Thailand’s Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant
By Rhea B. Peñaflor
(February 7, 2008, Iloilo City, Philippines, The News Today)
Philippine non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) can learn from Thailand’s Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant (C & C).
The Philippines, known to have citizens who appreciate good food and good service can actually follow the business model pioneered by Population and Community Development Association (PDA).
PDA’s creation of the Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant, one of the most famous restaurants with a branch located at Sukhumvit Soi 12, Bangkok, Thailand was conceptualized in part to promote better understanding and acceptance of family planning and to generate income to support various development activities of the PDA.
A visit to this unique restaurant would make one think of the Latin maxim, “Res ipsa loquitor”. Indeed, the restaurant speaks for itself. Its advocacy is geared towards HIV/AIDS education and one of which is condom use in order to prevent not only the proliferation of HIV/AIDS but on the onset, sexually transmitted infections.
A souvenir shop with handicraft items and accessories advocating condom use and HIV/AIDS awareness, a billboard of clear stickman pictures on how one gets infected with HIV/AIDS and dozens of different kinds of condoms in a box with Democrat and Republican size will greet guests before going to the restaurant.
It is one of a kind restaurant and its income contributes to Thailand’s rural development, education and scholarships, HIV/AIDS education and environmental protection.
In parallelism, in Region VI alone, the Commission on Population has always been aggressive with its Adolescent Health and Youth Development Program (AHYDP). Trained peer counselors have counseling-on-air radio programs, “Tingog Sang Pamatan-on Sa Hutik Sang Kagab-ihon” (Voice of the Youth in the Whispers of the Night) aired over Bombo Radyo, Philippines and “Lamharon” (The Adolescent) aired over DYLL, Radyo Ng Bayan.
These are not enough medium to reach out a mass audience and so these trained peer counselors reach their co-peers through symposia in their schools, universities and even communities. There are also many instances where these symposia are conducted solely for the parents, guardians or teachers for them to have better understanding in handling adolescents.
Advocating a healthy sex lifestyle among adolescents has never been easy. It has been a step by step leap trying to educate everybody in whatever medium, be it in radio or by word of mouth or simply by speaking in front of a large audience.
POPCOM’s Regional Youth Coordinator Angie Tanongtanong for several years now have been very supportive in advocating the AHYDP. POPCOM Regional Director Vicente “Bugoy” Molejona also shares the same sentiment. But again, this is not enough.
POPCOM is a government agency. Its mandate is not aimed for business or profit. It would not look good to have a proprietary function. It can only do so much. But NGO’s here can sustain their projects by following the C & C Restaurant’s business model. Or at least, NGO’s here can take a time off and just even look at it, consider this kind of business model.
It could work.
After all, there is no harm in trying.