“BRINGING THE FIESTA IN TAGUIG CITY JAIL” By Alli Raval – Prison Ministry Head

The Prison Ministry together with Fr. Reu Galoy, the SYA Volunteers and JPIC Scholars brought the fiesta to Taguig City Jail by having a “Master Chef” cooking challenge last May 30, 2015. For one day, inmates bring back happy memories of cooking for their loved ones. A total of 400 kilos of vegetables, 120 chickens, 25 dozens of eggs, and so much more were given for them to cook a 3 course meal to share with their fellow inmates numbering to about 1,000.

This cooking challenge is the jump start of more activities for the TCJ inmates. We are currently in the process of helping them build a “Multi-faith Purpose chapel.” We are finalizing the plans and will start construction soon.

This will be the second chapel that the Prison ministry will help build. The first one was in Makati City Jail completed last 2013. This chapel will enable the residents to have a venue where they can have catechism lessons, recollections, teachings and the like. We will help them build not just the chapel but also their relationship with God.

We would like to appeal to you and to your generous hearts to support our Francisfest 2015, a fund raising project featuring CECILE B. LICAD with the ABS-CBN Philhamonic Orchestra for the benefit of Santuario de San Antonio Parish Foundation’s outreach and charity programs.

by Marco Joson Merencillo – SYA Member

Life can be tedious at times. The daily grind to work can drain the energy we have. That’s why we look forward to the weekend because it’s the time to unwind, meet friends and eat out. But for a moment, imagine yourself in jail… what will you look forward to? Your freedom? Your visitors? Or your food?

In Taguig City Jail (TCJ), I found out that the inmates are fortunate enough to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. Surprisingly, the menu changes everyday, which consists of chicken, beef, pork, fish, vegetables and rice. A variety of Filipino staples such as tinapa, menudo, chopsuey, adobo, lomi, sinigang and tinola are served. All of these seem nourishing enough but I believe it’s not as satisfying as a homemade meal nor even surpass a restaurant dish.So imagine the delight of the inmates upon learning that they will have a cooking competition called Master Chef, a contest organized by the Prison Ministry together with Single Young Adults (SYA) with the participation of JPIC scholars of Santuario de San Antonio Parish.

May 30, 2015 was the day of the cooking competition. As I went inside the jail premises,the entrance was decorated with bamboo sticks and flowers made from colored paper. Moreover, rainbow-like flags hanged above the tents to create a fiesta atmosphere. The place did not resemble a prison at all.

Piece by piece, our volunteers brought inside the penitentiary all the items for the contest. We unpacked and distributed the ingredients into 12 tables. Each working area has a team of 5 members of the same gender. Hmmm… will the men win? Or will it be the females who are mostly the cooks in the house?

Following a few words of encouragement from our leader Jolly Gomez, our host Alli Raval started the contest by shouting “Game on!” Then the participants rushed to finish a minimum of three viands: appetizer, main course and dessert. After more than an hour of cooking, each team presented their dishes to the judges: Chef Nino Laus and Chef Isaac Bravo. Suprisingly, the meals looked and smelled delicious. At the end of the taste test, the judges declared Table #9 as the winner of the competition! Later on, I asked the judges why did that group win? For them, the team’s menu of pinakbet, pochero and turon stood out from the rest, which can even be served in a restaurant.

As a volunteer, I was fortunate to witness such a rare day of camaraderie amongst the prisoners and guards. The officers enjoyed taking pictures of the festivities and mingling with the participants.There were no rowdiness or fights that occurred. Smiles and laughter filled the premises. It was apparent that the inmates enjoyed the Master Chef competition. I saw how they lovingly prepared the meals as if they were cooking it for their own family. At the end of the day, what mattered most was the event reminded the inmates of their own home… where in the food is more delicious when you cook from the heart.

By Albert Puyoc – JPIC Scholar

Isang magandang karanasan ang aking nakamtan nong panahon ng kami ay pumunta sa Taguig City Jail. Excited at may halong kaba at takot ang aking naramdaman nang kami ay papunta pa lang sa aming distinasyon. Noong kami ay papasok na sa Taguig City jail unting-unting nawala ang nararamdaman kong kaba dahil sa aking mga nakita. Tinutulungan kami ng mga preso buhatin at ihanda ang mqa gamit para sa aktibidad. Ngunit hindi pa rin nawala ang nararamdaman kong takot sa maaring mangyari sa aming sa loob ng preso. Nang nagsimula na ang aming aktibidad para sa mga preso, unting-unting napalitan ng saya ang takot na aking nararamdaman. Napagtanto ko na hindi naman pala ganuon kasama ang mga taong nasa loob, tulad ng aking inaakala. Kinalaunan may mga preso kami nakilala at nakausap. Sa naramdaman ko habang kinakausap sila, sila ay simpleng tao tulad natin na nagkamali lamang. Kaya dapat nating silang patawarin at bigyan ng pagkakataong magbago. Kung ang Diyos nga ay pinatawad tayo sa mga kasalanan ating nagawa, tayo pa kayang mga tao. Masaya at naging matagumpay ang aktibidad na ginawa ng Prison Ministry at ng SYA at ng Santuario De San Antonio Parish. Dahil sa aktibidad na ito nalaman ko na myroon din palang aking galing sa pagluluto at iba pang mga bagay ang mga preso katulad nila. Nabago ang aking paniniwala at pagtingin sa mga preso dahil sa karanasan na iyon. Napagod man sa huli, naging masaya pa rin ako dahil naging bahagi ako sa aktibidad na tulad nito at nakatulong ako sa aking kapwa.