Story and photos by Jun Nucum

The food distribution project by Filipino Americans in Daly City was a resounding success as over a thousand packed meals were given out via a drive-through style that provided adobo and rice meals to those who participated.   

A brainchild of Daly City Councilmember Ray Buenaventura, the Mother’s Day community feeding project was conceived two weeks ago and was met with a tremendous response from generous group and individual donors in true Bayanihan spirit.

Volunteer loads a food bag

“This is really a community effort. When we saw people cooking because of the COVID-19, we thought why not harness those energy in cooking skills and get people cooking for the community. So, we put out a call and to people interested and we collaborated with Philippine Bayanihan Resource Center (PBRC) and San Mateo Filipino Democratic Club and also Census 2020,” Buenaventura related.

The organizers intended to provide the cooked meals together with bibingka, pandesal, lumpia and flowers to anyone regardless of ethnicity with no questions asked.

“We decided on adobo because it is a Filipino staple food, everybody knows and loves adobo which is appealing to different cultures,” Buenaventura disclosed. “Depending on how successful this would be, as far as food donations and turn-out of volunteers besides recipients goes, we may do this on another day. We certainly would want to do it again.”

The spirit of Bayanihan and the fiesta atmosphere was so contagious that impressed no less than San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa who himself distributed and loaded food to the vehicles of those who came.

“This is an extraordinary event that says a lot about the Filipino American community, leaders like Ray Buenaventura who continues to amaze me with his creativity on how to get things done,” Canepa said.

Daly City Mayor Glenn Sylvester was equally amazed at the support donors gave the feeding project.

“We were only expecting 500 but as of the day before we already had close to a thousand meals. Our goal was to raise $5,000 but we raised over $10,000 that we used to add more to just adobo and rice. This is a great Mother’s day celebration. We are so passionate and we are so happy. We learned the realization of a quote from Congresswoman Jackie Speier on “shared prosperity”. During this pandemic, if you have a little bit of something, give back and that is shared prosperity,” Sylvester believes.

Flowers were given to mothers to mark Mother’s Day

Speaking on the volunteers, Daly City Vice Mayor Juslyn Manalo acknowledged that there were about 40 to 60 volunteers who helped sorting donations, packing food bags and made the job a lot smoother and easier.

“From monetary donations, we bought food from local restaurants. So, it is really helping everyone who needs food and at the same time help small businesses that need the support like Fil-Am cuisine, Bread Basket, Seven Mile House. There were also food from Fort McKinley and Hapag Kainan that came in,” Manalo reported. “We are all working together with Filipino Democratic Club, PBRC, local police officers and what we have learned is once you call out to the community, they respond. The generosity and humanity in this project are huge and shows what a united community can provide.”

Daly City Library Board Trustee Patricia Tiongco de Vera and daughter Lauren were two of those volunteers who tirelessly lent their time and effort to give back to the community Bayanihan-style.

“We live and raise our daughters in this community, so this is the perfect opportunity on Mother’s day to give back by providing meals for people who lost their jobs and are suffering. We all need to come together to help one another by looking after each other,” Tiongco said. “We are giving flowers because we have to celebrate Mother’s day and through this event, we are teaching our children to be there for our community to support them in any instances. You give back you get a lot in return.”

Lauren echoed her mom, saying, “This is the community I live in and give back to. I already did volunteer work in the past as my parents are also actively doing the same with PBRC. It is nice to be with other people and share. In doing this, I want to impart the importance of family and community in coming and sharing the experience together.”