A Filipino Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated in the United States as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and the preceding year. It is celebrated today, the fourth Thursday of November. Several other places around the world observe similar celebrations. Thanksgiving has its historical roots in religious and cultural traditions.

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This year I am celebrating my first Filipino Thanksgiving. It won’t be spent gathered around a table with my family and friends. No turkey or cranberry sauce will be eaten. In fact, I am working on a rural Philippine Island today. This is precisely how I should spend it in the Philippines. There still is so much work to be done on fighting hunger and malnutrition.

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Last night, I had the honor to participate in our Save The Children Media Awards.

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This extraordinary evening showcased pictures, stories and blogs that best told the story of the poor here.

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It continues to be a struggle for so many children to get a meal each day.

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Our country director, Ned Olney, summed it up best, ‘We believe all children have the right to fair and equal access to nutritious food.’ That is precisely what our Lahat Dapat campaign entails. What is taken for granted in America, is a privilege here as well as most third world countries.

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The award winning video clip told of a heart quenching experience in one poor Filipino Baragay visited over a ten year period. Here, the journalist observed children too weak to get out of bed from starvation. These beautiful faces had never even tasted milk. After her documentary was featured at the Singapore media event, she returned to the poor Filipino village to share the good news. Sadly she found all three children she interviewed had died.

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Another category was the pictorial category. The pictures told the powerful story of what starvation is. The faces of those suffering really brought these stories to light. Far more work needs to be done to wipe out hunger.

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The public perception is that Filipinos are genetically smaller. This simply isn’t true. Stunted growth is to blame. The Philippines is the ninth worst country in the world for hunger and malnutrition.

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Each night, 1.5 million Filipino children go to bed hungry after going through the whole day without eating. Yes that’s right. Isn’t that a terrible statistic in the 20th century?

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Throughout the evening, the beautiful Mandaluyong children’s choir performed. Their precious voices sang powerful lyrics that included wishes for tomorrow.

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Back home, most are caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing the Thanksgiving feast as I type this blog. The turkey is being thawed and the pumpkin pies chilled. Tomorrow, many Americans will get up early and rush off to the malls to shop on Black Friday. Oblivious to the global hunger crisis, bags and bags of gifts will be bought.

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We are incredibly blessed in America and most of us gave never seen, let alone experienced third world poverty. I hope each of you can not only give thanks for all your blessings on this special day, but take a moment to think of or pray for the poor Filipino children. So many went to bed hungry tonight after eating nothing the entire day. I leave you with the beautiful Mandaluyong choir voices as they closed out the evening. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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11 comments

  1. Maryanne. You are boldly speaking the true plight of our poor in this world. I am proud of you and I thank God for your courage. I hope each reader will forward the story to several friends and family to encourage sharing our incredible abundance with the poor.

  2. Maryanne. Your reporting of the situation for the children there is so enlightening. Although you are not home with your family for Thanksgiving, you must feel so blessed to be making such a difference for so many innocent children who deserve a chance in life. They are lucky to have you. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. Thank you so much Maryanne for this latest blog – the reality of our world, and the inequalities such as those you describe here (and which we all contribute to and are a part of sustaining) need to be understood more widely for things to change. We must remember that the small changes we each can make help contribute to larger scale change.

  4. Thanks for voicing the meaningful message of Thanksgiving from your perspective. It certainly sounds like this is one Thanksgiving that you’ll remember for a long time to come. Sending good vibes your way…

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