Tuesday, November 07, 2006


By: Katherine Adraneda, PhilStar.Com

Manila – Twenty six million Filipinos can be considered poor, each subsisting on a meager budget of around P36 (around 72 cents) per day, mostly for food, the Global Call to Action Against Poverty-Philippines (GCAP-Philippines) said over the weekend.

GCAP-Philippines said that with such a measly amount for his day-to-day needs, a typical poor Filipino is on a “bad diet” and almost incapable of satisfying his other non-food needs like clothing and entertainment.

GCAP said government defines poor as “those who fall below the per capita povery threshold of P36 per person a day.”

This means a person needs to earn at least $13,113 (US$262.26) a year in order to live beyond the poverty threshold and be able to spend no less than P8,734 for “food needs” and P4,379 for “other basic needs.”

Over the weekend, GCAP-Philippines held “The 36-peso Challenge” to determine the acceptability of the per capita poverty threshold set by the government for each Filipino per day.

This reporter took part in the challenge, along with a single mother, a retiree, a housewife, and a college student. The “Challenge” only confirmed what had been held by many: P36 per day is not enough to satisfy even the most basic need of a Filipino.

“Definitely, we raise a resounding cry that ‘no, P36 is not enough’ … P36 will not lift the poor Filipinos out of their misery and help them live a life of dignity,” GCAP-Philippines said.

GCAP-Philippines said a 2001 study showed that over a third of Class E and over a tenth of Class D Filipinos had resorted to eating “surrogate ulam” and “new viands,” consisting of salt, soy sauce, bagoong (shrimp paste), pork lard, soft drinks or coffee because they couldn’t afford to buy vegetables, fish or meat.

Instant noodles, on the one hand, are now “being drowned” in water to provide full meal for many poor families. With scarce spending for food “there is a bleak future because of low nutrition levels,” GCAP said, adding that many Filipinos subsist on carbohydrate and calorie-heavy diets to keep hunger pangs at bay.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), according to GCAP, has expressed alarm over the country’s 30 percent child malnutrition rate which has persisted for over a decade.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Going a little hungry is healthy

DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo ChancoThe Philippine Star 11/06/2006

SWS reports that some 2.9 million Filipino families or 16.9 percent of a projected base of 17.4 million households experienced hunger in the past three months. That’s a real shame, not just for Ate Glue but for our society. If only the respondents were going hungry out of choice, rather than out of poverty, it wouldn’t be so bad. Latest reports from American health experts seem to indicate that going a little hungry is healthy, based on studies of laboratory mice, rhesus monkeys and even worms.

This is not to say that what is good for mice, monkeys and worms are necessarily good for humans. Nor would it be right to say that because the poor amongst us live like mice in crowded shantytowns or urban sidewalks, going a little hungry will also be good for their health. In fact, the Christian conscience in all of us who are overfed should be bothered by the results of this SWS survey.

According to SWS, there is an increase of more than 800,000 households experiencing severe hunger in September compared to June. Families who reported having gone hungry "often" or "always" went up by 4.6 percent in September from 3.4 percent in June. Those who experienced moderate hunger, or those who reported that they experienced hunger "only once" or "a few times" in the last three months, rose to 12.3 percent, or 2.1 million households, from 10.1 percent in the previous quarter.

If I were Ate Glue, I would say this hunger problem in our midst is not just a government concern. It should move everyone of us into action, or at the very least, eat less so that the money we can save from paying personal trainers and gym fees could be contributed to Caritas instead, for feeding the really hungry. I personally know that’s easier said than done. But it is one of those things we must try to do for our own good.