KC visits UN-WFP headquarters in Rome

By JOCELYN RUIZ, ABS-CBN News, Italy

Posted at Mar 30 2009 11:45 AM | Updated as of Mar 31 2009 04:36 AM

Josette Sheeran, UN-WFP executive director, and KC Concepcion, hold a red cup,  symbol of “Fill the Cup” campaign. (Photo provided by UN-WFP)

KC Concepcion, national ambassador against hunger for United Nations-World Food Programme (UN-WFP), visited the agency’s main headquarters in Rome, Italy over the weekend to discuss the situation in the Philippines, specifically in Mindanao.

During the meeting on March 27, Concepcion has pleaded for more funds to help end hunger stalking thousands of families in troubled Mindanao. She also stressed the need to sustain the feeding program in the provinces of North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

There are almost 70,000 students and families who need help in Mindanao, Concepcion noted.

Concepcion further drew a picture of the grim situation on the island: 75 percent of the population earns only P0.60 a day; 40 percent of the children, aged five years and below, are malnourished; and only a small 33 percent are fortunate enough to go to school.

This is aside from the volatile peace and order situation in the southern Philippines.

Concepcion specifically wants to raise  public awareness for school feeding needs in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

“For me, coming to the headquarters was really something. It inspired me a lot,” she said.

As part of its mission, WFP has launched "Fill the Cup" program, an international campaign to raise funds for the estimated 59 million children in the developing world who go to school on an empty stomach.  From Africa and Asia to Latin America, WFP's free school meals are served in 70 developing countries, encouraging poor families to send their children to class.

The agency estimates that providing free meals to all the world's hungry school children will cost about $3 billion per year.

Youth role

The 24-year-old daughter of Megastar Sharon Cuneta and actor Gabby Concepcion, meanwhile, stressed the importance of the youth in advocating change in their community and helping those who are in need.

“Youth can advocate for change, for our environment, and provide a voice for struggling children and families. And [they can also provide] comfort to those who are affected [by violence],” she said. 

For her part, she admitted that her status as a celebrity helps her in fulfilling her mission to stop hunger in the Philippines. She also stressed that she is taking her job as UN-WFP ambassador seriously.

“Kapag ipinapadala nila sa akin ang mga documents, libro, sinusuri ko talaga at binabasa ko talaga iyon because ayokong mapahiya ako at ang bansa ko,” she said. 

Concepcion’s visit to Italy has coincided with her trip to Paris, France where she stayed for three weeks to shoot some scenes for her first television series “Lovers in Paris.”

During her Italy meeting, Concepcion disclosed that her leading man in the upcoming TV series, Piolo Pascual, had accompanied her in Rome.

“Although hindi na siya sumama sa [UN-WFP] headquarters kasi official visit [‘yon]. Nahihiya siya and he is praying for me,” she said.

The cast and crew of “Lovers in Paris” are now back in the Philippines.