An inspiring inspiring

Success is on everyone's mind. It is a culmination of a long journey, a fuel to the fire and burning desire to reach the summit of happiness. Success, however, is nothing if you don't have anyone to share and cherish it with. In a poverty-stricken country like the Philippines, success may seem out of reach to many, but one food company is here to say otherwise.

As a continuation of the 25th anniversary of leading Chinese quick-service restaurant chain Chowking, it takes on the vital role of energizing the spirit and encouraging the dreams of millions of success-driven Filipinos.

To demonstrate its goal, an adventure trip was prepared by the genius minds of Chowking for members of the press to trace the roots of the new ambassadors of the brand. Their stories will inspire Filipinos to work hard to be successful.

The five fresh faces were not born with silver spoons in their mouth. Like most Filipinos today, their beginnings were humble, which makes their success all the more impressive. "We selected five outstanding individuals who commonly share compelling success stories. These outstanding individuals: Jericho Rosales, Gerald Anderson, Kim Chiu, Bea Alonzo and CNN Hero of the Year Efren Penaflorida Jr., were once ordinary people who all dreamed extraordinary dreams, and persevered to turn these dreams into reality, for themselves and for their families," Chowking marketing director Edward Arandia explained.

Cleaning fish with Echo

Actor Jericho Rosales joined our coaster as it cruised along Edsa and led us to the place where he spent his teenage years dreaming of success - Farmers' Market, Cubao. At the busy market filled with screaming fans, Jericho taught us how to clean a fish. He started by removing the scales of the milkfish, then slashed it and untangled the intestines and other parts of the fish. He made it looks so easy that some of our colleagues tried to do the same thing. They discovered that the job the famous actor did to survive his teenage years was no piece of cake.

After he won the search for Mr. Pogi in Eat...Bulaga, fame and money started flowing. Endorsements, movies, TV shows increased, and though his looks and talent were honed, Jericho kept his down-to-earth attitude. For him, it doesn't end there. "There are so many things to learn and explore. Why should I stop? I crave for that constant propensity to evolve and diversify. If life were a race, I'm definitely far, far, far away from reaching the finish line," he said. "Each time I overcome a challenge, it is always nice to have that favorite hearty meal to look forward to. After all, refreshing the taste buds is somehow refreshing yourself as a whole to get you ready for another day of hard work."

Teaching kids with Efren

We then went to the less privileged part of the Scout Borromeo, Quezon City, where CNN Hero of the Year 2009 Efren Peñaflorida, Jr. waited for us with school supplies in push carts similar to his famous Kariton Klasrum. Pushing the famous carts allowed us to feel joy and excitement especially when we saw a bunch of children screaming their lungs out, clapping their hands and smiling all over when they saw us heading their way. It was an unexplainable feeling when we danced together with them to the tune of "Paa, Tuhod, Balikat, Ulo."

When the dancing and singing were over, Chowking gave the children refreshments. We were told to get a set of school supplies each and give it to the children one by one. My heart melted when I gave my set to shy little Mika, and I hoped she would use the tools given to her to achieve success. As I stepped out off Kuya Ef's (Efren's nickname) shoes, I realized that his sacrifice and passion to feed those children's minds truly touches the heart.

Born and raised in the slums by a tricycle driver and a housewife, Efren completed high school through scholarships. At the age of 16, he formed the Dynamic Teen Company to divert the youth away from street gangs toward personal development. He went around the streets teaching children using a "pushcart classroom," while receiving two college degrees with highest honors. No matter how trivial the act, he felt it was his mission to do something for the impoverished and uneducated children that surrounded him. Efren lived with the morals and values instilled in him by his parents. Because of this, he became naturally caring and thoughtful of others especially to kids, treating them like family. "Whatever little we had, we always made it a point to share it with the kids. Like with food, we find a way that everyone gets to eat. And in return, whatever I share with them gives me that drive to continue sharing with them the mission I was set out to do," said Efren. More than his God-given intelligence, it was the purity of his heart that made all the difference.

Into the world

of Kim and Gerald

Quiet in our reflections, we made our way to the next destination: the most famous house in the Philippines next to Malacañang, the Pinoy Big Brother House. It was here that a shy girl from Cebu's life changed. That simple girl is Kim Chiu, who pursued her studies and played her role as student, sister, and daughter with simplicity and modesty. She garnered numerous awards in school, but never really made the stark difference she dreamed of - she longed to help her family a little more than she could. The surprising tipping point came when she was included in the roster of PBB Teen Edition. She recounts, "What started as a fun audition with friends at SM Cebu, I never realized would be a life-altering experience."

After winning the reality series without getting nominated once, it would have been easy to fade away, but Kim was resilient and determined. Her endless energy and overwhelming spirit can barely fit into her petite frame. Her natural charisma and staying power show that this lovable girl will last in our fickle show business.

As the youngest in her family, she shares a special relationship with her sisters. Whatever fame I hold, I owe it to my family. And no better feeling can take the place of going home to your sisters and sharing with them that feeling of true success."

What stardom truly afforded Kim was a heartwarming event the first Christmas after winning PBB. She recalls, "Our Christmases have always been very simple. We go to mass. We dine on whatever simple meal we have. Then that's it. So my first Christmas after PBB, I spent it with my family, and gave them the feast and gifts we all always longed for. It is that kind of Noche Buena that we had not experienced in years, full of good laughs and, of course, good food! That was a magical moment in my life. From then on, I realized the deeper meaning of success."

Synonymous to Kim is her on-screen partner Gerald Anderson. Shuffling back and forth the Philippines and the US during his childhood, Gerald learned to cope with the difficult setup he was born into. At a young age, he realized he had to be self-sufficient and independent. While a lot of boys his age were playing video games or hanging out with friends, he learned how to be responsible and accountable. Discovered by actor Joross Gamboa, he joined the reality based Pinoy Big Brother and was catapulted to success.

"A lot has changed in my life since Pinoy Big Brother, but whatever success I have now, I am very thankful for it. But sometimes, the demands in the business are tough and you can't avoid being stressed. So to cope with all these, I do things that recharge me, like enjoying my favorite meal," he shared.

These experiences strengthened his resolve and made a man out of the boy. And without even knowing it, he was embarking on a journey to a purpose-driven life. There is no secret to Gerald's heart for the needy: spending his birthday with cancer patients and even going as far as putting his own life at risk to help save lives at the height of typhoon Ondoy.

He maybe deemed as primetime TV's drama-action prince, but learning to live a purposeful life, shaped by his difficult conditions during his youth, is what truly makes Gerald Anderson not just a reel-life hero, more importantly, a real-life inspiration.

Together with one of the famous love teams of all time, we were blindfolded for our next challenge just like in PBB. Kim and Gerald wanted us to experience the thrill and joy of how to be a housemate, which started their career. As we formed a single line and started walking on a tiptoe, I feel like a housemate for a day and it made me so happy. But as we removed the blindfold, I was astonished to see myself in a room where everywhere you looked, there was a mirror and televisions that featured you. Kim talked to the legendary Kuya for our first task, the Chowking Chicharap fastest eating contest. Luckily, my group won.

Bea's life

Because of a schedule problem, the last new face, Bea Alonzo, failed to attend at the event. Young Bea dreamed beautiful dreams, one made up of fairy tales and happy endings. When the young Bea awoke, however, she realized those were all but a dream. But that did not stop Bea from pursuing those dreams. She joined beauty pageant after beauty pageant - even taking tricycles in her homemade gowns, if only for the thrill of being a princess for a day.

A stroke of luck gave Bea the break she longed for. During one of those beauty contests, she won second runner-up and caught the eye of judges Oscar Peralta and Archie Iligan, who encouraged her to join Star Circle Batch 10. When she was not able to make the cut, Bea carried on and persisted.

She joined Star Magic where she signed a six-year contract. Her career had a very slow and frustrating start. But, eventually, she managed to emerge with sophistication and panache. The next thing she knew, she was capturing audiences with her unrelenting talent; garnering multiple acting awards and a legion of adoring fans.

"I credit my mom for my success. She gives me strength, love and encouragement, guiding me through the demands of my career," Bea smiles. "I even remember those moments I had with my mom every after successful gig or taping. And each time I receive my paycheck, my mom is the first person I go to so we can share a nice meal together." After all, Bea continues. "Success is nothing if it is not shared."

Tasting success

"It is very heartwarming to discover the humble past of these people. Their struggles and journey to the top were founded on such noble values. Today, they all shine not just as stars, but as true inspirations for millions of people in the country today, who also long to uplift their lives. And as inspirations, their stars shine even brighter. And that is why they were all chosen to be the best spokespeople of our mantra ‘Tikman Ang Tagumpay'. They just don't believe in our mantra. They live and breathe our mantra. They are living proof that with the right ingredients, nothing is impossible," Arandia said.

The new Chowking ambassadors will be models for simple Filipinos to reach the bar to another level and to achieve sweet success. Chowking also launched a new meal that promises patrons a taste of satisfaction. The Tender Beef Broccoli is made of choice beef slices, rich oyster sauce and freshly-cooked broccoli to fuel the hard-working Filipinos to succeed. The new dish is just P99 with a drink or P125 as a lauriat with pancit canton, Chicharap, fried dumplings, buchi, plain rice and a drink.

And now that Chowking has a new set of endorsers, new dishes and a new logo as well, the brand is well into its role of inspiring the working man's journey to success. "We want to position Chowking not only as a brand that serves quality and modern Chinese food, but also a brand that enables the working man to achieve success and share this same success with their loved ones," said Chowking marketing head Francis Flores.

As Chowking sets out to create a deeper connection with their millions of patrons, it gets into the heart of their desires and cravings. Flores expounds, "These working adults are the ‘balanced success seekers' who are the responsible sons and daughters, motivated to provide a better life for their family. Chowking, on the other hand, serves as an inspiration for these individuals to succeed as they are fueled by great value Chinese rice meals, dimsums, desserts and beverages."

Its new brand mantra ‘Tikman ang Tagumpay' encapsulates in a few yet meaningful words what Chowking passionately stands for. With over 25 years of the best-tasting Chinese meals, Chowking takes the brand further where good food becomes a fuel in their pursuit of triumph and heartfelt joy and gratitude through shared meal-time experiences with the family.