Coron is considered as the paradise island of the province of Palawan. It is dotted with pristine white beaches, blue lagoons, limestone peaks, turquoise seas and high end resorts. But behind this beautiful tourist façade lurks an ugly reality.
According to the 2013 national assessment of the National Nutrition Council, Coron has the highest malnutrition prevalence rate (22%) in the province of Palawan. Most of the Tagbanua children, the indigenous people of Coron, are included in the severely malnourished list of the Municipal Nutrition Office. Of the 6,550 children aged 0-6 years old, 1,118 (17%) are considered underweight, 256 (4%) are severely underweight and 60 (1%) are overweight.
Poverty is credited as the main culprit. About 6 in every 10 households live below the poverty line. In Barangay Tara Coron, 98% of households live below the poverty line. About 25% of children aged 6-12 years old are not attending elementary school while 44% of children 13-16 years old are not attending high school. For education, accessibility to school is a major problem since children need to travel far distances and pay additional fare cost going to the main island.
Most of these schools are located in what we call as GIDAs (geographically isolated depressed areas). Most of them are accessible only though rough dirt road and by small bancas (outrigger boats). Children will walk for hours just to get to their school. In these dilapidated class rooms they even have two classes happening at the same time since there is a lack of teachers.
Convoy of Hope with Stop Hunger Now provide once a day feeding to about 750 children. For many of them, that feeding is the only meal they get in one day. The teachers report that because of the feeding program, most of the severely wasted children have already normalized. School attendance has improved since the children are encouraged to go to school because at least they can have a meal there. The children have also become more attentive in class since they are no longer bothered by hunger pangs.