Saturday, September 3, 2016

Bento mommas in Davao

“Bento Mommas in Davao”
Sun.Star Davao, Sept. 3, 2016
Since Mom-About-Town first featured them in 2013, the Bento Mommas have become a national sensation.

From an avid group of around 800 social media followers, their following has now ballooned to almost 28,000 and counting, thanks to the growing interest in bento-making and their media interviews on “Kris TV”, “CNN Philippines”, “Lifestyle Network”, among others.

According to Wikipedia, bento is a “single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine”. It can be elaborately arranged in a style called “kyaraben” (character bento) or “oekakiben” (picture bento). Japanese homemakers often spend time deliberately preparing the lunchbox of their spouse, child or for themselves.

Bento Mommas (BM) is a bento hobby group which is comprised of five moms based in the Philippines and abroad.

The rationale behind their group was initially to exchange bento tips and encouragement eventually expanding to weekly design challenges, bento resources, bento online shopping, and bento catering through their Facebook page.  Currently, they conduct bento workshops around the Philippines.

Recently, during the long weekend break, the Bento Mommas Kaye Sy-Catral, April Lim and Monet Ongpin-Aquino (who also happens to be my dear college classmate) unboxed the mysteries of bento-making in two separate workshops held at Expo Mom Davao and SKS Interiors, Inc. These events were made possible through their partnership with Mommy Mundo, Glad Kitchen, Jolly Eats, UFC Banana Catsup, Dona Maria Premium Quality Rice, Joseph Joseph and SKS Interiors, Inc.

Now on its 3rd year in Davao, “Expo Mom: The Motherhood Journey” at Abreeza Mall treated moms to a day of heartwarming discussions, entertaining games, and educational workshops such as the bento-making session by the Bento Mommas. The expo also had an exciting lineup of exhibitors featuring family-friendly products.

The Expo Mom bento-making workshop introduced me to my first ever hands-on attempt using the kid-approved Three Little Pigs theme. It was quite a challenge as we rolled the rice and made them into tiny heads; tinted them with colorful catsup using the Glad plastic storage bags; punched seaweed into circles to make eyes and; and shaped ham for the nose and ears. As we assembled the rice, corn, beans, hotdogs, and chicken with the help of cute cupcake liners inside the trusty Glad container, I realized that bento-making, despite being a somewhat laborious task, was also satisfying, and even exhilarating. Just knowing that this foodie creation will bring big smiles to our kids’ faces made it rewarding to say the least.

More mommies joined the bento-making craze at the SKS Bento Mommas workshop where they interpreted the well-loved characters Pikachu and Judy Hopps of Zootopia.

Mommy Kaye explained that one of their primary reasons for getting into bento-making is to expand the food choices of their children as more than some are picky eaters, and even have food allergies. Bento-making has helped introduce a wider and healthier range of food choices to the kids.  

“Bento-making need not be an expensive hobby. A “decent” bento can be achieved with really basic tools—i.e. just one spill-proof food container, storage bags, a handful of colorful food organizers, some basic cutters, and a few decorative picks. All these are washable and reusable”, says Mommy Kaye.

“The most important tools come dirt cheap – free, in fact. They’re called imagination, creativity and a sense of humor!”, smiles Mommy Kaye.

Follow the Bento Mommas on Facebook and Instagram.

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