MANILA — Filipino fans of South Korean idol groups have banded together to put up "community pantries" in their localities.
The pantries are makeshift shelves set up along streets, where residents can donate food and other basic goods to help other Filipinos in need during the COVID-19 crisis.
In Cavite, a fan club of K-pop superstars BTS put up 2 community pantries in Dasmariñas City, in the name of their idols.
"Ito po ay naisip naming way para makapagbigay ng tulong, pag-asa at ngiti sa kapuwa naming Pilipino dahil alam din po naming mahirap na para sa lahat ang maghanapbuhay sa kalagitnaan ng pandemya," said 21-year-old Billy Jones Rosales, one of the organizers of the pantries.
(We thought of this as a way to offer help, hope and smiles to our fellow Filipinos because we know how hard it is for everyone to make a living in the middle of a pandemic.)
Rosales said her group reached out to other BTS fans or ARMYs in the country and abroad, who "quickly gave us [help] without even inquiring too much."
"The real heroes here are the members of the ARMY fandom who are always willing to donate and help, and who are also influenced by BTS knowing na madami din po silang natutulungang charities," she said.
(The real heroes here are the members of the ARMY fandom who are always willing to donate and help, and who are also influenced by BTS knowing that the group also gives to a lot of charities.)
In Malabon City, Kristine Santos put up a community pantry in Barangay Maysilo where she displayed miniature standees and photos of her favorite boy group, EXO.
Santos, 32, shared that she became interested in EXO last year after watching a series starring D.O., one of the members.
"Na-curious ako how good he is as a singer and dancer... I suddenly felt na fall na fall na ako, not only to Kyungsoo but to the whole group," she said, referring to D.O.'s real name.
(I was curious about how good he is as a singer and dancer... I suddenly felt that I was falling not only for Kyungsoo but for the whole group.)
Other EXO-Ls in the Philippines donated to Santos' community pantry after she posted about the initiative on Facebook fan groups.
Over the years, K-pop fans have used their organizing power for social causes, often in the name of the artists they support.
Last year, fan clubs donated supplies to relief programs for the victims of Typhoon Ulysses.