If you’re familiar with community pantries, which have mushroomed in different parts of the Philippines, then you’ve probably heard of the name Ana Patricia Non.
Non has been credited as the initiator of the community drive and what people have come to call ‘modern bayanihan.’
The 26-year-old Quezon City native set up a small, unassuming stall near her home in Maginhawa – filling it with goods that people in need can freely take home.
After setting up her charity station, Non’s simple act of compassion and kindness went viral on social media overnight. Since then, her handiwork has spread all over the country – creating a tidal wave of support in a time where people are at their most vulnerable.
Although she’s been thrust into the spotlight, Non remains a mystery of some sort to most – refusing to talk about herself more than necessary.
If you’re interested in knowing a bit more about ‘Patreng’ – as Non’s friends call her – then let’s get to know her through the eyes of those closest to her.
She has a natural disposition to help and serve others.
According to Rev. Fr. Ritchie Ramos Fortus, he’s known Non while he was still a seminarian in Laguna. Fortus said she’s always been predisposed to helping others, especially communities that are underserved.
“Isa na siguro ako sa mapalad na nakakilala sa kabataang ito na si Ana Patricia “Patreng” Non…Bakit? Kasi personal kong nasaksihan ang dedikasyon nya sa pagtulong at pagmamalasakit sa mga pangangailangan o kalagayan ng iba’t ibang mga tao, lalong higit sa mga nangangailangan noong ako ay naka-assign pa bilang seminarista sa simbahan ng Bay, Laguna,” he shared in a Facebook post.
She’s heavily involved in relief efforts and volunteer work.
Her close friend, Patte Aldefolio, describes her as a person who embodies their alma mater’s motto of assisting the underprivileged. Both were students at the Paco Catholic School in Manila.
“The person behind the Maginhawa Community pantry, AP Non is a Paconian. She is true to the school’s mission, ‘nurture within the community an atmosphere of service and genuine concern for the upliftment of the deprived, depressed and underprivileged,'” Aldefolio wrote on Facebook.
Meanwhile, the UP Artists’ Circle Sorority said Non has been on the frontlines helping people out even before her community pantry initiative went viral. The group mentioned that Non participated in their ‘bigas drive’ for displaced jeepney drivers as well as food drives for breastfeeding mothers and their children.
She’s down to earth.
Erren Elizalde, who works as a volunteer at the Maginhawa community pantry, describes Non as a ‘down to earth’ person. He told Manila Bulletin that Non is someone ‘wise and close to the people.’
“She takes time to get to know people around her,” Elizalde remarked.
She has a supportive mother.
In a recent interview with ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo, Non’s mother, Zena Bernardo, said she’s proud of her daughter and the change that she’s making.
However, as a mother, Bernardo can’t help but also worry for her daughter’s welfare. She reminded Non to also rest and provide time for herself.
“Patreng, I know you are very, very tired. I know you are absorbing a lot of bad energies and good energies, as well. I know you feel that you need to help everyone. Patreng, there’s only so much that you can do and you are doing so much. Please, be kind din to yourself na hindi mo kaya lahat. Andito naman kaming lahat. It’s ok to take a pause, people will understand. Mahal na mahal ka namin and we’re so proud of you,” she said.
Even in the face of red-tagging, Non remains headstrong in continuing what she started.
In an interview with PolitikoTV, Non expressed her desire to help even in the face of threats.
“Wala po akong pagsisisi kasi ang dami pong natulungan. Ang dami pong tumutulong…. Pagod po ako talaga ngayon, pero masayang masaya po ako,” Non said.
“Tingin ko, hindi sapat ‘yung nakukuha ng mga Pilipino sa government. So kailangan talaga gumawa ng action ‘yung private citizen lalo na kung may means,” she added.
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Image credit: Ezra Acayan via Getty Images