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ALL IN THE FAMILY

The generosity of the street vendor and many others

Community pantries respond to the physical hunger of people and a simple desire to share goods, but also are a powerful sign of hope awakening the spirit of kindness in all of us,” says the Society of Jesus Social Apostolate Commission.

“They serve as testimonies to the good that comes from empowering communities and promoting subsidiarity. Individuals and organizations came together to help alleviate the hunger faced by many of their neighbors. The pantries are a community effort aiming to solve, albeit temporarily, a community problem.”

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Last week we saw how University of the Philippines (UP) law professor Charlemagne “Charlie” Yu was inspired to set up The Community Pantry sa New Manila on Broadway Avenue corner 7th Street in Quezon City.

Aside from soliciting assistance from his UP Law network, Yu turned to his alma maters Ateneo de Manila University and Xavier School.

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Ateneo administrator Rodolfo “Rudy” Ang gives assorted vegetables weekly through Fr. Manuel “Manoling” Francisco’s Tanging Yaman Foundation. Ang, in turn, tapped friends, such as neurosurgeon Rhoderick “Bong” and wife Carmela Casis, Summit Sigma Ready Mix Concrete president John Adarme, RCW Construction president Michael Chua, Orocan coowner Bobby Go, banker Joey Bautista, Robert Yulo, Raul Dimayuga, Louella Camara-Scott.

Myra Arenas-Joves, who brainstormed with Yu on the project, enjoined her family, Ronald and Matthew Joves, to repack sacks of rice for distribution. Patty Tan and Jose Roberto “Jobet” Mamuric, who urged CDO Foodsphere to give thousands of “baon” packs, ensured that donations are processed immediately.

Xavier School parents Loren Perez, Romy and Vicky Tan, Oliver and Eloise Ong pitched in. Philip and Ang Yong Yu sent rosaries for people queuing up at the pantry.

Business and community leaders opened their hearts. Former Customs Commissioner John Phillip “Sunny” Sevilla quietly contributed to the effort. Republic Biscuit’s Jacinto “Jack” Ng Jr. gave boxes of crackers and other products. Victor Francisco of El Nido Foundation sent rice. Ban Kee Trading’s Eric Bautista, Gen X Energy’s Yari Miralao, Rudy Chua and US-based Kathy Yu-Arpon helped out in various ways.

“Many other names escape me at the moment,” says Yu. “We initially thought that donations would only come from friends. Krichelle Chua and Joseph Ty, who live in New Manila, gave canned goods and instant noodles. But we got assistance from people we never met as well as from anonymous donors. A certain Mr. Robert gave face shields. A Mr. Pino donated vegetables. We made new friends—Gabbie Delgado, Josephine Ng, Joel Bocal, Martha and Paula Bonoan quietly identified themselves as they dropped off eggs, vegetables, food packs. Other people stopped their vehicles, while driving by, to give cash for the pantry.”

Needy recipients continue to line up at the pantry, and the selfless act of one street seller is particularly moving.

“After receiving her care pack, she came back to hand over the remaining bottles of soft drinks that she was selling—as her contribution to the volunteers [managing distribution],” Yu says

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“This really is a community pantry!” he adds.

The street seller’s generosity reminded me of what Gawad Kalinga (GK) Payatas did at the start of the pandemic last year (“The Miracle at Payatas 13,” May 7, 2020). Recipients repacked 187 food packs that were really meant for them, thus making 453 bags of goods that were then distributed to neighbors.

“They kept for themselves less than half of what we sent,” says former Ateneo president Fr. Bienvenido “Ben” Nebres, who is actively involved in GK for decades.

(To be concluded)

The Community Pantry sa New Manila accepts donations in cash and kind. Call Bheng at 0927-394-0785. Drop off your contributions at 2F Gilmore Heights Building, Castillas corner Granada Streets, Barangay Valencia, Quezon City. Visit the Tayo Tayo Community Pantry sa New Manila on Facebook.

Queena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” via Lazada and the ebook version on Amazon, Google Books and Apple Books. Contact the author at [email protected]

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