IN the midst of the uncertainties of the pandemic brought about by the deadly Covid-19 virus, the God-given selfless frontliners are virtually caught in a different kind of global war fighting against the phantom of an invisible enemy. As regards its termination pending the successful search for the right vaccine only God knows when.
We are positively referencing here one of the many kindred souls whose caring and giving spirit has always been in the direction of helping the poor and highly marginalized sector of society. This person I happen to meet through a good friend of mine, also kindhearted do-gooder, is a dyed-in-the wool gourmet — Don Millena Marcaida — a renowned socio-civic leader in his community, and a top specialty restaurateur blessed with high sense of empathy and corporate responsibility.
Almost into its fourth year, Don has successfully established a strong foothold and created a specialty foodie station eponymously called “Don Sisigan.”
By its name alone, “sisig” as a specialty dish among Filipinos naturally is the resto’s best seller or flag carrier for its melt-in-the mouth juicy appealing taste aside from other home made delicacies like pork, beef, chicken, including chaopan, and others such as lechon kawali, chicken buffalo, and sizzling seafoods, etc.
The testament to the success of “Don Sisigan” as a favorite resto hub to go-for among discriminating food lovers are found in the formidable food district at San Pablo City, Pamantasan Ng Cabuyao, Katapatan Highway also along Cabuyao, and right in the ample campus of the University of Perpetual Health System (UPHS) of Biñan now being co-managed by Ms. Ailene Gabarda Cabria, said good friend who introduced me to Don.
At this writing Don M. Marcaida with his equally responsive team of volunteers are into the thick of distributing sustainable nutritious set of packed meals complements of “Don Sisigan” matched with healthy broccoli juices and “Ailene’s Choice” home- made ice cream to the frontliners at prominent hospitals and major checkpoints in some parts of Metro Manila.
Offhand, they also have a lot to thank for the donations that kept coming from his fraternity brothers Alpha Phi Omega (APO) , NGOs, business colleagues and friends, Pioneer Foundation and other silent philanthropists for helping them sustain their present initiatives at hand.
Their hospital beneficiaries include Lung Center of the Phil., Phil. General Hospital, San Lazaro, UST Hospital, Fabella Memorial, Jose Reyes Hospital, V. Luna Hospital, Sta. Rosa Community Hospital, Cabuyao Hospital, 1st Cabuyao Hospital, Biñan Doctors, UPHSL Medical Hospital, Biñan Community Hospital, MDI Hospital, etc.
Checkpoint frontliner beneficiaries include those assigned at Malacañang Palace, Cabuyao, San Pablo, Muntinlupa, Imus, Marikina, among others
It might be recalled long before the outbreak of the pandemic, Don’s name has always been associated with charitable acts particularly in the environs of Cabuyao, Biñan, and San Pablo, Laguna.
This must be Don’s way of giving back or sharing his blessings to the less fortunate.
In the aforesaid places, Don has a regular feeding program for a number of street children every Saturday without fail. Also in the recent Taal volcano eruption, he along with civic-minded friends and volunteers helped in coming to the rescue calamity victims by way of donating cash and in kind like clothes, food, water, etc.
Indeed, Don has a lot to thank for especially the One above for the blessings he has been receiving out of his growing resto business.
In his college days at the Polytechnic Univ. of the Phil. (PUP), Don was a member of APO Fraternity and in fact headed the Eta Omicron Chapter. APO Fraternity also instilled in him strong sense of leadership, empathy, selflessness, and above all public service. He graduated with a degree in B. S. Business Management. When he became APO’s Grand Chancellor at said university he was the first to institute the famous Oblation Run for his fraternity members in their unabashed birthday suits.
To digress a bit, APO alumni include, among others, Sen. Bong Revilla, Jr. and the dear departed veteran and award-winning theater and film actor Mengie Cobarrubias who I had the opportunity to direct as Kapitan Tiago in the latest film version “Noli Me Tangere.”
Looking back, Don comes from a family of food lovers from his home province Bicol that used to prepare exotic and unique specialty dishes.
As a self-made man, Don is a culinary graduate on the side and has apprenticed under several chefs in 5- Star Hotels. No wonder his personal touch and masterly supervision in sustaining the best kept secrets of his highly unique brand of mouth-watering “sisig” remains famous and much-sought after to this day not only among gourmets, but also among other cross-sections of society.
Indeed, a special dish to die-for, to partake of, take home, and even as perfect food offering or gift in itself to anyone whose taste bud you may wish to tickle and bring it to a different level of gustatory and guilt-free “sisig” foray.
Incidentally, Ms. Ailene is the owner and formulator of the famous, natural, and health-enhancing home – made ice cream concocted from fresh fruits and vegetables like malunggay, carrots,etc. eponymously also called ” Ailene’s Choice.” She is being assisted by her daughter Jensen Dickenson, a trained theater and film actress and a Communications graduate by profession.
What a perfect business partnership for the two of them to make good and sustainable business together. Say the catchy eponymous tandem of “Don Sisigan” and “Ailene’s Choice” together side by side has strong resonance than one could imagine like two delicious halves of an apple.
In closing Don M. Marcaida would like to thank his equally proactive business partner Nerissa Duetis vis-a-vis angel volunteers like Glady Moral, Jojo Ramos, and Ryan Aphio Dy.
They also served God and fellowmen by serving and feeding the frontliners who are unconditionally risking their own lives to save other lives caught red-handed in the throes of the uncertainty and impunity of the pandemic. May they continue to grow and prosper in their most noble and proactive humanitarian concerns.