Waiting time.

Behind the mosque in Barangay 23-C (popularly known as Mini-Forest) in Davao City, over a dozen of children gather outside a small bakeshop every afternoon. They flock in front of the bakeshop as if watching their favorite TV show.

But they are actually waiting for something: a free cold fruit salad.

The free fruit salad is prepared by Maranao siblings, who  have been devoted their time and effort to prepare the tsalad for the iftar for their fellow Muslims during this holy month of Ramadan.

Like community pantries, the ingredients for the fruit salad also came from donations.

Makoy with sister Nur Salam.

Makoy Taha said that, along with his brother Anwar and sister Nur, they have volunteered to prepare about 300 litres of fruit salad for their fellow villagers in Barangay 23-C, a known home of Maranaos in Davao City.

According to Taha, different individuals are donating funds to the imam (religious leader) of the mosque for the iftar. “Then he’s giving the fund to us but sometimes some are giving ingredients too.”

His sister, Nur bared that at around 1pm, about a dozen volunteers would come into his brother’s house to help them prepare the ingredients for the fruit salad. “Marami sila didto, tinutulungan nila kami mag slice ng mga prutas. Parang sa mga community pantries din, nagtutulungan at may volunteers.”

Anwar Taha carrying filled containers.

Unlike community pantries that recently propagated, Taha explained that this giving of free food during iftar has been a part of their tradition  especially during Ramadan.

Iftar is the daily evening meal among Muslims after their daily fasting ends at sunset.

“We don’t mind the size of their containers  but we always make sure everyone gets their share of fruit salad,” Makoy pointed out adding they are not also counting the food containers left at the lobby of his modest bakeshop.

Taha siblings

After the 3pm prayer, Makoy and his siblings start to mix the ingredients in four huge plastic drums and then fill the containers left by their neighbors.

While filling the containers, dozens of children are already waiting patiently outside the bakeshop.

By 4:30pm, some residents would start collect their respective containers filled with cold fruit salad.

Finally, she got her share.

Outside his bakery, a sign reads: “No mask, no fruit” is posted on the wall to remind the villagers to observe health protocols especially the wearing of masks.

Barangay 23C was once considered a high-risk area due to high cases of novel coronavirus ( Covid-19).

“We prefer fruit salad because some of those who are fasting would not immediately eat heavy meal during iftar or when they break their fast,” he explained in the vernacular.

Since they are fasting too, Taha admitted that preparing the fruit salad is quite challenging. “We cannot taste what we are preparing because it’s forbidden. We could not even drink water.”

Taha recalled that during the Ramadan last year, when the city was still under enhanced community quarantine, they were only able to prepare just one huge plastic drum. “Na lockdown kami, na lockdown din ang mga tao. Kaya konti lang din nabigyan namin.”

The holy month of Ramadan is set to end on May 12, which is known as Eid’l Fitr.

He clarified that they are not getting any pay for this daily routine. “We have been doing this for five years now. This is purely voluntary, this is part of our sacrifice. Because we believe that we will be rewarded by Allah in the next life.”

Daily routine.