Story and photo by Jun Nucum

If the Daly City Mother’s Day feeding program were a big success, would the Father’s Day event be far behind?

No. In fact, it was doubly successful and it fed twice as much.

This made the organizers very happy. And the volunteers didn’t even break a sweat preparing and cooking meals.

Families just drove up to the Pilipino Bayanihan Resource Center (PBRC) at Junipero Serra Blvd., open their trunks and voila, they get a family meal of chicken barbecue, rice, Filipino-style spaghetti and biko.

Chief organizer City Council Member Ray Buenaventura has proven time and again that the Filipino community, in partnership with the Filipino American Democratic Party of San Mateo County, the PBRC and Census 2020, has responded several times over to the  call for bayanihan in the time of the pandemic.

“It is heartwarming to see how much (the Filipino community) wants to make a difference. It was actually very easy to organize these relief efforts because there are people who are staying at home who want to do something productive like cooking and, in this case, cooking spaghetti and rice,” beams Buenaventura. “We were also able to raise $15,000 to tap local restaurant in cooking chicken barbecue. We’ve got a lot of food because we know that a lot of people are hungry and the need is great so we decided to do it again. As long as there is a need, we will try to do it.”

The group of volunteers raring to go

They chose the blend of spaghetti with hotdog, a meal that appeals to other cultures as much as it represents the sweetness of Filipino hospitality. Combined with chicken barbecue, the meal satisfies without making you feel like a charity case.

“We planned to feed around 2,000. The last time we had it, for 1,000. It was easy to raise the number as we had a lot of home cooks who were willing to cook and those include Island Huli restaurant (Patrick Thomas), Farmers Insurance (Dennis Biscocho), Filipino Food Movement, 7th West, Nutri-Asia, Seafood City, Medshare, Beit Rama, Tselogs, Pampanga Cuisine, Fil-am Cuisine, Ageless Senior’s Club, Bread Basket Bakery, Serramonte Regency, Duggan’s Sera Mortuary, the Daly City Police Department, Jesse Gonzales and Marie Villarosa for the masks and a host of other individual donors,” a grateful Buenaventura revealed.

Daly City Vice Mayor Juslyn Manalo said this was their way of helping the families and all those affected by COVID-19 in need of food and in order for the community to galvanize to affect those who really are in need.

“The recipients were really warm and volunteers wanted to do this and it shows that we are a compassionate people.  It is important for us to support one another it cannot be done (alone) but only through the support of one another that we are able to accomplish great things for the community,” claims Manalo.

Daly City official Dorrie Paniza led a contingent in going to Daly City’s Top of the Hill to distribute food for the seniors at the Hillcrest Garden.  

“We are not giving out food only for those with cars but also to those low-income seniors in the healthcare industry. There are about 50 Filipino seniors no longer strong to come over. They were happy and thankful we were thinking about them,” Paniza shared.

Also, in the forefront was San Mateo County Commissioner on Aging Walter Battara who has been helping the Filipino seniors in San Mateo County on immigration, healthcare, charity, legal services and other needs.

“My passion is to help the seniors and the youth (who) have been doing (this) for the past 20 years and I am glad to be part of this project,” Battara stressed.  

Manalo’s friend, Cindy Mamaradlo-Gumpal of San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and a first-time volunteer took time out from her duty at the SFUSD to lend her precious time and effort for the feeding program.

“It felt really good, really good. It feels good to see families who are very appreciative come by with the smiles that we get and hellos in a good day. Feeding the family is an awesome feeling. And I enjoyed doing it. A few of them actually had tears of joy that they had food and not worry about cooking.” An overwhelmed Mamaradlo-Gumpal exclaimed. “I would definitely reach out to more restaurants that may provide (food) as sponsors and donations.”