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Goodness: Now Serving!
[Date Created: March 25, 2012]

by Gia Leanne Luga

Somewhere along the perpetually busy Commonwealth highway is a quaint little café that showcases the goodness of the Filipino. The café is a haven filled with gourmet cheeses, artisan chocolates, mouth-watering burgers and freshly-brewed coffee – all made from Philippine ingredients and crafted with the love and ingenuity of Gawad Kalinga’s community partners. Created as a platform to showcase the products of a new generation of social entrepreneurs, the Enchanted Farm Café is the perfect manifestation of businesses that leave no one behind. Last March 20, 2012, the café opened its doors to those who wanted to taste the goodness. And boy was it good.

Enchanted Farm Cafe Soft Opening

Soft Opening

It was a full house that night as social entrepreneurs, local government representatives and friends from the media and various sectors of society gathered for the café’s soft opening. Human Nature's Anna Meloto-Wilk, Camille Meloto and Joanna Gilladoga were there to welcome everyone to the Human Nature flagship store, where the short opening program was held. Among the personalities who graced the event were Undersecretary Jose Mari Oquiñena, Cong. Sigfredo Tinga, Cong. Winnie Castelo, Councilor Precious Hipolito-Castelo, Councilor Alfred Vargas, Councilor Godofredo Liban, Brgy. Captain Hans Liban, Ogie Alcasid, Randy Santiago, Chris Tiu, Bam Aquino, Mark Ruiz of Hapinoy, Reese Ruiz of Rags2Riches, Philip Ong of Santeh Foods, TJ Manotoc, Rio Manotoc and many others.

Gawad Kalinga Founder Tony Meloto welcomed everyone by saying that the Enchanted Farm Café is proof that Philippine-made products can be world-class. He continues by paying tribute to the young social entrepreneurs in the room and saying “How can this country fail with people like you, who have decided that the best place to be in is the Philippines and that wealth can be found in this country?”

Tasting the Goodness

The highlight of the Enchanted Farm Café’s soft opening was of course the food. Exciting flavors exploded on taste buds as guests were treated to the delectable Enchanted Burger, the Golden Egg Lettuce Wrap, the freshly-baked Four-cheese pizza, and the combo pandesal with cheese/meat. For the accompanying beverage, guests had a choice between a bottle of Enchantea and a freshly-brewed cup of Sulu coffee with fresh Carabao’s milk and muscovado sugar. Dessert was Sulu coffee-flavored and Moringa-flavored Clean Ice Cream. They also served brownies and cookies.

Helping Goodness Grow

Ate Maricel and Xilca of Gourmet Keso

Taste the goodness of Gourmet Keso

As my taste buds got acquainted with the goodness of Feta cheese and gourmet kesong puti, I remembered the Startup Camp held in the GK Enchanted Farm not too long ago. This was where I met Ate Maricel, the community partner behind all the cheese that I got to taste in the Enchanted Farm Café that evening. Before she became the head cheese-maker of Gourmet Keso, she would walk several kilometres to the town proper just to sell the vegetables that she planted herself. She would do this under the scorching heat of the sun with one of her four children in tow. Today, life is a lot better for Ate Maricel. She can work for a living while taking better care of her family. I realized then that while Ate Maricel has known how to make kesong puti since she was young, without someone like Xilca Alvarez who can teach her fiscal discipline and connect her to the market and to capital, this ability won’t count for much.

>>> Read about the Startup Camp in "A Generation of Dreamers"

Maricel Balderama is only one of the many hardworking community partners whose products are showcased in the Enchanted Farm Café, and Xilca is only one of the many social entrepreneurs who are brave enough to create businesses that don’t leave the poor behind. In her talk during the special GK CSI Night session that evening, Xilca asked us to imagine what the world will be like if we all just reached out to people like Maricel. Xilca, a lawyer by profession, continues by saying that “Anyone can do it. As long as you love the country, you have a heart for the poor, you’re not afraid to make mistakes, and you’re slightly crazy, you can do it.”

Indeed, it takes a certain brand of crazy to go beyond how the world has defined us. It takes courage to see beyond profits and create wealth that can be enjoyed by all. There was a buzz in the Enchanted Farm Café that evening. Somewhere in the middle of the inspirational talks and the gourmet cheese, the café made everyone taste and see that there’s a lot of goodness left in the Philippines. The only problem is that this goodness is untapped, but if I learned anything that evening, we can definitely do something about it.

>>> Learn more about social enterprises and the GK Center for Social Innovation

>>> Learn more about the GK Enchanted Farm

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