members for free lunch at Tabu-an’s venue Iloilo Central Market.

“Since DPI members have not personally known each other, they set for an eyeball (meet-up),” Hawili said.

A month after the first successful met May 17 where DPI members had enjoyable lunch out, another eyeball by invitation is set for some 40 “discoverers” on Sunday June 17.

“DPI members working abroad have pledged to sponsor the lunch date. They enjoy our site (DPI’s FB group) that they want to shoulder the free lunch,” Hawili averred.

With increasing members, DPI has become a fave FB hang-out and reunion for Panayanons and other online enthusiasts here and abroad taking their time to post photos and talk about the fascinating facts, delicious foods, wonderful nature’s wealth, cultural treasures and sweet people of Panay Island.

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