More and more Filipinos are going hungry. This is according to the Rapid Nutrition Assessment Survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) late last year. After surveying almost 6,000 households all over the country, FNRI reported that 62.1% of families experienced moderate to severe food insecurity. 

When does a household qualify as being “food insecure”? The FNRI gives the following criteria:


The COVID-19 pandemic seems to be the cause of this hunger spike. FNRI states that more than half of surveyed households reported having less access to food during community quarantine because of: 1) lack of money, 2) limited public transportation, 3) job loss, 4) limited food stores in their area, and 5) being an elderly with no family members to help them buy food.

But food security may be achieved through one’s own efforts. Last year, FNRI posted a call for Filipinos to grow their own food during the pandemic. This way, households are assured of food supply despite limited mobility. This is especially true in urban areas, which are “less likely to consume fresh produce, which are good sources of vitamins and minerals that boost immunity.


Kangkong harvest (photo by Chie Roman)


Being a Farmer in Your Own Backyard

The terms “plantito” and “plantita” became popular during the lockdown as Filipinos turned to gardening to care for their mental health. The challenge now is to shift the focus from greens that beautify the home to edible plants.

According to PAGASA, the hot and dry season this 2021 would be shorter than the previous years’. This may be considered good news because in a Panahon TV interview, Agriculturist Lito Bollosa from the Bureau of Plant Industry said that both the onset and end of the rainy season is the most ideal time to plant. 

However, one can still start planting during the hot and dry season. “When it comes to vegetables, we can plant the ingredients of the pakbet. These are indigenous crops that can survive adverse conditions and the constant changes in weather,” Bollosa explained in Filipino.

Bollosa states that crops which require minimal supervision and water include:


Aside from being low maintenance, these crops are also easy to plant. “With indigenous vegetables  like alugbati, kangkong, and kamote, you only need to stick the cuttings into the soil. With just a little water, they can already survive,” said Bollosa. He added that other crops that are able to survive intense heat include mung beans, corn—and dragon fruit, which belongs to the cactus family and therefore doesn’t require a lot of water.

Meanwhile, fruits that take center stage this hot season are watermelon and mangoes. “We see an increased production of fruits and vegetables now because of the sun’s constant presence. These crops need sunlight to produce their own food. The excess nutrients end up as fruits.”

However, extreme weather conditions may also cause plants to flourish. This is because of their need for survival, causing them to release more antioxidants and other protective chemicals. “Prolonged heat or rains can cause plant stress,” shared Bollosa. “For example, when the calamansi experiences excess heat or rains, it tends to produce more flowers and fruits.” This technique is used in farming to boost fruit production. Bollosa elaborated, “Fruits like rambutan, lanzones, and avocado flower during the hot season. After the ‘ber’ months, they are subjected to heat to induce flowering.”


According to Bollosa, calamani produces more fruit when stressed. (photo by Chie Roman)


Planting Tips

Before planting your own food, Bollosa suggests these tips:




Growing young ginger (photo by Chie Sales)


Following the Planting Calendar

To be able to successfully grow food, Bollosa stressed the importance of following the planting calendar. Certain plants grow their best in specific months of the year. The Department of Agriculture released a comprehensive planting calendar, which Panahon TV condensed below:


All SeasonsEnd of Rainy season

to Cool and Dry Season






Chinese cabbage












By following nature’s rhythm, you can reap the benefits of growing your food. Aside from getting the nutrients your immune system needs, you are ensured of your food’s safety and quality. Planting can also help you save money, protect the environment, and boost your household’s food security. You can enjoy all these rewards, while taking part in one of the greatest miracles—nurturing another life besides your own. 


Watch Panahon TV’s interview with Lito Bollosa here.


More than a year into the pandemic, being in quarantine and following protocols have become our way of life. Our own homes have turned into a hub for all our main activities—work, school, and even buying goods, thanks to the internet. Limited movement is vital in preventing sickness, but the feelings of uncertainty, boredom, and powerlessness may affect mental health. However, maintaining our health and well-being is a must during these times. 



Importance of health and wellness

More than ever, health and wellness must be prioritized as this serves as our shield against illnesses. According to UP (University of the Philippines Diliman) College of Human Kinetics Faculty Member Hercules Callanta, “The ability to fight off whatever viral load … is dependent on the immune system, where the immune system will fend off the attacks of a viral infection. Some people, even if [they] were exposed to someone in the same household who had a viral problem do not get sick or don’t even become positive because their immune system, which is the reflection of their health and wellness, was able to fend it off.” 

With gyms and fitness centers still closed in NCR Plus due to the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), some have turned to home-based workouts to stay healthy. This is a commendable thing since according to Callanta, exercise and the immune system are linked. “If you are fit and healthy, active and exercising well, researchers have shown that the immune system, due to the chronic effects of exercise, can become a lot stronger and more equipped to fend off infections.”


Maintaining our health and well-being during the pandemic 

Callanta stressed that the World Health Organization (WHO) also recognizes the importance of exercise, not only for our physical health, but also for our mental and emotional well-being. He gives these tips:





SIPA workouts

Those who work and study from home can benefit from SIPA. Callanta stated that this is “a way for us to maintain our health and fitness despite the quarantine and movement restrictions.” Examples of SIPA include:



Each exercise can be done for 2 to 4 minutes, which Callanta demonstrated through this video: 


How exercise boosts mental health

According to the Department of Health, there are 3.6 million Filipinos suffering from mental disorders amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of mobility and distraction  can cause us to overthink things. The lack of motivation may also push us to forego exercise, which Callanta advised against. “Through chronic exercise, our endocrine system secretes several hormones. Some of them are good hormones which allows us to feel good, serving as de-stressors.” There are also hormones that give us pain tolerance against factors that cause pain and stiffness.

Maintaining our health is an important responsibility with or without the pandemic, but it’s even more vital now because our life is at stake. Taking care of our overall health is our best investment, not only during the pandemic, but throughout the course of our lifetime.