MANILA, April 25, 2014—Like what every true Christian ought to do, a Catholic lay group from Tondo gives free “lugaw” (rice porridge) and bread every Friday to hundreds of Quiapo’s homeless and beggars as their way of paying forward the graces that Señor Nazareno has so “generously bestowed on them”.
“We know that we can only do so much. With or without us, these people and their families will still go to sleep on an empty stomach. But it does not make any difference to us. We are just doing what the Lord has commanded us to do: feed the hungry,” said Emil Mendoza, the man in charge of handing out small buns.
“Lugaw ni San José”
Named “Lugaw ni San José” (LSJ) in honor of Christ’s foster father, the group has had as its mission for over ten years now the feeding of Quiapo’s starving poor.
“The Nazareno has always been kind to us, so it is only proper that we return the favor. And being blessed that we are, it only befits us as Catholic Christians to extend charity to our less fortunate brothers and sisters,” Mendoza shared.
The volunteers of LSJ provide for breakfast at 6:00 a.m., lunch at 12 noon, and early supper at 6 p.m. all for free.
“I have only been receiving lugaw from LSJ for the past two months. It is nice of them to be doing what they do,” said a young man who requested anonymity.
He related that he has called the pavements of Quezon Boulevard home ever since he fled poverty in Mindanao in order to try his luck in Manila.
In the course of the day, LSJ will have given away as many as four large cauldrons of lugaw and ten boxes of “pan de leche” to more than a hundred persons who patiently wait in line to have their bowls filled.
“There seems to be no end to the queue. But that is to be expected because many, if not most, of these people will have a repeat performance,” Mendoza kidded.
“But that is all right. It is never a big deal. This may be the only time of the week when they can eat as much as they want,” he added.
According to other LSJ volunteers, they are thankful that they very rarely run out of lugaw to give. Because at the end of each morning and noon feeding session, they quickly pack up and shuttle back to their base in Tondo’s Gagalangin community where they will cook another potful of lugaw before heading again to Quiapo for the next feeding session.
“Feeding the hungry” is one of the “seven corporal works of mercy” which the Church enjoins all faithful to observe.
The other six are: giving drink to the thirsty; clothing the naked; sheltering the homeless; visiting the sick; visiting the imprisoned; and burying the dead.
These are drawn from the Gospel of Matthew (25:35-36) which reads, “I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.’ (Raymond A. Sebastián)