Fetalvero: Pantries, please

Noemi Fetalvero
·2 min read

POLLUTING the idea of bayanihan, which was initiated as a concept for community spirit, is indicative of the seriousness of corrupted minds.

The initiative of setting up community pantries was effectively taking off when police authorities reportedly red-tagged the organizer Ann Patricia Non. Chief of Police Gen. Debold Sinas denied claims that he ordered the profiling of the organizers.

President Rodrigo Duterte recently said that he will allow the operations of the Maginhawa pantry since the initiative is helping citizens to cope with the effects of the pandemic. All’s well that ends well.

The community pantry that bears the slogan “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha ayon sa pangangailangan (Give what you can, take what you need),” captured so many hearts that the community efforts sprouted like mushrooms everywhere in the country.

Actually, it went viral more than the dreaded virus.

When did the concept of bayanihan start? In ancientpages.com, “the term ‘bayanihan’ itself literally means ‘bayan’ which refers to the spirit of community, unity, work and cooperation to achieve a particular goal.” Due to the rigmaroles of living, we forget that we live in the same nation and function to each his own. The bayanihan is still alive to some extent with the community pantry.

Everythingfilipino.com underlines the value of bayanihan in our culture:

“It is helping out one’s neighbors in a community and doing a task together, thus lessening the burden. The early bayanihan is best exhibited when people wish to move locations within the rural areas. The traditional house, the ‘Bahay Kubo’ can be moved using bamboo poles. This requires a group of people to lift and carry the house on their shoulders. Able- bodied men usually participate in such feats. Afterward, there will be a small gathering, a celebration and socialization.”

Early artisans depicted the culture in their paintings. In fact, it became a favorite subject by famous artists. Our government adopted the word bayanihan in an effort to help those mostly affected by the pandemic. The Special Amelioration Fund program tagged as “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” granted the President additional authority to combat Covid-19. It was aimed to contain local transmission, mobilize assistance of basic necessities, take measures to manage the health care system thus implement a social amelioration program to affected sectors.

Prior to the pandemic, hunger was already a concern. Some 17.7 million Filipinos below the poverty line were already experiencing hunger.