The silent protests that go in community pantries

Published April 19, 2021, 4:48 PM

by John Legaspi

Apart from aiding Filipinos with their daily meal needs, community pantries also help in providing awareness

What started out as a humble gesture along Maginhawa St., Quezon City became an epidemic of kindness that spread like wildfire in the country. Community pantry is among the ultimate symbols of bayanihan in our modern times, or in this case, in our pandemic living. It is not about Filipino resiliency, but more of their malasakit for one another.

“It’s about the community pantry that people badly need,” Ann Patricia Non, the initiator of the Maginhawa community pantry, said in a story by the Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “This got viral because there is a demand for food and we really need to help our neighbors who are starving.”

As community pantries all over the Philippines continue to grow and help Filipinos, they also propose a new role far beyond giving sustenance to people. Some community pantries have become a platform for silent protest and a bulletin board for other pressing issues.

You’ve got to admit, seeing phrases such as “Mula sa masa, para sa masa” and “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha batay sa kailangan” is a breath of fresh air compared to political banners plastered with someone’s face. And it looks like some community pantries are presenting more.

Through a Facebook post, Atty. Quino Reyes shared a few snaps of community pantries that tell more than just to take and receive. In true protest spirit, one community pantry has a banner that says, “Solidarity not charity! Food not bombs!” Another aims to give voice to the regular Juans with slogans saying, “Stand with the poor” and “Kalayaan mula sa kagutuman.”

In another post, Facebook user Ivanka Custodio shared the story of the community pantry they built in Matatag St. in Quezon City. Apart from food items, they are also calling for other items such as sanitary napkins, baby diapers, and condoms. In a previous Manila Bulletin Lifestyle story, women’s rights activists Marevic Parcon mentioned that number of cases related to unwanted pregnancies and violence against women rise during the community quarantine period

Their setup also features information on where to report acts of abuse against women and where to get free testing for HIV. “Sinet-up namin ang Matatag Community Pantry bilang pakikiisa sa mga mamamayang apektado ng pandemya, lalo na sa mga kababaihan at LGBT na kadalasa’y hindi nasasama sa relief efforts,” Ivanka posted.

More than a helping hand, these community pantries speak the truths of how many Filipinos live today and some of our pre-pandemic problems.