Saturday, October 11, 2008

Manila High School (Intramuros) Hungers Burns The Heart

29th August 2008, Alzona Hall, MHS

(Contact Info of the Principal Manila High School:
Dr. Arnulfo Empleo 09178589383 or email him

(The first batch of 50 MHS students afflicted by First to Second Degree Malnutrition (based on height versus weight, adjusted to age) were given supplementary feeding last Friday, 29 August. Many of them were first year pupils, one was so deathly pale that she got the attention of the guests nearby.

One 20 year old student was identified to have borderline Third Degree Malnutrition, but didn’t come that day because she had no transport money. Sir Arnold remarked that had he known this datum, transport money should not have been a problem. Some twenty guests were around to assist the feeding and to witness the simple launch of this initiative conceptualized by Sir Arnul our principal.

Hungry MHS Students Recently Discovered

Since around two years ago, a couple of Student Congresses conducted in MHS discovered the two top reasons (hunger and lack of transport fare money, in a hierachy of several reasons) why students engage in absenteeism. We have now a population of pupils in MHS who come from destitute families who cannot even provide them a decent breakfast before setting off for school. The aim of Sir Arnul is to offer these students meaningful, tasty, nutritious meals everyday Monday to Friday. However, he needed to confront first the formidable problem of funding and sustainability.

This problem of hunger drove Sir Arnul to tap into his network of contacts, persons who are willing to help this out thru the cooperative-collaborative approach. Among the crowd last 29 Aug were a businesswoman-farmer specializing in organic agriculture, persons who are involved cooperatives, a few alumni, etc, and a husband-wife team of food technologists who synthesized the affordable food and drink especially formulated for the nutritional situation of the students, but which could also be sold as food-drink supplement in the commercial market. The different formulations sound terrific, involving almost all that is commonly known about proteins, carbohydrates, fats as well as vitamins and minerals from plants and greens, like Moringga or malunggay, kamote tops, etc. This in-house formulation of the food assures that the target students really get a meal certified for nutrition, but at such affordable cost. The formulations are still work in progress, but the major hurdles have been overcomed.

While waiting for the Guests, Sir Arnul discusses points of the
feeding program.

Sustaining The Feeding Thru Thick and Thin

One proposal they are thinking about , is to market some of these food products thru the Cooperatives and the proceeds will support the Feeding Program (one purchase will assure one meal for a student), generate a fund for transport fares, as well as the Cooperative For Teachers. Another is to make an outright donation that will support the meal of one student for several days. He remarked that a thousand peso donation can feed a student twenty days.

The lady in green is what Sir Arnul called the Teacher In Charge of
Feeding (Ms. Cora Garcia). The students were given the special
formulation of soup, biscuits, soya milk, chocolate drink.

2008 A Year of Distress For Our Alma Mater: Hunger and Building Demolition

As we all can easily guess, this feeding program has been launched amidst a time of exceptional distress for MHS our beloved Alma Mater. The present building faces demolition anytime this Sept 2008. The funding and different bureaucratic approvals are not yet complete, approval of transfer to the temporary building is still pending, approval for temporary suspension of classes, etc, while there has been an increase of enrollment for this school year. Very few among us ordinary alumni are aware of the demanding struggles of Sir Arnul and the entire Teaching & Administrative Staff of Manila High School to keep the school delivering its expected services to the students, no matter what adversity.

But it’s the problem of hunger that Sir Arnul has to contend with everyday. He aims that the feeding program should survive this period of grave transition for our Alma Mater. Though he appreciates the efforts of all alumni to help MHS in so many other ways, he thinks that hunger is the raging fire - the conflagration that he needs to extinguish soon, for it directly affects the learning ability of the students here and now. For him therefore, hunger is the clear and present danger. However, at the moment, he is more alone in this newly engendered endeavor, he is calling on all alumni to help.

Chow time for the kids, these first year angels cheerful but
positively cachectic for me.

Our Alma Mater could be in dire straits now, but fortunately she is not yet hopeless, thanks to the able leadership of Sir Arnul and the teachers, making do with the little resources they have. They will need our help, my dear Fellow Alumni! As of Sept 25, classes have been suspended while transfer to the PNB Building in Escolta is underway.

Sir Arnul in his office , the guy to his right is the food technologist

Skip Your Meal, Feel A Little Hunger

This event last Aug 29 was simple but moving. I had to skip my breakfast so that I could travel before traffic accumulates, so you can imagine I was somewhat hungry that morning. However, after I learned that these students do not have breakfast to eat on many mornings, my own gastric discomfort soon faded to insignificance.

Sorry for the blurred picture, that's Sir Arnul and in the background
are the 50 cases of malnutrition.

I heard Sir Arnul mention that many poor students come from the BASECO compound across the Pasig River (via Del Pan Bridge, then Divisoria). That morning, I observed jeepneys plying the Divisoria - Pier route take a detour to Victoria Street and hurriedly disgorge their load of MHS students before the 7am flag ceremony - I remembered that remark of Sir Arnul. Even if many of these youngsters bear the visible effects of malnutrition, short stature, thin frame, parched-looking skin, etc, I saw that they still wore clean uniforms smartly, they still had that ready smile and bubbliness one usually finds in children. In other words, they find their hungry and deprived world the most normal and happy world there is. They are happy with so much less in life! That for me is awesome, material deprivation of this sort has not yet broken the spirit of these youngsters!

That's the Brgy Chairperson, Mrs. Gladys de Jesus (alumna Gladys Castunciano)

Hunger Among Filipinos, In A Land of Plenty
(We Can Help Whatever Little, Dear Fellow Alumni!)

But let me also put this event in MHS in a broader perspective. Just last week (the week prior to Aug 29, 2008), the Philippine Daily Inquirer published the most recent survey finding of the Asian Development Bank. ADB says that 23 million Filipinos (out of 88 million, roughly some 26% of the total population) are now living below the poverty line, computed by ADB as $ 1.35 per day per person. You will agree that this would mean even less food for a certain sector of our countrymen. Perhaps we are seeing some evidence of that destitution among our younger schoolmates in MHS.

Mrs. Alice Jane Jarabe, from Light and Sound Museum, by avocation a
lady-farmer-believer of organic agriculture, she was effusively
praising the specially formulated products given to the students.

This ADB study says that depending on a sliding scale of a dollar denominated spending ceiling, the number of poor Filipinos would range from 23 to 26 million. The study proceeds to tabulate the spending pattern on food amount or quality by those who are defined as " poor ". But this study of course doesn't show that destitution and lack of food or poor quality of food will strike that segment of the people most vulnerable - the growing children and infants. Yes, this is what the students in MHS are feeling now. Hunger may gnaw against their bellies, but for us who can help, the HUNGER BURNS OUR HEARTS !

We know that we can do something for our Extended Family of Manila High School! Get in touch now and be counted !

You may contact Mr Arnul Empleo 09178589383 or email him

The Photos were posted in the webpage's of Manila High School Graduates International.


Other photos of the activities of MHSGIA a Manila High School alumni association.

Last year 2007 the Manila-based officers of MHSGIA handed to the Principal Dr. Arnulfo Empleo the MHSGIA's donation of PC Printer.

Below were the photos during last year June 2007 celebration of MHS 101st Foundation
celebration. After the ceremony the Manila-based officers of MHSGIA briefed the MHS Students who were given scholarship by MHSGIA alumni association.

Other Photos of Manila High School on the Year 2007 :

Other related stories about Manila High School on the below web link :

Thursday, January 15, 2009
The Dutch Choir "Afrika-Engakoor" and the Manila

Sunday, August 5, 2007
Manila High School and the US Navy

Saturday, May 19, 2007
Manila High School's History

Saturday, May 19, 2007
Manila High School - Centennial Anniversary and Alumni Homecoming

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