Quezon City Vice-Mayor Joy Belmonte, GMA Network, Inc. chairman Atty. Felipe Gozon and Congressman Neri Colmenares led guests who assisted Kamuning Bakery Café owner Wilson Lee Flores in giving away 70,000 pandesal, cheese, sardines, noodles and other foods on the 4th “World Pandesal Day” on October 16.
Despite a February 6 fire from a neighboring resto bar which burned down Quezon City’s pioneer and award-winning 79-year-old Kamuning Bakery Café, its owner Wilson Lee Flores, staff and bakers are still optimistic. He is not discouraged, because he said he has overcome many other past crises ever since the death of his father when he was only seven years old and he had also witnessed his late teacher mother’s strong faith.
Wilson Lee Flores is a writer, teacher and realty entrepreneur who bought and revived Kamuning Bakery in 2014 due to his passion for history and good food.
On Oct. 12 at Quezon City’s 79th anniversary celebration at Crowne Plaza Galleria Hotel, the city government led by Mayor Herbert Bautista, Vice-Mayor Joy Belmonte and City Council Majority Floor Leader Franz Pumaren gave Wilson Lee Flores the “Manuel L. Quezon Gawad Parangal Award” for being one of Quezon City’s most outstanding citizens. The Gawad Parangal Selection Board included former U.P. President Prof. Emerlinda Roman, former Budget Minister Manuel Alba, writer Prof. Butch Dalisay, City Administrator Aldrin Cuña and former actress, former Vice-Mayor Connie Angeles.
Wilson Lee Flores said he accepted the Manuel L. Quezon Gawad Parangal Award in behalf of his late parents who died when he was young but who inspired him, his supportive younger sister Marilou F. So, his loyal and hardworking staff and bakers.
The annual #WorldPandesalDay as civic & cultural endeavor
The 4th “World Pandesal Day” was held on October 16, 2018 at the burnt ruins in Judge Jimenez Street corner K-1st Street, Barangay Kamuning, Quezon City where Kamuning Bakery Café gave free 70,000 pandesal breads and other foods.
On October 28 Sunday 8 a.m., the public is also invited to a free medical, dental and optical mission at Kamuning Bakery Café in cooperation with Chinese General Hospital led by its CEO Dr. James G. Dy.
These Oct. 16 and Oct. 28 events are the last two events to be held here, before Kamuning Bakery Café’s burnt ruins shall be totally demolished, except for two surviving pugonbrick ovens which shall be retained for heritage preservation during its reconstruction.
With hashtag #WorldPandesalDay, this is a unique socio-civic and cultural endeavor to highlight the importance of the Philippines’ humble yet popular pandesal bread, to underscore the importance of all people helping solve the age-old problem of hunger.
Wilson Lee Flores said an inspiration for World Pandesal Day is the Bible story of a poor boy who gave 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes, which faith in God multiplied to feed thousands.
The non-partisan Pandesal Forum, donating public schools
As part of its non-traditional civic and cultural causes, Kamuning Bakery Cafe also hosts the tertulia-inspired and non-partisan “Pandesal Forum” for newsmakers and leaders to dialogue with media and intellectuals over meals of pandesal with other foods and coffee brewed from Benguet province arabica beans. Kamuning Bakery Café owner Wilson Lee Flores said: “In this liberal and informal Pandesal Forum which is part of this company’s unique CSR or corporate social responsibility, discussions focus on socio-economic, gut or “pandesal” issues affecting the people, and other topics. The pandesal is unique to the Philippines, loved by the masses, middle-class and by all, it symbolizes people’s simple happiness and wish for liberation from hunger.”
Kamuning Bakery Café is also the first Philippine bakery café to celebrate “World Poetry Day” every March 21, by inviting the public to send in original poems as payments for their coffee or tea.
Ever since Wilson Lee Flores took over and revived Kamuning Bakery Café, it has championed diverse socio-civic, cultural, arts and other causes including the donation of four public school buildings. The first public school was donated in the historic seaside town of Balangiga in Eastern Samar province. This fourth-class municipality was victim of cruel colonial war over a century ago from 1901 to 1902, with its stolen church bells still in the U.S.
Iconic Kamuning Bakery Café has numerous illustrious and diverse clientele since 1939.
Kamuning Bakery Café has a long list of interesting clientele since 1939 starting with its very first “suki” or loyal customer the pre-war newspaper tycoon Alejandro Roces, Sr. and his son media tycoon, activist Joaquin “Chino” Roces.
Other prominent clients included the late President Cory C. Aquino, the late top food critic Dr. Doreen G. Fernandez, national artists Levi Celerio and Nick Joaquin, intellectual Dean Armando Malay, painter Danny Dalena, jurist Maria Lourdes Sereno, the late sculptor and activist Jerry Araos, writer and diplomat Teddy Boy Locsin, etc. Among its many showbiz celebrities included Gloria Romero, Susan Roces (who likes its traditional eggpies), director and actress Bibeth Orteza, Nida Blanca (who first brought poet Jose “Pete” Lacaba to Kamuning Bakery), Amalia Fuentes, Ryan Cayanyab, theater icon Zenaida Angara Amador (who her cousin the late Senate President Edgardo Angara said introduced him to Kamuning Bakery), Pepe Smith, Mike Hanopol, Charo Santos Concio, Mother Lily Y. Monteverde, Universal Records & Dyna Records founder James G. Dy, Celeste Legapi, Coney Reyes, Dr. NoynoyZuñiga who said he grew up buying breads there, 1950s actor Armando Goyena, actor Rudy Fernandez, plus many others.
Among celebrities who have had shootings at or had featured Kamuning Bakery Café included Jessica Soho, Kris Aquino, Anne Curtis, Marian Rivera and others. Among the many leaders who had spoken at Kamuning Bakery Café’s non-partisan “Pandesal Forum” included the ambassadors of USA, China, Russia, Britain, Singapore; Vice-President LeniRobredo, former Senator Bongbong Marcos, many senators, cabinet secretaries, activists, and many others.
President Duterte on Kamuning Bakery Café, heritage & battle over hunger
President Rodrigo R. Duterte said: “My warmest greetings to the Kamuning Bakery Café as it celebrates World Pandesal Day. Food plays an integral part in our people’s identity as it reflects our culture and history which have been shaped by various influences of the past. This milestone does not only celebrate the ingenuity of our bakers and their unyielding passion for bread, but also empowers local community bakeries as they preserve and pass down traditional cooking methods.”
President Duterte added: “The recent fire which burned down the pioneer 79-year-old Kamuning Bakery Café only highlighted your resilience in the face of adversity and compassion to help those in need. May every bite of the pandesal nourish our citizens and fuel them every morning as they work towards realizing their dreams and aspirations.”
Duterte also said: “This administration looks forward to working closely with you in solving the problem of hunger that is rooted in poverty and social inequality. Together, let us work towards achieving our goal of a brighter, more prosperous and sustainably progressive nation. I wish you a fruitful and meaningful celebration.”
Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Kamuning Bakery Café, food for body & mind
Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said: “Warmest congratulations to Wilson Lee Flores, staunch advocate of cultural preservation and owner of Kamuning Bakery Café. In the 79 years of its operation, Kamuning Bakery had established a name for itself as baker of one of the most delicious, traditionally-baked pandesal in the country. Wilson Flores’ acquisition of the bakery added to the popularity of this Filipino bread through his promotion of the vanishing traditional baking methods, his World Pandesal Day initiative and his Pandesal Forum which has gathered media people, artists, thinkers and government leaders as well as ordinary folks in his bakery to talk about national and international issues or simply to shoot the breeze while enjoying freshly-baked pandesal.”
“I am glad that Kamuning Bakery Café has resumed its operation as the maker of artisanal breads and an affordable venue for relaxed discussions. It offers food both for the body and the mind. Wilson’s concept of putting together his advocacies of traditionally-baked pandesal and stimulating dialogues in a cozy venue, as well as his distribution of pandesal are commendable in their promotion of truly Filipino traditions of sharing and quiet conversations over pandesal and a hot drink. Tangkilikinnatinangsarilingatin! A happy World Pandesal Day to everyone and the best of luck to Wilson and his Kamuning Bakery Café!”