10 Oct2012

I think this is our fifth or six year running a Marketmanila feeding program at the Banawa Elementary School in Cebu. Roughly 100 undernourished first to third graders receive a full meal three times a week for the entire school year. I haven’t kept count that closely, but I think we have provided some 70,000+ meals over the years in Cebu. That’s thanks to the generosity of large donors like Mamou and Mamou too, as well as funds raised by Marketman and donated by our family and friends. This is in addition to a program at the Tenement Elementary School in Taguig that will provide roughly 80,000+ meals by the end of the current school year.

This year, all of the staff of Zubuchon participate in the program. All our cooks and chefs take turns cooking the food, and managers and staff go in turn to the feeding program. This differs from previous years where parents from the school prepared the meals that we funded. We have a modest budget every week, but I think we manage to provide a hearty, healthy meal, most of the time… :)

It’s always a double-edged sword when you attend these feeding sessions. One part heartwarming, and another part, probably bigger, heartbreaking. These kids look relatively fine in the photos, but I can tell you they are probably 6 inches shorter than they should be for their ages. Once we arrive at the school, the signal somehow goes out and from all corners of the school emerge the 100 kids who come running to a makeshift tent in the school playground to get their food. We were “downgraded” for some reason this year, as we used to serve the meal in a classroom, but I am told there is no more space in the school and classes are on-going up until the minute before lunch.

I have seen many of the meals that have gone to the kids in the past few weeks, and unfortunately, I have to say, the meal on the day I showed up was a bit less than exciting. Some nilagang manok with vegetables, rice and some fresh pineapple. For kids that have little to eat at home, some still manage to eschew the vegetables and tuck them into the wooden desks they dine on. :) I’m not sure if that amuses me or ticks me off. But we just look the other way. Thankfully we don’t have to clean up the desks…

After some 30 kids had been served, I noticed they just sat and waited while their food got cold. I encouraged them to start eating until I realized we were waiting for something to happen. When EVERYONE was seated, the principal led the kids in saying a prayer. I am Catholic and understand this move, but there was a part of me that wanted to blurt out, what if I was Muslim? or Buddhist? or agnostic? Is it really appropriate to insist on a catholic prayer at a public school, for meals paid for by someone else? What about the concept of separation of church and state? I have NOTHING against prayer being said, but each child can and should choose to do that privately in my opinion. But maybe that’s just me.

After the prayer, the kids wolfed down their food, and some went back for seconds and others thirds… Some kids saved some of their food, and when asked why, they answered they would take it home to their parents or siblings, who had less to eat. Unbelievable to me how folks without enough resources to feed their own children can have so many more. I have interviewed kids with 10+ siblings and they were say the third or fourth child and their parents had six more after them in rapid succession. Can’t help but feel feeding programs like this are a drop in the bucket, almost futile efforts in the overall scheme of things…

But better to do something rather than sit around and bitch and do nothing. 150,000+ meals provided by or through marketmanila.com are enough meals to feed 9 of our Teen daughter, fed three meals a day for 17 years…

The previous week, we had spaghetti and fried chicken for the kids, apparently the MOST ENJOYED MEAL THUS FAR I am told, and they were a bit bummed that we didn’t have rice that day. I promise the next time we serve chicken and spaghetti, we will have lots of rice as well. Not exactly nutritionally balanced, but hey, once in a while, that’s fine I think. To Mamou and Mamou too, and other marketmanila.com friends and family, this feeding program is the direct result of your generosity. To my crew at Zubufoods, for all their time, effort and care, I am very grateful. Thank you very much.



  1. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    The prayer is fine MM. Its not necessarily the tennants of faith, but rather the outcome of it. They have up to their high school years to put it all together and then make decisions on their own. Hopefully the kids will take away the deeper asthetic of prayer as it connects with their practice of manners. Believe you me, if you see some of their Fil-Am counterparts, you would think their parents lived under rocks and left their kids to be raised by wolves.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 6:17 am


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  3. amy says:

    I never liked vegetables when I was a kid either, lol! And I know a friend who eats her spaghetti with rice. I on the other hand love pancit bihon with rice :) When I was a kid, it was always exciting to see longganisa, tocino, fried pork chop or fried chicken with lots of rice on the table. Your efforts are commendable, hope you’ll attract more attention to your cause.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 6:28 am

  4. scott says:

    MM, where could one donate to this wonderful cause?

    Oct 10, 2012 | 6:41 am

  5. cwid says:

    I am with you, MM, regarding prayer in public schools. Catholicism is not the only religion in the world. It is alright to ask the children to say thanks to whatever higher being they believe in but it is wrong to impose our own beliefs.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 6:46 am

  6. pinkytab says:

    I completely agree with Getter Dragon 1. It warms my heart to think that even if their empty stomachs are craving for the food, their manners tell them to wait.
    I can’t help but wonder….. were the police and judges in the Paco Larranaga case like these children when they were young, deprived of food and attention making them susceptible to the lure of easy money? If the way to grow righteous citizens is through a full stomach, then what you are doing is definitely the way to go!

    Oct 10, 2012 | 7:42 am

  7. crabbychef says:

    MM, I worked with a school principal from a depressed area in Cavite, and I asked her what the biggest problem in her school was. I expected the usual answers – you know, lack of classrooms, books, and such. But she looked me in the eye and said, the biggest problem is poverty. She said, no matter what you do to solve the other problems, if the kids come to school hungry, it doesn’t mean anything.

    Thank you for your drop in the bucket. For that day at least, you helped them focus on their lessons because they had full stomachs. May your tribe increase. :)

    Oct 10, 2012 | 8:07 am

  8. bakerwannabe says:

    Prayer regardless of creed or practice is good. The faithful does not have to conform to the required prayer. If one belongs to a different religion, one can pray in one’s own way. It is all in the heart and the sincerity. It is good to teach the children to be thankful for meals. We often take it for granted that we will have food at all times.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 8:09 am

  9. Marketman says:

    I guess my point was, a moment for everyone to pray silently in their own way is fine with me, or for them to daydream as they wish. But a principal led prayer, out loud, of a specific faith is not on with me… it presupposes that simply because a majority of those present might be Catholic by birth, that that okays the concept of a catholic prayer. If you as a catholic were a minority in a class in Tawi-Tawi, say 19 students out of 40, and 21 happened to be Muslim, then wouldn’t you feel a bit put out by having to say a muslim prayer say four times a day (obviously you aren’t at school 24 hours) at the prescribed times just because the majority of students were one faith or another? I am of the personal opinion that religion is a personal matter, and the state, through its public schools, funded by citizens taxes, needs to be quite open about the matter, not narrow-minded.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 9:35 am

  10. mina says:

    I agree with you, MM. I think if a prayer is necessary, it should be an ecumenical prayer of thanks. Many kids who may not be Catholic may feel the pressure of the authority figure/majority and be too shy/insecure/embarrassed to be non-conformist, or to pray in their own ways.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 9:44 am

  11. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    I re-read the post and came accross the specific detail…’the principal led the kids in saying a prayer’. Ah-hah, I’m guessing the prayer was said in the Catholic faith by the principal. So I understand where you’re coming from MM. That said, there is still nothing wrong with prayer or acknowledgement of thanks, either as a group or individual. Its just another way of teaching and practicing manners.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 10:24 am

  12. Marketman says:

    Getter Dragon, I agree, a thank you for the meal/food is quite appropriate.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 10:27 am

  13. Papa Ethan says:

    About “being a drop in the bucket”:

    Remember the apocryphal story of a kid throwing back countless starfish into the ocean to save them from dying under the sun after being stranded on the beach by the ebb tide? An adult kibitzer derides the kid’s efforts as futile; “It won’t matter because there are so many of them.” The kid wisely retorts, “It will matter at least to this one (referring to a starfish in his hand, about to be thrown back into the water). Because it will go on to live and have a family.”

    If those outreach programs like yours can affect only one child among the multitude, and that child grows up to be a responsible, caring and empowered individual, in all likelihood that person would someday replicate such a project wherein he/she had received and experienced magnanimity.

    Keep up the good work!

    Oct 10, 2012 | 11:39 am

  14. jheng says:

    This really breaks my heart. While I experience hunger once in a while because of work/laziness, these kids have to go through with it almost, if not, everyday. It is so sad to realize that for most kids, feeding programs such as yours are their only chance to eat a well-balanced delicious meal.

    It’s also nice to know that some of them wish to share the experience with their siblings. As an underpaid and overworked development worker, ito ung mga times na i get to appreciate life better.


    Oct 10, 2012 | 11:47 am

  15. EatUrGreens says:

    I will be home for a few days in the first week of December. I was born and bred in Taguig. I am a bit of a foodie as well. When your feeding program does its round in Taguig, can I tag along? I would like to help in any way I can even for a day. Please say ‘yes’.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 11:52 am

  16. Lissa says:

    “But better to do something rather than sit around and bitch and do nothing.”

    I completely agree.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 1:08 pm

  17. manny says:

    Would you open the feeding programs to your MM fans? I’d like to do my bit and would certainly volunteer in joining the ‘crew’ and feed the kids. Am sure am not the only one.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 1:27 pm

  18. Khew says:

    Out of the countless, you’ll never know who you really touched and made a deep impact upon. You might just be amazed at some of the “returns on investment” years later. Have faith, keep feeding.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 1:38 pm

  19. dhanggit says:

    I was teary eyed reading this post, Kudos to you, your staff and all the people who’s been religiously supporting you in this quest. Job well done!

    ps, I agree with you on both counts: the separation of the church and state thing….and how efforts like that could just be a small pinch in the entire system :-(

    Oct 10, 2012 | 2:05 pm

  20. ros says:

    As a kid in the 80’s and early 90’s who witnessed the famine in Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. It has been a minor pet peeve of me; people who are picky about their food, especially their vegetables.(not counting people with allergies, health and cultural/religious reasons).

    I may even come across as “patay-gutom” to people who don’t know me personally. For taking the onions/bell peppers from their burger/pizza that they refuse to eat. I mean how hard it is to request an onion-less burger or a pizza with only the toppings that you like? I really just hate wasting food.

    I have a much wider leeway for people who dislike vegetables under the genus Brassica (cabbage family, mustard, kale, Brussels sprouts, etc.). After reading about Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC). Here’s the study:


    It seems like that there is a genetic variation on how does PTC(or plants with similar compounds) taste to you. It’s either tasteless or very bitter. And I should not be blaming somebody if it is their genetic disposition.

    And if I’m not mistaken the vegetable above is a cabbage. So it might taste very bitter to some. Also kids below 12 have a much sharper perception of bitter tastes than adults. It’s evolution, bitter taste in nature usually denotes poison and small bodies of kids are more susceptible to even the smallest dose. So in the early history of our evolution nature has naturally selected kids with a sharper perception of taste to survive. The opposite could also be observed for the sweet taste. Which in nature usually denotes a rare seasonal fruit of high caloric value/nutrition that needs to be taken advantage right away.

    Yes kids evolved to be picky eaters and have a sweet tooth.

    Regarding the prayer thing, YES I totally agree with MM. Being thankful/grateful(which are human nature) is very different from proselytizing. People who grew up in a monotheistic faith, who is unaware of the variety of belief system, may never know the difference.

    For Monotheism is exclusionist by nature. “Either your WITH US or AGAINST US; WE are RIGHT, YOU are WRONG; WE are MORAL, YOU are NOT. You are either branded as an apostate, heretic or shunned if you do not share our “TRUE” faith. And everything that we do to try convert you to our “TRUE” faith is categorically and justifiably RIGHT in every way.”

    Monotheism is antithetical to the Secular Humanist/Liberal value of Plurality.

    I still cringe every time I pass the BSP(Bangko Sentral…) during the holiday season and try to imagined how does a Muslim, Buddhist or a non-Catholic Christian taxpayer feels about the taxpayer’s money being spend on the gigantic nativity scene and other Christmas decorations which adorned the BSP building.

    If you think that there is nothing wrong with that, then you simply do not understand the principle of the Separation of Church and State.

    Again Kudos MM!! Just remember what God said(and by God I mean Morgan Freeman in Evan Almighty[2007])

    God: How do we change the world?
    Evan Baxter: One single act of random kindness at a time.
    God: [spoken while writing A-R-K on ground with a stick] One Act, of, Random, Kindness.


    Oct 10, 2012 | 2:14 pm

  21. ros says:

    Aww, posted the wrong study, I actually posted a counter-study. Anyways for those who are interested here are the related studies:



    Oct 10, 2012 | 2:36 pm

  22. terrey says:

    MM, for years that i have been following your blog you have some fund-raising activities right at this time leading to Christmas – and since i can’t go to Mamou – just wondering if there is any other way i can contribute to this commendable cause of yours.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 2:56 pm

  23. GerryT says:

    MM simply awesome cause….how can we contribute? Ty.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 5:05 pm

  24. cecile says:

    thanks to you sir, some kids have a reason to go to school. yes, i think some kids also are “suya” na sa gulay ‘├žoz they always have gulay at home.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 5:41 pm

  25. shane says:

    I agree with Crabbychef’s comments re nothing else matters when one is hungry. When one is hungry it is difficult to concentrate on anything. (And with these children, some of them walking for miles just to reach school, hunger is probably a normal occurrence.) It would be an exercise in futility to teach anything to the children whose stomachs are empty (no focus, restlessness). With MM’s, et. al’s endeavors, these children have one less thing to worry about.

    Thank you sir for sharing this. It is heartwarming to read selfless acts such as yours. It goes to show that there is still hope in this world after all.

    P.S. for children, fried chicken, spaghetti and rice are the perfect combination.

    Oct 10, 2012 | 5:45 pm

  26. Lava Bien says:

    MM, I agree with you regarding prayers at school and the separation of Church and State.
    People tend to have kids when they have no cable TV (hehehe) or any career or jobs to get themselves busy with. They stare at each other and wink, then it’s on. Blind faith will get you there too, they have kids and G-D will provide (they forgot the they should do the work part)

    Oct 11, 2012 | 1:31 am

  27. netoy says:

    MM – My hat’s off to you, your family and your crew!! Such act of kindness will never go unrewarded.

    Oct 11, 2012 | 2:58 am

  28. hiddendragon says:

    Congratulations MM! A very heartwarming and touching post.

    I have to add, I feel the same way about prayer. Yes, I am Catholic, yes I pray everyday. But I don’t want to be forced to do that in the supermarket, or the malls.

    I don’t buy Pantene in church; I don’t think I should be forced to pray while buying Pantene either.

    Oct 11, 2012 | 7:16 am

  29. Dragon says:

    MM – add minced veggies to ground meat and in that way, you include veggies into the dish/meal…

    Oct 11, 2012 | 7:37 am

  30. PITS, MANILA says:

    from a priest’s sermon in one of the holy masses i attended, regarding “go forth and multiply” … those who have more than enough should help the less fortunate … this does not exactly sit well in my construct system but still, we do what we can to help out. i wish that every child who comes into this world is well-loved, much appreciated, and well-taken cared of. it’s just a wish. there was a time when instead of having parties for the resident kids here, we opted to prepare large batches of food and distributed them among the street-children in our area. food was either spaghetti or pancit-whatever, and bread. we don’t do that now and i miss it. i have given up trying to understand the parents of those street-children. and strange enough, the same kids have their own families now and doing exactly what their parents did. ah well …

    Oct 11, 2012 | 7:50 am

  31. Monty says:

    Would you think it would be better to have the CCT program of the government converted to a feeding program for children to ensure they stay in school? Giving cash outright sometimes results in leakages like gambling (jueteng, etc.), or the purchase of alcohol and cigarettes by the parents, thus blunting its intended effect. If you’re saying that they’re 6in below normal height, there must be some detrimental consequence on mental development as well.

    Oct 11, 2012 | 8:16 am

  32. Maria Isabel Rodrigo says:

    You have a generous heart MM! I can so relate to your “But better to do something rather than sit around and bitch and do nothing” point of view. I live in a community where majority of the people were deprived of their basic needs but opt to have a big number of kids per family and still counting. These same families would NOT appreciate generosities like this and rather smirk when you offer them extra food, extra school supplies for their kids to encourage them to go to school or toiletries even. Some would even scoffed that giving them extra money would be better. True, it is wise to look at it the other way. Maybe we should always teach children how to appreciate things and say “Thank You!” even more in whatever act of kindness they would receive. And for those who are well blessed, better to teach a child early how to share.

    Oct 11, 2012 | 9:12 am

  33. myra_p says:

    Any feeding program pakulo this Christmas season? I still remember the ornaments and planners.

    Oct 11, 2012 | 11:49 am

  34. Marketman says:

    Hi everyone, on the question of donations… unfortunately, it’s a bit trickier than just pooling money together, as I may incur a tax liability. Trust the philippine government to be one of the few that still TAXES charitable gifts, unless the recipient is BIR exempted. As a result, I haven’t collected donations from the public for several years. Large donors, write checks directly to the beneficiaries, but my staff and I keep an eye on the disbursement of funds and delivery of meals for transparency and oversight. So you see, it’s hard for me to post an account that you can send funds to, as essentially, it gets complicated… So a program that could have been much bigger is rather modest in size… Short of setting up a foundation, that is a LOT of work and money, I am hamstrung by these seemingly (though I understand some of the reasons for them) stupid regulations… :(

    Oct 11, 2012 | 12:29 pm

  35. terrey says:

    i echo myra_p…what about us buying something from you? aha, we will just eat at Zubuchon as often as we can! :-)

    Oct 11, 2012 | 2:20 pm

  36. Betchay says:

    Had contributed to this before and would love to do so again but I do understand your predicament….”trust the Philippine Govt to be one of the few that still taxes charitable gifts’ ….sad indeed.But I am really glad that no matter how small this feeding program is,it really does benefit these kids! More blessings will come your way!

    Oct 11, 2012 | 3:47 pm

  37. bree says:

    hi marketman,

    I understand your frustration with setting up a foundation in the Philippines! Not counting the work and the initial funding required by the BIR for the process to make it tax-exempt, you will be subject to BIR audits where they collect this and that “fees”. It’s ridiculous. The fees we paid to the BIR was enough to cover the tuition and misc fees of a full-paying DLSU student a year.

    Oct 12, 2012 | 5:45 pm

  38. Christina says:

    Dear MM,

    What about Myra_P’s suggestion, to sell something and designate all proceeds go to the feeding program as in the past? That way you skip having to set yourself up as a foundation, and if you’re charged any taxes, it can come out of the profits. Maybe even attach it to Zubuchon? My family and I have donated in the past to the feeding program from abroad, I know I’d like to help again … I’d show up to volunteer if I could …

    Oct 12, 2012 | 11:13 pm

  39. shiko-chan says:

    thank you so much for your example MM, and your write-up that is enlightening as always. i myself have no capacity for an activity on such a scale, but i try what i can.

    ros has a totally awesome comment that, for whatever it’s worth, i really appreciate. :)

    mr. Monty may not understand the CCT program accurately or completely. i don’t know all its details but if i’m not mistaken it’s not as if cash is just being thrown at “poor” people randomly.

    Oct 14, 2012 | 3:15 pm

  40. Tracy says:

    I choose to get ticked off. When I see poor kids choosing not to eat their vegetables, I get fumed because it’s disrespectful. Someone is giving you a gift and you discard it–in their presence no less. When I was young, my neighbor invited me to lunch whenever she could. “Auntie” invited me because she wanted her picky eater children to see how I ate my food since I was supposedly human food disposal. Which was mostly true I admit, but I hated munggo guisado so I just took and ate as little as I could get away with. (But then she’d put more on my plate.)

    And yes, children have more sensitive palates especially to the bitter taste but I can’t believe you can still be that persnickety when you’re starving. I mean, I disagree with “beggars can’t be choosers” because there is a minimum standard that people should be treated with regarded of their socioeconomic status, but still. Everything tastes better when you’re (perpetually) hungry, so suck it up. I used to think those tv ads with Anne Curtis, Sarah Geronimo, et al praising vegetables were cheesy and a waste of money, but now that I think of it, I hope to God that I’m wrong.

    Oct 14, 2012 | 4:57 pm

  41. paeng3 says:

    Kudos to you MM.
    Just a thought, maybe you could encourage the children with support from the school administration to start a vegetable garden in which the students, teachers will be the ones to maintain. The produce then will be used for their own consumption as part of the feeding program menu. Maybe with that, the children would appreciate vegetables more and start to eat it.

    Oct 19, 2012 | 11:24 am

  42. Gwenn Galvez says:

    you have a great program here MM. We can donate books ( textbooks, activity books for grade school) for these schools.if you are interested, pls send me a letter.

    Oct 20, 2012 | 10:25 am

  43. gerry says:

    “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Aesop

    Nov 15, 2012 | 5:59 am


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