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Keeping the Bayanihan Spirit Alive

The community pantry set up by Ana Patricia Non in Maginhawa, Quezon City.

Written by April Mae Casida (PoP’s Web and Media Assistant)

It has been over a year since the Coronavirus outbreak. The pandemic has brought upon a massive impact of loss, heartbreak, and pain for us all over the world. Today, vaccines are developed by different nations and are now distributed to different parts of the world, and this sparks the hope of many. Hoping that sooner or later, things will go back to what it has been.

But it is a different case here in the Philippines.

While other nearby countries are slowly getting back to their feet, it seems that we are still stuck in this bubble of despair. A bubble that everyone wants to get out of but just can’t. While everybody else is walking forward, it seems that we are moving backward. With the rollout of vaccines, I have expected things to be getting better. But surprisingly, it is not.

But I am not here to point fingers.

I am not here to blame anyone. There are too many existing negativities that I can’t bear to add more. I am here to share something that recently touched my heart and made me realize that there are still good things in the world -- you just have to look around.

Filipinos are known to be resilient people. We smile despite the storms, we hope despite the difficulties. The global pandemic has greatly taken its toll on us. Many people have lost their jobs and are just barely making ends meet. The prices of commodities have increased. It just makes you think how those who lost their livelihood will be able to put food on the table.

But just last week, a thing called ”community pantry” was put up by the very Filipinos who are generous enough to give what they have for the Filipinos who are suffering and going through a hard time, and now everyone else seems to follow.

What is a “community pantry”?

The idea was initially brought to life by Ana Patricia Non, a Filipina who organized the first ever community pantry at Maginhawa, Quezon City. It aims to serve residents who suffer from hunger and food insecurity in a specified area.

What happens in the community pantry? A stall is filled up with different goods such as vegetables, canned goods, fruits, and other essentials from people who are generous and willing enough to share what they have—these items are up for grabs and FREE to those who need them.

Every pantry’s slogan has been “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha batay sa pangangailangan”. This slogan means “Give what you can and take what you need”. It doesn't matter whether your contribution is a piece of soap, a box of milk, or a sack of rice. Big or small, each of these contributes to serving other people who need help. And with every bit of donation a person gives, sparks encouragement to other people. Now, there are several community pantries across the Philippines, all put up with one and the same drive and desire—to help people in need, to help our “kabayan” in need.

In times of difficulties like today, the Filipinos never seem to fail to show the Bayanihan spirit.

But what is the Bayanihan spirit?

Bayanihan is a Filipino culture that pertains to communal unity. It is when people help each other in working towards a common goal without expecting anything in return.

There were many times that the Filipino community has exemplified their extraordinary "Bayanihan spirit" and the current situation is no exception to it. It is the personification of the phrase “two is better than one”. Many are fighting their own battles and demons thinking that they are alone, but what a relief that there is a community behind you that emphasizes and is always ready to lift you when you are on the lowest of lows.

Despite the current events that are happening around us, around the world, it is no secret that many times, the presence of humanity has been questioned, that kindness isn’t always present. But the reality is, when we focus on the bad, we fail to see the good. The Bayanihan Spirit inspires Filipinos to shift our perspective, shift our mind, and in return we’ll see the greatness brought upon by humanity, the kindness shared through a common goal, and the heart that encourages other people to follow. It is always a joy to see that despite all the difficulties life brings, it doesn’t hinder people to bring out the good inside them. We must always remember that just a single word can make a heart open.

“When we make the choice to care, we set into motion a snowball effect that touches many people, most of whom we will never know about... Never underestimate the importance of a kind act. The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.” - Alan Cohen

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