Sunday, November 7, 2010

A day at The Center

Freshly-steamed “puto”, a Filipino flour cake, waits to be sliced.

Blogger APH slicing puto that will go with the day’s lunch of macaroni soup. (More pictures after the story).


A Friend of Tembari Children

LAST Saturday’s feeding was marked with agitated excitement from the Tembari children.

Maybe because almost all of the 98 children came for the day’s special lunch of macaroni soup using a favorite Filipino recipe and “puto”, a steamed cake which is one of Filipino favorites.

The whole place was sort of shaking with shrieks and shouting and banging, and running around, to the chagrin of our volunteer mothers, which was usually the case when our rowdy and meek kids gig together in one small place like The Center.

This time, more kids wanted their pictures taken, with all those crazy hand and finger gestures they had tried to imitate from hip-hop singers. They knew their faces would be posted on this blog site and would be seen by the many from PNG who regularly visit this cyber spot.

Whatever it was, yesterday’s chaos was just an indication that our children were more than happy and getting together just like one big family in one place like The Center was always a special happy occasion each of them had looked forward to.

Such a scenario has always been the envy of the rest of the 16 soup kitchens operating around the National Capital District, most of them based in depressed areas. They wished they had enough food to serve their own wards from Monday to Saturday just like at The Center. But that is not the case right now, and maybe for a long time.

Our food of the day – macaroni soup with lots of prawn, veggies and cool flavor, steamed cake and cordial drinks – was sponsored by Nanga Medical Center, Coca-Cola Amatil, Pacific Industries and High Energy Co. The day’s purified water was donated by Aqua 5-Parklane International Trading and The Water Company, with each one donating five big containers of sweet-tasting water.

They – our Saturday feeding sponsors -- are the reasons why the food I usually cooked for the kids on Saturdays is always special.

The main dish was matched by a freshly-steamed Filipino cake called “puto” which I had to do ahead of the main dish due to longer time it required to cook.

There are always enough funds to buy the ingredients that I chose to go into the meal. And of course, there’s always this passion for the kids that I pour into the pots with the ingredients that make the food a bit healthier.

It is one of my fortunes in this Saturday gig that my feeding sponsors are generous enough to shell out their kina so I could buy ingredients that I felt would create excitement in the palates of my diners – the Tembari kids.

One volunteer mother, who is also one of our three preschool teachers, told me that the kids had enjoyed this soup lunch, perhaps because it felt heavy in their tummies and tasted very different from the previous meals I cooked for them over the past 10 months.

All I can say to this is that I really tried harder to come up with one nice meal on this particular day.

Cooking for a close to hundred kids is always a challenge.

A pot of boiling macaroni soup.

The Tembari boys pose for a picture.

The Tembari boys making cute of themselves.

The Tembari girls having lunch.

A group of kids wait in line to wash hands before eating lunch.

Tembari preschoolers eating lunch inside their classroom.

Children in a frenzy just before lunch.

Children waiting for their lunch on Saturday.

Children waiting for lunch of macaroni soup, puto and cordial drink.

Volunteer moms preparing puto.

Freshly cut puto waiting to be served to the children.

Rafael, the youngest member of The Center.

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