Feeding the Hungry as a Way of Giving Back God’s Blessings

SINCE initiating a feeding program in my birthplace, Mapatag, Hamtic, Antique, Philippines, in March 2007, as inspired by one member of the Overseas Filipino Council (OFC), Dr. Bert Pagarigan, I have been relentless in having it conducted despite the many odds met through the years till now, this year 2016.

One child from the first batch of 13 malnourished children being fed by the mother. This was in mid-2007.

It was not, though, a continuous endeavor, mainly because of the mothers’ enthusiasm waning after a few months of attending to the food preparations. The first try in March 2007 lasted only for six months and it got revived in August 2008 through a partnership with Ms. Anita S. Schon’s “Anita’s Kitchen” (AK).

The very first feeding held in August 2008 making use of Anita’s Kitchen, a project under OFCI’s Self-Help Nutrition Program.

Feeding went on and off, depending on the mothers’ availability in preparing for the food, which kind and ways of preparation, depended on Ms. Schon’s advice. Then it again stopped for a few months, after which, sporadic feeding, which usually recommences during the lean month of August, continued.

One of the succeeding feedings held after recommencing in August 2008, a full meal timed for the supper. The menu was provided by Ms. Anita S. Schon.

It was mainly a personal initiative, making use of my own resources – my way of sharing the blessings that God has been continuously giving me. Aside from serving food to the people immediately surrounding my abode, I was also buying sacks of rice and distributing them to the hungry, especially during typhoon times. As well, a few individual class feedings at school, I also was covering.

Ms. Anita S. Schon is shown here doing the cooking demonstration during the initial visit to Mapatag in February 2012.

In February 2012, Ms. Anita S. Schon, who was at that time the President of Overseas Filipino Council International, Inc. (OFCI), together with Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors, Dr. Nelson Paguyo, visited Mapatag to officially introduce the Self-Help Nutrition Program through Anita’s Kitchen (AK). Both are based in the U.S.A., from where the mother organization originates, and purposely traveled to Antique to promote OFCI.

US-based OFCI officials Dr. Nelson Paguyo, then Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors and Ms. Schon, OFCI President (first and second to the R) are seen sampling the food, after the demo, with a few residents of Mapatag.

I was already then a member of OFCI, based in Kuwait, and a plan to give back something, in return for the two US-based officials’ dedicated move in actually coming to Mapatag, was concocted mid 2012. By October 2013, building of an edifice to be utilized as “The Anita’s Kitchen”, commenced and by April 26, 2014, it got inaugurated with no less than Ms. Schon cutting the ceremonial ribbon.

Ms. Anita S. Schon, together with an equally empowered woman, Antique PIO Manager Margie L. Gadian, are shown here about to cut the ceremonial ribbon during the Inauguration of Anita’s Kitchen last April 26, 2014.

Weekly feeding, held every Saturday, soon commenced and food preparations, initially done at Anita’s Kitchen, were attended to by the mothers on a rotation basis. When the OFCI Multipurpose Center was built in December 2014, feeding has become more comfortable for the children. They used to gather in front of the house of my son and would be seen sprawled on cemented surfaces while eating.

This is now the OFCI Multipurpose Center where feeding is being held. Children and mothers alike are comfortably seated while partaking of the food.

 

About Author

Freda Editha O. Contreras
Writing is a God-given talent which I try to utilize the good way. I used it as a means to earn a living, my very first job after graduating from college, when I got hired as an Information Writer by the Provincial Government of Antique through Governor Enrique A. Zaldivar in January 1982. By profession, I am a Registered Nurse, and was only able to practice it when I got recruited to work in a private hospital in Kuwait. This was in November 1987 and since then I have been living in Kuwait, now retired since June 2002. Because of my knack in writing I got hired in 1994 to write for Kuwait Times and later became an Editor of 'Pinoy News' a weekly supplement of KT. In March 1996 I published the very first independent Filipino newspaper in Kuwait and the Gulf bannered as Pinoy Expat News or PEN. The paper lasted for only 10 weekly issues. This was followed by another publication and came out first as an insert of an ad paper and later as a separate tabloid. I used then 'Pinoy News' as it was my idea the first time it was used for Kuwait Times. This again failed and produced only three weekly issues. I then turned to the Internet and in 1999 I got hired as a Contributing Editor of Suite101.com, a writers' portal on the web. The last of my articles was published December 31, 2002 but my topic 'Overseas Filipino Workers' was still visible until January 2006. All the 38 articles I wrote have been compiled into a book which I published in August 2007. I discovered blogging in 2006 but was not really serious about my writing. I wrote according to my whim. Having this blog under my own domain name is now a welcome development and I plan to concentrate again in writing. As is commonly said: "A writer will always be a writer." http://fredacontreras.com/

2 Comments

  1. Freda Editha O. Contreras (Post author)

    So glad to read you here, Doc Nelson and thanks for your very intelligent observation and comment – seeing the unseen and highlighting something which seems not so obvious. I believe you know me now better than before and I do agree with you that persistence and determination are the necessary ingredients in attaining a goal. These two are the main reasons that despite the down moments, I am able to accomplish what I have set myself to do. Although this year I have been more down than up – thanks to my Bipolar Disorder and the various bodily afflictions I suffer with – yet this year saw me attending to my advocacies and my blogging with more vigor. And it is because I have consciously made things happen, through persistence and determination, as you noted.

    And yes, downward cycles are part and parcel of life and each should be taken as a way to improve and should not deter one to continue achieving his/her goal! Anyway, one can’t stand up if he/she hasn’t fallen down, right?

  2. Nelson A Paguyo

    Notice the down cycles of both the feeding program and Ms. Freda Contreras writing career? Should one give-up when the down cycle occurs? Obviously not as exemplified by the feeding and blog articles.
    In any undertaking there are always down and up cycles. With persistence and determination to accomplish the goal, the down and up cycles trend is mostly upward with the objective later achieved.
    Always incorporate downward cycles [in thinking] as part of a project. When it happens reevaluate and adjust to attain the desired purpose.

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