If given the chance to experience what it’s like to be blind even for just an hour, would you take it?
Zoocobia Fun Zoo, located in Clark, Pampanga, held its first “Dinner in the Dark” event on November 1, 2014. Dinner in the Dark is a special dinner event hosted by the Zoomanity Group in their various theme parks for the benefit of the Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines. The goal is to create awareness and appreciation for one’s eyesight, by experiencing what it’s like to eat dinner in total darkness.
Together with my co-host in Youth Power Radio, DJ Andrew, I was invited to attend this special event. After a fun-filled afternoon of zoo and barn tour, riding the park’s zipline and gravity car, we were gathered for a 15-minute orientation of what to expect during the dinner. No celfones. No cameras. Nothing will be brought inside the restaurant that will emit light. (Thus, no photos from the dinner. Sorry!)
The going blind experience started even before the dinner began, as we were blindfolded at the entrance of the restaurant. Each group of diners fell in line coming in, led by our respective server, who is also blind. A blind man playing songs with a guitar serenaded us throughout the dinner. We were then escorted to our seats before the blindfolds were removed. Once seated, we were verbally guided on what was on the table in front of us. “Your plate is directly in front of you. On your 3 o’clock, you have your spoon and fork. Your drink is on your 12 o’clock. Dessert is on your 11 o’clock. You also have a wet towel on your 9 o’clock. Enjoy your dinner!”
We then started to find our way through our dinner. While it was not so much of a struggle to remove the wrapping of the plate or open the water bottle, figuring out what exactly was on the plate was the primary challenge. Without seeing how the food was arranged, or how many kinds of food there was, it became almost impossible to eat using spoon and fork! Most diners, myself included, ended up eating with our bare hands, a very Pinoy way of enjoying a meal.
During dinner, we talked with our fellow diners in the table. It was fun taking guesses as to who was the person seated next to us, as well as guessing what exactly we were eating (Was that broccoli or cauliflower? Was it just a half cup of rice? My first bite was all rice!). We were also joking about what we could possibly see once the lights open. (I believe I emptied my plate! There’s probably food all over my shirt!)
Once dinner was done, the lights were opened and the curtains were brought down, allowing us to finally SEE exactly what just happened. We were asked to share our insights and feelings as to the dinner we just had. Most of us shared the same thought: We struggled without our eyesight for just one hour, how much more for the people who have been blind their whole life?
Going blind is an eye-opening experience, no pun intended. I learned to appreciate the gift of my eyesight. Most people would complain about the things they see – traffic, garbage, bad news on their Facebook feed – but fail to appreciate the mere fact that they can actually SEE. I also gained more admiration for the blind. It must take a lot of courage, positivity and passion to be able to move through their daily life!
I am grateful for the dinner in the dark experience, and would gladly do it over again.
Like Zoomanity Group in Facebook for their upcoming Dinner in the Dark events.