The Vic Foundation Taps Max’s WPG for 5th Annual Miracle Garden Party

with Hipolito Alibin

One of Winnipeg’s prominent fundraising events teamed up with the city’s finest restaurants to provide an exciting dining experience for a worthy cause. Among the elite dining destinations was the Winnipeg branch of Max’s Restaurant, a household name in the Philippines, and widely regarded as an institution in traditional Filipino cuisine. Held on Thursday, September 10, the event was the 5th Annual Miracle Garden Party in support of mental health initiatives of The Victoria General Hospital Foundation — more informally known as The Vic Foundation.

A week prior, Ron Hogue and Arnel Alibin spoke about the event on the Barangay Canada Community Update, the new social media program hosted by this columnist. Hogue is the Director of Development for The Vic Foundation, while Alibin is the General Manager of Max’s Restaurant Winnipeg. The two gentlemen met each other during the early stages of the pandemic when Max’s Restaurant Winnipeg was delivering free packed meals for the city’s various hospital staff as a gesture of appreciation. Alibin believes that their display of community spirit, similar event partnerships with high-profile organizations like World Vision, and the popularity of the Filipino resto itself, led to its inclusion in this year’s Miracle Garden Party.

Hogue also explained how the pandemic caused the event format to be modified. Instead of having all the guests at their typical venue for the past four years – the Miracle Garden on the grounds of the Victoria General Hospital — they will instead distribute them among five of the city’s top dining venues. Aside from Max’s Restaurant, the four other venues were Brazen Hall Kitchen & Brewery, East India Company, Frankie’s Italian Kitchen & Bar, and Nicolino’s.

Guests at Max’s location were welcomed by a choice of either Calamansi Sangria or non-alcoholic Citrus Cooler as they perused the program and catalog of executive-level prizes for the Main Raffle Draw. Shortly thereafter, host Brandi Johnson, the Winnipeg Free Press’ Director of Creative Strategy, did a brief introduction and rundown of health and safety guidelines for the evening. Dinner promptly kicked off at 7 PM with a bowl of Misua Soup served as appetizer.

Afterward, guests were ushered into the buffet area one table at a time. The buffet selection started off with Garlic Fried Rice, followed by popular Filipino fare such as Pancit Bihon, Chopsuey, Max’s Fried Chicken, Pork Barbecue, Beef Caldereta, Chicken Adobo and Mild Spicy Tofu. Dessert came in two waves, beginning with a cup of warm Taho, followed by Giant Halo Halo portioned into a glass. Dinner entertainment came from pre-recorded musical performances by Curtis Newton and Garrett & Nazeem shown on a large screen that doubled for Zoom cloud conferencing to connect the separate venues with one another. The Alibin siblings — JR, John and Arnel were all on deck mingling with the guests and making sure they were enjoying the food.

By all indications, this year’s Miracle Garden Party was another success, bolstered by the additional funds from ticket sales for the executive-level raffle prizes, the 50/50 Raffle Draw, and the live auction that capped off the evening. On social media, The Vic Foundation graciously acknowledged all their guests and sponsors. “Your generosity is helping to improve the mental health and wellness of our community. This unforgettable evening would not have been possible without our incredible sponsors — we are grateful for their support!”

For his part, Alibin expressed his appreciation to The Vic Foundation for including Max’s Restaurant among
the event’s partners. “When The Vic Foundation reached out to us about participating in the Miracle
Garden Party, we immediately accepted the opportunity. To be honest, it was very humbling and a really
proud moment for all of us here at Max’s. Not only did we have the opportunity to serve our delicious
Philippine cuisine, but we were also able to support this worthy cause for mental health.”

Kris Ontong is an award-winning community advocate and a finalist in the 12th RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards. He is the co-founder and vodcast host of