We had just finished eating lunch at a fastfood joint in Tarlac City. We were enjoying ourselves in the cool comfort of the establishment after a long, summer-hot drive in late January. I was handling the technical stuff then, and I was toying around with the camera to amuse myself.
It was a common scene, seeing a street urchin making faces at the windows of food-selling stores. As common as seeing them play with their alms-begged coins, which we may never truly know if they’re just playing with it out of the pittance that those coins mockingly represent compared to the actual costs of food… or whether they really are practicing juvenile gambling in the vain hope of being more able to afford food, whether it is the pleasurable or affordable kind.
I am not a stranger to hunger. I have had my own battles with sheer hopelessness, with my own morals and physical needs clamoring for both mutual and individual survival. Yet seeing such a common, almost daily scene which is not alien to only that city but in almost every city nags my thoughts. Like a cockroach staring at you immobile at the wall, just beyond arm-with-slipper reach, poised to fly straight at you…
What nags me is that Philippines is a rich country; that is, we are rich in resources. Unlike Africa, where starvation is largely due to the simple fact that it’s not that simple to plant kamotes in the desert. Philippines is blessed with a rich soil. Despite the environmental abuses, we still have a lot of trees and foliage to provide us comfort. And the mushrooming small-scale food business around the country is a simple observation that we have a food supply.
Which simply means that many of the hunger-stricken Filipinos simply can’t afford it, despite the abundance. And I am horrified seeing how much of those formerly-fresh goods litter the wet market canals and roadsides – which could feed a lot of families. How much more about the sheer number of wasted food inside our very own refrigerators.
Food, food… it’s everywhere. But what can we do to help those who can’t afford it?