On this trip, we were in the company of our collaborator (Jazmin Llana), her assistant (Trisha Concepcion) and our project videographer (Lance Yu). All these folks were part of a reconnaissance trip we made to Kalinga a month ago. We did not create a blog about that visit since it was so intimately tied to planning for this one. However, Lance made a short video that you can see embedded below or at this link.
On that visit, we did participate in the feeding activities, as well as presenting aprons as gifts to all the workers. On arrival for this last trip, we were pleased to see that everyone was wearing our aprons, many of which showed signs of wear, suggesting that they were used often and not just to please us.
Since we last wrote, our videographer Lance has graduated from De La Salle and secured a position as a business reporter at the Rappler, the Filipino progressive press outlet whose director Maria Ressa received a Nobel Prize last year. Trisha is in the final weeks of writing her undergraduate thesis about alternative art spaces in the Philippines.
We were also accompanied by three volunteers who are undergraduates from De La Salle University. Joanne Arac (Nicole) is a fourth year civil engineering major. Shannen Abad (Shane) is a fourth year chemical engineering major. Margarita Cudiamat (Agot) is a second year student in communication arts and advertising management. All expressed their desire to re-engage with outreach, recalling positive prior experiences. All proved hard workers and excellent interviewers.
Also joining our team was Dr. Anne Richie Balgos (Richie), a colleague of Jazmin’s in the Department of Literature, who exercised her prodigious skills as an ethnographer. John Campos (Rhod) was part of the reconnaissance team but was not able to make it at the last minute due to an exam, but we still want to recognize his participation and recruitment efforts through the De La Salle Ambassadors program.
Many who work at this feeding program are graduates of the residential program at Bahay Kalinga that we wrote about in this blog. We have now worked with them on four occasions and are happy to have so many familiar faces when we arrive. The team for the day included chefs Ritchie and JR, as well as Aris, Dayan, Jonathan, Jovert, JP, Jun, Maribi, Rudolph and Volter.
Our goal for this visit was to distribute gifts to the beneficiaries of the meals program and to record some video interviews. We posed two questions in our interviews. The first was imaginative, inviting recipients to share a favorite meal–what would they eat if they could eat anything. The second asked for a story or memory about being hungry. The two questions were part of our effort to consider possibilities for agency and imagination within the context of hunger action.
The recordings were all made in Filipino (and some other Philippine languages) so at this point we have only second-hand knowledge of what was said. Once we are home, we plan to create transcripts and review the audio quality before deciding on next steps, which could be anything from multi-monitor installation to reflective writing. However, we continue to believe that the primary value of the interview process lies in the listening rather than in re-presentation.
We created small gift bags which were distributed to everyone who ate a meal that day (267 in all) regardless of whether or not they participated in the interview. These were distributed as beneficiaries were about to leave, allowing us an opportunity for language practice.
The bag contained three treats. We included fresh ponkan (tangerines) as anything fresh is rare in feeding programs. Purple Yam bakery donated lemon piping cookies, adding a touch of elegance that invoked Massimo Bottura’s Refettorios (fine dining for the disadvantaged). Finally, packets of Kopiko–a three-in-one coffee, milk, and sugar mix–were included at the suggestion of Kalinga management, as these are known to be valued by their clients and help stave off hunger on the days when meals are not offered.
Throughout the day the members of our group rotated roles, taking turns at conducting interviews and distributing gifts but also at serving meals or handing out soap and towels. We had requests we could not fill for clothing, masks, and sanitary napkins–all items that are sometimes available at the center but not that day–and would make it a point to bring some of each to our next visit. We won’t be able to return but our Manila-based collaborators plan to sustain a connection.
The meal served that day included pork sinigang, green bean adobo, and fried eggplant. The links will take you to recipes adapted for use by cooks outside the Philippines. These are the instructions that Kalinga follows:
We are incredibly grateful to the team at Kalinga for accommodating us, with a special recognition to Brother Jorem and director Tessam Castillo. They run a tight ship and yet were very accommodating to our interventions.