SAN PABLO CITY, Laguna — John Harvey Calabia, who set up a community pantry in Barangay San Ignacio on Sunday (April 18) was overwhelmed by the support it got from residents who were willing to replenish stocks for those in need.
“Kasi maliit na budget lang po ang naumpisahan ko since sariling gastos ko po (The initial budget was small because it came from my own pocket),” Calabia told the Manila Bulletin.
“Pero bigla po talagang dumami ang nakakita at nag-share sa FB hanggang sa marami na po bigla ang gusto tumulong (But many saw it and shared it through Facebook, and they were willing to help).”
But out of everyone who helped, one donor stood out to Calabia — a person who initially pretended to be in need of food himself.
“Nag-chat po siya sa akin… Sabi niya sa akin baka pwede daw po na makahingi siya kahit konting tulong para sa pamilya niya (He sent me a chat message… He asked for a little help for his family),” Calabia recalled.
“Sabi ko sa kanya, opo, pwede po… Tapos bigla po siya nagsabi na maglalakad lang po siya papunta sa area namin kasi walang-wala daw po talaga sila makain (I said sure, he could… Then he said he would need to walk to our area because they really didn’t have anything to eat).”
Since the barangay that the man mentioned was far from where the stall is set up, Calabia saved some pantry items for his expected visitor.
“Nag-chat siya sa akin, malapit na daw po siya sa pantry. Tapos nagulat ako nung dumating si sir, ang dami niya pong dalang donations para sa pantry, umabot po siguro sa P7,000-8,000 ang donations na binigay niya… Nakailang balik pa po siya para magbigay ulit. (He sent me a chat message saying they’re already near the pantry. I was dumbfounded when he arrived, he brought donations amounting to P7,000-P8,000 in value. He came back a few more times to bring more goods),” Calabia said.
The good samaritan didn’t want to be photographed with the goods that he brought, which included rice, dried fish, vegetables, fruits, noodles, canned goods, eggs, bread, and toiletries.
“Parang sinubok niya lang po pala ako kung willing po ako talaga magbigay sa kahit sinong tao na nangangailangan (It’s like he was just testing if I was willing to help anyone who needed it),” Calabia said.
Aside from basic needs, the stall also offers books that parents could take home to their kids. Authors Peter Jairron Cruz, Ferdie L. Eusebio, and Jairene Calabia Cruz-Eusebio donated copies of their book, Hiling Sa Bituin, to children in need.