Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pipol Power Institute's Kainan sa Binalot + Binalot Restaurant's Advocacy

The venue was Binalot Restaurant - Madison Branch in Mandaluyong City. 2:00pm of March 12, 2012. I have finally met some of the people behind Pipol Power Institute, a non-profit organization established to "channel the voices and actions of the humblest of citizens" and "dedicated to the full realization of People Power in the national life and in the international arena".

I myself was curious at first about the meaning behind this vision of PPI. So when I got an invitation from Ms. Niña Terol-Zialcita, I never hesitated to take a day off from work to know more about the organization. And that day proved to be more enriching and fun than how I imagined to be.

The gathering was started by a short prayer to the Almighty Father, led by Mr. Marvin Sipin of PPI.    
This is Ms. Joy Fabian of the Marketing Department of Binalot Restaurant. I'd say I really enjoyed her whole talk about the restaurant and their advocacy works. It's not everyday that we hear about restaurants making social responsibility and sustainability as integral parts of their businesses. One of those restaurants is Binalot.
The vision statement of Binalot is simple-minded, straightforward and near the hearts of the Filipinos. Binalot in itself is truly Filipino. I know for a fact that "binalots" (English: wrapped) are packed meals of the Filipinos (especially of the farmers) a long long time ago when tupperwares weren't invented yet. Filipina wives used to wrap the meals of their working husbands using banana leaves. During gatherings, Filipinos will gather around the table and eat using their bare hands with banana leaves as plates. Unlike plates, banana leaves have no divisions. There is so much oneness and unity among the Filipinos back then.
Value for Money Filipino Meals + Banana Leaves = Binalot's Success USP

What makes Binalot a stand out among the other Filipino fastfood chains is the way that it stayed true to its proposition of being a Filipino brand. We know that not too many Filipino restaurants will consider including banana leaves as part of their formulas right away, but Binalot courageously ventured to using this gift from nature to differentiate itself from the other Filipino restaurants.

Not only that, it even ran the extra mile by looking for mutually-beneficial opportunities with rural communities from where their important raw material (banana leaves) maybe sourced from. While they ensured a stable supply of banana leaves as an important raw material for their business, they also ensured that local farmers from the communities whom they are working with were also self-sustaining.
Here is the picture of the Binalot meal I had during that day. Can you imagine how fresh it looked and smelled that day- all because of the effect of the banana leaves where it is wrapped in? Absolutely yummy!

During Ms. Joy's presentation, she explained that the Binalot All Time Pinoy-vorite Meals were creatively named inspired by the fun-loving nature and humor of the Filipinos. Vivo Tocino! Sinigang with a Bang! Pork Bongga Longganisa! Tapa Rap Sarap! Sisig na Makisig! Bistek Walastik! The coined names for the meals made it all the more easy to remember- and fun to order at the counter!

Among the many communities that Binalot is helping through their Dahon Program is a community in Zambales. Because of this project, they were able to help 20 families become self-sustaining.

Dahon means Dangal at Hanapbuhay para sa Nayon.

Indeed, Binalot became instrumental in helping a lot of communities in the Philippines become sustainable- and the dignities and hopes of the people living within it restored and uplifted.

Because of the success of the Dahon Program, it became a business in itself. Through the Dahon Program, Binalot has now became a supplier of banana leaves to other business such as BibingKinitan!, Bacolod Chicken Inasal and Tita Lynn's.

Binalot also reaped recognition from international award-giving bodies conferring awards for model business and environmental sustainability.

After Ms. Joy's presentation, we did a little ice breaker to relax us, the participants. After introducing ourselves, we played a game- a very Filipino game. The all-time favorite Pinoy Henyo!
Ms. Mae Paner of Juana Change and her teammate won the game! She got a book from Kaya Natin Movement.
Ms. Nines took the floor and then slowly by slowly she revealed the things that I need to know about PPI.

Ms. Nines took us to the two flagship initiatives of PPI namely, Reimagine: Pilipinas Bukas and Diwa ng People Power.

Reimagine is a collective visioning exercise of gutsy and imaginative Filipinos that articulates a Philippines twenty-five years hence- a gathering made distinct by the convenors' use of a cultural lens in considering key political and economic problems that need to be addressed if the nation's future well-being is to be assured.

On the other hand, Diwa ng People Power is an annual event that aims to highlight and celebrate outstanding examples of empowered democracy, enlightened citizen participation, and sustainable changemaking in communities around the Philippines. Inspired by the spirit of EDSA One, Diwa ng Pipol Power hopes to inspire more Filipinos to amplify their individual and collective voices, and to use the power of engaged, collective action to create solutions that address their own urgent needs.

[Source: About the Pipol Power Institute]

After going through the profile of the organization and its two flagship initiatives, Ms. Nines led us to the highlight of the gathering: the call for entries for the Pipolpowering the "Diwa ng Pipol Power" Logo. To know more about this call, please click here. To register for the call,  please click here.

I also dedicated a full blog post about the Pipolpowering the "Diwa ng Pipol Power" Logo Call for Entries, please click here.
The event was a success! During the event, I've realized that a lot of Filipinos actually wanted to help and offer their time and resources for the betterment of the country. Indeed, the spirit of People Power lives on!

Special thanks to Ms. Niña Terol-Zialcita inviting me to this very fruitful event.

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