FILIPINOS are rice eaters. Many say they are not fully satisfied with a meal when it doesn't have rice.

The dismay and howl raised by many poor families then is understandable when President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III mentioned about the rotting rice supplies in his State of the Nation Address.

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This news made me realize the importance of rice - the staple food of the Philippines. As one Chinese proverb, states, "Without rice, even the cleverest housewife can't cook."

This proverb is true for Filipinos. A sinigang can never be complete without rice. We can't enjoy the richness of sour soup without the complement of rice. We even sometimes mix rice with coffee for breakfast. Eating "bulad" or dried fish is best for as long as there is rice.

Virgil said that the greatest wealth is health. We can't be productive if we are sickly so we should take care of our health by eating right.

Rice contains carbohydrates, which provide our body with energy; proteins needed for the muscle function of the body; vitamin E that helps in rejuvenating skin; and Vitamin B which promotes a healthy nervous system. It is also low in fat containing no cholesterol.

Rice is also important economically. Some farmers survive on selling rice alone that's why every farmer treasures his rice fields.

Countries that export rice like Indonesia and China have the chance to grow economically too.

Twenty five to 27 million tons of rice is being traded internationally every year. Even though it's smaller than the trade of wheat and corn, it still poses as a potential market value.

Half of the world relies on rice as food. It is only right to know its importance and save every single granule of it. After all, we are facing a food shortage and we will never know when it will end.

We should take responsibility because we are the ones eating it.

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Sunday Essays are compositions by third year Masscom students of Ateneo de Davao University for their journalism class. (Kiara Mikael F. Sto. Tomas)