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Buto't Balat

Published December 31, 2006 6:52pm

Episode on June 6, 2005

In a country that boasts of rich natural


resources, there's a shocking reality that
still needs government and citizens
attention. Kara David finds extreme
cases of malnutrition and reveals its
shocking extent in the country.
The Philippines ranks second to the
African average in terms of malnutrition,
and first in the Asia-Pacific region. United
Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) studies
show 29% of African children are
malnourished, while Filipino kids follow
closely at 27%.

I-Witness finds one of the worst


manifestations of this problem in a town
in the Bicol region.
Mercedes is Bicols seafood capital. Each
day, bountiful catch of fish arrives on its
shores. Ironically, although blessed with
rich marine resources, there are extreme
cases of starvation among some locals.
Angelas family relies on fishing for a
living. If her father gets no catch, they
would not have anything to eat. At 19
years old, Angela was reduced to skin
and bones and was bed-ridden for more
than three months. Soon after this
documentary was made, the girl
succumbed to death because of severe
malnutrition.

According to surveys, with four in 10


children considered malnourished. Bicol
has the worst case of malnutrition
among the countrys regions. Not far
from Angelas house, one may indeed
find some other kids who have suffered
the same fate.
It pains Mang Ciriaco, a market
stevedore, that abundant catch of
expensive fish pass through his hands
but he never gets the chance to actually
serve them to his own children. Forhis
work, he earns an average of 30 pesos a
day money that can hardly afford him
to buy the sub-standard fish sold in the
market at very cheap prices. Mang
Ciriaco carries the heavy burden of
feeding nine children.

The constant lack of decent meals has


greatly manifested on his children. His
six-year old son Joey weighs only that of
a three-month old baby, while his 14year old son Jeremy weighs only that of a
two-year old boy. When examined by the
local health workers, it was found out
that Jeremy's lungs, due to severe
malnutrition, struggles to use his lungs
to breathe.
Kara David also encounters babies
whose stomachs have never known milk,
with their parents resorting to instead
giving them coffee.
Malnutrition also exists among children
in the National Capital Region. Instant
noodles have become todays poor

mans diet. Not only are these affordable


to families, who only get by with 30
pesos a day, but it can also makes them
feel full easily.
The estimate of five million Filipino
children suffering from severe
malnutrition proves to be largely
alarming. Finding a long-term solution to
the problem can never be realized if we
refuse to acknowledge that this issue
exists.
Dr. Cecilia Florencio of the University of
the Philippines sums up what may
become its repercussions: "Malnutrition
can be passed on to generations. Right
now, these kids are the only ones
affected. But if your really think about it,

these kids will be our future generation


and they are malnourished."