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  • “Maliit pa ang mga bata, hindi pa nila naiintindihan. Pero 'pag laki nila, sana nga po paglaki nila, e marunong na din silang tumulong,” mused farmer Randy Calumag from Paniqui town as children shrieked playfully in the background of the call.

    Randy, 39, had just donated a portion of his kamote harvest to the Maginhawa Community Pantry. This was despite his own difficulty selling his crops at an acceptable price.

    Randy said it’s been a difficult year as the farmgate price for kamote dropped to just Php6 per kilo. It was a price that doesn’t give him enough to cover his bank loans and his young family — his wife and two sons aged 4 years and 18 months old.

    “Nagbayan-bayan na kami sa patitinda, pero mahirap talaga. Kaya nung nakita ko yung post ng Magsasaka Outlet, nagmessage na ako sa kanila,” Randy recalled to SmartParenting.com.ph

    He was referring to Magsasaka Party List’s efforts to buy produce from local farmers.


    “Buti na lang nakita nila yung message ko. Nagkasundo naman kami sa presyo,” Randy said. 

    Magsasaka Outlet purchased 1.8 tonnes of kamote for donation to the Maginhawa Community Pantry. When Calumag found out about the intended recipient of the kamotes, he packed extra kamote as his own personal donation.

    “Hindi ko na alam kung gano kadami yun. 'Pag magbibigay ka, hindi mo na naman kikiluhin o bibilangin kung ilang sako ang ibibigay mo 'di ba,” he said.

    His children are too young to fully grasp the impact of the donation, but Randy is hopeful they will pick up on it.

    “Sana nga po. Pero ngayon pa lang, makikita mo naman na marunong silang magshare kahit sa amin lang sa bahay,” the proud father said.  

    Randy is just one of many private citizens who contributed to the efforts to help thousands of Metro Manila families whose livelihood were compromised by the pandemic. Businesswoman Teresita Benito Embuscado and her niece and nephew shelled out their own money to fund their version of a Community Pantry in Barangay Sagad, Pasig City.

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    Teresita Benito Embuscado at the Sagad Community Pantry in Pasig.
    PHOTO BY Facebook/Richard Benito

    Her nephew approached her with the idea on Saturday, April 17, 2021; they began buying supplies for the pantry the next day and opened it to the public on Monday, April 19. They were able to distribute vegetables, rice, noodles, sardines, coffee, milk, fruits, and eggs to close to 300 beneficiaries before they used up all their stock.

    “Sarado kami kasi nag-aayos pa uli for distribution pero magbubukas uli sana (sa Miyerkules, April 21),” said Teresita, 58.

    The Sagad Community Pantry is set up on C. Raymundo Ave. near the gate of Villa Upeng where there is a lot of foot and vehicle traffic. “Nandoon sya para marami ang makaalam at makapunta,” she said in a conversation with Smart Parenting.

    Teresita has a long personal tradition of donating to the community and church for the past several years. She said it’s her way of paying back to a world that gave her and her family so many blessings. 


    “Nagstart kami mag-asawa from scratch tapos nakapagsimula kami ng business. Ngayon, sinisigurado ko na nakakapagshare ako ng blessings sa iba,” said Teresita, a mother to four grown children and grandmother to a 4-year old girl.

    One of her sons recently recovered from a mild case of COVID-19 and so she thinks that opening a community pantry is a thanksgiving opportunity.

    “Unang beses ko na lumabas ng bahay para dito sa community pantry,” she shared.

    Asked what she wants her granddaughter to learn from this endevor, Teresita said she wants her to learn how to think of others in the community.

    “Gusto ko na ipagmalaki ako ng anak at apo ko na may mga taong may malasakit sa kapwa,” Teresita said.

    “Masyado ng materyoso ang mundo. Minsan lang tayo dadaan sa mundo; piliin nating maging mabuting tao," she adds.

    The Maginhawa Community Pantry is currently the center of controversy following a government agency’s warning that the group is being used by communist rebels to recruit new members.

    At a press conference, Patricia Non, who started the Maginhawa initiative, encouraged those who doubt their intentions to volunteer with them for a day for a personal experience. She says that the Maginhawa Community Pantry also showcases the Filipino’s Bayanihan spirit.

    “It gives people a venue to help,” Non said. 

    Want to help? Donate to a community pantry near you! Click here for a list.

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