A Bowl of Arroz Caldo Every January
Isang Bata Isang Tasa started as a way of giving thanks to our closest neighbors. It is our way of giving back to the community that adopted us every summer when I was growing up in San Pedro City in the province of Laguna, until my parents retired here permanently in 2003.
They (my parents) started sharing our house and celebration with friends they have around. My mom being active in church activities, grew her network and soon we have lots of “dual citizens” coming over to the house for some afternoon siesta and ballroom dancing. But other old people were left behind, living around our neighborhood with no families looking after them; they invited them too.
Soon my parents started giving out food boxes during December and asked those that can come, to join us during Christmas lunch. That experience birthed the idea of doing something during my birthday month, which is January, but for the children instead, particularly those under the age of 5.
With my work experience, I felt it was the right thing to do. I rallied my family and friends, and in 2008 the feeding activity and gift giving started.
January in the Philippines celebrates the feast of the Santo Nino. The image of the baby Jesus is dressed in costumes to look like ordinary kids and is danced around in a procession every 3rd Sunday of the month, the same week I celebrate my birthday. So instead of celebrating with festive food and invite few friends and family, we decided to use the money to buy simple gift items and cook our favorite “Arroz Caldo” and feed at least 100 kids in my neighborhood. I am not the only one spending birthday in January in my family, my niece, grandfather, cousins, aunt, and brother celebrate their birthdays too, so the celebration with the kids makes more sense because it’s more festive.
Eventually, more friends started sharing cash and in-kind – volunteering their time and services, donating vitamins, food items, and toys used clothes and books. We decided that together with the feeding activities, we also distribute gifts. Too bad that I can only afford to do this once a year and its hard to keep asking friends for money or help because they too need money and are also busy.
That is why I am formalizing this endeavor, professionalizing it to reach more people that can give support. The organization will promote the health and wellness of preschoolers to get them ready when they enter kindergarten and beyond.
At the same time focus our efforts in collaborating with the smallest administrative unit in the Philippines – the Barangay in supporting children who are suffering from acute malnutrition and their families to help them improve their health and be able to enjoy physical, social and mental activities with their siblings, and other kids.
Join me to fulfill this dream – of helping more kids get the chance to grow up healthy and intelligent regardless of where they are from, their social status, their religion, and affiliations.
I cannot do this alone; I will need your support to achieve our objective, to make this work, to reach more children and eventually a better society. It’s about time that we close the first chapter and celebrate the next coming years with you on board.