The return of the nutribun?

VERBAL VARIETY - Annie Fe Perez - The Freeman

Among other events that took place during the previous Marcos administration, my father only seemed to remember the good parts. The one where his toddler self could vividly remember. In a casual, awkward dinner conversation, he was so eager to await the return of the nutribun.

It is a combination of two words, nutri which means to feed in Latin; and bun which is a bread roll that comes in various shapes and flavors. While it is true that this was distributed among public school children in the ‘70s, it was actually a project initiated by the United States Agency for International Development or USAID. The agency’s mission was to end malnutrition in developing countries, the Philippines included.

Contrary to public belief, it was not a brainchild of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. However we want to analyze it, it will never be to his credit for bringing it into the country. Yet we can attribute this need to address nutrition problems to the many programs the National Nutrition Council has implemented even to the undernourished. On top of feeding programs were the distribution of milk products, vitamins, and information on proper nutrition.

The underlying cause of poor nutrition is the reality that it is a luxury. Many Filipino families struggle to put food on their table, let alone a meal that is healthy. A meager salary can only feed so many mouths in a month. Thank God for the additional ?31. I bet it is a big help. There is also the issue of access to nourishing food as the market continues to saturate. The underprivileged continue to grapple with the rich who are also sourcing food that are beneficial for them.

The Department of Science and Technology may have hinted to bring back the nutribun with a more improved formulation. Let it be known that it is their initiative and not an idea of a regime. If it may suffice to address the hunger problem especially in depressed areas, then it is welcome. Yet if it only exists to bring problems to the department such as supplier issues, also more known as corruption, then it is not wise to support it.

On another level, the word nutribun is now being used by those who are vocal against the incoming administration. They are quick to joke about how they might be possibly turned into bread. It's a pun intended, mixed with fear and anxiety.

As for me, I do not await the nutribun since it is also not intended for me. I instead resort to the classic meat roll for a snack. In Liloan town, north Cebu, I found my secret gem of this tasty treat in a known bakery. It is owned by the Frascos, whose pride and joy now is its in-law. The current mayor will soon sit as the new tourism secretary. That should be exciting for us Cebuanos, even something to take pride in.


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