4.5 million Filipino families experience hunger and the rest who can help prevent this watch as they go hungry. It is a cursed life that the hungry live, and it is a curse that many who can help, but do not, will have to bear in their lives.
As I travel around the United States, speaking to Filipino-Americans who have keen interest in learning more about the plight of the poorest among our people, I appeal for their sympathy and active intervention. My basis is in their latest annual remittance to their families in the Philippines estimated at around $9 billion, proof of massive resources and proof of consistent generosity. I have not asked them to send more money to the Philippines. I have simply pointed out that they sent money to their families but not their country, to individuals but not to the collective. If their generosity has lifted their beneficiaries out of poverty, it has not lifted the hungry from their misery.
To feed the hungry is a Christian obligation. To not do so will not allow salvation or entry into the kingdom of God. This is not my claim. This is the promise of the Founder of Christianity – Jesus Christ. I am Christian so I had been taught this, by my parents who were Christians themselves, by my schools which were Christian as well, and by the religious authorities of the Catholic Church. According to their teachings, each believer will be asked at the end of time important questions by Jesus Himself – and one would be, ‘’When I was hungry, did you feed me?’’
I do not know about the Muslims or the Buddhists, or the many other religions that non-Christians subscribe to. Nor do I have the time to research in order to know. I am not motivated to divert my attention to the obligation or non-obligation of other faiths when compliance of Christians who dominate the Philippines already manifest great failure. The latest quarterly SWS survey on hunger incidence reports yet another increase. I did not hear an outcry when the previous quarterly report was released. I may not hear one again but I sure will do my best again and again to shatter the indifference that allows more than 20 million Filipinos to experience hunger without an urgent response from everyone who should care.
I know that P-Noy has deep concern for the hungry. I know that his concern has moved him to go aggressively for the Conditional Cash Transfer Program, and combined his other concerned to see more Filipino students continue and finish school instead of dropping out because of poverty. I cannot presume to care more than P-Noy when Filipinos go hungry, and I can only imagine his frustration that more than 20 billion pesos of CCT support can still result in rising hunger. Perhaps, it is simply because the CCT Program is not the answer to the horror of a people’s hunger.
My understanding is that the problem of hunger is national in character and demands a national approach. That national approach is not so much about nationwide territory than it is about nationwide participation. Hunger is a national shame, of government and citizenry, of Church and religions and their faltering faithful. Hunger is a Filipino attack against fellow Filipino, a crime of both commission and omission.
I hope the President can call on all governors and mayors to feed their hungry in a coordinated counter-attack, and to give impact on his appeal by releasing P1 billion per region for 2012.
I would like to ask all NGOs and civic organizations to support any feed-the-hungry initiative of their LGUs, to share their time and treasure in doing so.
I would like to ask the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to lead the faithful towards compliance of a Christian obligation and pull them away from their religious sloth resulting in their shocking apathy towards the hungry.
I would like to ask the schools and their older students to be the army of LGUs, NGOs and civic organizations in feeding the hungry, and to learn as young Filipinos to be intolerant of the hunger of others.
The tragedy of Sendong saw the storm kill thousands. The tragedy of hunger causes tens of millions to have aborted lives, losing the natural opportunity of a longer life span, and death before its appointed time. Why can we not see this?
Dear Mr. President, I know you are very determined to confront the worst evil of society, the corruption that impoverishes, the corruption that kills. I would not wish for you to compromise that priority, and encourage you to do more with a pledge of support from me. I would like to ask, though, that you direct the Executive to double the attack – one against corruption and another against hunger. If possible, too, may I ask you to appeal to both Houses of Congress to appropriate an emergency amount to address the scandalous level of hunger incidence in our country.
By our collective tolerance and apathy, we have allowed the curse of hunger to plague millions of our people. In doing so, we have merited a curse on ourselves as well. That curse keeps us in the darkness and blocks the light of hope and prosperity from blessing our nation. It takes very little to cleanse our souls. It only needs for us to care, and to translate that care by sharing.
I pray we do.