Social Work

Karinderia ni Mang Urot: The Street Soup Kitchen

If we only love those who love us, what good is there to it? That’s why I decided to spearhead a fundraising and volunteer campaign for the soup kitchen called Karinderia ni Mang Urot.

How Would You Spend Your Birthday?

This was the ping-pong ball question that Josh and I ask each other as March kicked in. Because our birthdays are ten days apart, we can’t help brainstorming how to best celebrate. The answers usually came in the form of a shrug and a blurt of “Anything will do.”

Do we want to go bowling? Go drinking with friends? Watch a band gig? At one point, his answer became different. He said he had always wanted to do a feeding program with the group we have eyed volunteering to for a long time — at Karinderia ni Mang Urot.

karinderia ni mang urot
Karinderia ni Mang Urot is a soup kitchen put up for nearly three years. Mang Urot personally finances feeding the homeless three times a week. Cooking is done at his home. He then takes the food to a parking lot of Bank of Commerce right at Quezon Avenue corner Examiner Street. There is nothing but a small setup of tables.

Expect no frills, no altruistic invites and no fancy programs. Volunteers for Karinderia ni Mang Urot get a chance to prepare the food and distribute them onsite. By around 8PM, the homeless pray before taking their meals and line up to get their dinner and beverage. Sometimes, there are desserts, sweets and special treats for the kids. And on Sundays, volunteers of Karinderia ni Mang Urot can eat together with the homeless.

They had me at the low-key approach. I messaged Mang Urot that we were planning to support his soup kitchen for our birthdays. Even though Mang Urot does not actively look for donations, he gladly accepted and was very accommodating to anyone who wanted to help, even if it meant a 1:1 volunteer to homeless ratio.

karinderia ni mang urot

When Donations to Karinderia ni Mang Urot Multiplied

At first, I only planned to fund one night of dinner for the homeless with Karinderia ni Mang Urot. After all, it only costs around Php 1,500 (about USD 35) to feed 60-80 people in one night. They can even go back to get a second helping with that amount.

But I didn’t want to be a “come and go” volunteer, so I changed the plan to invite other volunteers and willing donors who will be support Karinderia ni Mang Urot for the next three days. It became a fundraising and volunteering drive more than just a birthday celebration — and everyone is invited.

karinderia ni mang urot

When a Quiet Gathering turned into a Celebration

With less than ten days of preparation, we started inviting our friends, officemates, teams, Couchsurfers, churchmates and even strangers to volunteer. We officially started a”Birthday Feast Fundraiser” or BFF for Karinderia ni Mang Urot.

In less than ten days, we discovered a very surprising phenomenon: We exceeded our target of Php 6,000 with donations coming from people we don’t even know. Plus, our guest list was made up of a vibrant circle of “friends of friends” from different walks of life and even nationalities, some of whom have had no prior experience volunteering.

Even people who can’t make it got curious and wanted to do support soup kitchens such as Karinderia ni Mang Urot during their own birthdays.

karinderia ni mang urot

It Was No Longer About Birthdays

What I enjoyed about the event with Karinderia ni Mang Urot is not that it was my birthday. I could do this in any random day and still feel blessed. What struck me was the willingness of people to help out without sounding the trumpets about it.

I only wrote this blog and took photos during the event because I think the cause of Karinderia ni Mang Urot and its supporters deserve a silent applause. And I also want to encourage you to go out and discover opportunities to make use of your time and resources to serve others.

karinderia ni mang urot


To Karinderia ni Mang Urot, our “BFFs” who donated and volunteered, and even the homeless who sang me the sweetest birthday song I ever heard — my warmest thank yous.

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50 Comments

  • Reply
    ROBERT LEE | Amazing Life Daily
    December 7, 2016 at 9:42 PM

    I am glad I checked your old posts to find this. I think it is a wonderful thing you did. Even more wonderful is the act of kindness shown in the form of having a soup kitchen for some three years already.

    The homeless, and there are many of them, they do deserve some help. Imagine, 1500 pesos to feed some 60-80 people. And yet, there are people who are reluctant to shell out 1500 but would not hesitate to spend the same amount or more in a classy restaurant.

    There is hope, after all.

  • Reply
    Abie Dizon
    September 22, 2016 at 6:52 PM

    First time I’ve heard of Mang Urot. He’s a good person for helping all these people. I feel sorry for the kids though, they don’t deserve to suffer. I did something similar to this 2 years ago, with the aetas naman, it’s really an eye opening experience.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      September 22, 2016 at 9:59 PM

      That’s great. There are lots of people reaching out to aetas. I think in the end, we get more than we give. That is, perspective and motivation to keep our eyes open for others.

  • Reply
    ASKSonnie
    April 22, 2016 at 10:37 AM

    I’m happy that we all share in our little way to support our kababayans. But sad how our gov’t lack the foresight to have a strategic program to bring people out of poverty, and some big companies just content of giving dole-outs instead of raising the salary of employees enough to live a humane life (not to finance a daily trip to starbucks).

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      April 22, 2016 at 4:04 PM

      I agree. That’s why i admire this effort because it’s from a private citizen who took it upon himself to feed people on the streets 🙂

  • Reply
    superlag08uy
    June 27, 2015 at 7:16 PM

    Hi! I like your article. And I saw a friend of mine in one of the pics. Do you know Lisa? She was my Mandarin classmate in TIP QC. Hehehe.

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      June 29, 2015 at 9:14 AM

      Hello! Thank you very much for dropping by my blog! Yes I met Lisa during the event. Have you tried joining her to Mang Urot’s? 🙂

  • Reply
    Badet Siazon (@badudets)
    April 10, 2015 at 2:27 AM

    What a great way to celebrate your birthday. I like this soup kitchen because it’s simple yet fulfilling.

  • Reply
    Vanessa Ally
    April 9, 2015 at 2:53 PM

    That is such an awesome and noble idea, I can’t think of a better and more satisfactory way of celebrating a birthday! You made so many people happy at least for a while.

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      April 15, 2015 at 10:15 AM

      Hope more and more people will try it too 🙂

  • Reply
    Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen
    April 9, 2015 at 7:14 AM

    Such a meaningful way to celebrate a birthday! Belated Happy Birthday Sam!

  • Reply
    Benjie Abad a.k.a. Mang Urot
    April 8, 2015 at 10:19 PM

    thank you very much Sam for this blog about the KMU soup kitchen

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      April 15, 2015 at 9:38 AM

      You’re welcome Kuya Benjie! I hope more people will come to know and support your soup kitchen.

  • Reply
    Benjie Abad a.k.a. Mang Urot
    April 8, 2015 at 10:18 PM

    if you may , please view the documentary made by Investigative Documentaries // Malou Mangahas about my // our soup kitchen , see you there , again you do not have to bring anything , your presence and // or manual help is greatly appreciated …. Pagpalain po kayo ni Bathala …. Mang Urot

    the segment about the soup kitchen is at about the middle of the video , right after the segment of the doctor who performs eye operations for free

  • Reply
    Janice
    April 8, 2015 at 7:40 PM

    Wow, I honestly wasn’t aware of any soup kitchens around the metro that happens this often. Usually, you hear of these things only for typhoon victims and such. This is such a great way for you guys to celebrate. Bless you! 🙂

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      April 15, 2015 at 9:10 AM

      I hope that more soup kitchens will be built in the country 🙂

  • Reply
    tweenselmom
    April 8, 2015 at 4:18 AM

    This is a very good initiative. Young as you are, you already have that kind heart.

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      April 15, 2015 at 9:08 AM

      Kudos to Kuya Benjie, volunteers and donors too!

  • Reply
    Fully Housewifed! (@fullyhousewifed)
    April 8, 2015 at 3:42 AM

    Wow! WE have this here? I’ve been wanting to volunteer for something like this. Kaya lang mejo malayo from where I live. But I’ll keep this in mind andhopefully, be able to volunteer soon

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      April 15, 2015 at 9:05 AM

      Yes please do! It makes for a good celebration or a gathering with friends to volunteer 🙂

  • Reply
    Jojo Vito
    April 8, 2015 at 12:47 AM

    wow! what a way to celebrate a birthday.belated happy birthday and I pray that more initiatives like this shall continue:)

  • Reply
    Jhanz
    April 7, 2015 at 6:53 PM

    Belated Happy Birthday! 🙂 I haven’t heard of any soup kitchens in the PH (this is actually the first) and I’d definitely love to help out sometime soon. I’ve had my share of volunteering with friends, and it has always been something that makes my heart swell with joy. Just knowing that I get to touch and help other people with my simple gestures is enough to make me the happiest. <3

    Sama ako next time!

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      April 15, 2015 at 8:34 AM

      Thank you Jhanz! 🙂 Sure, let’s go next time. It runs every Friday to Sunday. Just message me and I’ll see if I can go with you 🙂

  • Reply
    tumandok
    April 7, 2015 at 6:02 PM

    Your special occasion, your birthday celebration for that matter has achieved more than of what is intended to be. What I have to say is that you’ve fed the kids in which I really love to see and wholeheartedly appreciate you for that.

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      April 15, 2015 at 8:30 AM

      Thank you! I do love that my birthday grew into something so much better 🙂

  • Reply
    phyliciamarie
    April 7, 2015 at 3:25 PM

    This is actually the first time I’ve ever heard of Mang Urot, but I did know about soup kitchens all over the US. This is a good initiative, and what better way to share our blessings than to share them with those who really need them.

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      April 15, 2015 at 8:29 AM

      Thank you! Mang Urot is also the first soup kitchen that I have heard of. I do know about suspended coffees.

  • Reply
    Aisha Kristine Chong
    April 7, 2015 at 3:16 PM

    Such a nice thing to do – may you be more blessed. <3

  • Reply
    franckxethee
    April 7, 2015 at 2:11 PM

    I like the simple setup of volunteers getting to help with no fancy programs, etc. It feels more naturally and focusing on the real thing.

  • Reply
    Russ R.
    April 6, 2015 at 5:18 PM

    Bless your heart and those of the other volunteers for the kind gesture; it will surely come back to you ten-fold. What Mang Urot’s doing is selfless and admirable. This country needs more people like him who willingly serves without asking for anything in return.

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      April 15, 2015 at 8:27 AM

      Thank you! I hope more people will take the initiative too 🙂

  • Reply
    Josh
    April 6, 2015 at 4:35 PM

    Everyone there is having a hard time in life. They may not be dirt poor, but I would guess they are in a situation that has driven them to go to soup kitchens just to make ends meet.

    I have a friend that I give to whenever I encounter him on the streets. He has a family he goes home to. He dresses well, always pants and a shirt. He used to be a security guard until he got sick. He cannot get a job because of his sickness so instead he spends his days going to institutions to get sponsorships for his medicines. His wife has a small store that supports them and their 2 kids. The kids can no longer go to school. The doctor told my friend they might amputate his foot to save the rest of his leg. He is not dirt poor. He still has a home. He has clothes to wear. But I would always help him whenever I can. Because I know that even a single meal would be a huge help to the burden he carries.

    I do not think that it matters if people are dressed well or if they take advantage of the soup kitchen or not. There is no shortage in food so everyone gets to eat. Second servings are even available. We are not there to judge or discriminate who deserves to eat or not. We are there to help whoever needs help. As Mang Urot said after the meals, “Papuntahin niyo lahat ng kilala niyo dito, papakainin natin silang lahat!” (Tell everyone you know to go here, we will feed all of them!)

  • Reply
    Janine
    April 6, 2015 at 2:36 PM

    I somehow agree with what Sef said above, pero yun yung mahirap sa ating mga Pilipino eh, we take advantage. Anyway, this is a very good idea to share the our blessings. I haven’t volunteered in a soup kitchen yet since I’m not sure where to find one here in Cebu. Pero last Christmas, our family hosted a feeding program to the kids near our area. And I believe it will be our new tradition every Christmas. 🙂

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      April 6, 2015 at 3:49 PM

      That’s nice of your family 🙂 We have that kind of tradition too every Christmas. For me, people naturally take advantage — poor or rich. But if at first sight we view them as people who take advantage, then we are not doing anything to help them. Volunteering gives you that kind of perspective. You get to know who you are helping instead of focusing on the physical act of feeding.

      • Reply
        Benjie Abad a.k.a. Mang Urot
        April 8, 2015 at 10:11 PM

        just my ten cents worth of opinion , they may be dressed well , or well they may be not as poor as we would want to believe , but for them to wait for two to three hours just to have a square meal , I think that speaks a lot about their situations , mga 5:30 pm pa lang po ay mayron na sa kanilang nagaantay sa site even though mga 7:30 pm ang feeding time , thanks po and see you there , again you do not have to bring anything , your presence and // or manual help is greatly appreciated …. Pagpalain po kayo ni Bathala …. Mang Urot

  • Reply
    seftiburcio
    April 6, 2015 at 2:17 PM

    This is too good to be true. The sad part about this is that there are people in the pictures who dressed well. I think they must give way to the people who are really in need. I am not trying to be madamot or what but I will go with people who are needing comfort than the capable ones.

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      April 6, 2015 at 3:47 PM

      I agree with you. But if you are going to somehow “audit” who gets the free food, then you’re not going anywhere. I admire Mang Urot’s initiative because he did not wait for government help or private financiers to give. He did not consider if he will be giving to the right people or not. His main goal was just that, to give. And I think that counts for something 🙂

    • Reply
      arman
      October 14, 2016 at 7:05 AM

      Saan kyo pwede puntahan para tumulong?

      • Reply
        Sam Coronado
        October 14, 2016 at 6:51 PM

        Hello po! Join kayo sa Facebook group na ito: https://www.facebook.com/groups/445984505441041/ Official Karinderia ni Mang Urot page po yan!

        • Reply
          Arman
          October 14, 2016 at 10:27 PM

          Thank you Sam. Mayroon kasi food bank dito sa Canada and I volunteer every Tuesday. I’m happy na mayroon na din diyan sa atin. Pag-uwi ko punta ako diyan. God bless.

          • Sam Coronado
            October 15, 2016 at 2:09 AM

            That’s great! Just keep in touch with Kuya Benj from the group. Hopefully more and more people will start one. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sj Balatan
    April 6, 2015 at 11:07 AM

    Nice naman! ^_^ Happy Birthday sa inyo!

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