Ana Patricia Non’s Maginhawa community pantry was a roaring success because it was spontaneous, simple, and exuberant. For triggering a tsunami of goodwill, a flood of charitable deeds, an earthquake of giving and sharing that morphed into a nationwide movement, she will or should be the next TOYM or TOWNS or Rotary awardee.
No matter that her weeks-old brainchild has been twisted by success, with fears of the food bank generating a storm of COVID-19 superspreaders amid loose accusations of NPA propaganda tainting the best intentions of its organizer, one oriented toward Christian rather than communist doctrine. No matter that Maginhawa has been transformed into a distribution center – the sidewalk is now a loading/unloading zone for anonymous donations – but it’s the poor and the hungry who miss the ritual of lining up, mask and shield on their faces, to pick their goodies and stuff them into an eco or plastic bag – what an achievement! But now in Quezon City as elsewhere, the tone has been set: Volunteers drop the items into your bag – you could be too greedy, depriving others of their due, as experience in other barangays has shown.
Patricia’s original idea has been copied and multiplied, with variations on the same bayanihan theme. It won’t be long before the best-intentioned of government regulators (they who have the power to be strict, restrict, constrict) cause the Non model to mutate into something unrecognizable. DILG aims for a “system” to control the spontaneity, simplicity, and exuberance. No permit needed, the Secretary says, “but coordinate with the barangay,” which is nothing if not another power center. DILG wants the pantries to roll on wheels instead of mere goodwill, letting the local government unit choose where they should go to serve “needy people” as if there weren’t enough of them in and around Teachers’ Village and Brgy. UP Village (and as far away as Caloocan, Malabon, San Juan).
The wish list includes serving senior citizens, especially those with comorbidities, just to give everyone a chance. Not to be given a chance are politicos and their equally thick-faced supporters installing signs showing the names and pictures of their narcissistic principals. A great rule, that, so how’s this one: Don’t serve alcohol and cigarettes. Huh?