De La Salle University welcomes the homeless to stay inside its Manila campus while the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine is implemented.
Facebook/De La Salle University
Rivals Ateneo, La Salle join hands to feed hungry amid COVID-19 crisis
Arnell Ozaeta (Philstar.com) - April 9, 2020 - 1:19pm

BATANGAS, Philippines — Rival schools Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University call a truce to provide support to the most vulnerable sector affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The De La Salle Brothers Inc. and Jesuits of the Philippine Province have raised over P10 million to feed around 500 homeless individuals staying in safe shelters and over 6,000 urban poor families in Metro Manila.

“A little conversation between myself and Fr. Jun (Fr. Jun Viray) created a spark that is more explosive than UAAP that allowed us to say, 'maybe this is the time to work together rather than compete.' And that’s the story of our love life with the Jesuits in the time of COVID-19,” said Br. Armin Luistro FSC, president of De La Salle Philippines.

La Salle were among the first schools to provide a safe shelter for homeless individuals around Manila who were left out in the streets after St. Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center was ordered closed by the police and barangay officials at the onset of the enhanced community quarantine.

“Our alumni (Ateneo) businessmen said they would like to help. It's going to get harder. Let's raise money together with our friends (La Salle)," said Fr. Jun Viray SJ, provincial superior of the Jesuits in the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.

“I’m very proud of our alumni who can transcend the rivalry and come together. If this were music, we’re not really rivals, we’re counterpoint to each other. When counterpoints come together in harmony, you create music,” Luistro said.

The fund generated by alumni of both schools is being managed by the Philippine Business for Social Progress through the Bayanihan Musikahan platform which, to date, has raised over P38 million and reached over 10,000 urban poor families in Metro Manila. 

Grocery packs are assembled by the homeless people staying at La Salle as a way of giving back, while receiving a small allowance to help restore their dignity. 

Aside from grocery packs, Bayanihan Musikahan also partnered with Tublay farmers in Benguet to deliver over 50 tons of fresh vegetables to communities under quarantine, a concrete model of food security through mutual help by supporting farmers and sustaining food supply in communities most in need.

Despite the generous amount, both De La Salle Brothers Inc. and Jesuits of the Philippine Province recognize that it is not enough to respond to current needs. They are calling on other alumni to donate. 

Bayanihan Musikahan is an online concert series led by national artist Ryan Cayabyab.

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