FHM Library at Binogsacan.
THEY HAVE BEEN AROUND TOWN, making millions of people laugh and have a good time. With just the right blend of music and intelligent humor, Arpie and the Multivitamins entertain with a capital E. From their start in dingy bars to playing swanky hotels, Arpie and the Multivitamins have come a long way. But unlike some who get intoxicated on the sound of applause and the money they get from the adoring fans, this group saw success and looked through it, turning inward to search for deeper meaning.
The first step was agreeing to simply share 50% of their tips with a charitable cause. Quickly, what started as tip sharing became full-blown advocacy of helping others. Arpie’s advocacy has always been about eradicating ignorance. Building a library had been a dream of his for as long as he could remember. He just didn’t know how to make it reality. He then broached the subject to a few friends and quickly enough, they started hatching ideas on how to generate funds.
The year 2011 was a good one for Arpie and the Multivitamins. They played concerts with equally talented and equally selfless people: Marissa Sanchez, Wency Cornejo, Aljur Abrenica, K. Brosas Dindong and Jessa Avanzado, and with help from friends in the media like Karen Davila, Alex Santos and Raffy Tulfo. And the proceeds went to the first public library ever built in Binogsacan,Guinobatan Albay – FHM, the acronym for FEED HUNGRY MINDS. FHM found a great ally in Facebook. Through this social media, the word spread and spread quickly. Friends and friends of friends and even strangers send books from all over the world to find their space at FHM. And just as quickly, FHM gets filled with books and children who devour them. Children from all over Guinobatan go to FHM to do research – some of them spending hours on end to copy by hand from books. Seeing the children laboring on research prompted Arpie to solicit for a photocopier and so he asks and it was quickly granted. Children can now photocopy books up to five pages for free. After that, they are charged a minimal amount of P1. The organization uses money generated from photocopying to nourish the children: They are fed malunggay pandesal for free. In less than a year, this library has evolved from merely feeding the hungry minds to feeding the hungry stomachs.
The outpouring of support inspires Arpie to do more. His group now takes the feeding program out to the streets, where the need is even more direct and dire. Called FEED HUNGRY STOMACH, the program takes the volunteers, like the cast of the longest-running stage play Phantom of the Opera, to indigent areas in the Metro and in Bicol, like Ulingan in Tondo, to feed 500 or so children. They get to spend a day with the kids reading for them and teaching them hygiene, leaving them each with a gift pack which includes an underwear, a towelette, and a toothbrush.
Going even further than the feeding program, FHM has adopted some 65 school children from the poorest families in Bicol. It pays for their miscellaneous expenses, school uniform, and school supplies. In return, these children help by keeping the library squeaky clean. The program has only recently begun but FHM has received thousands of application for scholarship for next year.
And what’s next? Arpie and the Multivitamins plan to move on to FEEDING HUNGRY SPIRITS. Arpie, envisions this to be a venue for parents of indigent families to give glory back to God by being productive members of society. Arpie a designer by trade, figures that he will teach parents to sew and guide them in setting up their own small businesses.
Someone far smarter than I once said that dreams don’t end when they are realized, they just become bigger. That certainly holds true for Arpie, who can’t seem to stop dreaming for others. And as usual, Arpie relies on the kindness of friends and by faith, he knows help is on its way.
For more information log on to www.feedhungryminds.com or visit Feed Hungry Minds page on Facebook.