Sunday, December 15, 2013



It will soon be Christmas, twelve days to be exact. With all the frenzy that comes with the holidays, it is easy to feel tired and lose sight of the true meaning of the season. I figured reflecting on 12 gifts I am most grateful for will make the holidays richer. Come join me and think of your own Christmas blessings for a richer holiday journey this season. 

DAY ONE- The Gift of Adobo Aid 

No one anticipated the impact of Supertyphoon Haiyan to the Philippines. It was tremendous to say the least, with thousands of lives lost, billion pesos worth of properties lost and damaged, and millions of lives affected. 

Feeling helpless, four days after Haiyan struck I posted my plea for ADOBO AID, a global event for November 23, where anyone, anywhere can help one adobo dinner at a time. The images from Haiyan I saw on the news and the voices of the survivors touched me deeply. I would listen to AM radio and cry as I navigated Manila's traffic. But life went on for me with deadlines and trips to fulfill. "How could I help?" I asked myself that question over and over again. The answer came to me in the shower with the concept for Adobo Aid. It kept simmering in my head. But on the morning of November 12, I could no longer ignore it. Instead of going to the gym, I turned on my video cam. With no script, I spoke directly to the  camera in this video. I poured my heart to a blogpost. Even the logo was one I created using the colors of the Philippine flag. I decided wherever my travel finds me on November 23, I would create an adobo aid dinner. 

It was one crazy idea I could not shake off. But I did not anticipate what would happen next. Filipinos and non-Filipinos all over the world embraced Adobo Aid and mounted their own dinner parties.

Discovery Channel in Singapore and a pharmaceutical company each mounted their own adobo aid dinners. Adobo Aid dinners mushroomed in the US with San Francisco, New Jersey, New York,  Florida, Ohio, and an anonymous person in the suburb east of the twin cities. Toronto and other places in Canada mounted Adobo Aid dinners. A former colleague in an advertising agency mounted an adobo aid dinner in Dubai.There was one more a friend Ginge found in Saigon,  Vietnam. Even Sao Paolo in Brazil was represented with my friend Maan Sicam and her friends raising funds to help out a school in Leyte.

Maan and her friends at Sao Paolo,  Brazil 

Leah and her friends in Dubai 
Adobo Aid in Saigon, Vietnam 

Adobo aid in Greenwich village, NY

Unfortunately, i found myself unable to mount an Adobo aid dinner in Lombok. Moving around Indonesia, I had tried to get my host to help me. A former expatriate in Manila, he told me when arrived there, "Sorry Maida, it's just too difficult... " He explained the poverty in the place I was in.

But as I sadly posted my failure to mount my own dinner. I received an email that gave me goosebumps. It came from a Filipina named Cecille. She shared what happened on Nov 23, she turned 50 and raised P95,000 in her adobo aid dinner in manila. 

Here''s a photo of the post I shared on Maida's Touch facebook page of her email

We exchanged a few messages. I was touched deeply. It was no longer my crazy idea. It was a shared movement. If not for the people who pressed the share button on Facebook or retweeted, it wouldn't have reached so many people. A friend, Ginge Salud, tirelessly tagged every single friend she knew on Facebook to spread the word on Adobo Aid. She tells me she doesn't cook, but her loving act made a difference as she reported back with photos of friends who did the global fundraiser. Many of the people who mounted were strangers I did not know or will probably never meet in my lifetime. Even non-Filipinos like Sara Bir, an American food writer in Ohio cooked up an adobo to help raise funds. 

I don't really know how much ADOBO AID has raised. Of the three people who shared with me how much they have raised, it is collectively about US$10,000. But that number is only a fraction of the true amount, which will remain a mystery as many of the adobo aiders remain anonymous.

So, I say a big Thank You, Lord for Adobo aid and to all those who cooked, shared the link, donated, and ate. I am humbled knowing we all have our roles to play in this world. We are simply called to act and do it. 

I will be mounting my adobo aid dinner on Dec 21, Saturday, 5:30pm with some old friends. Instead of the usual potluck of rich holiday food in my flat, we will have a simple adobo dinner. Instead of spending on food and exchange gifts, we will donate it to Haiyan rehabilitation. If you wish to join us, send me a message.  

One last request, I will be compiling the ADOBO AID Recipes into a cook book to help rebuild lives affected by Haiyan. Kindly email me at or with the adobo recipes you wish to share. 

I have always believed in giving. Adobo Aid has been nothing short of a miracle. Giving does exactly that, it miraculously touches lives, transforms people, and connects hearts of people who were once strangers. A big thank you to all who in your own way allowed the miracle to happen. Please continue to let Adobo magic happen, as rebuilding will take time. 


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