By ANGELI C. ALBA
BITTERNESS. No one can deny that this is one of the first feelings that the Filipinos who suffered flood, devastation and loss of loved ones felt right after the twin typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng ravaged a large part of the Philippines.
However, the bitterness soon turned into a feeling of hope, of knowing that sweet things are waiting to happen for many of the victims especially after the outpouring of material, financial and spiritual support matched the deluge of the two storms.
Many of those who tried to lend a hand in rebuilding the lives of the victims are, of course, Filipino communities from all over the world. Among these is a tiny chocolate shop whose relief drive for the storms’ victims have ballooned into a project that can be only be described as sweet.
This generous chocolate shop is known as Boon Chocolates, a little sweets shop in Sydney’s Darlinghurst.
Owned by Filipino-born sibling team a little less than a year ago, Boon Chocolates have used whatever influence and connection it has as a sweets’ lovers haven to gather funds and relief goods to ease the situation of the Filipinos back in the Philippines.
In a gutsy display of generosity, the Chan siblings spearheaded a relief program for Manila communities devastated by the typhoons perhaps because of and despite the destruction that their own family home in the area went through.
“Our parents home in Manila was completely inundated, right up to shoulder height. We were one of the lucky ones though, some have lost everything, including their lives,” said Alex.
Deeply moved by the disaster, Alex and Fanny have joined forces with the Philippine Consulate General in Sydney, and many other businesses and individuals to provide relief to their homeland.
The initiative soon proved to be more than just a small fundraising. In the few weeks after the typhoon left the Philippines, the Boon Chocolates’ relief project is proving one doesn’t have to be a corporate giant to move mountains when it comes to providing vital assistance for victims of natural disasters.
Within weeks of handing over their Darlinghurst chocolate shop as a collection point, Boon had collected tonnes of canned goods, clothes and household items.
“We have so far managed to collect 3600kg (3.6 tonnes) of canned food for the flood relief effort and the new system that I devised make donating a lot easier,” says Alex.
“Our goal is to collect around a tonne of canned goods every day till the end of November,” he added.
The Chan siblings have decided to implement the Pallet Purchase Program to aid in their aim to make donating and coordinating the relief effort even simple. This is a unique system where individuals and organisations can select goods from a pre-determined list with one of the partnering companies such as Campbell’s Cash n Carry.
“One week we actually bought them out of baked beans!” he Alex. “All you need to do is make your selection, proceed with the payment and then, with the help of the Philippine Consulate General, we take care of delivering those goods to the devastated area of the Philippines,” he said.
Alex said that he had been touched by the generosity of the Australians after he witnessed how many of his customers constantly asking how they can also help.
“I now understand how and why the idea of mateship and ‘fair go’ is so deeply rooted in the Australian psyche,” said Alex.
The relief program is still ongoing, and Boon Chocolate is encouraging everyone to join the efforts to reach out and assist in the relief operations. Anyone who wants to contribute to the Pallet Purchase Program can just drop by Boon Chocolates until the end of November at 251 Victoria Street, in Darlington, New South Wales.
Boon Chocolates is open from 12.00pm to 8.30pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 12.00pm to 10.30pm on Thursdays to Saturdays, and from 12.00 noon to 7.00pm on Sundays. The chocolate shop is closed during Mondays, it’s “chocolate making day”.