Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong Go” called on Filipinos to continue using the bayanihan spirit to mitigate and fight various societal issues, particularly hunger, joblessness, and poverty during the celebration of World Food Day Saturday.
The World Food Day was an initiative by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, originally meant to mark the day that the FAO was established in the year 1979.
However, it gradually became a way to raise awareness about hunger, malnutrition, sustainability and food production.
The celebration of World Food Day was picked as well by one of the country’s oldest bread stores, Kamuning Bakery, for its own “World Pandesal Day,” dedicated to reveling the concoction of the Philippines’ unique and favorite staple bread, the pandesal.
“We should take inspiration with the pandesal as a simple, yet humble reminder that as long as we continue to serve Filipinos every day, continue to help each other, and be treated equally, we will rise to each occasion. Let the spirit of Bayanihan and Malasakit sa Kapwa be instilled in our hearts as we overcome the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic that we face as a nation,” he said.
Further, Senator Go thanked Kamuning Bakery for continuously celebrating the occasion and for its enduring recognition of locally made products for Filipinos.
While in a recorded speech, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte aired his backing to the World Pandesal Day, as the event highlights the role of the humble bread, pandesal, not only in the daily Filipino breakfast but also close family ties over meals.
“May this occasion also underscore the staple’s importance in our efforts to end hunger and malnutrition in the country. I thank the people behind this 82-year-old bakery for preserving the time-honored tradition of baking bread while, at the same time, being altruistic and charitable towards the underprivileged, especially during this pandemic. It gives me the confidence to have you as our consistent and reliable partner in building a healthier and more productive Philippines for all Filipinos,” the President said.
Based on the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), at least 4.2 million Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger over the past three months as the hunger rate in the Philippines increased by 16.8 percent as of May 2021 “due to lack of food to eat at least once in the past three months.”
The data for May 2021 is higher by 0.8 percentage points from the November 2020 hunger rate of 16 percent, the report said.
“It is 4.3 points below the 2020 annual average of 21.1 percent but still doubles the December 2019 pre-pandemic level of 8.8 percent (estimated 2.1 million families),” the survey revealed.
Out of the 16.8 percent hunger rate, SWS noted that 14.1 percent or 3.6 million families disclosed that they experienced moderate hunger, and 2.7 percent or 674,000 experienced severe hunger.
Pandesal Day celebration
Instead of its annual tradition of giving 70,000 free pandesal and other food to urban poor and free medical, dental, optical missions due to restrictions, owner Wilson Lee Flores said donations of bread shall be delivered to orphanages, diverse children’s shelters, and urban poor communities.
Despite the economic crisis, Kamuning Bakery Café has also donated new public school buildings to Barangay Dinalaoan Elementary School in Calasiao, Pangasinan in cooperation with the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry Inc., and also handed over public school buildings to other economically-disadvantaged rural regions, like to Sta. Rosa Elementary School in the historic seaside of Balangiga town, Eastern Samar, and to the Villa Bacolor Elementary School in Tarlac, Tarlac province.