According to statistics, there are roughly 500,000 blind people in the Philippines, with corneal blindness as the fourth leading cause. Last October 20, Zoomanity Group held a round of its “Dinner in the Dark” event series wherein guests were given the unique experience of dining in total darkness, allowing them to understand how it is to be blind, albeit shortly and temporarily. This particular run was dedicated for the benefit of the Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines, which is celebrating its 19th anniversary this month.
The event held at the Misono Restaurant at Jupiter Street, Makati City was led by Robert Yupangco of the Zoomanity Group, and attended by members of the Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines, Dr. Jack Dy-Liaco, the foundation’s vice president, Dr. Leo Cubillan, the foundation’s secretary, and Noel Nieva, a member of their Board of Trustees. Misono’s Chef Matsumoto prepared a special menu for the event, neatly contained in bento boxes.
To prepare them for the meal, guests were given a pre-dinner orientation. Mobile phones and other electronic gadgets were turned off to ensure that no light will enter the dining area. Guests were then blindfolded and escorted to their tables by the all-blind service crew.
Everyone started eating together after they were seated and the blindfolds were taken off. During the course of the meal, the participants’ sense of sight was totally diminished in the dark dining area. Guests were also encouraged to interact with their seat mates, while the service crew entertained them with music. It’s a collision of wonderful scents, flavors and sounds in the darkness.
“Events like this serve as a reminder for us to be grateful of our blessings, especially the gift of sight. It was both challenging and awe-inspiring to be dining in the dark, not seeing your food or companions at the table, and yet, you are made aware of your surroundings more than ever. The rest of your senses are heightened, and you are engaging people you do not see. You can just imagine what the visually-impaired go through as they go about their day to day,” shared Dr. Leo Cubillan, Secretary of the Eye Bank Foundation.
The Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines has been bringing hope to thousands of blind individuals through corneal transplants since 1995. Through the years, the foundation continues to serve the nation and the world, not only by making the highest quality transplantable eye tissue available and accessible, but also through research, training, and public educational campaigns about blindness, its prevention and cure.
“We’d like to thank the Zoomanity Group for coming up with this unique event that serves as an eye-opener for those of us gifted with good eyesight. There’s no better way for us to celebrate our 19th anniversary than being made to appreciate our sense of sight,” added Dr. Cubillan.
Dr. Cubillan also enumerated the various ways one can help those in need of corneas. People may pledge by registering with the Eye Bank Foundation, or through their driver’s license; pledge for their relatives; or by being partners to the cause and the advocacy of helping the visually-impaired to gain their sight. Donations may also be made for specific projects. More information is available through www.eyebankphil.com.
Zoomanity Group, one of the leading companies in the park industry, will be hosting four more of these “Dinner in the Dark” events for the benefit of the Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines. Part of the proceeds will also go to the blind service crew.
Watch out for more of these special dinner events from 4:30-7:00 PM (including pre-dinner orientation) on Saturday, November 1 at Zoocobia Fun Zoo in Clark, Pampanga and on Saturday, November 8 at Zoobic Safari in Subic. Misono will also be offering the activity to the public on Monday, November 3 for a second time with the theme “Eye’ve got the power.”
For tickets and more information please contact the Zoomanity Group at (02)8899824-28, (02)8957142, and firstname.lastname@example.org or the Eye Bank Foundation at (02)3026282, (02)3026287, 09178935995 or email email@example.com.