Sira-sira store: Led by the tummy-A A +A
By Ober Khok
Friday, October 25, 2013
INCREDIBLE what some people would do for a freebee (also freebie) meal. Desperation erases all sense of shame when a person has only two choices in life: to go hungry or to fork over a free meal into his waiting gullet.
This early we have to say that this is not judging people who follow their stomach to where it leads them, usually to feeding centers and churches that offer hot meals for the lost and the destitute.
Placed in their shoes, I think I would also fall in line to have my free food for the day. But then the prayer has always been, “Lord, feed me from the sweat of my brow and the labor of my heart. Let not my house go hungry and beg for crumbs from neighbors.”
It was then a mixture of wonder and amusement for me when GMA7 presented Biyaheng Sikmura some time ago. Kara David met a smoocher, a man who called himself Tagpi because, as he put it colorfully, he was like a patchwork of flesh and bones. His face was disfigured and his body crooked.
Kara counted five places that doled out food to the needy for that Sunday alone. One interviewee, a woman whose named I can’t recall, showed the award-winning journalist an itinerary that covered the whole week. There were about 22 feeding sessions that assured the woman she would not go hungry, as long as she would follow her stomach to where it leads her.
Kara’s biyahe or trip with Tagpi led them to a place Kara identified as St. Paul. It was here that Tagpi had his first meal: rice topped with adobo and misua for soup.
The traveling diners, as I prefer to call them, said they liked the St. Paul place among all the “restaurants” they regularly visit for a free meal. It is only this feeding center that has diners sit down to a meal, making them feel dignified. They use plates, forks and spoons, unlike the other areas which hands out food in Styrofoam containers or plastic bags.
Next stop was at a volunteer church, a Christian fellowship, that held two hours of worship service followed by the distribution of food in styro packs. Nobody seemed to mind that some of the traveling diners had fallen asleep during the service.
For the third feast, Kara and Tagpi took a bus ride to Bonifacion where a Korean church group regularly held a fellowship service, four hours long. Most of the traveling diners seemed to just go through the motions of worship. That Sunday 200 people came to feed their bodies, and even Kara fell in line experience what it is like to be at the receiving end of mercy.
Kara noted that the Korean church threw in free haircut, pedicure or manicure, medical treatment of minor wounds and even acupuncture sessions.
In addition, people celebrating their birthday that day, as Kara was, received a bag filled with a pouch of detergent powder (Tide), among other useful gifts.
Evening had arrived when Kara and Tagpi moved from City Hall to Quiapo, and walked to Espania Punerarya, an odd place to hook a free meal consisting of a full bowl of shellfish soup and rice.
For the 10 p.m. nightcap, Tagpi showd Kara where he and his fellow traveling diners have their last food for the day: at the Sikh Temple. For generations, this temple has been giving out free chapatti and hot coffee with milk to homeless people.
This is a story that makes people stop and reflect on what is essential in life: family, air, water, food, dwelling place—and oh, a Facebook account.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 26, 2013.