Get cookin’ this August with two fabulous classes in Alabang! Kid-friendly Food on the 6th and Dessert Mayhem: Choose life. Choose Chocolate. on the 13th. Classes this month will start at 9am and end at 1pm. It’s gonna sweeeet! Check info here. Sign up here.
About a month ago my good friend Lynn Pinugu invited me to share my vegetable love with the kids of Mano Amiga, a school that she runs in FTI Complex, Taguig. I had the privilege of doing just this two Saturdays ago on the 23rd of July.
To be honest, that Saturday was a pretty hectic day for me and an end to a pretty hectic week. That morning I held the Fantastic Salads class and immediately rushed to Taguig for Mano Amiga. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to teach kids how to enjoy vegetables! And boy was I glad I did. Nothing warms my heart more than to see a room full of kids eating healthy, vegetarian food (hanging out with cute farm animals comes as a close second).
A quick background on Mano Amiga:
This school system originated in Mexico and is run by Fundacion Altius. It is associated with the Legions of Christ and has schools distributed in 7 countries in Latin America (website in Spanish). Mano Amiga Pilipinas is the foundation’s first school in Asia. The school aims to provide high quality, international-caliber education to children and is involved in community development to completely transform the families out of poverty. An ambitious goal for one school, true. But the other Mano Amiga schools in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, and Venezuela have been able to do just that and continue to pull through with that mission for the years to come. It’s all about permanent change, not band-aid solutions, baby.
Mano Amiga Pilipinas has been fully operational for three years, currently hosts kindergarten through second grade levels, and is growing one level each year. I could prattle on and on about the wonderful things Mano Amiga has done for its students, students’ families, and the nearby community. Or you can check out this blog post and read up on Bistro 3846, Football Fridays, Ballet Saturdays, field trips, livelihood programs…
Lynn Pinugu, headmistress of Mano Amiga (official job title: Institutional Development Director) is one amazing woman. I am privileged to call her my friend and we both share a passion for creating change in this country – for her through education, for me through food. And all, hopefully, with style 🙂
In the past, I have lent a hand at painting classrooms, scholarship fundraising by way of a dance-a-thon (yes! And I don’t dance!), conducting a book drive and book fair for the school library (back in my old corporate job with former work colleagues), bringing the kids to an Enchanted Kingdom field trip, and volunteering at some Saturday activities. Whatever amateur expertise I had at web design, I lent to the Mano Amiga Pilipinas blog. I wish I had more time for Mano Amiga’s kids!
Anyway, back to veggie love:
I started off the afternoon with bringing the kids to the school vegetable garden and explained that our food has to be as colourful as the world around us. A plate full of white, khaki, brown, and black food is not as exciting as a plate of food brimming with colors of the rainbow. Truth!
Mano Amiga’s veggie garden, aptly named Kinder Garden, was donated and planted by Starbucks Philippines by way of Zarah Zamora Perez. Zarah is as enthusiastic about urban vegetable gardens as I am about eating vegetables. The garden currently grows okra, squash, sili labuyo, malunggay, papaya, eggplant, and chives. Read more on Mano Amiga’s garden here.
We moved back to the classroom and I did a food demonstration of a black bean and seashell pasta salad. I had such a riveted audience; they ooh’d and aah’d at all the right places. Sarap to have my own veggie cooking show! Moving forward…
The dish was super colorful and that really piqued their interest – black from the beans, red from the tomatoes, yellow from the mango, green from the avocado and herbs, purple from the onions.
I followed the salad with a banana peanut butter soy milkshake which they LOVED. It was a healthy beverage that had zero added sugar. Of course, I included a brief explanation on the health benefits of plant-based milks over dairy milk. The kids didn’t have to take my word for it – they were busy enjoying their dairy-free milkshake.
Daniela, my pretty sous chef, developed a soymilk mustache which the kids all giggled at.
All in all, a good Saturday well spent with fellow volunteers.
Us with the kids:
For more information on Mano Amiga Pilipinas, please visit: http://manoamigapilipinas.blogspot.com/
More on Mano Amiga Network of Schools: http://www.centrosmanoamiga.org/
More photos on veggie lovin’ at Mano Amiga on Facebook.
I’d like to commend Zarah Perez of Starbucks Philippines for setting up Mano Amiga’s Kinder Garden! And for taking photos. Read up on the garden’s first harvest here.