Those Hungry Hungry People

Are you hungry? According to Gloria, if you are in the Cordilleras (except Benguet) then you are. So she came up with this Accelerated Hunger Mitigating Program (AHMP) to feed those hungry people from the boondocks. Now they are giving smelly NFA rice to students in school. But truth be told, those rice are now being used as “megmeg” or chicken feed by some families we know.

Anyway the “feed the hungry” program of Gloria, the Patroness of Hungry People, does not seem to be sitting well with Cordillera officials. [Or maybe it’s not the program itself that is upsetting them but the fact that the Cordilleras is being branded as a hungry region.] Here’s what some of our officials said according to Sunstar Baguio:

“As far as I am concerned, hunger is not a concern in Mountain Province.” — Mountain Province Governor Maximo Dalog.

“We may be having a malnutrition because of the (imbalanced diet we have), but not hunger.” — Ifugao Governor Teddy Baguilat.

“They may suffer from malnutrition, as a result of the imbalanced diet, but they eat three times a day and never go hungry.” — Agriculture Assistant Regional Director Pedro Baliang.

“Generally, the so-called poor in the Cordillera region are not that extremely poor economically, but many cannot afford the necessities that make a decent life. Many are malnourished but we do not see the face of endemic hunger and starvation that stalk whole societies and tribes of Africa.” — Presidential Assistant for Cordillera Affairs Thomas Killip.

Really Tom? You should know better! Do you have to put down our friends in Africa to get your message across?

Anyway, the above officials are against the characterization of the Cordilleras as a hungry region because it puts them in a bad light. We agree with them of course that hunger is not a problem in the region. We also believe that the money being spent on those smelly and blackish NFA rice [it’s blackish because of the iron bits they add] should be used to fund more important things like, say, improving public health services. Or what about using the fund to teach iCordilleras how to fish? After all, didn’t a wise man say that it is better to teach man how to fish rather than just giving him fish?

The thing with Gloria’s anti-hunger program is that it is nothing but a gimmick. We’re sure that next year, in her state of the nation address (SONA), she will be boasting about the millions of tribal Cordillerans she fed and are thus no longer hungry. Want to bet? After all, wasn’t it two years ago when she brought a kid and his grandpa to Congress to serve as her props during her SONA? She went, “Look at them, look at their bare feet. I gave them land so they will be able to finally buy slippers.”

Cordillera officials of course were applauding like hell. The fact that they were being patronized and that their kailiyans were being used as props is lost on them. Closeness to the patron, or the desire to be close to the patron, will do that to you.

Now, if Gloria is really serious about improving the lives of the people of the Cordilleras, what she should do is to tell those companies who are extracting the natural resources of the region to pay their taxes in the region. Second, instead of sending foreign companies to extract the region’s resources, she should help local communities be in control of those resources. If there is going to be mining, or logging, or building of dams for electricity, then Gloria should help the community or the local government do it. We’re sure they will be mindful of the environmental consequences of their activities because they, after all, live in those communities.

Third, the government should control the importation of vegetables. Importation should only be resorted to if local producers cannot meet the demand of consumers. Such is not the case at present because importation is being used to keep the price of vegetables ridiculously low (cabbage at P2/kilo for instance) at the expense of hardworking farmers.

There are other things she could do, but doing any of the above suggestions would be a good start. We were hoping that Tom Killip, given his background, would be saying these things to Gloria and other people in power but nope, he has made himself irrelevant (but he does have a strong say on where the President spends her Cordillera visits) by coming up with statements that goes “Oh we’re doing better than those tribes of Africa”.

But we will eat our words and will stop criticizing Tom Killip and Gloria if they replace these gimmicky programs [which don’t have any lasting impact whatsoever] with ones that empower people and local communities.

PHOTO CREDIT: instockphoto.

14 thoughts on “Those Hungry Hungry People”

  1. No better way to analyze this latest “Save The Hungry” project as you did, Bill. Correct ka diyan- now, we in the Cordilleras have taken the place of the Payatas children. They will exploit us for their own ends.

    Really, we need more than the NFA rice. You are right about the social services. How about more medicines and vitamins in the health centers? More farm-to-market roads so that the middlemen (Sorry, boys, but that is how they are called.) will no longer be able to exploit the sweat of our farmers as much as they are doing now? More books in the schools and please-withdraw-those-fairy-tales-whose-women-are-weak-and-whose-salvations-are-dependent-on-spoiled-kissing-princes? You are also right about control over our natural resources. Baka nga we do not need the national government as long as they give us stewardship over the bounty Kabunian gave our peoples. In fact, we managed for years even with the government’s neglect. Baka without the government, life will even be less hard. Sumina tayo laengen. I hope Mng Tom K. will agree.

    Bill Bilig for President of the Bilbilig Country! Mng Tom wil be his ambassador to the Philippines!

  2. Yes, malnutrition is different from hunger. Maybe the president doesn’t know a thing or two about the region, kabayan? What do you think? Does she honestly know the problems plaguing the region? If there are any? Or how about issues and concerns related to the whole country itself?

    And you are right, Bill. Most people I know think that everything she does is a gimmick. And I kid you not!

  3. really!!!really! really???
    charity begins at home they say!!!
    cordillera can prosper without politicians!!! all politicians!! we just need honest and dedicated non-self righteous people….who more often do not talk or blogggg!!!

  4. is this hungry program has something to do with the 4billion food for school program that delayed the budget deliberation on 2006? tapos, NFA pa?

  5. I am not so familiar with the program, so i could not give an objective comment about that. But I will try to research more on this.

    I would agree if the President would say that there is poverty in the Cordilleras. But hunger? I have some doubts. Adda laeng ti uggot ti sayote ken buggo-ong, ayos! Di met? I have survived my college days on occassions without allowance by getting sayote tops of my neighbor! (Tinakaw ko! haha!)

    Cordi people are known for industry. They will never be hungry!

    But on the other hand, let us also open our eyes to some truths we might be missing. It is better that we distantiate ourselves also and objectively look at the situation. The officials are talking about motherhood statements. We may not know, but there could be some pockets in the communities who are really experiencing hunger.

    But definitely, no to NFA rice!

  6. Hi Cheryl,
    Thanks. My suspicion, which means I might be wrong, is that this feed the hungry program is a knee-jerk reaction to some reports (SWS survey for instance) that people are hungry. I believe that there are better things that the government could do with the money.

    Haan, sika ti President. So, Cheryl for President. Appoint me na lang as Ambassador to Mindanao 🙂

    Hi Anitokid,
    Thanks. In fairness to her, I think mas may alam siya tungkol sa Cordi Region among all the Presidents (except perhaps President Ramos). The problem is that her knowledge of the region does not translate to programs that go beyond palliative measures like this. Thanks much 🙂

    Hi Anonymous,
    Thanks. Honesty and dedication is something we wish of everyone but more particularly of public officials because they are public officials 🙂

    Hi Nashman,
    Oo nga eh. It would be interesting to see what the NEDA guys are cooking because they will spearhead yata the next autonomy discussions. Thanks.

    Hi karaniwangbata,
    Hey, glad to have you back. I am not sure if it is the same program but it probably is because they are distributing the rice through the school system. Thanks for the info 🙂

    Hi inkblots,
    Tama ka. Meron talagang poverty sa Cordillera and I think looking at the roots of poverty and addressing those roots would be a better thing that the government could do. Thanks again 🙂

  7. what does arroyo think of the cordi people? “chooks”!!!!!! feed her with megmeg and see what she thinks……..

  8. it’s a really big irony that it is mostly the farming regions of our country – which provide the food – who always end up hungry. it just shows that there is something wrong in the way developmental priorities are done, government money is spent, etc.

    and the people always end up being sacrificed by the government for its own ends supporting foreign investors.

    ah my mind’s jumbled up na. hehehe i don’t know what i’m saying anymore…

  9. who did this survey or was it based on a statistics? Baka taga-central office nanggaling. Baka they just look at their clothes and generalize that they are starving, because we cordillerans (generally?) don’t care much on how we look. uray naka-sinelas kano ket maysa nga kaban nga bagas ti gatangen na. awan kanya tayo ti agbolod ti bado para piyasta

  10. Hi Kayni,
    Hehe, it’s Kankanaey. Basically the food you throw to free-range chicken 🙂 Thanks.

    Hi Anonymous,
    I’m sure she will also give it to the chickens hehe. What are “chooks”? Thanks.

    Hi Arcibald,
    Oo ginagawang sacrificial lambs talaga ang mga tao. There’s big trouble now brewing in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya because of the government’s emphasis on attracting investors even it peoples lives will be disrupted. Thanks.

    Hi Anonymous,
    I’m not sure if the government has its own data but, if I’m not mistaken, this anti-hunger program may be a knee-jerk reaction to a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations. Thanks.

  11. Hi Anonymous,
    Thanks. Maybe we should call Gloria a “chook”. She is actually there now in the land down under for the APEC meeting.

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