Village councilor cooks vegetable dishes for neighbors under enhanced community quarantine

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 13 April) — Instead of distributing canned goods and instant noodles as relief packs for residents under an enhanced community quarantine to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-1), a barangay kagawad (councilor) in Prosperidad town has been cooking healthy vegetable dishes  that she and her cousins deliver to every home  in the village since April 8.

Kagawad Joan Martensen Borja of New Maug , Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur., leads the distribution of cooked vegetable dishes to her neighbors. Photo from her FB page

Kagawad Joan Martensen Borja of New Maug was moved upon seeing many of her neighbors eating only ginamos (fermented anchovies) as their viand, prompting her to cook the popular law-oy (vegetable stew), packed in plastic bags and shared with some 100 households on the first day of their relief mission.

The idea of giving away cooked vegetables out of her own pocket, was triggered when she saw two young girls selling squash, string beans and eggplants pass by her house. She bought all the produce amounting to 500 pesos.

Before COVID-19 sent the country in lockdowns and community quarantines, Borja had an online business selling bags and shoes among others.

Kagawad Joan Martensen Borja of New Maug, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur cooks law-oy with her cousins for distribution to their neighbors. Photo from Councilor Borja’s FB page

“I was a bit bored staying at home for days when the two girls came peddling vegetables harvested by their father who is a peasant of a small farm,” said the jolly village councilor who was elected in 2018.

Law-oy meal for distribution. Photo from Councilor Borja’s FB page

With the help of her male cousins and neighbors, Borja cooked ginataang gulay (vegetable dish cooked with coconut milk) on the second day of their food relief efforts covering another 100 homes in Purok 2.

Her good deeds drew the attention of a nurse of a government hospital who saw her photos on her Facebook page and offered to donate a van loaded with vegetables from Esperanza town so she could continue her food sharing initiative.

Vegetables donated by a nurse for the food-sharing initiative. Photo from Councilor Borja’s FB page

On Saturday, the vegetables promised by the donor came, a supply that could last for three days. The nurse asked not to be identified and requested her to pixelize his face if ever she would post the photos on social media.

If she had her way, Borja says, she wants to continue distributing the vegetable dishes until the COVID-19 crisis is over but that will depend on whether or not she can still afford to do so and more good Samaritans will help in her modest project. (Chris V. Panganiban / MindaNews)