The ‘Maginhawa’ movement

What started as a simple act of kindness in Maginhawa Street, Quezon City has become a monumental symbol of hope for people struggling to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

26-year-old Ana Patricia Non organized a small community pantry only with a small bamboo cart and with a few food items and essential goods. The cart was decorated with a signage ‘magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha ayon sa pangangailangan’ (give what you can, take only what you need) to remind Filipinos about the ‘pantry system’.

After posting her project online, the post quickly went viral and soon started a national movement to address the needs of the people greatly affected by the economic impact of the pandemic. Through community collaboration and upholding the ‘Bayanihan’ spirit, hundreds of pantries were initiated by individuals and organizations nationwide and supported people who were in great need.

Inspired by the Maginhawa Community Pantry, community pantry founders developed their CPs based on the needs of their community. People innovated ways to provide aid to the people and connected stakeholders to support their cause.

Here are just some of the community pantries initiated across the country:

For the urban poor

Bicutan Community Pantry, Brgy. Central Bicutan, Taguig City

Michael Andio Suan together with his friends, Jillian Rivera, Chian Ramos, and Beatrice Bantayan came up with the idea after seeing how the community pantry was replicated across the country. 

Named as the Bicutan Community Pantry, their initiative was focused on addressing the essential needs of Taguigeños, especially for the urban poor. Their pantry was not that different from other community pantries, but what made them different was how their community came up and worked to contribute various materials in setting up the pantry.

Their pantry started back on April 21, Wednesday, with a small, long table placed by the front gate of Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel. According to the founders, there were a lot of uncertainties that they experienced during their first day. 

Following the idea of the original community pantry in Maginhawa, Suan said that during their process they didn’t want to affiliate themselves with organizations even though they had connections with them. ‘We wanted to be independent’, Suan said. ‘But even with that, they still helped us to work in setting our pantry’, Suan added.

For Beatrice, setting up the pantry had always the feeling of uncertainty. She compared the experience on how families created households – noting that they had to work together and consider various things such as to budget or who should manage the pantry for the next day. ‘Mayroong uncertainty sa paggawa, pero exciting siya’, (There is uncertainty in creating [the Community Pantry], but it was exciting) she added.

Chian also noted that during their work for their pantry, they realized that each of them had a unique contribution in establishing their system. One was assigned in creating pubmats, another one was managing and budgeting the goods, while other people work to support their cause.

In the end, their work was always met with satisfaction and praise from the community especially from those in need.

Suan noted, “Hindi na rin natin majujudge (ang tao) sa pagiging gahaman. Malay natin, yun kasi talaga ang kanilang pangangailangan, yun na lang ang takbuhan niya lalo na di natin sila kilala personally.” (We cannot judge people for being greedy. We may not know, it’s because that is what they really need, it’s the only place they can go for especially when we don’t know them personally.) Chian added, “sa ginagawa namin, kami ang nagiging ‘bridge’ o daan para matulungan sila.” (In our works, we become the ‘bridge’ to helping them).

In the question of sustainability, Suan added, “the community itself will answer if the project can be sustainable, following the original mantra”. He added, “di kami tumitigil sa call for donations, just to help the poorest of the poor sa syudad.” (We will not stop to call for donations, just to help the poorest of the poor in the city.)

Their team is currently calling for donations to support their growing pantries settled in other parts of Taguig. If you wish to donate, you may contact Jillian Rivera at 09564058778 or send your cash donations at 09564058778 for GCash transactions or to their registered BPI account 1619-012-845.

After the storm

Biri Community Pantry, Brgy. Kauswagan, and Brgy. General Mc Arthur, Biri, Northern Samar

The first-ever Community Pantry in Eastern Visayas was opened last April 18, 2021, during Typhoon “Bising.” The Biri Community Pantry was quite different from other Community Pantries, such as it was initiated by young at heart individuals, offered clothes and school supplies, and crossed the oceans using a very small boat.

Mary Joy Delos Reyes (33), public school teacher, and Maria Van Der Vis (42), a local government worker, started this initiative after being inspired by the Maginhawa Community Pantry. The idea of a community pantry was not known in their small town before the two explained it and reached out to their friends and families for support. After hearing this idea, the community immediately reached out and helped them right away.

Mary and Maria shared their first day in Biri Community Pantry during our Zoom Interview. “Bumabagyo po noon mam…Ang lakas po ng hangin, yung motor ay nadadala na ng hangin.” (It was stormy, mam…There are strong winds, the motorcycle is being swayed by the strong wind.) 

Mary posted the pictures of the community pantry on her Facebook and after 2 hours, it was shared almost 700 times. The Biri Community Pantry was also featured on Reporter’s Notebook, SunStar Philippines, Northern Samar News & Information, and more.

Their one-day plan with one sack of rice and noodles continued and reached the remote area of Eastern Visayas, such as Brgy. MacArthur, where their team crossed the ocean using a very small boat. The pantry also offered clothes and school supplies. The Community Pantry is located in front of Barangay Hall in Poblacion every day while the team travels to remote areas during weekends. 

“Hindi kailangan ng malaking bagay o malaking pera ang ibibigay na tulong. Welcome lahat kahit isang pirasong niyog. Inencourage namin sila magbigay ng kaya nila.” (You don’t need big things or huge amounts of money to help. [We] welcome everything, even if it’s one coconut. We encourage them to give according to their ability).

The team is still looking for donors and volunteers who will help them to keep the Community Pantry going. In-kind donations can be dropped off at Brgy. Poblacion’s Community Pantry and monetary donations are accepted through GCash (09982050794 – Mary Joy Delos Reyes, or 09176283895 – Maria Van Der Vis.) As they always quote, “From the people of Biri, to the people of Biri.”

Camaraderie during the holiday

Basilan Community Pantry, Brgy. Matibay, Lamitan City, Basilan

In Basilan, two friends named Chooky Dompol and Venus Ramos, from I am MAD Basilan Volunteers and Yakan Youth Advocates, initiated the community pantry in Brgy. Matibay, Lamitan City. Venus and Chooky told us during our Zoom interview that they are thinking about their funding to push through the Community Pantry, but Venus said that “Meron yan. Push lang natin. And yun nga, true to the hope na meron, meron talaga [nagbigay]. Nagumpisa kami sa budget na ₱ 1,500 so pinagkasya namin and then suddenly, may nagbigay ng ₱ 2,500 so meron na kaming ₱ 4,000 agad.” (There is. Let’s push through [our community pantry]. And true to the hope that there will be [funds], someone donated. We started with ₱ 1,500 and we tried to budget it and then suddenly, someone donated ₱ 2,500 so now we already have ₱ 4,000.) They planned to start the community pantry on April 23, but due to time constraints, the community pantry was moved to April 24, Sunday.

They asked for help from the Barangay in terms of crowd control, and they also managed to borrow a table for the pantry. The concept of community pantry was not yet common to the community and people were asking them if the supplies are really free. Chooky told us that “Inexplain namin sa kanila upon giving na hindi kailangan magbayad.” (We explained to them that they don’t need to pay anything.” After explaining, people openly welcomed this initiative and the pantry supplies did not last an hour.

Ramadan is also ongoing and people who sell snacks are temporarily economically affected. Thus, the community pantry helped them and their families. This community pantry is a give-and-take initiative – anyone who is willing to give can give, and anyone who is in need can get from the pantry. Because of this, they received ₱360 as a donation. They also hoped that this community pantry will serve as a step to instill generosity within the community. 

As a youth, Chooky emphasized our power. “Hindi tayo kabataan lang, kabataan tayo na gustong tumulong sa community. Gamitin ang puso sa pagtulong.” (We are not just youth, we are youth who like to help our community. [Let’s] use our hearts in helping.)

They are planning to hold another community pantry next Sunday and are looking for donors. To those who wish to donate, you may send your monetary donations via GCash or PayMaya to 09977697435 – Venus Ramos.

This article is written by John Vincent Balawen of Ambisyon Philippines, and Clarisse Joy Mañabat of Conversations to the World.

Want to learn more about Community Pantries? Read our previous blog here.

Connect with Ambisyon Philippines through their Social Media Channels below.


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