GMA News Online

'Pablo' victims get date fruits from Saudi Arabia

April 18, 2013 8:16pm

One hundred metric tons of pressed dates—a fruit cultivated in hot, dry regions—are the latest donation of the Saudi Arabia government to the victims of Typhoon “Pablo” in the Philippines.

At a short ceremony at the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Makati City, Saudi Ambassador to the Philippines Abdullah Al-Hassan said the donation “is deemed as the kingdom’s contribution in addressing poverty and malnutrition knowing that dates contain major... nutritional value which are necessary to maintain the good health of a person.”

“This embassy is exerting its utmost efforts to distribute this quantity among the Filipino people without distinction but gives concern and priority to those poorest communities,” the ambassador added.

Philippine Red Cross Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang said the donated fruits will be given to several communities for the organization’s feeding programs. She mentioned as examples places in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, which were greatly affected by Typhoon “Pablo” last year.

“We have been active in supporting numerous communities in terms of feeding programs, especially in Mindanao. With your gift, we will be able to reach... communities that have no food or almost nothing left in their table on a day-to-day basis,” she said.

Some of the dates will be allocated for Muslim Filipinos in some Mindanao areas for Ramadan.

“This will go a long way in supplementing the needs of our Muslim brothers come Ramadan, or the fasting month, which will fall around the middle of July,” National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Secretary Mehol Sadain said.

“The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos received around 50 metric tons which will go a long way in addressing not just the nutritional problems of our brothers in Mindanao but also the spiritual needs in terms of supplementing their diet during [Ramadan],” he added.

Saudi’s King Abdullah annually donates pressed dates to the Philippines and other countries before the start of Ramadan, when Muslims around the world prefer the fruit as their starting food as they break their fast (iftar) at sundown.

Aside from the religious and cultural significance of dates for Muslims, the Saudi king also donates the fruits to communities struck by calamities, hunger, or poverty.

Last year, the Saudi Arabia donated around 60 tons of pressed dates to the United Nations World Food Program based in the Philippines for the agency’s school feeding program in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. — KBK, GMA News
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