Episode 98: Spreading Christmas cheer with Blacksoup’s Suspended Noche Buena

15726353_10155004143187573_3853160072597708668_nI’ve been spending Christmas without immediate family around for a few years now. Most of the time, I spent it at work, after which I would buy a KFC meal and watch drama series at home. It’s quite lonely, but it was a good chance to have time for myself.

This year’s Christmas is different. Instead of celebrating it alone, I devoted my time for a worthwhile cause.

15741247_10155004146457573_7254132937462489720_nBlacksoup Café + Artspace started the Suspended Noche Buena project to provide food for the poor. The idea, which started in Europe, was for customers to buy meals for those who cannot afford it.

15747732_10155004141062573_6429558850952636599_nCustomers bought a suspended Noche Buena pack for P250 each. Each pack contained a serving of Spanish sardines with sundried tomatoes pasta, slices of ham and quezo de bola, Blacksoup’s deep fried pudding with caramel sauce, and a bottle of iced tea.

15672623_10155004139437573_6998660192975369947_nBlacksoup collected a total of 288 meals this year. Volunteers went around the streets and gave these away to street dwellers, beggars, and poor families.

15726384_10155004144332573_10487745477907442_nMy team – there were three of us, consisting of fellow volunteers Karl, Diane, and myself – ventured on Christmas Eve around Quezon Avenue, Roxas Boulevard, and the Ermita-Malate district in Manila to give away these Noche Buena meals.

Joining the Suspended Noche Buena project was quite an adventure, especially that children and adults (even the unsavory ones, admittedly) flocked to us to get food packs. More importantly, it was a reminder of the struggles that the poor endure this Christmas, much more throughout the year. We’re glad that the food packs we distributed found their way to those who truly need them.

15727067_10153995395945124_1450896553784458874_nWe’d like to thank Blacksoup Café + Artspace for giving us the opportunity to make others’ Christmas a little more cheerful. I for one look forward to helping out again someday.

The number of the poor and hungry is ever growing. May the ranks of those who can reach out to them increase as well.

 

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Episode 97: Local cuisine and more at the Valenzuela Food Fiesta!

valenzuela-food-fiestaComing over to Valenzuela this December? Then take the time to go on a food trip!

Residents and visitors of Valenzuela City were in for an early Christmas treat with the opening of the Valenzuela Food Fiesta this Friday, December 2. Over thirty food outlets are participating in this weekend food festival. Foodies can hang out and try out snacks, barbecues, desserts, and other local products that the city has to offer.

The festival was opened to highlight Valenzuela’s food businesses, and give the city’s entrepreneurs a venue to showcase their products and culinary expertise.

dsc_0015dsc_0021When it comes to food, Valenzuela City takes pride of the putong pulo, a rice cake originally created in the town of Polo. The rice cake is steamed, mixed with annatto (atsuete) to give its reddish color, and topped with cheese.

This local favorite is known for its versatility as a side treat with various dishes. Residents would create artistic versions of the putong pulo, making it one of the highlights of the Feast of San Diego de Alcala, celebrated every November 12.

dsc_0022 dsc_0023 dsc_0024With Valenzuela’s continuous economic growth, more food establishments are opening up in the city. It’s not just the putong pulo, but even the city’s potential as a food hub is gaining attention, especially with its growing population of students. This rapid growth is creating more opportunities and opening a wide variety of places to dine in for food lovers. These establishments will surely find a place to shine and reach out to more people with the opening of events such as the Valenzuela Food Fiesta.

dsc_0027 dsc_0029 dsc_0033 dsc_0034The Valenzuela Food Fiesta is located at CJ Santos Street (in front of the Justice Hall or old City Hall). It will be open every Friday and Saturday for the rest of December from 5pm to 2am.

(I apologize for not adding a lot of food pictures here; it’s been a long while since I last wrote anything, and eating out isn’t part of the budget nowadays.)