As the Philippine government continues to combat the deadly virus that has already claimed over 17,000 lives in the country, ordinary Filipinos remain grappling with day-to-day problems such as food insecurity and financial stress due to the community restrictions imposed to prevent the possibility of a COVID-19 surge.
The pandemic has severely impacted numerous industries resulting in the rise of the country's unemployment rate, which hit 8.8% in February 2021 according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. With many workers being displaced, families are left with the burden of finding alternative means just to bring food to the table.
This has inspired various people, social groups and organizations to exhibit the indomitable Filipino spirit of Bayanihan during these uncertain times through opening community pantries. Initiated by Ana Patricia Non in Maginhawa Street, Quezon City, the community pantry movement has already gained ground in different parts of the archipelago.
The working principle in community pantries is simple: Give what you can, take what you only need.
Last April 30, 2021, teachers and staff of Philippine Science High School - Central Visayas Campus (PSHS-CVisC) joined in echoing the movement by organizing their own community pantry.
Fresh supplies of vegetables, eggs, dried fish, rice, and grocery items were freely distributed to more or less 150 people, mainly construction workers on the campus, who patiently queued.
Ronald Landongan, one of the construction workers, said the items he received from the pantry would give his family a two-day food supply.
Other recipients were canteen personnel, janitorial workers, security personnel, and some residents of Barangay Talaytay.
The event also reflected the school's celebration of Labor Day on May 1.
"The health crisis has ravaged the livelihood of millions of our kababayans across the country. With thousands of positive cases recorded every day, there is still no sign of the pandemic ending anytime soon. We need to embody the Filipino spirit of Bayanihan and help allay each other's difficulties in any way we can. Let a thousand community pantries sprout!," Dr. Rachel Luz Rica, PSHS-CVisC campus director, said.
PSHS-CVisC's plans to set up more community pantries are already in place.