THE DAILY BREAD PROGRAM
By Cathy S. Babao
THE LORD’S Prayer comes alive each day for Jesuit priest Bob Hogan.
After taking his morning coffee at the Jesuit House behind the chapel at the Ateneo de Davao University, he strolls over to the back to check on his Daily Bread box. Peeking into the box with great anticipation, the 72-year-old priest, who marks his golden jubilee in the Philippines this year, continues to be amazed at how his heavenly Father has provided daily bread to feed some 120 hungry students at the university.
The Daily Bread program began in November 2002 as an offshoot of a personal experience Hogan had with one of his student assistants. The 20-year-old junior was working in the Theology department as part of a grant-in-aid subsidy from the university.
“It was around 10 a.m. and I asked her if she had taken breakfast. She shook her head sideways and said no. Then I asked her what time she intended to take lunch, and she softly replied ‘Hindi na po, Father. (I won’t, Father).’ Upon hearing this, my curiosity grew and I was quite shocked to find out that on most days, she only had one meal, and that was dinner!” Hogan recalls.
Later, he found out that many students were in the same predicament.
Another Jesuit priest, Rodolfo Malasmas, was very moved when one afternoon, he overheard one scholar telling another: “Thank God, at least we have something to eat for lunch today.”
The two Jesuits were shocked that such an injustice was taking place right under their noses. Thus, the Daily Bread program, administered by the Theology Department which Hogan chairs, was born.
From seed money of P10,000 in 2002 which helped provide a meal a day six times a week for 20 students, the fund has grown to P60,000 a month. But the number of students needing assistance has risen, too. Hogan now has a roster of 120 students whose second meal of the day depends on the kindness of the school, strangers and those who believe in the cause.
Hogan explains that Ateneo has many scholars, but their funding does not cover meals. “They are given tuition subsidy, but there are still the books, miscellaneous expenses, transportation and boarding costs that they or their already overburdened parents have to bear.”
Thus, nutrition is often the item sacrificed, to the detriment of their health. Hogan recalls how one of the scholars on the Daily Bread program, who was a candidate for honors, was bordering on blindness due to malnutrition.
Donations from alumni
An alumna, upon hearing Hogan’s homily on the Daily Bread program, came up to him in tears after the Mass. The young woman was a scholar at the AdDU and had graduated summa cum laude.
“She said my sermon reminded her of her days back in school. ‘Father, she said, I lived on one meal a day for four years at the Ateneo,'” Hogan narrates.
Funding each month depends on a fixed amount of P5,000 from the school, the daily collection from the “bread box,” donations from various kind-hearted souls, and collections from Friday’s 5 p.m. Mass at the chapel, which Hogan officiates.
On Sundays, Hogan says Mass at two subdivisions in Davao City — Liceralde and Diamond Village — and whatever he is given goes directly to the Daily Bread fund.
Recently, the silver jubilarian class of 2004 donated P100,000 to help set up the Daily Bread Foundation fund. Hogan’s target is to hit P1 million, which is the requirement to set up a foundation, and to eventually have the school institutionalize it.
“I want it to live on long after I’m gone,” he pauses and adds, “And that may not be too far off,” he chuckles.
Theology come alive
Hogan first came to the Philippines in 1955. His first assignment was at the Ateneo de Manila University in the early ’60s. He moved to the Ateneo de Naga where he stayed from 1967 to 1982, and finally to Davao which has been his home for the last 23 years.
“Running the Daily Bread program is really theology coming alive for me,” he says. “I try to make the screening process for the kids as simple as possible. The most important question I ask them is, ‘Are you hungry?'”
Many of the students are very reticent, very shy when they first come. “Later, they realize that there are others like them and they begin to form a community,” Hogan says.
Thus, the Daily Bread has become twofold: It provides basic sustenance to feed the body and gives psycho-spiritual support so students are able to address their pain.
The students come from all faiths — Catholic, Muslim and lumad — and there is no discrimination. “Our humanity is not based on our religion, and that should be the basis of all our relationships,” Hogan says. “When this happens, all our differences disappear. That is the light in the darkness.”
Hogan cites the worldwide tsunami effort that came about after the unspeakable tragedy that hit the world and he calls it a circle of love. “To bring Christ to other people’s lives in brotherhood and reconciliation regardless of race, color or faith — that to me is theology coming alive each day.”
Sharing a meal
Every month, students who are part of the Daily Bread roster receive stubs that entitle them to six meals per week. Each stub has a value of P25. At the university cafeteria, six to seven concessionaires have signs on their booths that say, “Daily Bread accepted here.”
Hogan says this makes it easy for the students to discreetly hand over their stubs in exchange for a meal. But even in Davao, P25 does not go very far, considering the physical and mental needs of a college student.
At the AdDU, the amount is enough to buy a cup of rice and one viand, or a cheeseburger (P21), a plate of pansit malabon (rice noodles, P25) or a bowl of mami (noodle soup, P21).
Hogan would like to increase the amount to at least P30 per meal so that there is room for a little extra; perhaps enough to sustain them through their afternoon classes and the long ride home. “I’m dependent on God’s provisions and so far He hasn’t failed me yet,” he says.
Joy in the box
We accompanied him that morning as he checked God’s provisions for him that day in his Daily Bread box at the chapel. Hogan says that each time he accepts students into the program, he reminds them that being part of the program is really a gift from God.
“This is concrete manifestation of how He really cares for you,” he tells them. Above the small box is a sign made by one of the students in the program. It is a passage from the book of Matthew and it reads: “When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. Now enter into the joy of my Father.”
Gently removing the tiny lock, Hogan’s eyes fill with gratitude as he sees the box filled with “daily bread.” He shuts the box and then closes his eyes to bless the people who had generously shared of their gifts.
Once more, the Lord’s Prayer comes alive.
(Note: Editor’s Note: Published on page A1 of the June 8, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer)
If you wish to help build the Daily Bread Program Fund of Ateneo de Davao University, please contact Scholarship Program Officer (082) 221-2411 local 8302 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW TO GIVE
Cash and Check Donations
Cash gifts and checks may be sent directly to Admission and Aid Office, Canisius Hall, Ateneo de Davao University, Jacinto St., 8016 Davao City, Philippines. Please make check donations payable to Ateneo de Davao University.
A meal at the University Food Court costs P35.00 (US$0.80). Monthly food allowance for one scholar is P770.00 (US$16.50). A semester/ term of subsidy for one scholar is P3,850 (US$81.00) which is good for 5 months. Currently the Daily Bread Program is feeding 100 indigent scholars every day.
Donation by Fund Transfer
Please go to any United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) branch or One Network Bank (ONB) branch or to SM City-Davao or Makro-Davao. Fill out three (3) copies of the bank deposit slips with the following details:
United Coconut Planters Bank
UCPB Account Name: Ateneo de Davao University – Paymate
UCPB Account No.: 417-103300-8
Use Bills Payment Slip and indicate “DCB Daily Bread Program”
One Network Bank
ONB Account Name: Ateneo de Davao University
ONB Account No.: 21-00005-5
Use Deposit Slip and indicate “DCB Daily Bread Program”
For ONB inquiries: (82) 234.4349
HOW TO GIVE IF OUTSIDE THE PHILIPPINES
If you are in the United States, please click here.
Fund transfer for Daily Bread Program from outside the Philippines can be made through the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB). Kindly follow the fund transfer procedures of the bank in the country of origin and provide the following information:
Account Name: Ateneo de Davao University – Paymate
Account Number: 417-103300-8
Beneficiary: Ateneo-Paymate FAO: (DCB Daily Bread Program)
Beneficiary Bank: United Coconut Planters Bank – Palma Gil Branch, Palma Gil and C.M. Recto Sts., Davao City, 8000 Philippines
Swift Address: upcbphmm
e-Mail Address: email@example.com
(1) American Express Bank NY, New York
(2) Bank of America
(4) JP Morgan Chase Bank
(5) Bank of New York, New York
(6) Wachovia Bank
(7) Australia and New Zealand Bank, Melbourne
(8) Bank of Tokyo – Mitsubishi
(9) Standard Chartered Bank, London
(10) Winghang Bank Ltd., Hongkong
(11) HSBC Bank
(12) Oman International Bank
(13) RHB Bank Berhad, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
(14) Union Bank of California, Tokyo
(15) National Bank of Kuwait
(16) ABN-AMRO Bank N.V., Amsterdam
(17) Deutsche Bank Trust Co.
(18) Banca Popolare de Milan, Milan, Italy
(19) National Bank of Abu Dhabi
(20) Mashreqbank PSC, Dubai
For other places without the mentioned banks, transfer of funds is possible as long as international fund transfer facility is available, the details as mentioned above on fund transfer should be given to the bank.