In celebration of International Women’s Month, we pay tribute to women great and small. Women who make a difference.
‘Malunggay’ wonder woman
“If I can make a difference in 10 women’s lives, I am done.” So says Annabelle Corpus, a Soroptimist Club President of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.
Annabelle moved back to the country to raise her three growing children as she was having a difficult time in the US managing this and trying to have a career. After seeing her children through the toddler years, and now that they have grown up to fend for themselves, she volunteered to join the Soroptimist Club.
She saw that the women from her hometown San Jose del Monte, Bulacan were not earning any income and had some time on their hands. She wrote the Soroptimist Club in the and Canada and asked for a grant of $10,000 to start a malunggay (Moringa Oleifera) project for the women. Starting with 50 women, she finally zeroed in on the 10 most engaged of the lot.
After receiving the grant, she acquired a malunggay processing machine that could make noodles with vegetables like malunggay, squash and many more. The women were taught the process and soon produced their own healthy noodles for reselling at a booth on weekends in Bulacan.
“Sold out!” she tells me, when I asked if she had brought any samples for me to see or maybe try and cook into a dish at ECHOcafe. All their production of one week gets sold out over the weekend. She also makes malunggay chips, squash or kalabasa noodles without any preservatives, additives and most of all, MSG.
I asked her why she chose to do this and she replied “I like to eat healthy and I want to share the practice with these mothers and their young children,” she says. The kids have the malunggay noodles in soup and other recipes, getting their vitamin requirements from the plant that is known to be a miracle tree.
“Just stick it into the ground and it grows,” she told the TV hosts who interviewed her. And this is true. I remember transplanting a few malunggay stalks from our backyard in Parañaque 10 years ago and now see them all over our farm in Amadeo, Cavite and even in our workshop where factory workers get their ingredients for lunch that is home cooked.
Annabelle has organized these 10 active women in noodle production, and also conducts feeding programs in schools where children eat the healthy noodles with gusto!
And when she learned I had a store that sells healthy products, she immediately went to our Centris Walk branch in Quezon City to try the food at the ECHOcafe. Maybe sometime soon we can already serve her fresh malunggay noodles. This is how we show our customers what they can do with otherwise odd or new products like malunggay pasta, brown rice and sun-dried tomatoes. We incorporate them in our menu choices and the customers get to first taste the dish we used the products in.
But we need more visionaries like Annabelle. She started this project from nothing but a vision and now has a thriving project that helps ten women and their families and of course, feeds many schoolchildren healthy food. She even told me her costs to produce and you will be surprised to know how much or rather how little you need to eat healthy.
The Soroptimist Group has about 2,000 members all over the country spread over many chapters. And this chapter is an active one because of someone like Annabelle. She volunteered, became President and engages other women to do something good for their community.
Mabuhay Annabelle! May your tribe increase as they always say.
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Chit Juan is the Founder and President of ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle located in Serendra, Podium,Centris, Davao City, Makati and Cebu .She is the President of Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. She often speaks to corporates, academe and entrepreneurs about her advocacies: Social Enterprise, Women Empowerment and Coffee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter@Chitjuan, Instagram: CHITJUAN or Linked In: Pacita Juan.