Dining Out for Down
The pleasure of eating reflects our humanity, food being universal and its integration into cultures so telling of history and tradition. In the Philippines alone, the people's love for food speaks volumes of its colonial saga and eventual freedom, its family-oriented customs and hospitable nature. With Philippine Tatler's Charity Week redefining the role of luxury dining in society, the Filipinos' spirit of generosity soars.
For nearly a decade now, Philippine Tatler has produced the Philippines' Best Restaurants Guide to recognise the dining scene's gastronomic achievements. Its existence stands as a testament to the culinary adventures of the country, enthused with reconstructions of adobo with as much gusto as molecular gastronomy. It has examined the artistry of chefs and skill of the kitchens, assessing concept-to-execution dynamics of the most qualified culinary venues in order to curate your dining experience.
Readers had been hungrily devouring the Guide when, four years ago, Philippine Tatler brought life to the concept of Charity Week. "We decided that we were in an ideal position to use our contacts and influence in the restaurant industry to start a yearly fundraising event," says Irene Martel-Francisco, managing director of the publication and its subsequent titles. With up to ten percent of all the country's spending happening at restaurants, the past years' Charity Weeks for beneficiaries Hands On Manila, Virlanie Foundation, and Gifts and Graces were met with great success during their respective nine day runs.
This year, Philippine Tatler has put together 37 fine dining restaurants to pledge their efforts in support of Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, Inc. (DSAPI) Through a partnership with San Miguel Brewery and Visa, select participants of this year's Philippines' Best Restaurants will donate a portion of their proceeds to the DSAPI community when people dine at their establishments between August 16-24, 2013.
"While we further grow our company," says Oscar Canave, San Miguel Brewery's Marketing Development Manager, "We also contribute our fair share to society. And our support to Philippine Tatler's fund-raising project for DSAPI clearly manifests our deeply-rooted philosophy of ‘Caring beyond Business.'" On his part, Iain Jamieson, Visa Country Manager to the Philippines and Guam, says, "Visa is more than just a way to pay." Discovering the potential of the lives of children who have Down syndrome, the long-standing alliance between Philippine Tatler, San Miguel Brewery and Visa aims to surpass the previous years' accomplishments.
It certainly isn't new to combine charity with the occasion of dining with family friends, as reflected by partner restaurants whose generous participations recur this year. "Makati Shangri-La, Manila has been supporting Charity Week every year for the past three years," says Lesley Tan, Director of Communications for the hotel, "It is a privilege for us to be able to give back to the community by contributing proceeds of specially crafted menus [from our restaurants] to Philippine Tatler's chosen charity." The experience is enjoyable, the rewards extensive - even for the restaurants themselves. Nadine Howell, Marketing Officer for 2nd's, says, "One of our goals is to contribute to the community in a positive way. Most of the time, we try to do this through great food and dining experience, but when we get the opportunity to make a difference through a cause we truly believe in, we do our best to combine both."
DSAPI founder and chairman Tony Pasia and family
One of the greatest challenges to DSAPI chairman Tony Pasia and his co-founder Gerry Wamsley was that their children were born with Down syndrome in 1991, when information about Down syndrome was scarce. Through the assistance of the National Association of Down Syndrome in New York, Wamsley acquired stories and information on other families and children with the condition. A few months later, both parents realised that if more families in the Philippines had this kind of support, they would be able to recover from their misunderstanding and allow their children to grow into their fullest potential.
Indeed, Pasia emphasises that without the facts of the condition, the tendency of parents is to hide their children from the public. The Early Intervention Seminar is thus one of its major projects directed at educating parents with information that will empower them in their situation. Ultimately, the goal is for the parents to accept their child's condition so that they may provide them with the support they need in order to live productive lives. It also becomes these parents' integration into the community of nearly 3,000 individuals who have family members with Down syndrome in the Philippines.
"We strongly believe that the Early Intervention Seminar program of DSAPI is an important and necessary aspect of this charitable group," says Colin Mackay, chef-owner of Sala Bistro, who continues his involvement with Charity Week for the fourth year in a row, "[it] will give immediate benefit to parents who need support in bringing up newly born children with Down Syndrome."
At this time, the Early Intervention Seminar is held quarterly in Metro Manila. With Down syndrome affecting 1 in 800 births, a large portion of families are left uninformed in cities as close as Laguna and Cavite. "If they have enough funds to carry out their education and information campaign in the countryside," says Francisco, "it will mean that parents are better informed of their options and choices in raising their kids with Down syndrome."
Dining out during Charity Week consequently becomes a noble act affecting the lives of countless families. The Peninsula Manila's The Lobby and Old Manila contribute the hotel's dining experiences to this year's line-up of supporters with Mariano Garchitorena, Director of Public Relations, stating, "Aside from benefitting a good cause, you get great food, excellent service and an elegant and cosy ambience."
Cibo also participates with prominence on the partnership of diner and restaurant for the endeavour. "While our valued clients continue to enjoy their Cibo favourites," says Michael Pascual in representation, " it is not only Cibo that is helping our target beneficiary but our clients as well." The same sentiment drives CAV Wine Shop and Café who stated that "the more customers we encounter, the more we can share."
Brina Kei Maxino with her parents at Special Olympics Global Youth Rally
Since its conception, DSAPI has come to boast numerous success stories of persons with Down syndrome excelling in their chosen paths of life. Brina Kei Maxino, 16, is a Special Olympics Global Youth Ambassador representing the Asia Pacific. Growing up, she resolved "to be the best Down syndrome kid that she can be." True enough, Brina has recently graduated from regular high school as the class valedictorian.
Down syndrome is neither rare nor is it a sickness; in fact, it is the most common genetic condition. Being born with Down syndrome comes with a number of physical ailments, such as congenital heart disease, but this is treatable. People with Down syndrome can live long fruitful lives with the proper medical and emotional support. Brina, for example, is planning to introduce a youth athlete curriculum to educational institutions while taking up college this year. Just like Brina, any child born with Down syndrome can become well adjusted and productive to society.
"I really urge you to eat out at the Charity Week 2013 restaurants on August 16 to 24," Francisco says. "It will help countless children and parents approach Down syndrome in a more informed manner. Above all, it will give these people hope, and comfort them in knowing that a world of options for them is out there."
Many parents and their children have been dealt with the unexpected circumstance of Down syndrome. "There's nothing wrong with them, and you will discover that," said a father, Luis Harder, whose relationship with his two year-old daughter was strengthened after attending an Early Intervention Seminar, "There is just something wrong with the way we see them." It has been unthinkable until now to perceive the condition as anything else but a burden, but it has allowed so many lives to change towards acting out kindness, patience, and love.
Philippine Tatler is touched by these children's lives and the courage with which their parents have made their situations so inspiring. The compassion with which DSAPI is driven resonates through the happiness of these families, which Philippine Tatler hopes to share with diners during this year's Charity Week.
Participating Restaurants: 2nd's | 22 Prime | Aubergine | Azuthai | Cafe Mary Grace | The Cake Club | Casa Roces | Cav Wine Shop-Cafe | Champagne Room | Chateau 1771 | Chef Jessie Rockwell Club | Cibo | Circles Event Cafe | Inagiku | Kashmir | Las Flores | Li Li | The Lobby (at The Manila Peninsula) | Makati Shangri-La Lobby Lounge | Lusso Gastrobar | Mamou | Masseto | The Oakroom | Old Manila | Opus Restaurant and Lounge | Paparazzi | People's Palace Thai | Sala | Sala Bistro | Senju | Shang Palace | Spectrum | Summer Palace | Terry's Bistro | The Tivoli | Toki Japanese Fusion and Fine Dining | Va Bene Pasta Deli