We returned to Bacolod in mid-November specifically to work with Sagup Negros and the Negros Museum on events connecting hunger action, food rescue, and the arts.
Sagup Negros is a collective of younger activists who have created a social enterprise that rescues vegetables that would otherwise go into landfill and create methane pollution; Sagup repurposes them into meals in their carinderia or composts them in environmentally sound ways. Here is a great powerpoint presentation that showcases their work:
We first visited with the Sagup Negros crew in September (described in this post) and were very impressed with their project to mitigate waste and knew right away that we wanted to prolong the connection.
This group was founded during the pandemic with the intention of converting wasted food into meals for those in need. However, the financial realities of realizing the dream converted the project into one of social entrepreneurship, supported in part by a grant from De La Salle University which is how we were introduced.
In our request for a re-visit, we proposed that we underwrite the costs of a day spent feeding a community in need as a way of helping them to reconnect with this intention. We also encouraged them to tap local artists to enhance the feeding with creative actions. In September, we also visited with the leadership at the Negros Museum and hoped to forge a partnership between the artists and the activists. All this and more was realized.
Sagup Negros made a connection with the Sisters of the Good Samaritan who every weekday provide meals to 400 children in the Boulevard community. The sisters in turn suggested that Sagup provide a meal for children in the Mambulok neighborhood, a community of need that the sisters discovered during the pandemic that is not getting regular meal service.
Saturday was devoted to an artist workshop at the Negros Museum called “Project Lumpia: Food for the Body, Food for the Soul” with seven members of the Maskara Theatre Ensemble of the University of St. La Salle, a student group that does holistic training in acting, movement, directing, and management.
The group is coordinated by Tanya Lopez who is also the director of the Negros Museum (and an old friend of our collaborator Jazmin Llana). The workshop was led by Noel Pahayupan who is the director of the local theatre group Performance Laboratory, Inc (“Perf Lab”).
You can watch that lecture here:
Workshop attendees also watched the lecture on Zoom but then we were able to meet with them after lunch for an hour to answer questions about our work and our careers. It was a very sweet interaction and so nice to be able to do it face-to-face.
Group members spent the balance of the day developing new original work on the theme of hunger. These were showcased in an evening workshop that included music, dance, poetry and drama. We were amazed by the professionalism and the sincerity of the output. We were also impressed by the large crowd that turned out to watch the performances, which we attribute to the bringing together of two different groups with large followings.
Sunday was devoted to the feeding activities. In the early morning, we met Sagup Negros team leaders at the Libartad market to procure salvaged vegetables from their vendor-partners and supplemental ingredients to complete the recipes.
The cooking was done at a house owned by the Sisters (the “Good Sams”) by a large group of Sagup volunteers (Beya, Carl,Colleen, Franz, Genrick, Jangmi, Joanne, Jewel, Kelen, Patrick, Raven, Rayne, and Renz) under the supervision of Tita Teresa Banaston. Here are a few recipes for the dishes as we prepared them. The links will take you to versions of these recipes adapted for the (overseas) home cook.
Since the neighborhood of Mambulok is made of informal housing, they have no shared space that is sheltered from either rain or sun, so a decision was made to rent canopy tents for the event. When we arrived at 11 AM, the children were already seated in chairs (they brought their own) waiting for us.
Luckily, seven of the actors from Maskara Theatre had arrived earlier and were on hand to create improvisational scenes to keep them entertained.
They alternated with several members of Sagup Negros who also have great skills for working with kids. (Most of the group members also work with another initiative called Youth Empowering Youth).
Just as we were finishing up with serving the food, there was a torrential downpour, so the planned after-lunch composting demonstration was deferred.
The artists and the activists all hope to continue to collaborate on future projects, and Sagup Negros hopes to find the resources to do regular distribution of meals to hungry children.
Everyone working on the project (chefs, volunteers, and artists) received a gift apron. That brought us to the end of our stash of “Walang Gutom” gear, and we are now in Manila hectically trying to reprint. All the bowls are gone too, but these cannot be remade so easily. We’re happy to be running low on swag rather than sitting on inventory!
We felt like we’d been able to do what we came here for, adding on to some great work already underway, and helped make some connections with strong potential. We were gratified once again by the energy and spirit of those we were able to work alongside.