By Bobby Ranoco
When I saw a headline in a local paper that the number of Filipino families experiencing hunger had risen from 4.3 million to 4.5 million, I called my sources in the slum district of Baseco community in Tondo, Manila.
I was told there would be a feeding program for children sponsored by South Korean missionaries later in the afternoon. When I arrived, I was surprised to see hundreds of children gathered outside the missionary house waiting for a free meal.
I have covered this kind of subject several times but this time I was so emotional seeing lots of hungry children, most of them barefoot and dirty. When a man distributing food stubs arrived, all the children rushed and scrambled to get one. I noticed a girl carrying her brother on her back amid the scramble.
The place could not accommodate all 300 children to eat at one time so they took turns.
Children ate quickly with their bare hands so that others could eat too. While watching them hungrily eating and continuing to fire the shutter on my camera, I profusely thanked God that my children don’t go hungry and do not need to scramble for a free meal.
I came back to the area the next Sunday, as I was told that more than one thousand children were being fed over the weekends. True enough I saw more hungry children. A mother accompanying her five children told me, “I’m bringing my kids here because we cannot afford for them to feed three times a day”.
It is really very depressing to see fellow Filipinos experiencing poverty and children going hungry every day. I’m sure this kind of situation is happening all over the country.
The new tourism promotion slogan of the government, “It’s more fun in the Philippines” came into my mind. I hope the tourists the government would like to come to the Philippines don’t see hungry children and don’t feel the way I felt while taking these photos.