MANILA - A small eatery in Cubao named after President Rodrigo Duterte has been opened to serve free food to street children.
"Duterte's Kitchen," which was launched last October 10, is located in a building along EDSA, just across Farmers Plaza -- a few steps away from the MRT station there.
Project head Dexter Araquel told ABS-CBN News that concept was inspired by a project of Duterte when he was still mayor of Davao City.
He said the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) adopted the concept in Metro Manila to aid kids who are begging for money on the streets.
"Nagsimula ito sa project ni Mayor Digong noong nasa Davao pa siya," he said."Meron daw para bang karinderya o lugawan sa likod ng city hall, doon para 'yung mga nagugutom, pupunta lang doon. Eventually, in-adopt ito ng PDP-Laban."
(This came from a project of Duterte when he was still serving as mayor of Davao. There was this eatery serving free rice porridge for anyone who is hungry but has no money to buy food. Eventually, this was adopted by PDP-Laban.)
According to Araquel, "Duterte's Kitchen" relies only on donations in-kind and volunteer work.
Araquel recalled that in their first few weeks, the only food in their menu was either lugaw or champorado (chocolate rice porridge).
But nearly two months after they opened, donations poured in which enabled them to cook full meals for the kids.
Araquel said "Duterte's Kitchen" already has regular patrons, but volunteers continue to look for street kids who need food in nearby areas.
Aside from food, he said they are now also able to teach kids how to read and write, with the help of teacher-volunteers.
Vivian Pulga, a volunteer in charge of food, said she is happy to see the kids having fun and satisfied with their meals.
Aside from this, "Nanay Vivian", as she is fondly called by eatery volunteers and patrons, said she is also happy that "Duterte's Kitchen" has been keeping kids from solvent addiction.
"Karamihan kasi ng mga bata, nagso-solvent lang naman kasi walang makain. Pero dahil may nakakain na sila, hindi na sila nagso-solvent," she said.
(Most of these kids inhale solvent to forget their hunger. But since they can now eat for free, they no longer abuse solvent.)
Nanay Vivian said "Duterte's Kitchen" is able to feed at least 40 street children a day, Mondays through Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
During Saturdays, she said, more volunteers come to "Duterte's Kitchen" to hold learning activities and games for the kids.
Araquel said this aspect of the project is very important because they want the kids to feel that they have a family to go to in "Duterte's Kitchen."
He said they are planning to expand the project when opportunity allows. Anyone is also welcome to help.
Those who would like to donate food or do volunteer work, can reach "Duterte's Kitchen" through their Facebook page here.
"Duterte's Kitchen" only accepts donations in-kind and volunteer work.