Like many cities and towns across the Philippines, Dumaguete has it’s fair share of poor and homeless adults and – more breathtakingly – children. You’ll see the true level of poverty and helplessness pretty much as soon as you land in the country, with Manila possessing some truly massive squatter areas that survive off of the monstrous city landfills. For even a Westerner visiting for the first time, it can be a truly heartbreaking experience, and it’s usually about this time that our world-view starts to shift a bit in perspective and we begin to appreciate and be grateful for a lot of things we have previously taken for granted.
This past Saturday night, Michell, Dina, Cory and I were out having dinner at Kamalig Restaurant. About halfway into to my sizzling squid and second (or third) Pilsen, Michell and Dina announced that they were planning on cooking up a spaghetti dinner and feeding some homeless kids. It came as a surprise to me, as it was the first I had heard of it. Michell and Dina then went on to say that they would do all the work buying everything that was needed and do all the work cooking it up – they just wanted to use my rarely-used Mitsubishi Pajero to distribute it.
Cool, I thought – these are some righteous women.
So, a few days later, Dina and Michell met up in town and with their own money purchased 3 kilograms of spaghetti, 5 kilograms of sauce, 1 kilogram of ground pork, 60 Styrofoam trays, 12 loaves of bread, one big block of Eden cheese, a few bundles of platic forks and 60 containers of fruit punch “bags o’ juice.”. They brought it all back to the house, fired up the stove and started cooking up bubbling cauldrons of spaghetti goodness while Cory and I pretty much lazed about the house. (I actually went to the gym…)
Once the cooking was done, Michell and Dina waited for it to cool and ladled the spaghetti into the trays, covering it with sauce, cooked pork, and a nice yummy layer of Eden cheese. The trays were then boxed up and placed in the Pajero. Once fully loaded with tasty comestibles, we fired up the truck and headed out.
Once in town, we stopped the truck and Dina and Michell passed out the trays to those in need by the central park, the old church on Perdices street, a side road by Lee Plaza, along the boulevard and finally, down by the port, where a number of street kids are known to hang out.
To tell you the truth, Cory and I were exhausted after a few hours of trying to keep up with the two of them as they carted boxes of trays all over the city and passed them out. We were all feeling pretty good about what we were doing until we got to the port to pass out the last of the trays. There, Michell and Dina were talking in rapid fire Bisaya with a young girl with blondish hair and a blue and white shirt. From their expressions, I knew it wasn’t good. And it was only a bit later as we were driving home that I heard the rest of that story – the girl’s mom was a prostitute and she had pretty much given away or abandoned all the girl’s other brothers and sisters. The little girl pretty much lived down by the port along with some other homeless street kids, and they just tried to get by any way the could.
Shit like that hits me right in the chest. Sure, giving food to the hungry is a good thing, but couldn’t we be doing more to give just one of these kids a better life? Options and possibilities rapidly churn through one’s mind when thinking of such things….
Anyways, that’s just me.
A special thanks to Dina and Michell for coming up with this idea and doing all the work to realize it’s happy conclusion. You both rawk!!
NOTE: I also took a lot of video of them cooking up the fest and passing it out. I will probably be putting that footage up over the weekend.
Take care ya’all!!