IN PHOTOS: Bayanihan at Maginhawa community pantry

Published April 16, 2021, 12:53 PM

by Noel Pabalate

A resident of Maginhawa expresses her happiness after getting vegetables from the community pantry. (Noel Pabalate)

A day after 26-year-old Ann Patricia Non installed the community pantry at 96 Maginhawa St., Diliman, Quezon City, donations such as rice, vegetables, eggs, canned goods, biscuits, drinks, medicines, and other essential items come and go, giving some Filipinos a sweet taste of life during times of bitterness.

Ann lives in Sikatuna Village but decided to set up the pantry in Maginhawa saying “with the closed strips of restos along the street, I wanted the place to have a new image, but with the same positive vibe pre-pandemic, where people meet and eat. And metaphorically speaking: May ginahawa sa Maginhawa.”

Ann Patricia Non places vegetables in the community pantry she installed. (Noel Pabalate)

Upon arriving at the lamp post where the bamboo cart is placed, we saw Axel, a tricycle driver, organizing the items on the cart. He unpacked parcels containing biscuits and properly arranged them so that, according to him, can be evenly distributed. 

“Malaking tulong po talaga ito, lalo na sa panahon ngayon. Pero sana po yung iba huwag umabuso para lahat makakuha po, (This is really a big help, especially during this time. But I hope others won’t abuse it, so everybody can get a share), ” he said. “Kaya sundin lang po sana yung reminder: “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan. Kumuha batay sa pangangailangan (Let’s just follow the reminder: Give what you can. Take what you need).”    

Tricycle driver Axel volunteers to arrange the items on the cart. (Noel Pabalate)

Alex and other trike drivers at the terminal behind the cart were one of the firsts who benefited from the community pantry. And according to Alex, they see to it that they’re there to assist so that everybody can get their fair share.   

Tricycle drivers help Ann organize the egg donations. (Noel Pabalate)

A few seconds later, a group of male flocked the cart and grabbed some goods. They happened to be construction workers nearby. One of them expressed that it’s a great blessing for people like them who got laid off from the previous enhanced community quarantine. 

Construction workers nearby take food during their break. (Noel Pabalate)

However, Tracy Santiago, a resident in UP Village who donated some vegetables, suggested that perhaps a clear instruction to falling in line should be in place so that social distancing could be observed. “I usually donate veggies to low-income earners and I’m so glad that near me someone created this free access to food where I can regularly participate,” said Tracy in Filipino.

UP Village resident Tracy Santiago about to unpack her vegetable donations. (Noel Pabalate)

After Tracy left, another donor named Teresita Toledo, who is a staff member from a laundry shop just across the street, placed some canned goods. “Nag-dodonate po talaga ako, katulad po noong nabaha yung Montalba last year, masarap po kasing tumulong. Sabi nga po dibaling ikaw na yung tumulong kaysa ikaw yung tulungan. (I really give donations like when Montalban got flooded last year because it feels good to help. They say, it’s better that you’re the one helping than you’re the one getting help),” expressed Teresita with gladness.

Laundry shop worker Teresita Toledo contributes canned goods. (Noel Pabalate)

But acts of giving do not only exist from the neighborhood. Delivery riders also come and go leaving plastic bags and boxes of reliefs, hailing from kilometers away like from E. Rodriguez, Balara, España, and more. 

Axel assists a delivery rider in bringing out a plastic bag of groceries. (Noel Pabalate)

As of writing, more than 20,000 already saw Ann’s charitable initiative from her Facebook page alone. And that includes University of the Philippines’ researchers Kat, Migo, and Ezra who didn’t waste any time delivering groceries after seeing the post. “In times of difficulties, it’s so beautiful to have this, where we can show that we care for each other,” said Kat.

Officemates Kat, Migo, and Ezra drop grocery items they bought after their lunch. (Noel Pabalate)

If many chipped in food, Ann’s friend Ara left vitamins and medicines packed in plastic containers instead. “There are so many who already gave something to eat, so we thought of something they also need like ascorbic acid and paracetamol,” Ara explained.

Ara places plastic containers of vitamins and medicines. (Noel Pabalate)

The medicines Ara provided were the first thing that Liza Ramirez prioritized picking before she bagged some food. A senior citizen, Liza collects recyclable trashes for a living and dwells along the street of C.P. Garcia. “Inuna ko itong mga gamot kasi, lagi gaming nahahamugan sa lansangan. Sa gumawa nito, maraming salamat po (I got the medicines first because we always get wet with dew on the streets. To the one who did this, thank you very much),” said Liza with teary eyes.

Senior citizen Liza Ramirez picks medicine from the cart. (Noel Pabalate)

Unemployed Joan Medina from Kruz na Ligas also chose to secure some medicine first because she finds it more difficult to buy them than food. “Pero maraming salamat po at may pang hapunan na din kami (But thank you very much because we already have something for dinner),” Joan expressed her appreciation.

Joan Medina gets vitamins before grabbing some food. (Noel Pabalate)

Indeed, what Ann started is something many benefactors and beneficiaries have dearly appreciated. And what we witnessed is a definition of how an act of kindness, generosity, and unselfishness, bayanihan as we call it, was well received.

Ann holding a boquet of kangkong, one of the many she already have donated. (Noel Pabalate)

“I got shy when it trended, but I realized that it’s not about me. It’s about the community pantry that people badly need. This got viral because there is a demand for food and we really need to help our neighbors who are starving,” said Ann in Filipino.

People there and netizens on Facebook couldn’t agree more with Ann. If such is indeed the case, it won’t come as a surprise when Ann’s invitation to start a pantry in your respective communities would one day happen nationwide.