LAST week, 26-year-old Ana Patricia Non started a community pantry along Maginhawa St., Quezon City.
The concept of a community pantry is simple -- give what you can and you take what you need. It is a small stall containing a handful of products ranging from vegetables, fruits, canned goods, sanitary items, and snacks. These goods are made available for everyone in the local community. Those who wish to donate items to the pantry are encouraged to give in kind but those who want to give in cash are also welcome to do so.
After Non started her community pantry, other individuals across the country followed suit. In Davao City, we have community pantries along Roxas Ave., Mulig, Matina, Cabaguio, and even the one at the Davao City Jail in Ma-a, to name a few.
The community pantry is a commendable act of private individuals who wish to give back and help their community. The community pantry provides those in the area with some of the things they need, like food, without having to shell out from their dwindling financial resources.
On the other, the pantry is being sustained by generous individuals who simply want to give. With people giving to those who are in need, we can say that "faith in humanity" has been somehow restored. It is a great example of the bayanihan spirit.
What is sad is how some took advantage of it. In a viral social media post, a group of women took all the items of a community pantry in Pasig City.
"Tinawag ko pa nga po sila, sa i ko nakalimutan nila 'yung lamesa kasi wala na talaga silang tinira. Sabi lang nila, 'Ibibigay na lang po namin 'to sa mga kapitbahay namin.' Sabi ko sa kanila, 'pwede namang sila na lang pumunta rito kung kailangan din nga mga kapitbahay n'yo,'" Carla Quigue, community pantry organizer, was quoted saying on GMA News.
As of the writing of this story, this is still a developing story. While we give these ladies the benefit of the doubt as they have yet to share their side, what they did was still very insensitive. One of the primary purposes of the community pantry is to give those in need and also share the blessings to others. What they did is an opposite of the purpose of the community pantry.
It is also sad to note that the community pantry of Non has been red-tagged. This somehow politicized a good cause whose organizers, regardless of political affiliations or status, sole purpose was to help the community. The National Privacy Commission has called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) Data Protection Office to look into the alleged profiling of community pantry organizers.
In a statement, Department of the Interior Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año said he did not order the PNP to look into the community pantries around the country.
"As long as the intention is good and without political color, it should be encouraged and supported. Since this is a purely voluntary and private initiative, we should not interfere except to ensure that minimum health standards are complied with," Año said.
Community pantries were conceptualized to help the community. It is an act of kindness one can do in the community they are in. We hope that the public and some of our local leaders will learn selflessness, kindness, gratitude, and generosity from these community pantries.