October 20, 2017, 9:22 am
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Food for the soul

THIS is a food column. A space that I am supposed to fill with restaurant reviews, dining experiences, exciting food deals and promos, tips on where to find the best of what dish, recipes, etc. However, after our country had been hit by Typhoon Yolanda, and after seeing images of the devastation caused, and listening to stories of people I know who have lost their homes and family members during the disaster, I thought it would be quite insensitive and inappropriate of me to write about wonderful meals, especially since thousands of our kababayans have had little to nothing to eat since then. 
 
There is a lot of negative criticism going around about how some people chose to help, and about how many members of the government have not been much help at all. But since today is Thanksgiving Day, I would like to give thanks, and focus on the positive effort I have been seeing from friends, family, and strangers around me. 
 
After the storm hit, all the social media sites were filled with posts about the devastation. Everyone was scrambling to think of ways to help. One of these good Samaritans is a friend of mine from the food industry - Jeremy Slagle, owner of Mr. Delicious. Jeremy was the mastermind of the “Yolanda Action Weekend”, where all restaurant / food and beverage business owners vouched to donate at least 20% of their sales from the weekend of November 16 – 17, 2013 to the Philippines Red Cross. What started out as just a few people grew rapidly and soon over two hundred of us involved in the food industry vowed to join for this good cause. Many of people involved in the group stepped it up a notch and agreed to donate 100% of their sales and profit to help typhoon victims. 
 
Enderun Colleges began accepting donations of rice, and other ingredients so that teachers and students could use their kitchens to cook meals to be sent out. A classmate of mine from college, Paulene Gupana, helped by starting a drive called “50,000 Liters Of Hope.” She opened the doors of her water filling station, and requested for donations of empty water containers and took care of sanitizing and filling up each bottle to be sent to affected areas. Various groups in fashion, rallied the troops and put together benefit sales of shoes, bags and clothing to help raise funds to buy more important basic necessities - water, food, medicine, and materials for housing. Not to mention the overwhelming amount of aid we have been receiving from other countries. 
 
While my heart is still breaking for our country and the people affected, it has been so wonderful to see how everyone has been making such an effort. Each act of kindness, no matter how small, all combined together has made a difference. To me, the effort and love felt from genuine volunteers is what the victims need to see and feel to be reminded that people care and that there is hope. 
 
Food and water are essential. It is what everyone needs first in order to survive. Often times we are guilty of taking food for granted, and I have realized this now possibly more than ever before. The catastrophic devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda has reminded me of how blessed I am. This thanksgiving, I urge you to stop for a moment to give thanks. If you will be enjoying a good hearty meal with your loved ones, really be grateful and remember not to let anything go to waste. Remember to share your blessings.
 
I pray that people stay focused and inspired to help. This is a long-term problem that cannot be fixed in just a few weeks. Many are still hungry, thirsty, homeless, and sick. There is so much that still needs to get done. I pray that everyone doing volunteer work continues to do so with love. If you are cooking food for the victims, cook with love, if you are handing out clothing or relief goods, do so with love… Do everything with love. It really is food for the soul.
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Twitter: xandrarocha
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