MANILA - It was the scene some feared would happen with the rise of community pantries all over the country.
Carla Quiogue, who along with her siblings put up one along East Capitol Drive in Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig City, was surprised when she saw it for herself on the first day of their pantry.
“I check the table from time to time. And of course, nagulat po kasi noong nakita ko, ‘yong table na lang talaga ang natira (I was surprised to see that only the table was left),” she recounted to ABS-CBN News.
“I was disappointed.”
For 2 hours after the pantry opened Monday afternoon, she said the canned goods, noodles, eggs, condiments, and snacks on the table had gradually decreased as people took one or two at a time.
Still, she was also pleased to find that others came to replenish the items.
By the third hour, Quiogue came out to see a group of 6 women with eco-bags taking packs of coffee, instant noodles, crackers, as well as the remaining canned goods.
One was carrying the 2 egg trays on the table.
Qiuogue said she tried to stop them from getting everything.
“We asked them nicely kung pwede kumuha na lang sila ng kung ano lang kailangan nila para mas marami [ang] makakuha,” she said.
(We asked them nicely if they could just get what they needed so that many more would be able to avail.)
“Pero iba ata [ang] intindi nila and sabi nila magbibigay daw sila sa mga kapitbahay nila.
(But it seemed they understood differently and said they would be giving the food away to their neighbors.)
Quiogue told the group that if their neighbors needed the food they could visit the pantry themselves.
“Pero hindi po sila nagpapigil (But they did not relent),” she said.
“Tumalikod lang sila and nag-thank you (They just turned away and said ‘Thank you’.”
TRUST IN HONESTY
Quiogue’s pantry, along with the many others that have sprouted across the country, displays the written slogan: “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha ayon sa kailangan (Give what you can, take what you need).”
The organizer of the first pantry in Quezon City, Ana Patricia Non, said community pantries rest on trust in people’s honesty amid their own need.
Quiogue said that while she did not know if the women would indeed share the food with neighbors at a nearby barangay, she hoped they were being honest.
“Sana talagang ‘yon ‘yong kailangan nila (Hopefully that was what they really needed),” she wrote in a post about the incident
After the post, Quiogue received messages from people claiming to be neighbors who received items the women took, but she was told these might be relatives.
“They were apologetic and they understood my reason,” she said.
“Gusto ko lang matutunan nila na may iba pang tao bukod sa kanila.“
(I just want them to learn that there are other people aside from them who are in need.)
Even as pantries have also been initiated by the church, local government officials, and law enforcement, the original one on Maginhawa Street, Quezon City halted its operations on Tuesday.
This was after some pantry initiators, including Non, were at the receiving end of red-tagging posts.
Many other pantries, meanwhile, have created systems to avoid problems during distribution.
Despite what the group of women did, Quiogue is determined to keep the pantry open.
“Hindi naman lahat ng tao ay ganoon (Not all people are like that anyway),” she said.
In response to the incident, she has received P10,000 in donations to replenish their stock.
But they are planning to move the stand to Brixton Street at another area in the community and merge it with the stock of other Kapitolyo residents.
“The reason why we’re continuing this is still because of our main goal, which is to reach out to people for help and to extend help to those who need it,” Quiogue said.
“‘Yon pa rin naman (that’s still it)—bayanihan.”
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