This Jeepney Soup Kitchen Promotes Bayanihan With Style
Hunger and food security have always been pressing issues affecting vulnerable and marginalized families in the country. COVID-19 aggravated the problem, giving rise to a significant number of Filipinos experiencing involuntary hunger every day.
This is where Rise Against Hunger PH’s (RAH PH) comes in—the first food bank in the country with a mission to address the hunger problem experienced by more than 30 million Filipinos. Last month, RAH PH officially launched a mobile jeepney soup kitchen named (because for obvious reasons, we Filipinos love naming our jeepneys) Kain Tayo Pilipinas!—a project that since its launch has been able to serve 500 people each day.
“In our mission to support the nutritionally at-risk, this program enables us to step up and meet the rising challenges of hunger and malnutrition in the face of this pandemic,” said Jomar Fleras, Executive Director of Rise Against Hunger PH.
Kain Tayo Pilipinas is a private sector initiative in partnership with Better World Tondo and San Miguel Corporation. While it may look like some cool and aesthetically pleasing vehicle to you, there is a fully functioning kitchen inside the stylish jeepney. The exterior of the jeep was revamped to fit RAH PH’s values reflecting that of Filipino culture, and when asked why Fleras chose the jeepney for the flagship model, he explains that “it should be something that everyday Filipinos can identify with." The initiative sought help from Manila’s top creatives in a collaborative effort to produce the jeepney’s iconic sticker skin design.
A Sarimanok Bringing Food to the People
“I think this legendary Maranao bird deserves a modern makeover so that it can continue to be relevant in the modern-day. The colors of the Sarimanok were also our inspiration for the design's palette,” said Architect Deo Alam, the lead designer for the jeepney’s unique sticker skin.
He conceptualized a modern version of two Sarimanoks meeting at the front of the jeep, its body spreading towards the back. Vintage Sarao decor also mingles with the mobile kitchen’s vibrant exterior, giving it a contemporary pop. Talk about paying homage to our roots.
According to Alam, “We wanted the design to be inclusive and easily appreciated by all Filipinos across the board. So we decided to go for the Sarimanok because it is a figure that has already emerged in the popular scene during the '90s, it is recognizable and relatable. Second, the legend of the bird makes the symbol even more special—it is also known to carry a fish by its beak, which can be translated to the Sarimanok bringing food to the people.”
Another noticeable element that adds humor and personality to the design is Mauro Malang Santos’ iconic cartoon characters shown on the sides of the jeepney—an idea incorporated by Nikko Arbillo, Alam’s team member from the Deo Alsharid Alam Design Architecture (DADA).
We also have to thank local fashion designer, RJ Santos, who lifted graphics from his own portfolio to create the whimsical border designs highlighted on the jeepney’s main body.
Free food and vaccine shots at Pasig Elementary
The mobile soup kitchen program was first launched at Pasig Elementary School. Over 100 Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) drivers and their families received bowls of hot Arroz Caldo and free COVID-19 vaccinations donated by the San Miguel Foundation. Pasig City’s transport drivers went home happy with a full heart as they also received food packs from RAH PH’s generous donors.
“We’re happy to be working with Rise Against Hunger, our long-time partner in Better World Tondo, for the launch of the Kain Tayo mobile jeepney soup kitchen,” says Cecile Ang, San Miguel Foundation’s vice chairman. “With Pasig as our host city, and on the occasion of San Miguel’s 131st anniversary, we wanted to give back by donating 2,000 vaccine doses to protect those belonging to the A5 category.”
The two women who manned the kitchen, Better World Tondo volunteer cooks, Elizabeth Cabrera and Katheryn Aguilar, were also more than happy to be of help
“Nag-volunteer ako kasi ang mga anak ko naging scholar sa Better World Tondo,” explains Elizabeth Cabrera.
“Ako din, ang anak ko nakakuha din siya ng scholarship,” added Katheryn Aguilar, “kaya kami andito … para makatulong sa kapwa.”
Pasig City’s civic workers and officials later arrived at the launch. Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto topped off the event with a heartwarming speech and thanked RAH PH along with its partners for the successful event.
“Sigurado po ako na marami tayong matutulungan dito sa mobile soup kitchen na makakapag-serve ng hanggang limang daang tao kada araw,” Sotto said in a video message.
Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto
Sharing the Gift of Food as an Act of Bayanihan
In the face of adversary, the Kain Tayo Pilipinas! mobile soup kitchen initiative shows that many Filipinos are willing to help when given the opportunity and resources to do so. A little help, whether it’s a creative design, financial aid, or maybe even some delicious and steaming bowls of Arroz Caldo goes a long way in lending a hand to those who need it.
The mobile jeepney mobile soup kitchen project is supported by the Global Foodbanking Network, AXA Philippines, Ingram Micro, San Miguel Corporation, and various members of Pilipinas Kontra Gutom.
Want to get involved? Check out Rise Against Hunger Philippines here.