GOSSIP GIRL: The newest celebrity in town - Maginhawa pantry and how it influenced other communities to share food as well

blockbuster is a fabulous  movie that audiences line-up to see the first weekend it is released. 

I remember going to the mall and seeing long lines in the ticket booth and I would tell my kids, “Now! That my children is a blockbuster!” But during the time of COVID-19, all theaters are closed, and you will not see people lining up or even going out of their house and risk their lives with getting the dreaded COVID-19 virus. 

So imagine my surprise when I saw in the news a long line of people in the summer heat, and it was not in the city hall to get "ayuda." It was the Maginhawa Pantry which was an experiment started by a nearby resident Ana Patricia Non. 

She placed a small bamboo cart under a lamp post on Maginhawa Street with enough vegetables, rice and other basic needs. Above the small bamboo cart was a sign, “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan. Kumuha batay sa pangangailangan.” (Give what you can, take only what you need). 

Her small makeshift bamboo cart experiment became a miracle. It was like Jesus’ multiplication of bread and fish because after she left it there, it never became empty in spite of all lines of people comprising the homeless and those whose jobs were affected because of the recent lockdown. 

So how did the miracle happen? Netizens posted Ana’s makeshift bamboo cart on their Facebook and Instagram stories and neighbors took her cue and started donating food in the pantry. “Wala ako inexpect na mag vi-viral siya. Hindi po yun ang goal ko. Ang goal ko lang ay malaman ng community dito sa area. Na-realize ko na kaya naman siya kumalat ng ganito, kasi literal na malapit sa sikmura ang mga tao. Gutom yung mga Pilipino. Mahirap magtrabaho, mag-aral, mag-isip, pag gutom ka, kumakalam ang tiyan.The fact na nag viral siya ibig sabihin nandoon ang pangangailan. Hindi lahat may ayuda. Hindi lahat nakakakuha ng sapat na ayuda. Gutom ang mga Piipino at kailangan natin ng action.” (I never expected this to go viral, that was not my goal. My goal was awareness of  giving help and sharing what you can in my community. I realized that the reason it went viral is that literally our stomachs are close to us people. The Filipinos are hungry. It’s difficult to work, to study, and to think when you are hungry - your stomach growls. The fact that it went viral means that there is a need. Not everyone gets help or enough help from the government. The Filipinos are hungry and we need action," Ana explains on television to several media people from different news stations. 

What was once a simple dream of Ana for her community turned out to become a movement. Last Friday, Elijah San Fernando, together with other residents in Barangay Pinyahan, Quezon City set up their own pantry and shared root crops and vegetables bought from farmers in Central Luzon. 

Elmer Cordero, a jeepney driver led a community pantry near his home in Project 3 Quezon City. In Sampaloc, Manila, Toots Naval set up a pantry in front of his establishment and told the media, “Imagine if each street or village had a community pantry?” 

Even my own village set up a community pantry for the homeless and needy. My neighbors Rafa and Quin Fernando sought the approval of our village board of directors who fully supported the cause. I am still in my bubble taping in "Ang Probinsiyano" but once I am done, I will help Rafa and Quin in our community pantry. 

We hope this movement catches fire and the blaze will be so huge it will end hunger in the Philippines. As of press time, community pantries have sprung up in Lexington Village Pasig, and even as far as Nueva Vizcaya.