Filipina chef gives free food to displaced OFWs in Dubai
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – With much of the city in limbo due to the coronavirus outbreak, a Filipina chef who runs a Japanese restaurant here has launched a food drive to help fellow Filipinos hit hard by the temporary closure of businesses.
Virginia Baby Sorongon, who has worked in Dubai for the past 7 years and opened Shokuji Sushi restaurant in September last year, said she launched the food drive as she thought of many overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) forced to go on unpaid leaves or lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Sobrang nagdaan na po 'yung mga weeks na mahirap kaya gusto ko lang po makatulong lang po kahit papano (These past weeks were tough so I just want to help in any way I can),” Sorongon said.
Her restaurant still earned a little as food businesses are allowed to operate through takeouts and deliveries, but business was not doing as well as before the pandemic. This, however, did not stop her from helping others.
“Ang delivery po namin gumagana pa rin po. Kahit pa-konti konti. Despite na kami rin po down, marami pa pong option na puwede kaming gawin para makatulong,” Sorongon said.
(Our food delivery is still operational, even if it's only little by little. Despite the fact that we're also down, there are many options that we can take to help.)
She said others have joined her food drive to give relief to those who need help, mostly those in Karama, Satwa, and Bur Dubai. These are are known enclaves of OFWs, mostly those in the service sector hardest hit by the temporary closure of theaters, salons, restaurants, fastfood joints, and gyms and massage parlors, among others.
Sorongon said they have lost count on how many OFWs they had served.
“Ang target ko po, eh 'yung madami sa loob ng bahay…like 10 to 15 people na puwedeng matulungan kahit papano (Our target are homes with many people...like 10 to 15 who we can help),” she said.
On a regular business day, food she is giving away would cost anywhere from Dh45 to Dh288, including one of her restaurant’s house specialty, Shokuji Seafood Cajun.
Sorongon was inspired to spread goodwill after an award-winning Filipino photographer, Chris Calumberan whom she commissioned to promote her restaurant, bought food for her and her staff. Calumberan made the gesture after he realized that Sorongon might have difficulty paying for his services because of the coronavirus outbreak.– Rappler.com