What started as a simple gesture has now grown into a full-blown movement. That’s what happened to Patricia Non’s idea of a community pantry, which she set up at 96 Maginhawa Street in Quezon City.
After going viral on social media last week, Non’s simple gesture – aiming to help those in need amid the pandemic in the Philippines – has spread like wildfire, inspiring others to do their part.
Numerous stalls have since popped up in different parts of the capital region – Manila, Muntinlupa, Pasig, Marikina, Valenzuela, and the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, and Bulacan – which many now describes as the resurgence of the old-aged Filipino tradition of ‘Bayanihan.’
The sentiment was seconded by well-known personalities, especially those from the national government.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the emergence of community pantries is laudable and exemplifies the Filipinos’ natural disposition to help others.
“The emergence of community pantries is laudable. It exemplifies the Filipino Bayanihan spirit during this challenging time of COVID-19,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III echoed the same point of view, describing the community movement as the ‘modern’ version of Bayanihan.
“Yes, this is the Bayanihan spirit of the Filipino in modern times!” Sotto stressed.
Senator Grace Poe also acknowledged the banding together of communities during this time of need. However, she notes that it’s a ‘wake-up call’ for the government to take more action.
“This is a sign that not all hope is lost. The good in our fellow countrymen is shown through these community pantries. However it’s a wake-up call that government must do more to provide for the people,” Poe said in a statement.
The Department of Health (DOH) also expressed its support for the setting up of charitable stalls for the needy.
“Unang una, nire-recognize natin ang effort ng ating mga kababayan na talagang tutulong sila sa ating mga nangangailangan,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire shared in a press briefing.
“Pero hindi kailangan namang itigil dahil sa tingin ko, malaking tulong ito both sa physical wellness and mental wellness ng ating kababayan. Yung pong nakikita nila na may handang tumulong ay malaking bagay po ‘yan para sa kumpyansa at wellness nga ng taong bayan,” the undersecretary added.
In response to government criticisms related to the rise of community pantries, Roque said the movement is not a sign of condemnation from the public.
“It shows the best of the Filipino. It is part of our psyche to help one another. I don’t see it as a condemnation of the government,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.
“It shows the best of us during the worst of times.”
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Image credit: Ezra Acayan via Getty Images