When our friend Dedet Santos of Pepita’s Lechon asked if we wanted to join her annual benefit dinner, we immediately agreed to give one QDB and one Ube Indulgence by Irene cheesecake. Project Wheelchair is a project of Dedet and her two daughters, Liyora and Lileya in memory of their sister, Lauren to raise funds to buy wheelchairs for the needy.
There was two ways to get a seat at the degustation dinner featuring different chefs and their specialties, donate 1 wheelchair or it’s equivalent cost of P3,500. Dedet and her daughter aimed to raise enough funds to buy 35 wheelchairs but as of today they have already reached a total of 60.
Here’s an essay by Lileya to expound on Project Wheelchair.
“According to the Pilipinas Wheel Chair Foundation, “It is estimated that there are 5.8 Million Filipinos with physical disabilities requiring a wheelchair.” The need for wheelchairs remains to be an ever-present issue. My sister was one of the fortunate few who had their own wheelchair, but for the remaining 800,000 Filipinos, owning a wheelchair remains to be an elusive necessity. The problems of not having a wheelchair when you need one are numerous, mobility being the most important. Being able to move around the city is a daily occurrence and one which is made harder for those who don’t have access to a wheelchair.
Growing up, I knew the difficulties with mobility as we struggled to transport my sister from place to place. However, we were fortunate enough to be able to do everything we wanted her to do. When traveling, my family and I would always stay behind after all passengers had left as we would need time to prepare my sister’s wheelchair to be able to push her out of the aero plane.
But it wasn’t all about the challenges. There were also moments of joy and laughter. One example is when my family took a trip to “The Happiest Place on Earth”, Disneyland. I can still remember the delight in my sister’s face when we rode Peter Pan’s Flight; and witnessed the grand sets, the stars and the singing. Music was one of her favourite things in the whole world.
Another “Happy Time” for my sister was our visit to the beach for scuba diving. My sister would laugh and would be enchanted by the colours of the ocean as the boat sped away from the coast and into the sea. My sister never actually scuba dived, but she was absolutely entranced by the way the water moved and the vibrations of the boat. It was amazing to see how the simplest of things could make her face light up.
So why am I doing Project Wheelchair? I am doing Project Wheelchair to help raise awareness for the needs of those who are not as fortunate as my family has been. I want to help these people find their “Happy Place” as much as I can. To me, Project Wheelchair symbolizes hope, the hope that one day those who are having hard times now, surrounding their physical disabilities, will be able to find the good and happy times of their lives.”
Irene and I were super happy to be part of this charitable event. Overflowing food and great conversation with a fun group of people.
Butter Beer by Lileya Santos. A toast to start the dinner.
Burrata by Jutes Templo of Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza. This is a mini version of what they serve in the restaurant, so good that not a single piece was left.
Fabada by Chef Angelo Comsti. A Spanish tomato stew with chunky chorizo and beans. We got a bit to take home and ate it with lots of steaming rice.
Pork Panalo by Chef Sharwin Tee of Quirky Bacon. You can go wrong with this excellent meaty dish, Calumpit longanisa stuffed pork loin that is then wrapped with bacon.
Beef Bourguignon by Chef John Cu-Unjieng of Jam Foods. Tender and flavorful, it was a struggle not to eat all the bread.
Hainanese Chicken Rice by Chef Stevie Villacin of Stevie’s. I’m using an old photo from many years ago of the excellent Hainanese chicken of Stevie’s. We’ve ordered this many, many times before and it never fails to impress.
Secret Stuffed Lechon by Dedet de la Fuente of Pepita’s Lechon. Dedet debuted two different stuffed lechon whose names can not be mentioned yet but trust me both are scrumptious. I would have had more but sadly the tummy was not willing.
Project Wheelchair Carrot Cake by Karen Young. A wonderful logo and cake fit for the endeavor.
Pastillas Tart and Profiteroles by Angela Tolentino of Cinq Dessert Boutique.
If the overflowing amount of dishes was not enough, we got to take home Ensaymadas by Pearl de Guzman of Baby Pat Bread and Pastries and Pop Rock Chocolates by Liyora Santos.