The Dubai-based Halal certifying Prime Group of Companies, represented by Dr. Mary Jane Alvero Al Mahdi, officially awarded the culinary kitchen cum laboratory of the Institute of International Culinary and Hospitality Entrepreneurship (IChef) as Halal-certified last September 26, 2022.  Dr. Mary Jane Alvero Al Mahdi, the CEO and owner of the Prime Group of Companies who came all the way from Dubai, personally awarded the certificates to Hon. Consul Joji Ilagan-Bian, the proprietor and Chairperson of the JIB International Schools, and Nicole Hao Bian-Ledesma, the devoted daughter who sits as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Academic Affairs of the respected institution her mother established.

The Awarding Ceremony’s guests show their approval thumbs up

     “Halal is an Arabic word which means permissible. A Halal-certified product would mean that the product is permissible or acceptable in accordance with the Islamic law.  Offering Halal-certified products would allow Muslim consumers to be confident and feel assured that the products they use are in compliance with their religion, culture and beliefs.  The Muslim market has been experiencing rapid growth over the past several years.  Reports have it that the cosmetic, personal care, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries are seeing large growth in Halal products as there is a rapid growing demand for these,” informed businesswoman Marilou Ampuan, the President of the Universal Islamic Center.

The IChef team led by Dean Gypsy Mae Casurao who faced the challenges in the process for Halal accreditation

     “We are aware that the Halal business is a huge business.  It was only recently acknowledged by our stakeholders that, indeed, the Halal industry is booming.  The challenges though from policy changes to complying with the Halal certification process are enormous….We have several Halal and tourism events in Davao City but sadly, our Halal industry is not yet at par with the rest of the ASEAN region….Davao City is among the first to pass the Halal Ordinance in 2021 requiring establishments to acquire certification first before they can use the Halal word and logo on their trade name…Davao City is steadily becoming a global city with our direct link to the Middle East with Qatar Airways and Indonesia with Garuda Indonesia.  We have to continue to give support and develop a Halal industry here.

IChef’s Culinary Team

Likewise, entrepreneurs must also see the value in establishing a Muslim-friendly business,” emphasized the President of the Davao Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr./Consul Maria Lourdes Garcia-Monteverde.

     “The Davao City Government recognizes the valuable contribution of the Halal industry to the city’s tourism and economic growth. With that, we welcome initiatives in supporting and promoting the Halal market in Davao City…The City Government congratulates JIB IChef for receiving its Halal Certification and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Certification.  We take pride that Davao City is the first in Mindanao to have a culinary school with a culinary kitchen that is Halal certified.  It is another feat that will boost the City’s Tourism Industry,” congratulated Councilor Myrna Dalodo-Ortiz in her message from the City Government of Davao.

IChef’s Halal cuisine sample

     “Our Halal journey for certification was not an easy one.  I gave our VP Nicole Hao Bian-Ledesma and our Corporate Dean Gypsy Casurao the go-signal to start the Halal accreditation application of IChef with the UAE-based Prime Accrediting body.  It takes voluminous documents, sleepless nights, the never ending team meetings, assessments and validations in order to complete the Halal certification process.  Thanks goodness the evaluation and inspection were completed.  IChef passed and the culinary institution that is JIB IChef now makes history as the first ever in Mindanao and perhaps even in the country to be granted Halal Certification. Yes, we made it!” happily expressed the JIB International Schools’ proprietor and Chairperson, Joji Ilagan-Bian who looked so radiant while wearing her proudly Mindanao-inspired tribal outfit that morning of the awarding ceremony.

     Congratulations, JIB IChef, for making an impressive mark on the pages of the culinary history of Mindanao.  Mabuhay at Madayaw!


Source: Mindanao Times (