Community pantries rise in Mindanao’s Davao, Zambo, Marawi, Iligan and CDO cities 

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 April) – Community pantries inspired by what Ana Patricia Non did in Maginhawa, Quezon City on April 14 have spread to other parts of Metro Manila and are now in Mindanao – in the cities of Davao, Zamboanga, Marawi, Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.

A resident chooses what she would get for lunch from the Roxas Community Pantry along Roxas Avenue in Davao City on Sunday, 18 April 2021. Photo courtesy of Juice Cubi

The Roxas Community Pantry initiated by Juice Cubi along Roxas Avenue in downtown Davao City was the first to open, on Sunday morning. Another community pantry in Davao City opened at 2 p.m. on Monday along Quimpo Boulevard, across the road from SM Mall, beside what used to be the Matina Farmers’ Market adjacent to the Land Transportation Office. A third one, located in Agdao, opened on Tuesday.

The Halal Community Pantry in Zamboanga City also started on Monday, a project initiated by student members and alumni of the Muslim Doctors (MD), an organization born in 2009 at the Ateneo de Zamboanga School of Medicine.

In Iligan City, a community pantry was set up “to provide food items to families whose income and day to day living were affected by this COVID-19 pandemic.”

In Cagayan de Oro City, a community pantry opened on Monday in Barangay Kauswagan.

In Marawi City, the Peace Harvest on Sunday announced it was setting up community pantries in the city.

Roxas Community Pantry, Davao City

“It’s our turn Davao! Roxas Community Pantry is now open for everyone! Inspired by Maginhawa Community Pantry, we are one on their mission to help less fortunate and encourage others to donate and share their blessings,” the Roxas Community Pantry announced through the Facebook page of Juice Cubi-Roxas on Sunday.

Those who cannot drop by to donate goods but would like to help buy fresh produce and goods to replenish the pantry can send their donations via GCash, it said.

Roxas Community Pantry along Roxas Avenue in Davao City was set up on Sunday, 18 April Mary Ann Medina of Juice Cubi-Roxas. Photo courtesy of Juice Cubi

It reminded everyone not to abuse the generosity of others but to get only what is needed to allow others the chance to also partake of the goods, and cited a verse from Corinthians that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

The Roxas Community Pantry also urged others to “start your own community pantry in your barangay. Let’s help one another in this time of pandemic.”

The pantry is open from 10 a.m. until supplies last.

Mary Ann Medina, the 28-year-old owner of Juice Cubi-Roxas, told MindaNews that the initial supply of vegetables on Sunday was a personal offering. She said she is used to doing community service but was inspired by the Maginhawa Community Pantry to do the same. She offered vegetables because these are “healthier.”

The supply was depleted within three hours but after posting photos on Facebook, donations poured in, in cash or in kind, including canned goods and rice.

Medina said she was so touched by the donation of ten pesos sent via GCash. It may be a small amount, she said, but she could feel the sincerity of the giver.

Another person dropped by to give a unique donation. Medina recalled the donor, a pet shop owner, said what he was offering may not be food for humans but some cats might need cat food.

Matina Community Pantry, Davao City

“Spread kindness, not COVID,” the tarpaulin welcoming the public to the Matina Community Pantry said, as it also reminded the public to sanitize, wear mask and maintain a two-meter physical distancing.

The Matina pantry was initiated by friends Malu Abella and Nelia Domingo Partoza, with the Abella family giving seed money so they could start.

Matina Community Pantry along Quimpo Boulevard opened on Monday afternoon, 19 April 2021. MindaNews photo by GREGORIO BUENO

Abella is affiliated with photojournalist Alex Baluyut’s Art Relief Mobile Kitchen (ARMK) which goes to disaster areas to cook hot meals for displaced residents. She helped organize ARMK in Davao City. “ARMK is helping out in this community pantry,” she said.

The Matina Community Pantry is open from 2 to 6 p.m. from April 19 to 24 but Abella added “we will continue if donations come in.”

Monday’s supply consisted of 200 packs containing two kilos of rice, assorted vegetables, root crops, cooking oil, and medium sized bottle of alcohol for disinfection. They ran out of supply by 4 p.m.

As residents came to pick their goods, several persons also came to drop off their donations of vegetables and other food items, including raw peanuts.

At the entrance, a tarpaulin greets everyone with the message: “Paghatag pinasikad sa imong katakus, pagkuha pinasikad sa imong panginahanglan” (Give only what you can give, take only what you need).

A resident caries a pack of two kilos of rice, assorted vegetables, oil and alcohol for disinfection which he got for free at the Matina Community Pantry along Quimpo Boulevard in Davao City on Monday afternoon, 19 April 2021. MIndaNews photo by GREGORIO BUENO

Abella told MindaNews on Tuesday morning that they were also delivering to Matina Aplaya Badjao Community which has 200 households, eight sacks of rice, 40 kilos lopoy dried fish and 40 kilos of mongo beans. “The good thing is this community is organized and they will repack. We will just deliver to them so that they need not hike” to the Matina Community Pantry.

On Thursday or Friday, ARMK will prepare lugaw for the Muslim community for iftar, when they break their fast. Muslims are on their second week of fasting

Cabaguio Community Pantry, Davao City

The Missionaries of the Assumption and its Paglaum Philanthropic Development Office opened at 9 a.m. on Tuesday the Cabaguio Community Pantry in Agdao, at the waiting shed of the Assumption College of Davao.

Also inspired by the Maginhawa Community Pantry, the nuns called on “all Assumptionistas and the public to be the hope and share your blessing to our community pantry.”

The nuns and Paglaum are being assisted by its partners the Kasama’t Sangguniang Mag-aaral ng Assumption ACD-Community Engagement and Services Office and the Solidarity Action Group for Indigenous Peoples and Peasants.

Halal Community Pantry, Zamboanga City

In Zamboanga City, the Muslim Doctors group started its “Halal Community Pantry” also on Monday at Centex Pharma, Joval building, Don Alfaro St., Tetuan. It is open from 8 a.m. until supplies last.

“For those who wish to donate goods, you may proceed directly at Joval building. We collect fruits, vegetables and all types of non-perishable food items that are unopened, unused with HALAL logo and at least three months of shelf life for our Community Pantry targeted at the underprivileged families,” the Muslim Doctors said on its Facebook page.

Those who wish to donate money to purchase goods for the pantry may also do so.

Halal Community Pantry in Tetuan, Zamboanga City caters not only to Muslims but residents of other faiths.

It reminded the public that the community pantry “works as simply as its core principle: Everyone is free to donate as much as he can, but no one should get more than what he needs.”

Dr. Abdul Javar Esturco of Muslim Doctors told MindaNews that they still have some items left but donations also poured in – vegetables, fruits, rice and noodles.

Esturco also clarified that the pantry is open not just to Muslims but to residents of other faiths.

He said they started at 10 a.m. on Monday but will open at 8 a.m. on Tuesday and it will be “everyday God-willing.”

“No amount is big or small,” Esturco said of the donations. He said somebody came to donate one papaya “pero dama mo na sincere and wants to share kahit isa lang yun” (but you can feel the sincerity and desire to share even if it was just one).

Marawi Community Pantry

In Marawi City, the Peace Harvest team announced on Sunday that it was installing community pantries “in various points in the city” in pursuit of “our purpose in finding peace through aiding (those who are experiencing) hunger and malnutrition in the community.”

“In the holy month of Ramadhan, many of our fellow Muslims are unable to attain their daily resources due to poverty. We have heard of stories about our fellows who have an empty plate during Iftar and Suhoor, and even attending Tharawee with an empty stomach. Thus, we wish to address this with you,” the Peace Harvest said.

It urged fellow Meranaws to “join us in helping our fellow Muslims and let us establish a stronger bayanihan together” by sending their donations in kind or in cash.

Sittie Asia M. Mai of Peace Harvest told MindaNews Monday night that they were still making arrangements but hope to start on Tuesday near Kilometer Zero at the People’s Park. “We will expand to some other places na need talaga ang ganung initiative. We would like to consider some transitory shelters here in Marawi, too.”

Also in Marawi, Lakas Kabataan ng Lanao opened four community pantries to cater to anyone in need, especially poor Meranaw families who are fasting this Ramadhan.

One of the community pantries in Iligan CIty that opened Tuesday (20 April 2021) at Barangay Ubaldo Laya. MindaNews photo by RIZ P. SUNIO

Iligan Community Pantry

In Iligan City, sisters Lucia and Luzanie Silva initiated a community pantry in Canaway, again inspired by the Maginhawa Community Pantry. The two urged those who could help to donate in kind or in cash, set up their own pantries in their barangays or volunteer their services.

“Hatag sumala sa imong makaya, pagkuha base sa imong panginahanglan,” they urged both givers and receivers.

As of 10 p.m. on Monday, according to its Facebook post, the Iligan Community Pantry received total donations of P42,098.54 with P29,574.79 cash on hand.

Iligan Community Pantry reports on the status of funds.

“We are pleased to inform you that we have coordinated with fellow Iliganons who are currently organizing community pantries in their own barangays. From the monetary donations that we received, we have started giving money as initial funds for these community pantries.”

It listed nine areas where they plan to launch community pantries in Ubaldo, Tubod, Maria Cristina, Del Carmen, Santiago, Abuno, Saray, GK Tibanga and Luinab.

On Tuesday morning, a community pantry was set up in Purok Manuang, Ubaldo Laya, near the Tubod Bridge, in the community of the survivors of the 2011 typhoon Sendong. Most of the residents are construction workers, tricycle and jeepney drivers, laborers and sidewalk vendors whose incomes were affected by the pandemic and have difficulties sourcing food for their families.

Cagayan de Oro community pantries

In Cagayan de Oro, a community pantry initiated by Rene Principe, a graduate of the University of the Philippines in Diliman and an instructor at the National Institute of Physics at UP Diliman, opened Monday afternoon in Zone 4, Pasil, Pasil-Bonbon Road in Kauswagan, for the poor and needy residents.

Kauswagan Community Pantry in Cagayan de Oro City

On Tuesday morning, Principe wrote on his Facebook page that the community pantry will open at 3 p.m. until supplies last.

“Honesty bench” in Maguindanao

In April last year, a couple in Sultan Kudrat, Maguindanao earned praises for putting up an “honesty bench” outside their AQ mart in Barangay Macaguiling where needy residents and passersby could freely pick a packed meal for Iftar during Ramdan.

Bench outside a grocery in Barangay Macaguiling, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao offers free food for Iftar, brereaking of the fast. Photo courtesy of Nageah Mohammad Pak

Nageah Mohammad Pak, owner of the family-owned grocery, explains that Ramadhan is not only about fasting, that giving essence to the sacrifice is to enliven the message of faith, to give to those who are needy especially as everyone was suffering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Days before Ramadan, the Pak family had earned praises on social media for leaving a bag of rice and dried fish at the bench outside their grocery, with a note posted on the bench that a family with nothing to cook today can pick one bag, just one, so that others can also partake of the offer. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews with reports from Froilan Gallardo, Riz Sunio and Ferdinandh B. Cabrera)