The COVID-19 controls had shut down non-essential businesses such as restaurants, cafes and food courts since March 2020 and slowly being eased now. The affected businesses included Filipino-Australian restaurants and subsequently the individuals employed by those businesses. The most vulnerable of these individuals are international students who are relying on part-time jobs for their rental and subsistence and have no savings.
It is heartening to see that despite only being allowed reduced operations which results reduced income, a number of Filipino-Australian restaurants are finding ways to help the international students.
We have featured a number of Sydney businesses involved in this humanitarian endeavour but wish to highlight this time Cycho's Buffalo Wings, across the border in the Gold Coast for undertaking similar initiatives. Not only was Cycho's Buffalo Wings providing meals to international students, it also extended the gesture to frontliners and others affected by the pandemic. The owners of Cycho's Buffalo Wings is the husband and wife team of Cyrus and Hanzel Platon.
The Outreach by Cycho's Buffalo Wings
Cycho's Buffalo Wings was able to involve not just the Filipino-Australian community but other groups which were interested to extend help to those affected by the pandemic.
When asked what motivated them to undertake the initiative, Cyrus said:
"Having started as students here in Australia, we know how life can sometimes be difficult and so we decided to hire Filipino international students as our staff. We can totally relate to them and we know the work ethics of Filipinos. If we could be of help to anyone, of course we would rather give it to our kababayans first.
"During COVID 19, we thought of a PAY IT FORWARD PROJECT where people can donate and then we provide meals (Incredi-BOWL) for those affected by the pandemic, including the international students.
"We also partnered with Aquinas College in their Free Friday Feedz for the same cause. In total, we were able to give 493 meals (Incredi-BOWL) within a 2 month period. For us, as our pay it forward, we delivered wing platters to our frontliners in the hospitals, police officers and scientists and pathologists."
About Cycho's Buffalo Wings
"Cycho's Buffalo Wings started as a marquee in 2015 then we got the food truck a year later. We went to many markets, events and caterings from north Brisbane to Byron Bay. In one of these events, there were still three hours to finish but we were already sold out so we got asked to attend regularly after that.
Cyrus shared that a month after they started the food truck, he injured one of his hands badly they persevered to continue with their operations.
"Last year on May 11, we opened up our first restaurant in Australia Fair Metro, in Southport, Gold Coast. Being mobile in the last four years have helped us with our following - people have already seen us in many events thus somehow, we already got a market. At this point, social media and word of mouth have played a big role in making us more known around Gold Coast and nearby areas.
"COVID-19 has brought us all to a place unknown. Difficult, yes, but I took it as an opportunity to leap out of my comfort zone to go to my courage zone. It is a time to be more prayerful, to be more creative, to be more hardworking, to be more giving. Thank God, we are still here! It pays to have faith, courage, passion and a family and community you can hold on to. We belong to Light of Jesus Family (FEAST) and they have always been there to support us. For which we are forever grateful!"
About Cyrus and Hanzel Platon
Cyrus Platon was born in Manila on May 11, 1977 and was raised in Las Pinas City. He is their of five children. He graduated from De La Salle University in Dasmarinas, Greater Manila area with a Bachelors Degree in Management. Before migrating to Australia, Cyrus was Cabin Crew/Flight Attendant for Cebu Pacific Air then for Qatar Airways where he was promoted to the position of Purser.
Cyrus' wife, Hanzel was born in Manila on Dec 22, 1974 raised in Manila but later moved to Batangas where her parents hail from. She was the eldest and only girl of three children. She graduated from St. Paul College of Manila with a Bachelors Degree in Nursing. She was also a Cabin Crew for Cebu Pacific where she and Cyrus met.
Cyrus decided to come to Australia in 2007 after visiting a friend in the Gold Coast.
"I fell in love with the place. So my wife and I could be together faster as, she based in the States and we were waiting for my Spouse Visa to be approved (which will take forever), I got a Student Visa and took up Commercial Cookery. I was blessed to have been sponsored Permanent Residency by a gentleman named Mr. Brian Glode who owned Teriyaki Mate right after getting my qualification as a Chef."
Cyrus then worked as a Chef at Marriott Resort in Surfers Paradise. Later when they have settled in Gold Coast, as a Registered Nurse, Hanzel worked as a Haemodialysis Nurse for Fresenius Medical Care.
When asked what achievements do Cyrus and Hanzel hold fondly in the hearts, Cyrus said:
"Firstly, I think we are just starting the journey. Our priority is to raise up good children who love God and who value honesty, love, respect and hardwork. Second is to be a blessing to others. We believe that when we are blessed, it is so we could be a blessing to those around us."
Cyrus recalled that they struggled when Hanzel fell pregnant straight away at the start of their life in Australia. She had complications in pregnancy and at the birth of their child that they used up their savings and had to live with friends for about three months. Cyrus and Hanzel are now blessed with two girls, Gabbie aged 12 years and Dannie 6 years old, and form one happy family.
What else do they wish for in life?
"For our business to grow. Perhaps establish another branch. A bright future for our children. Make a difference in the lives of those around us (no matter how small for as long as they feel God's love through us)."
We asked what their advice is to those who may be contemplating to start their own business but are hesitating.
"Start small but dream BIG. Take on the challenge and always be positive and grateful! Treat your staff like family. If you look after them, they will look after
Lastly, how do they define 'success'?
Success to us is being able to do what you love and being a blessing to others while you do it!"
So when the borders open and you are heading to the Gold Coast, aside from doing the usual tourist attractions, make time to drop by and say hello to our kababayans in Cycho's Buffalo Wings at Southport who are doing us proud.