The Philippine economy has suffered enough since the COVID-19 pandemic turned its first year. This phenomenon has caused several development issues to arise leading to a large case of social inequality among people.
Last March 29, Metro Manila, together with its neighboring provinces, underwent another period of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) due to a spike of COVID-19 cases recorded. On April 12, ECQ was lifted and replaced by Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ). With this sudden lockdown shift, Filipinos lost its grip in the economy, experiencing a period of no income to supply their needs.
Intending to help, Patricia Non, a Quezon City citizen, started a community pantry on April 13, 2021 hoping to lessen the burden of hungry Filipinos who are directly affected by this pandemic. Called the ‘Maginhawa Community Pantry’, this initiative hopes to engage the community through sharing to supply the needs of the people.
With its simple reminder: “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha ayon sa pangangailangan” (Give what you can, take only what you need) this initiative has been widely spread all over the Philippines that leads the way to start replicating various community pantries all-around other cities and provinces.
As of April 21, Non updated on her Facebook account that 350 community pantries were operating all around the country and are on the rise.
The rise of this bayanihan efforts by Filipinos highlights the people’s humanitarian acts and exposes the lack of aid that the government provides.
In her recent interview with Rappler, she stated, “Pagod na akong magreklamo. Pagod na ako sa inaction. Kung buong community ang tutulong masu-sustain siya, hindi imposible…Hangga’t may nangangailangan, hangga’t may nagbibigay rin.” (I’m tired of complaining. I’m tired of inaction. If the whole community will help, it will not be impossible to sustain it [Community Pantry]. As long as there is someone in need and as long as there is someone who will give [supplies to the Community Pantry].) She also stated that this initiative is open for all people, despite their backgrounds, who want to help and donate the things they are willing to provide.
These genuine gestures of Filipinos inspired people and led to developing creative or innovative versions of the pantry. Aside from food packs and other essential goods, various pantries offered a variety of products to support the growing needs of not only people. Some pantries provided contraceptives, toys, books, or other intended goods.
In times of great need, Filipinos work not for themselves, but for the community’s sake. It is upon actions like this that we see the ‘Bayanihan’ spirit burn and ignite for the people. Regardless of our current situation, Filipinos will find a way to survive together as one.
This article is written by Ambisyon Philippines – John Vincent Balawen, Criziel Ann Bajenting, and Sharmaine Sedano, in partnership with Conversations to the World.
Thinking of putting a Community Pantry in your area? Want to volunteer in CPs or to donate? Check out the Community Pantry PH Facebook Group.
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