Helping one another has no color

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - April 23, 2021 - 12:00am

During times of crisis and difficulty, any kind of assistance is welcome and deeply appreciated. Many people in dire need will no longer ask about the source of help. Their main concern is how they will be able to put food on their tables and provide for their families on a regular basis.

And now, more than ever, we must reactivate the Bayanihan spirit for which we have become recognized around the world. While such a spirit of helping one another can be seen in several ways and places around the world, we take it to a new level of selflessness in our own backyard. It is a higher type of self-offering for the benefit of others.

For example, in some communities, the idea of a community pantry has taken on a new form or avenue of aiding those in need. Those who have more in life have the opportunity to share everything they have with those who have less. As a result, assistance is immediately provided to our impoverished brothers and sisters.

Community pantries are not a novel idea. In 2013, for example, colleges in the United States created food pantries specifically designed to help students who were drowning in debt. Thailand's Too Pan Sook (Pantries of Sharing) debuted in late 2020. Filipinos, on the other hand, have unmistakably formed a movement that is entirely our own. From restaurant owners in Maginhawa to farmers in Tarlac, everyone is affected.

We never stopped thinking about the people who are the most vulnerable to the pandemic — those who don't have the choice of staying at home and staying healthy, and whose meals are based on the income they receive on the same day, if they have any at all. Our ordinary citizens, because of the strict quarantine, have no option but to stay at home but with no support, would no longer think of who’s behind any kind of support but be grateful for its presence no matter what.

And, thanks to social media, people will flock to the location of the community pantry right away. Since it provides direct and immediate assistance to those in need, such a method of expanding hope is extremely effective. As a result, it was disappointing when this initiative was branded as part of a larger scheme hatched by some individuals with dubious vested interests. However, it is an outright disappointment to those whose only goal is to help those in need.

The pandemic is difficult for some of us, but it is much more difficult for the majority. As a result, now is the time to be thankful that we still have a job or a source of income, that we still eat more than three square meals, and that we are still able to afford our children's education.

It is not the right time for some to profit from the situation. Another worry is that people will stockpile goods and leave little for those who come after them. Let us be mindful of others' needs. There are far more families in a poorer situation than ours.

The community pantry will continue to support those in need as long as there are Filipinos willing to share the resources needed to keep it going. No amount of tarnishing the very existence would be able to bring this community movement to a halt.

The Bayanihan spirit will live on! And we condemn any association with it that is misleading, since the true essence of helping one another has no political affiliation, no hidden agenda, and no specific color.

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