Kanin is life: 'Half-Rice Bill' proposal draws mixed reactions from Filipinos
MANILA — Filipinos have different opinions towards the recent proposal of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) for the national government to revive the "Half-Rice Bill" as part of efforts to discourage consumers from wasting rice.
The proposal comes as the rice self-sufficiency rate — the ability to meet domestic demand with domestic supply — in the country fell to 77 percent in 2022 from 82 percent the previous year.
While some understand the need to reduce rice waste to temper tight supply in the country, others insist that they cannot compromise their rice consumption or look for alternatives.
For them, rice is the primary source of their energy to perform their daily tasks.
"Hindi talaga kaya ang half rice," 31-year-old delivery rider Archie Lacson says he says as he puts down his spoon.
"Sa field namin na kalaban naming ang tirik na araw, maulan at may dala ka pang package, hindi talaga kaya," he adds.
"Kailangan ng kanin para makakuha ng energy. Sanay na tayo sa rice, mahirap na i-asa pa sa iba. Mahirap maghanap ng alternative sa kanin."
Lorelee Iral, a 41-year-old massage therapist, echoes the sentiment: "Hindi po ako sanay kumain ng half rice. Mas malakas ako sa kanin kesa sa ulam."
She expounds: "Iba pa rin talaga ang bigat ng kanin kesa tinapay. Hindi ako mabubusog sa half rice at tinapay lang."
She says the workload is also a factor. "Depende yan sa bigat ng trabaho. Kami kasi kakain tapos balik sa trabaho, maya-maya magugutom kami uli."
BUSINESS POINT OF VIEW
Carinderia owner Janlee Almoete sees the need to support such measures. The 46-year-old says he is willing to serve half-cups of rice to patrons of his Quezon City eatery if it can improve the country’s rice supply woes.
“Willing na willing ako mag-serve ng half rice for the sake of sa sitwasyon ng mga customers ko na mostly as Class C. Lalo alam naman natin ang capacity nila, especially mga construction workers.”
He adds that he never takes the quality of his rice for granted for his 10-year business. “From the start, hindi ako kumukuha ng [National Food Authority] kahit mataas ang bili sa per kilo ng bigas,” he says.
“Sabi nga nila, di baleng di masarap ang ulam basta masarap ang kanin.”
He expounds: “Hindi baleng hindi maalsa basta maputi, masarap at mabango para maganahan sila kumain at wala ang sama ng loob ng mga customers ko sa mundo."
He says he doesn't mind making less profit as long as his customers are happy with their meals.
Fellow business owner Rochelle Apo has a way for ensuring that patrons only get what they can eat. The 33-year-old says that while she offers unlimited rice, customers are charged extra if they do not finish what’s on their plate.
“Kung anong kaya lang kainin ng customer yun lang ang binibigay namin dahil nga mataas ang presyo ng bigas."
She adds “Hindi takaw tingin lang kasi masasayang ang bigas."
“Sa mga pagkakataong may natitira, hinihiwalay namin yung kanin at ulam. Sa kanin na natira, pinagsasama-sama namin at pag may nakikita kaming aso o pusa sa kalye, binibigyan namin kasi sayang naman kung itatapon. Imbis na itapon mo, makinabanang na lang yung mga hayop," Apo says.
For Filipino families, every grain of rice nowadays is precious because of soaring prices. Parents have been teaching their children not to waste rice, especially amid the looming rice shortage.
Bong Malong, 41, father of a 7-year-old kid narrates: "Simula noong nagsimula na siyang kumain ng mag-isa, tinuruan ko talaga siyang huwag magsayang ng kanin at 'wag magsayang ng kahit isang butil ng bigas."
His family reheats leftover rice when they cook new rice to reduce waste.
Maria Elena Palupa, a 41-year-old single mother of 3, leads by example to teach them the value of saving rice.
"Ako ang kumakain ng kanin na tira ng mga anak ko kapag may hindi sila nauubos. Hindi ko tinatapon. Sayang ang kanin, mahal ang bigas ngayon,” she says
Palupa continues: "Sinasabihan ko sila na unti-unti lang ang pagkuha para hindi masayang ang bigas at napakamahal ng bigas. Nanghihinayang ako. 'Yan ang tinuturo ko sa mga anak ko na wag talaga magsayang ng bigas."
When asked for alternatives, workers say that instead of limiting rice consumption, the government must look into the basics of rice supply in the Philippines.
"Dapat ang gawin ng gobyerno ay pondohan ng pondohan ang mga magsasaka. Ang ginagawa nila hindi nila pinopondohan ang mga magsasaka tapos kukuha sila ng bigas sa ibang bansa. Eh di talo 'yung Pinas noon," says Lacson
"Ewan ko ba sa mga nakaupo na yan kung ano-ano ang pinaggagawa. Basic ng problema kung ano-ano ang iniisip nila."
Lacson says rice is an essential part of his meal. He says “Sa field namin na kalaban naming ang tirik na araw, maulan at may dala ka pang package, hindi talaga kaya (ang half-rice.” Maria Tan, ABS-CBN News
Iral enjoys her meal at a street food cart along Kamuning, Quezon City on November 10, 2023. Maria Tan, ABS-CBN News
Almoete says he never takes the quality of his rice for granted. “From the start, hindi ako kumukuha ng NFA kahit mataas ang bili sa per kilo ng bigas.” Maria Tan, ABS-CBN News
An eatery along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City offers unlimited rice on November 17, 2023. Maria Tan, ABS-CBN News
Apo poses for a photo inside her restaurant along Visayas Avenue on November 17, 2023. Maria Tan, ABS-CBN News
Customers eat at a restaurant offering an unlimited rice meal promo along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City on November 17, 2023. Rice is a staple for many Filipinos. Maria Tan, ABS-CBN News
Palupa eats dinner with her family outside their home in Quezon City on November 17, 2023. Maria Tan, ABS-CBN News
Palupa says she eats what her children can’t finish so there is no waste. Maria Tan, ABS-CBN News