Of Oppa Gangnam Style and Tonsils

We are always reminded that for you to be happy, extend your hand to someone who is in need. There is nothing more fulfilling and rewarding than putting a smile on the face of hundreds of kids.

Our company has been doing the feeding program for the past four years, usually, during the first weekend of December. We are grouped according to birth months this year, which is exciting, because astrology-wise we tend to have the same characteristics.

There were series of meeting and preparation prior to the actual feeding date. One crucial decision that we have to agree upon is the venue for the actual feeding. The instruction is clear—it has to be a community where the poorest of the poor resides.

 We prepared monggo, boiled egg, banana, and rice. But the group decided to include lumpiang togue.  Our food preparation started the day before the actual feeding. It was a regular holiday (Bonifacio Day) so that gives us enough time to prepare the lumpia in advance. We meet in our team leader’s place from 3.30pm to wrap the lumpia.  

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We choose Barangay Old Zaniga in Mandaluyong City as our venue. It has a covered court which makes it easy on our part to execute and do the feeding. The Barangay has its own kitchen, which we are also thankful that they let us use, which makes our activity worthwhile and efficient. The kitchen, though, is located in the third floor. Great, that’s enough cardio for all the members who lift our cooking pots, several kilos of monggo, and gas burners for the cooking.

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The activity is supposed to start at 2pm, with fun games for the kids. But by 1.00pm, when we arrived there, the hall is already reverberating from shrieking kids playing and waiting for us! You have to envy the tonsils of these kids, it can last hours.

This makes the members assigned to cook, pressured. They have to ready the food in time so that the kids can eat on time. Our target then is 4.00pm. But around 2pm, our monggo is not yet ready. No, the water is not even boiling yet! Panic ensues.

Meanwhile, members assigned in registration have started distributing food stub with controlled numbers to early kids. The Barangay has provided a sound system for us, and assigned five Barangay tanods to oversee order and security.

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Within thirty minutes, the children have already reached 350. The program proper started 2.00pm with fun games. Trust us, we have no experience in crowd control. How do you tell more than 400 kids to keep quiet because we will start with the program? Seriously, how can our tonsils compete with theirs? Hahaha.

This is like akin to putting a crying baby to sleep. So how? This is where PSY comes in. You heard us, their “lullaby” is Gangnam Style! That ubiquitous, catchy K-Pop song that has become the most-viewed video on YouTube. Trust me, PSY is the next big import from South Korea after Samsung. And thank you for helping us in calming the kids.

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So when Gangnam Style is played, the kids suddenly shift their attention from what they are doing individually, to the emcee at the stage. And when the emcee started saying the first line…”Hello!!,” the kids retorted “Hiiii!.” Attention grabbed.

The kids know the steps to the viral song by heart. So we ended up with games related to dancing the song—from best dancer of Gangnam Style, stop dance to the tune of Gangnam Style, bring me something to the tune of Gangnam Style. Trust us, we thought our eardrums will spill blood. Gangnam overload.

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We tired the kids with dancing Gangnam Style from 2pm to 4pm. Our apologies. Do not report us to Bantay Bata, please. We only heed their request because every time we change the music, we got killing stares that bleeds the heart. We have to compromise. Besides, they don’t feel tired after two hours of dancing. Talking about being 100%.

Let’s go back to the kitchen again. Ahh, finally, the monggo is done! Alas, it is only the first batch. The second batch of monggos are not yet ready for serving! Focus, members, focus. We can cook the whole monggos in time for the feeding.

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Knowing this, we started with BWS (Breath, Water, Sound) by 4pm. This is a special activity that we teach the kids. It is a combination of breathing and sound relaxation. After two hours of Gangnam, the kids are okay to do BWS to relax their active minds. It will also relax their physical body from the cowboy dance steps of PSY. By this time, the rowdy kids two hours ago, became the well-behaved hungry kids.

Their bhastrika is snappy. With feelings while closing their eyes. Their La-La meditation is equally picture-perfect.

Finally, the food is ready. Eating time!  Monggos, lumpia, banana, boiled eggs were already setup and prepared in front of the stage, while the kids are in their last bits of meditation. We can imagine some of them salivating to the smell of hot monggo with malunggay and squash. And the crispy lumpia. Yum.

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All members have to be mechanical in distributing the food. There are 459 hungry kids in front of us, and we don’t want to be swarmed with chaos and disorder. Not to mention the parents lurking in the periphery, waiting for the last kid to be given food and they will attack. Like Tora-Tora did in Pearl Harbor.

We just told the kids to stay in their place, sitting down. We will serve it to them—no service charge. All for love and seva!

After the kids are done eating, we provide them with free dessert. What better dessert to give them than dirty ice cream?! Yeah, we have to preserve their tonsils from shouting for hours. We don’t want for these kids to come home and became mute all of a sudden. Worse, we don’t want to read the tabloid headline the following day: “459 NA BATA, SUMABOG ANG MGA TONSILS!” We don’t even want to imagine that, too.

The feeding program is always fun because it feeds the soul. It evokes an involuntary feeling of extreme happiness. That unexplainable burst of joy inside you is an affirmation that your spirit is happy.

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