By Marivir R. Montebon
A few days ago, I was truly ecstatic at the initiatives of Filipinos who shared their extra food from their own kitchen and home gardens to other people on their neighborhood. It was touching. I have shared one story on my FB page and clicked loved on similar posts.
Love and share – it is what people should do, I believe, in face of this pandemic. We Filipinos call it bayanihan or pagtambayayong or pagtinabangay. As a writer, I regard such pragmatism as the triumph of the spirit. I have never been so inspired. The misery created by poverty and the pandemic have been assuaged with love and support for each other, through these community pantries.
Then came the Philippine military who red-tagged the young Filipina – Ana Patricia Non – for creating a community pantry in her neighborhood in Quezon City that inspired everyone else to do the same. What the …, I said. Not again. Even this shining act of love and concern is labeled ‘communist-inspired.’
I wouldn’t waste time debating with anyone about communism as an ideology or political theory. In the Philippines, if you are tagged as a communist, it could mean your death or isolation because of the fear that it creates among people. Thus, when Ms. Non was being red-tagged for creating a community pantry, I was angry and concerned. What despicable leaders and military men does the Philippines have! Why do you do this?
Filipinos have naturally found a way to survive this pandemic, as they do with calamities such as typhoons that pummel the land about 24 times per year (you can imagine that typhoons visit the Philippines twice a month, like the 15-30 payday). Red-tagging doesn’t work. It is a worn-out way of scapegoating from the real problems of poverty, inequality, lame leadership, and corruption in the Philippines. Thankfully, people have continued to support to each other through their community pantries.
As for the Philippine military and police taking dominion during these critical times, won’t the civilian government come to its wits and change the composition of the Task Force attending to pandemic concerns of health, food, and safety?
The Philippines has ranked lowest in handling the pandemic in Asia because you are putting the wrong people in the leadership. You have not responded efficiently for the people at all.
I’ll say this again. Let a thousand community pantries bloom in the Philippines! Thank you for everyone’s inspiration. Please keep on keeping on.
Meanwhile, I take heart in sharing this wonderful rendition of Bahay Kubo by FilAm children Tristan and Lauren Beck in New York. Thank you again, mother Ann Beck for nurturing your children’s musical gifts and heritage.
Bahay Kubo’s message of Earthly abundance means these gifts have to be joyfully shared. (Mabuhay ang Bayanihan means long live community spirit in English; Featured photo – a community pantry in Cebu City by Abante Barangay.)#