MANILA -- When we hear the word "foodie," we instantly think of people who love to eat, take photos of the food, and share them on their blogs or social media accounts.
Rarely do we encounter a foodie who has a strong passion to feed homeless people.
A few days before Christmas, certified foodie and social media manager Lucky Lyn So Alabado and some volunteers roamed around Metro Manila not to hunt for new restaurants but to distribute food bags among street dwellers-- satisfying not their tummies but their souls.
"The idea was to provide food and basic necessities to families living on the streets: capture these moments, share the advocacy, and start a movement," she told ABS-CBN News in an interview.
A native of Samar, Alabado is the founder of food, travel, and lifestyle page Discover MNL, which helped her pursue this passion project.
The first beneficiary
"It all started with a kikiam story, on a Sunday afternoon, with an old man on a wheelchair," Alabado recalled.
As a food blogger, one of her first feature requests came from a local kikiam vendor, who sent her sample products for tasting and photo shoot. She had no idea that this would lead her to do an advocacy.
"After I finished cooking, styling, shooting and tasting the kikiam and seeing how there’s more of it left, I decided to share with the old man begging for alms that I always come across every Sunday by the Church. Upon handing him the meal still fresh and hot, he
told me, 'Maraming salamat, sister. Ngayon pa lang ako makakakain. Di ko nga alam bakit pa ko nagising ngayon,'" Alabado recalled.
Teary eyed from what she just witnessed, the young foodie went home with a new mission-- to find more feature requests so she can feed more people.
"Ever since then, I aimed to grow the brand to be able to hit this advocacy. An advocacy that’s focused to help the less fortunate, most especially, the homeless," she added.
And the rest is history.
For someone who is born to a well-off family, doing charity works sounds rather easy. But Alabado is quite different. She found her own means to support her advocacy.
"Just as the holiday season was fast approaching, regardless of how cliché it may seem, without a set budget on hand, just pure faith in the idea, I sent out proposals to the companies and brands that I’ve worked with explaining this advocacy, the goal and the mobile feeding event that’s going to happen," she said.
She sent letters and reached out to her friends who unhesitatingly gave their full support to the project. Soon, she was able to form a team of "fully dedicated and passionate" individuals who share her vision.
Apart from food, Alabado's team was also able to solicit for toiletries, toys, pillows, and blankets. Even the vans they used in distributing food bags were sponsored.
Feeding the city
Backed by a passionate team and generous sponsors, Alabado was finally ready to feed the city. They roamed around Metro Manila on December 21 to 22.
Alabado admitted that she felt frustrated upon seeing the situation of street dwellers. The shadow of hunger is reflected in their eyes. Some were too aggressive to get food bags.
"The situation of these people – having no food, shelter and basic daily necessities, trigger them to be desperate for help," Alabado recalled.
"There were communities that would mob you the instant they see you giving out bags and food. We had to toughen up and set boundaries in some situations once they become aggressive, abusive, or rude. Some would even run after the vans while others would call for more people so they can get extras," she added.
Despite these challenges, Alabado and her team did not lose hope. At the end of the day, there were still people who showed them genuine gratitude.
"There was this old lady whose eyes literally lit up when she was handed the gift kits. You could see pure gratitude in her eyes as she sweetly said, 'Pagpalain sana kayo ng Diyos, God bless you. Maraming maraming salamat' in such a genuine and sincere way," she said.
This, according to Alabado, has not only affected her but the whole team who witnessed the woman's gesture.
"What she said was simple, yet it took a toll on all of us; that these people still have their faith intact despite their struggles and hardships has left such a lasting impact of positivity and inspiration on us," she added.
And with the great fulfillment she experienced after feeding the city, Alabado encourages everyone to spread the good vibes by helping other people in their own little ways.
"I hope this gives a dose of inspiration to others to venture on little advocacy projects of their own and share smiles to people who hardly have the means to survive a day," she added.