Welcome Home Natural Garden Cafe
From the main highway of Lacson St. in Mandalagan, I turned on a road going towards Villa Valderrama. Before the entrance, my fellow blogger, Mea, told me to park underneath the canopy of trees and pointed me towards a small entrance at the side of the street. “Is this the Welcome Home Foundation Natural Garden Café?” I asked. She informed me that we would be entering through the garden as the café is at the other end of the lot.
Excitedly, I immediately took snapshots of plant boxes and vegetable beds – lettuce, romaine, tarragon, spring onions, and a lot more. We walked a short trail towards a corner where people were converging. It was an open air area, about six tables on gravel and covered by a roof.
Lourdes came out from a small bungalow and greeted us. She pointed us to a green chalkboard where the menu for the day was posted along with its corresponding sign language. While diners were busy with their lunch, we chatted a bit, asking Lourdes various questions before we decided to settle in one of the tables and give our orders. As we went along, their US Peace Corps volunteer, AJ, joined us as we exchanged ideas and concepts.
I glanced at the Welcome Home Foundation, Inc. (WHFI) logo on Lourdes’ shirt and pointed out that it was founded in 1986. In fact, they would be celebrating their 30th anniversary next year. WHFI was founded by Fr. Joseph Coyle, SSC and Mrs. Salvacion Tinsay. The main thrust of the Foundation is for the education, ministry and outreach for the deaf and their families.
Their core strength is with their pre-school education. But they also have a youth literacy program and various trainings, like cookery and massage, in partnership with TESDA. WHFI partners with different organizations, institutions and private companies for the development of their programs that will help their beneficiaries. They also encourage the parents of their deaf and mute students to learn sign language.
I was really excited about their program because when I was working in Hands On Manila Foundation, we also had projects for the deaf-mute and I even learned a few words and phrases in the Filipino Sign Language (FSL). When I also handled the PR of Jollibee soooo many years back, I remember that they’ve been encouraging the hiring of deaf-mute applicants.
As we were chatting with AJ and Lourdes, we touched on the continuous need for support for the deaf-mute community, financially, socially and mentally, particularly here in our province. Not many are aware of the plight of this community and there is still a gap on the basic understanding of the special needs of those who are deaf-mute. There are still so much to be done to help these individuals cope and fit in.
The Café was established as a training facility for its deaf students and staff. It wasn’t meant to gain profit so the dishes only cost P50 or less (about USD 1.10 or less). The menu was developed by its volunteer, German chef Ella Richster. It endeavors to serve, as much as possible, organic or naturally grown products. That was the purpose of the garden in the compound. They have a two-week menu wherein they only serve limited dishes per day that vary daily in a two-week period.
That day, a Thursday, we had grilled chicken leg with banana flower or heart (“puso” in the local language) salad, banana chutney and rice. We also tried their Puso Wrap with tomatoes, bell pepper, mayonnaise and lettuce and their mango banana smoothie. For dessert, we had their pumpkin pie and local coffee with milk.
And though we were invited to try their food, we felt that the price was too low. Instead of paying for our food, we decided to drop, as our donation, a fair amount of the value we ate in their tip box located at the bar.
We finished our lunch sated with good food and a lot of hearty talk. We will definitely be back in the Welcome Home Foundation Natural Garden Café. See photos of our visit there through this link. For reservations or advanced orders, feel free to call 0927 816 8757 or 034 441 2031. For more information about WHFI and their café, including their menu, visit their website http://whfi.ph.