“Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan. Kumuha batay sa pangangailangan.”
You’ll find these words lettered across a makeshift carton sign at a community pantry in Maginhawa, Quezon City. Located in Gulayan sa Maginhawa, in front of Ministop and Romantic Baboy, the pantry accepts in-kind donations in the form of grocery items. The premise is to let those who need these supplies (but don’t have the resources) take them without having to pay anything.
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What to expect
The Maginhawa community pantry was installed by furniture designer and Quezon City local Ana Patricia Non, who posted photos of the initiative on Facebook. “Ang hirap kasi sa panahon ngayon talaga gutom mga tao. Nagulat ako na nag-trend kasi dapat norm siya na nagtutulungan mga tao,” Non told News 5.
The pantry, which is actually a bamboo cart, carries items like rice, vegetables, milk, coffee, canned goods, soup, and even ingredients for specific dishes. Others also put face masks, vitamins, and soap to encourage people to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “Wag mahiyang kumuha andun lang po iyun. May hand sanitiser din para sa mga kukuha at mag-iiwan,” Non said in one of her posts.
So far, locals of Maginhawa, including tricycle drivers plying the area, have been benefitting from the community pantry. Non also shared seeing street sweepers, as well as homeless people, use it. She added that she plans to replace the bamboo cart with a proper shelf as soon as she finds one. This would help make the pantry even more organised.
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How to help
For those interested to donate some of their items, there are three ways to help in the community pantry initiative. One is by simply dropping off the goods at the pantry, which is open daily from 6am to 6pm. If you live far from Maginhawa, you can opt to book a courier and ask the rider to put the delivered items on the cart or shelf.
Monetary donations are also accepted. Simply send your preferred amount to Non’s GCash number, 09451454390. She’ll then take care of buying the necessary goods to replenish the pantry using the money. Finally, Non encourages everyone to start the same community pantry initiative in their locale.
According to Non, the best way to help is through in-kind donations, as it’s the fastest way to refill the pantry throughout the day. Tricycle drivers in the area even help repack items if they’re dropped off or delivered in bulk. “This is a community effort po talaga ito kaya mas maganda po kung katulong ko po kayo sa paglalagay at organise ng cart (tanggalin sa plastic para di kuhanin in bulk),” Non also said.
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Is the community pantry safe?
Non also acknowledged the possibility of people hoarding the items in the community pantry. This came after she’d been receiving inquiries and comments mentioning how honesty is observed and that those who actually need the pantry items aren’t actually the ones taking them.
For this, Non said that it’s important to connect with the masses so that some form of rapport may be established. “Valid naman ang concern. Tingin ko po maganda kung mag-integrate tayo sa basic masses para makilala natin sila. Para matanggal natin sa isip natin na ganid sila o mapanglamang.”
While the community pantry merely represents a temporary solution to help underprivileged Filipinos, it still gets the job done. “Di nito masasagot ang root cause ng kagutuman pero okay na din na pantawid gutom sa mga nangangailangan. Mahirap magtrabaho, mag-aral at lumaban habang kumakalam ang tyan,” Non assured.
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It can also be remembered that the nearby city of Manila once had a similar concept of an honesty-based store. Opened in 2018 and located in the Manila Police District, Manila’s Finest Honesty Store shut down after just six months of operating. This happened after a series of dishonest buyers took advantage of the store by stealing money from it.
Meanwhile, Batanes continues to take pride in the Honesty Coffee Shop. Started in 1995 by Elena Castano-Gabilo, the store relies on customers buying items without the presence of store attendants. To date, it’s the only store of its kind to survive after many decades and remains one of Batanes’ best attractions.
As of writing, another community pantry was installed in Padre Noval in Manila by Facebook user Toots Vergara. Vergara said that she took inspiration from Non’s Maginhawa pantry. There’s also one in Los Baños, Laguna, which is located in Grove, Batong Malake.
All images credited to Ana Patricia Non.