Community Pantry in the Philippines: An Effective Way to Practice ‘Bayanihan’ in the midst of a Global Pandemic

With the alarming numbers of Covid-19 cases each day in the Philippines alone, it is no doubt that many nations are greatly challenged to come up of ways to fight the virus’ quickly spreading fatal ailment.

Recent events in the Philippines have been too distorted when it comes to battling with Covid-19. This includes the daily struggle of Filipinos in terms of figuring out if the Philippine government have been really being effective in establishing ways to combat it. As a regular Filipino would scroll through his/her news feed in a day, never will there be a moment when people are not bickering against each other in proving whether each of their oppositions do find ways and solutions to improve people’s daily living through new normal, or rather making it worse.

Thus, a day came when few individuals have initiated a so-called ‘Community Pantry‘ in many different locations in the Philippines, where it aims to give people free food and other basic necessities to be able to make it through a hard day in the new normal. These community pantries mainly target the masses who are living poorly in the midst of the pandemic, such as those who lost their jobs, and those who are not able to feed their families because of it.

Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan; kumuha ayon sa pangangailangan.

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This objective, as translated to English, means: “Give according to [your] capability; take according to [your] needs.” It welcomes more people to give whatever they can afford to contribute to be able to help out others, and welcomes those in need to take according to their need for the day for free.

/Ba-ya-ni-han/ : In the Philippines, the Bayanihan spirit is one of communal unity, helping others without expecting rewards, to achieve a certain goal. In earlier days, when houses were made of lighter materials such as coconut leaves, Bayanihan also meant helping one’s neighbours move their house — literally. (reference: Keeping the Bayanihan spirit alive)

This initiative has really proved that up to this day, Filipinos could still practice Bayanihan, most especially in times when most of us are in need of it. When people have realized that they cannot utterly rely on the government to sustain their lives during such times like a pandemic, they eventually have to come up with ways to aid each other out. As expected, a lot of poor Filipinos have definitely appreciated this kind works of their fellowmen. It has brought them an opportunity to spend another day not just with a full stomach, but with a full heart as well– knowing that there will always be someone who would grant them a chance to live blessedly for another day when it seems like an impossibility.

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On the other hand, there also goes some people who are not in favor of this practice. Many have backlashed and proclaimed that this rather promotes Covid-19 spreading, as people would apparently have to gather in these areas where Community Pantries exists, and thus will violate many health protocols.

Aside from this, there are also some claims that this is nothing but an act of early political campaigns, and/or links to alleged communist movements. Some organizers of the Community Pantries have been reported to be red-tagged as well, which leads to them halting the activity in fear of their safety.

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These issues made people to ask, “Saan kami lulugar?” (Where would we place ourselves?)

If the government cannot fully give the public support that the people need, especially those that are poor, then why are these initiatives suddenly being questioned and despised when it only aims to help? Organizers being blamed as well are something that are truly unexpected. Only if the government support in this pandemic have sufficed to grant people days of living without an empty stomach, then maybe others would not have to come up with measures such as the Community Pantries. There should not have been any independent resolutions if there is no lacking of authoritative subsidies in the first place.

It is a known fact that no nation is perfect. Government could fail people, and people could fail the government. It is been apparent, especially these times, that extreme challenges could reveal how much one nation could handle all the obstacles, and how they would react to it.

Nevertheless, it still proves that Filipinos would fight their way to do what is right, even if it means being questioned, or worse, detested— even by their own fellow citizens. Filipinos would do whatever it takes to help each other out in times of great need, and to practice Bayanihan given any opportunity to arrive. It shouldn’t have been seen as something that contradicts those that are in authority. Rather an outstanding custom that brings the people of the nation altogether and keep the Filipino love and generosity alive.

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5 thoughts on “Community Pantry in the Philippines: An Effective Way to Practice ‘Bayanihan’ in the midst of a Global Pandemic

  1. Good points! But still, minimum health protocols should still be observed — especially that community pantries inadvertently cause people to gather in a certain place.

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  2. Correct, something that could have been initially controlled if sufficient public support has been implemented in the first place. Similar incident with SAP distribution, only that one is a government mandated practice.

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  3. Much of the world’s digitally-visible population has gone into fearful IRL withdrawal and public virtue-signalling mode as a response to Covid, rather than more often showing true love and virtue.

    Bayanihan — what a beautiful custom indeed, and what a beautiful post you’ve written, outlining the still-living roots of a culture’s essential love and generosity. Long may it grow and prosper.

    Thanks for sharing this. 💛

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  4. An excellent idea – though I think people should be encouraged to keep COVID safe even when using this resource.
    We have similar schemes in the UK though sadly not one near us. People will donate food to community fridges where people can donate stuff and help themselves, no questions asked.

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