Tonight, thank God it’s them instead of you

In Photo: Agimat’s Bon Labora

column-Rodel Alzona-a differen viewI still remember back in 1984, during a school recess, when a classmate and I were playing hangman with bands being the subject.

I vehemently protested when one of the bands he made me guess was named Band Aid.  I told my classmate that there was no such band out there.  I thought back then that there was no person in their right mind who would name their band like that.

Then I dared my classmate to name me the members of Band Aid.  This classmate of mine then rattled me the names of Sting, Tony Hadley, Simon Le Bon, Boy George and the recently deceased George Michael.

That made me really mad.  I told my classmate that all the names he mentioned have their own bands and for all I know have not disbanded yet.  My classmate replied that I should read the news because it was in the newspapers already.

A band plays during Tinapayan Piyesta
A band plays during Tinapayan Piyesta

Boys and girls, remember this was 1984—a time when the Internet, mobile phone and social media were still years away.  There was no way I could Google then if my classmate was telling the truth.

Well, as it turned out, my classmate was partially correct.  Band Aid does exist, but it was not a band.  It was a grouping of musicians gathered together by Bob Geldof to record a song that was aimed to raise funds for famine-affected areas in Africa.

MTV, which back then still had a lot of music, carried the video and the making of the song “Do They Know Its Christmas” on heavy rotation.

I was in awe of all the superstars who participated in the making of the song.  I was trying to name everyone in the music video and I think got it all after watching for the third time.  But I think I watched that music video countless times and it still gives me chills when I watch it these days.

Some of the healthy bread creations
Some of the healthy bread creations

The Christmas song became the biggest-selling single in the United Kingdom and topped the charts worldwide.  It was imitated in the United States with USA for Africa singing “We Are The World”.

But what was important back then was the fact that the song, together with Live Aid, was able to raise $150 million for famine relief.

Over the years, what Band Aid and Live Aid did was imitated worldwide, including here in the Philippines, for worthwhile causes with varying success.

Before 2016 closed, I was able to see how a small group of individuals were working to somehow make a dent at the large number of malnourished children in the country.

Last month Agimat’s Bon Labora, together with Luzon Watch and QC Transformers Consumers Cooperative, held the Tinapayan Piyesta on Maginhawa Street inside UP Village in Quezon City.

Quite ironic that a new fight against malnutrition in the country was started in a street named Maginhawa and with the entirety of the street lined up with restaurants that offer some of the best food in Metro Manila.

Moreover, even with Tinapayan Piyesta’s seriousness in assisting malnourished children, the event still had a festive atmosphere with tons of bands playing and lending their services for free—bazaar, float parade, drum and lyre exhibition, and breadmaking contest.

As Bon told me, the event was all about food, music and culture.  He then said that if the government now has a war versus drugs, they now have a war to save lives.

Bon added that during the three-day run of the event, they were able to provide healthy food to over 1,000 children.  But that is not the end of it for them.  He said they want to go nationwide, one city at a time.

They are doing it by introducing a new line of breads that has vegetables and fruits in them. Bon said they have named the bread Pandigong, in honor of President Duterte.  He added that what they are doing was inspired by the Nutriban program during the time of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

According to Bon, together with the Gawad Pinoy Consumers Welfare Advocacy Council and the JCI Quezon City Capitol, they will be going to several schools in Quezon City, as a start, and provide free Pandigong bread for a month to grade-school students.

They call the activity as Panaderia Eskwela, where the breads will be baked inside the schools themselves.

He said they have already received the support of the Department of Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for the project.

Other government agencies that have expressed their support for the project are the Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

Still, Bon said it will go a long way if there will be more private-sector support to the project they are undertaking.

The Philippines has one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia and it cannot be denied that our country has a growing middle class.  But the gap between the haves and the have-nots remain wide.  In it, the biggest casualties remain the children and their health.

What Bon and his group are doing is not as big as what Geldof did with Band Aid and Live Aid, but if they succeed, they are helping ensure the future of our country.

Oh, and when I mention Bon, I cannot help but smile as my classmate then failed to mention Bono as being part of Band Aid.

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