Special pantry in Lingayen to provide food, crossword books to nourish minds and body

Frenz4hope founding members clockwise:  Roman Dela Cruz, Denilyn Lucas, Joey Lucas, John Chris Campos, and Lovely May Soriano.

Frenz4hope, a group of friends in Lingayen, Pangasinan, will be providing a special food relief pantry for 300 families through barangays (districts) Dorongan and Talogtog. The pantry will include food, crossword books, and inspirational magnets—all of which are meant to provide the beneficiaries with food for their bodies, minds, and souls.

This special food relief pantry is being sponsored by Roberto Villanueva, a Filipino American residing in Manhattan, New York. The event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 12, 2021 in the morning starting at 9 a.m. (PH time zone) and in the afternoon starting at 3 p.m. (PH time zone) for the aforementioned barangays, respectively. The two barangays were identified by the Lingayen municipality office through Municipal Social Welfare and Development (MSWD) as having the most food insecure residents.

About a month ago, members of Frenz4hope had an idea to help people in the city of Lingayen who are still food insecure due to the global pandemic in a unique and more holistic way — differently from how other food relief pantries across the globe are being undertaken. They knew the food would nourish the people’s bodies. However, they did not want to stop there. They wanted to also find a way to feed people’s minds and souls. After much brainstorming and deliberation, the group decided crossword books could help feed or stimulate the people’s minds and magnets with an inspirational message of hope could continuously nourish their souls. These items, along with several varieties of vegetables, eggs, canned goods and rice, will be provided in reusable/eco bags to help reduce environmental waste or promote elimination of single-use plastic bags that harm the environment. In addition, a set of surgical face masks will be provided to each family. The food relief pantry is being organized and will be administered by Frenz4hope founding members John Chris Campos, Roman Dela Cruz, Denilyn Lucas, Joey Lucas, and Lovely May Soriano.

Villanueva, the Executive & Artistic Director of BalaSole Dance met several members of Frenz4hope two years ago in the Philippines and joined them on a vacation in the province of Zambales. During this vacation he was impressed not only by the strong bond amongst the members, but also by their easygoing attitude and welcoming disposition—two very common traits of Filipinos. This observation reminded Mr. Villanueva of his formative years in the Philippines and instantly made him feel connected to the group. When the idea about this upcoming special food relief pantry came up, he offered to sponsor the initiative. This initiative falls well within his legacy of “giving back” and “paying things forward,” said Villanueva.

Philanthropist, financial management professional and concert dancer Roberto Villanueva

Frenz4hope is a community-based group of close friends from different hometowns in Lingayen, Pangasinan. The members hold positions in public and private sectors including hospitality, tourism, telecommunication and government. The group’s goal is to use their friendship as a way to help others in their community. Most of the members get together weekly to enjoy fun group activities such as playing online games, creating TikTok videos, singing karaoke, and cooking popular traditional Filipino dishes. The group plans to hold more events in support of their community.

Roberto Villanueva currently holds a position as an administrator at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. He has 27 years of professional background in financial management, operations and strategic planning, as well 30 years of experience as an arts producer, administrator, educator, performer, choreographer, and adjudicator in North America, Europe and Asia. He previously served as an arts education and community engagement administrator for the iconic ballet company Dance Theatre of Harlem.

He took a mission trip to the Philippines in 2019 to provide free training and performances to higher education institutions like University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, and De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.

As a recent spinal cord tumor (SCT) survivor, he has been dedicating part of his time in spreading awareness about this rare disease and helping other SCT patients and survivors through his educational blog titled “My Spinal Cord Tumor Journey” at rvsctjourney.com.

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