Contagion of Mutual Aid in the Philippines

18 Photo from CURE Covid Facebook page

Contagion of Mutual Aid in the Philippines

An Initial Analysis of the Viral Community Pantry Initiative  as Emergent Agency in Times of Covid-191Through a research grant from Oxfam Philippines and as part of a multi-country research project of Oxfam GB, the Philippine Sociological Society (PSS) has an ongoing study on Emergent Agency in Times of Covid 19 in the Philippines. By tracing the networks of trust and by examining the altenatives that are embedded in community initiatives which sprung in response to the pandemic, the final report of this research project aims to contribute to public conversations and deliberations about trajectories for rebuilding in a post-Covid world. This initial analysis of the Community Pantry initiative that has become a viral phenomenon of mutual aid is one of several case studies that would be written by the Emergent Agency Research Team of the PSS.2The Philippine Sociological Society (PSS) in partnership with Oxfam Philippines is conducting a research project titled “Social Networks for Service Delivery and Crisis Response in times of COVID-19”. It aims to document and examine cases of various spontaneous responses to the crises brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also aims to contribute to wider conversations about emerging forms of community action and solidarity and the possibilities that they engender for a post-pandemic world.

Josephine Dionisio3Jo Dionisio is the Principal Investigator of this project. She is currently Chair of the Department of Sociology in the University of the Philippines Diliman (UP Diliman). Comments or questions about this Initial Analysis may be sent to her through jcdionisio@up.edu.ph, Arnold Alamon4Arnold Alamon is a Senior Researcher for this project. He is currently Assistant Professor of Sociology at Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT)., Dakila Yee5Dakila Yee is a Senior Researcher for this project. He is currently Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of the Philippines Tacloban College (UP Tacloban), Kidd Alonzo Juwan Palanca6Kidd Alonzo Juwan Palanca is a Research Assistant for this project. He is currently an undergraduate student of sociology at UP Diliman.,
Ferdinand Sanchez II7Ferdinand Sanchez II is the Project Assistant for this project. He is currently an undergraduate student of sociology at UP Diliman.
, Seiko Miho Mizushima8Seiko Miho Mizushima is a Research Assistant for this project. She is currently an undergraduate student of sociology at UP Diliman., Joel Jan Alvarez9Joel Jan Alvarez is a Research Associate for this project. He is currently a graduate student at MSU-IIT. 10 Authors of this Initial Analysis are members of the Emergent Agency Research Team for the PSS-Oxfam Philippines project

 

Directly click the footnotes for reference and more information

 

Most coverage of the COVID-19 crisis concentrates on the negative impact of the disease and government’s inadequate response, such as the dehumanizing effects of restriction and lockdown on citizens. Often hidden are the ways in which individuals, communities, and grassroots organizations respond creatively to these new challenges. In many countries, ground-up responses emerge to address gaps in state measures as governments continue to push responsibility to communities. More local actors take action to address their needs and we have seen new and novel actions even as new issues continue to emerge in the ongoing global health crisis. These practices are providing insights on possibilities for collective action, new models of leadership, and mutual care.

 

Initiatives taken by a variety of stakeholders on their own to effect changes in their situation are referred to as emergent agencies. It includes the capacity of an individual, group, or community to actively and independently choose to do something that creates change in their lives or the lives of others. During the COVID-19 crisis, this could be seen as positive to effect change or negative as against the “greater good.” Regardless, these exercises in emergent agency can help inform “building back better” options at local and national level—policies and practices that can turn the crisis into a critical juncture for the design of a more equitable and sustainable future.

 

A little over a year after the government implemented and extended lockdowns as a precaution against the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), citizens of the Philippines continue to face many difficulties with regards to the uncontained health crisis and the government’s response or the lack thereof. According to the recent labour force survey performed by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) last February 2021, the unemployment rate increased to 8.8 percent, equating to about 4.2 million Filipinos, as compared to the 8.7 percent, equating to about 4 million Filipinos, in the beginning of 2021. In the previous year, especially during the period of the strict Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), about 8.7 million people have lost their jobs and about 7.9 million people have become underemployed due to pay cuts from having shorter working hours (de Vera 2021). Filipinos, especially those belonging to the poorer sectors, have also experienced difficulties in securing their livelihoods due to the pandemic restrictions, and experienced hunger due to the disruption of food systems and the insufficient food aid coming from the local government (Ramos 2020).

 

Residents line up for financial aid from the local government in Batasan Hills, Quezon City


Photo from Michael Varcas, The Philippine Star11 Varcas, Michael/The Philippine STAR. April 8, 2021. “Residents of Batasan Hills in Quezon City…line up to receive their financial assistance from the government on the second day of distribution on April 8, 2021” One News. Accessed April 19, 2021 (https://www.onenews.ph/contrary-to-policy-dilg-undersecretary-wants-arrest-of-individuals-lining-up-too-early-for-aid)

 

 

Feelings of gloom and doom have also been widespread due to the impact brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) between June and August 2020, shows that the pandemic has created a devastating effect on the mental health of individuals as isolation, bereavement, fear, and loss of income are triggering mental health conditions or amplifying existing ones. Individuals may experience having insomnia and anxiety, as well as increased levels of alcohol consumption (France-Presse 2020). Other sources of feelings of gloom and doom in the Philippines may also be caused by the continuous cases of human rights violations against the poor. According to the Human Rights Watch (2020), the “drug war” killings of the police have increased 50 percent during the strict lockdown period last April to July 2020. When asked about these killings, the police would routinely claim that these individuals fought back and provide that as the reason as to why they were killed (ABS-CBN News 2019).

 

Human rights violations against the poor, in relation to quarantine restrictions, have also been prevalent ever since the beginning of the pandemic. In the earlier days of the lockdown, many people belonging to the poorer sectors were often blamed by the government for being hard-headed or “pasaway” for not staying at home and for continuously violating the enforced quarantine rules (Esguerra 2020). People who have been caught past curfew hours have been subjected to inhumane punishments such as being put inside dog cages or coffins, forced under the scorching sun, paraded in the streets, emotionally abused, detained, or degraded (Gonzales 2020). These inhumane acts have resulted in casualties; the most recent one being the case of 28-year old Darren Peñaredondo from Cavite who was forced to do 300 squats as a punishment for breaching curfew rules (Ang 2021).

 

 

 

 

Five people from Santa Cruz, Laguna, locked up in a dog cage for violating curfew rules

Photo from Eric Panisan Ambrocio on Facebook12Ambrocio, Eric Panisan. March 20, 2021. Facebook (Publicly shared). Accessed April 19, 2021 (https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=1306378909549699&set=pcb.1306378952883028)

 

 

 

 

On April 2, 2021, the Philippines logged its highest single-day tally of COVID-19 cases. According to the Department of Health, the recorded 15, 310 new cases included a backlog of 3, 709 cases due to technical errors in the system last March 31, 2021 (Magsambol 2021). The surge in COVID-19 cases due to the different variants that have entered the Philippines have caused strain as hospitals in Metro Manila have now been classified as “high-risk” as various intensive care units (ICUs) have been filled up or are almost filled-up to their maximum capacities (Tomacruz 2021). The Philippines has the second highest number of active COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia with 926,052 total cases; 706,532 recoveries, 203,710 active cases, and 15,810 deaths as of April 17, 2021 (Abad 2021).

 

Makati Medical Center posts a sign at the emergency entrance saying it has reached full capacity for COVID-19 cases

Photo from Miguel De Guzman, The STAR13 The STAR/De Guzman, Miguel. March 14, 2021. “A sign is placed at the emergency entrance…as the private hospital reaches full capacity for the COVID-19 cases on Sunday, March 14, 2021.” One News. Accessed April 19, 2021 (https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2021/04/15/2091288/calls-swamp-one-hospital-command-center)

 

 

In the attempts to improve the current situation and to overcome the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, various individuals, groups, and institutions, have emerged with different projects to help fellow Filipinos in need. These emergent behaviours, in relation to collective behaviour, rise when people feel that the preexisting organizations fail to meet the demands of the public, when usual tasks and structures are deemed to be inefficient and inappropriate, and when communities feel the need to respond to a crisis situation by themselves (Drabek and McEntire 2003:99). An example of this emergence would be the recent Community Pantry Initiatives found in various places in the Philippines.

 

This initial analysis tries to capture the phenomenon of community pantries in the Philippines. Our data are mainly collected from online sources and the period covered is from the emergence of the first Community Pantry on April 14, 2021 up to the time it went viral on April 17 and to the time of the writing of this initial report on April 18, 2021.

 

The first community pantry was set up by Ana Patricia Non on April 14, 2021, on a street corner along Maginhawa St., Teachers Village, Quezon City. She herself has a small business that was adversely affected by the reimposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila. It was with help from family and friends that she was able to stock up food supplies during the lockdown. Having more than what she needed, she decided to share her excess supply with those who are more in need in her neighborhood.

 

The Maginhawa Community Pantry cart14Non, AP. April 14, 2021. “Sa gusto po magpadala 96 Maginhawa, Diliman, Quezon City po.” Facebook (Publicly shared). Accessed April 19, 2021 (https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=2880198388904525&set=a.1724450561145986)

 

 

 

 

Ana Patricia Non distributing goods15Daily Tribune. April 18, 2021. “Community pantry: Activism to feed the people.” Tribune.net. Accessed April 19, 2021. (https://tribune.net.ph/index.php/2021/04/18/community-pantry-activism-to-feed-the-people/)

 

 

 

With only a bamboo cart and an instruction written on a piece of cardboard that says, “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan. Kumuha batay sa pangangailangan” (Give according to your ability. Take according to your need.), Non set up the Community Pantry in front of a former food park on Maginhawa Street, first buying vegetables from nearby vendors and later stocking the pantry with other essentials such as an alcohol sanitizer, canned goods, and rice. Soon, people flocked to the pantry, either to acquire the food that they need for the day, or to donate goods and supplies to replenish the pantry. Four days later, the community pantry became a viral phenomenon with many similar efforts sprouting all over the country attributing her act as the source of their inspiration.

 

It should be noted that in her original Facebook post which became viral, she recognizes that her act is not the solution to all of hunger (“Di nito masasagot ang root cause ng kagutuman”), but that it is enough to give people a fighting chance. The accompanying photo posted then shows in carton signages “Maginhawa16 Street names in Teachers Village are Tagalog terms for personality traits. The main road is called Maginhawa, which roughly translates to “feeling of relief”. Over the years, from a quiet residential neighborhood of middle class families, Maginhawa St. has become a foodie destination with the emergence of small businesses that offer niche and fusion cuisines, many of which are built from transformed and re-purposed family home units. Community Pantry” and the now famous quote “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan. Kumuha batay sa pangangailangan.” (“Give what you can. Take only what you need.”)

 

Based on an initial mapping of 49 unique community pantries, we make the following observations:

  • The first wave of replicators created their own community pantries from April 15 to 16, 2021 in nearby Matiyaga St., also in Teacher’s Village, and then Los Baños, Laguna; Sampaloc, Manila; and Bacoor, Cavite.
  • In its viral stage, from April 17 onwards (date of writing of this report is April 18, 12 midnight), a total of 44 community pantries were set up from as far as Davao and Iligan in the south, Aklan in Visayas, and as far as Pangasinan in the north with majority in the National Capital Region. This represents an eightfold increase in a span of less than 24 hours. Other sources such as Ragene Andrea Palma identified 75 community pantries proving further the widespread public embrace of the phenomenon.

Ragene Andrea Palma’s viral collage of community pantries all over the country 4 days after the first one was set up in Maginhawa St. She was able to identify 75 community pantries.17 Palma, Jean. April 18, 2021. “All these community pantries in four days, and counting. What a powerful movement.” Facebook (Publicly shared). Accessed April 19, 2021 (https://www.facebook.com/ragenepalma/posts/10157801377826646)

Initial mapping of 49 unique community pantries via Google Maps18Sanchez, Ferdinand II, Kaj Palanca, and Seiko Mizushima. April 18, 2021. “Community Pantries of the Philippines Map.” Google Maps. Accessed April 19, 2021. (https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/1/viewer?mid=1AIDsn2019AvvtPuw8o8fVOb78B8mZGiP&ll=12.113060926820095%2C123.11347862413461&z=6)

  • 33 out of the 49 were initiated by private individuals or families while 16 were initiated by organizations such as private enterprises, civic organizations, and youth groups to name a few.
  • Other forms of crowd support are emerging. For example, digital cartographers are mapping the locations of these community pantries that have been sprouting all over the country. They are also mobilizing the public to help update this map that would enable donors and clients to locate the Community Pantry that is nearest to them.
    bit.ly/communitypantrymap

An indication that the Community Pantry initiative is steadily gaining ground as an organized response is the dissemination of infographic materials prepared by organized groups to provide the public with knowledge and information about the process of setting up Community Pantries.

Photo from CURE Covid Facebook Page19 CURE Covid. April 14, 2021. “Sa gusto po magpadala 96 Maginhawa, Diliman, Quezon City po.” Facebook (Publicly shared). Accessed April 19, 2021 (https://www.facebook.com/curecovidph/photos/a.105222074447201/291994612436612/)

  • Pictures posted on social media show that four out of the forty-four community pantries carried other issue-based slogans in signages displayed on-site or in their social media posts. These posts carried calls for free mass testing or an end to violence against women but not directly attacking the current administration. The rest contained the name of the community pantry usually taken after their location.

From Kjerrimyr Rodrigo Andres Facebook page20 Andres, Kjerrimyr Rodrigo. April 17, 2021. “SPOTTED: Matatag Community Pantry @ QC.” Facebook (Publicly shared) Accessed April 19, 2021

Taken from the official inquirerdotnet Twitter account21 Inquirer/Montegrande, Grig. April 17, 2021. “Replicating Kindness.” Twitter (Publicly shared). Accessed April 19, 2021 (https://twitter.com/inquirerdotnet/status/1383314291286179842)

All of the community pantries covered by this quick survey carried variations of the original quote from Ana Patricia Non, “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan. Kumuha batay sa pangangailangan.” (“Give according to your ability. Take according to your need.”) This was translated to Cebuano by the community pantry in the city of Iligan in Lanao del Norte as such: “Mukuha sumala sa kinahanglan, muhatag base sa kakayahan,” and in Bicolano in the province of Camarines Sur: “Magtao base sa kakayahan, magkuha base sa kaipuhan.” It was also translated to Ilocano in the province of Pangasinan: “Mangala babaenti kasapulan, mangted babaenti kabaelan,” and also into English in Aklan.

 

 

 

From Lucia Silva’s Facebook page22 Silva, Lucia. April 18, 2021. “Iligan Community Pantry.” Facebook (Publicly shared). Accessed April 19, 2021 (https://www.facebook.com/lasilver97/posts/3840669719314560)

 

 

 

 

From Brigada News FM Bicol’s Facebook page23 Brigada News FM Bicol. April 18, 2021. “Community Pantry Nasa Bayan na rin ng Pasacao, Camarines Sur.” Facebook (Publicly shared). Accessed April 19, 2021 (https://www.facebook.com/brigadanewsfmbicol/posts/912967492836427)

 

 

 

 

 

  • The quote lifted from the first community pantry seemed to have provided the “viral” element as seen in the adaptation of this quote by all community pantries covered by this quick research from April 14 to 18, 2021.


Mutual Aid amid Precarity

While started by a private individual in Maginhawa Street, Bgy. Teacher’s Village in Quezon City on April 14, 2021, a significant segment of the viral wave of community pantries emerged from established (rather than emergent) trust and social networks with shared frustration over the government’s COVID response, e.g. the absence of subsidies in the second major round of lockdown starting April 2021. It is worth noting that these more organized formations undertook community kitchens and collective gardening among other forms of emergent agencies even at the start of the pandemic, but although publicized, these initiatives did not catch the imagination of the public the same way that the current community pantries did.

 

Putting up community pantries is not a novel idea or unique to the Philippines. It is a modality of mutual help that is already being done in other countries even under normal conditions. Thus, the viral spread of the Community Pantry initiative in the Philippines under the harsh conditions of ECQ24 As an integral part of the Philippine government’s pandemic response, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases has devised varying modalities and classifications for quarantine restrictions across the Philippines. With the new spike of cases this April 2021, the Task Force again placed the Greater Manila Area (dubbed “NCR Plus”) under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) for two weeks. This limits movement of industries and people within the bubble to only those considered as essential, such as health frontliners and food and service workers. Other modalities include the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine, Extreme Enhanced Community Quarantine, and General Community Quarantine, each of which impose more or less stringent measures on flows of industries and people with the premise that this would help curb the spread of the virus. is simply phenomenal. Media accounts, images, and testimonials about how meager resources are selflessly shared and responsibly claimed between and among those who were hardest hit and most vulnerable in this Covid-19 pandemic seem to have boosted the morale of a desperate public that is bogged down by feelings of gloom and doom as the National Capital Region is thrown under hard lockdown for the 2nd time in a year. And probably, there lies the rub. For the precariat, these community pantries enable translocal mutual aid between and among them, and for the increasingly disenchanted segments of the middle class, these community pantries have become outlets of their pent up exasperation over the absence of official action. Donations of food crops by farmers from distant agricultural communities have been filling makeshift pantries in the urban centers.

 

The second round of ECQ was now even more economically debilitating for many sectors. Entire households have become infected with the virus and the increasing death rates due to the raging pandemic is no longer just a perception for many families but has sadly become very real. for many families. In the face of all these, the general public is confronted by a failing health care system and the uncertainty of the much needed roll out of a public vaccination program. The Department of Labor and Employment reported that in the first three days of the April 2021 lockdown, 8,000 workers lost their jobs. This is over and above the 118,200 workers who lost employment since the beginning of the pandemic. The prospects are not bright with the country’s GDP remaining at its worst level since the Second World War. Government has begun distributing aid in the National Capital Region but many Local Government Units who are tasked to release the funds are experiencing delays because of many reasons. Meanwhile, there are harrowing stories of COVID positive patients being turned away from hospitals because they are at full capacity as the figures of rise among the infected and those who succumb to the illness.

 

The establishment of community pantries may thus be considered a gauge for a solidifying public opinion on the inadequacy of government response to the pandemic on two fronts: 1) providing economic subsidy and aid for those greatly affected by the lockdown 2) and the lack of an appropriate and comprehensive health response to the pandemic. These community pantries resonate with the public’s dire needs and brewing discontent in the context of a worsening economic and health care situation.

 

Another narrative thread in the viral community pantry is that the phenomenon debunks dominant opinions on perceived behaviors of the poor and the needy. The sectors who have kept the pantries well-stocked and who have taken from these pantries no more than what they need for the day, are the sectors who are consistently blamed by the current administration as the culprit for the spread of the virus because they are “pasaway” (undisciplined). Those who have less have shown, according to reports on the ground, greater generosity and graciousness by offering their meager surplus items and taking only what they need. Anecdotal reports also say that it is the (lower) middle classes, who have also been hit hard economically by the pandemic, who have shown less restraint in getting items from the collective coffers.

 

Expanding Networks of Trust


The consistent use of the Maginhawa Pantry slogan across established pantries all over the country—from Davao to Iligan, to Aklan and all the way to the north in Pangasinan, indicates that it has struck a chord amongst those who replicated the act. On the one hand, it can be seen as a searing albeit coded critique of the State perceived by many to have been engaged in a dirty war against its declared enemies from the left amidst the deadly pandemic.

 

However it is also possible that the quote may have also spoken to the replicators and provided them with inspiration to get out of the comfort of their immediate family bubbles and recognize the shared needs of their neighbors in the community. The community pantries indicate the emergence of expanding networks of trust established among communities because of the pandemic. As the economic crisis brought by the pandemic stretches on, communities are realizing that the protracted crises puts everyone—the urban poor, rural poor and the middle classes in the same state of precarity. The quote: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” is the new slogan of the lower classes in the time of the pandemic.

 

It connotes a contagion of mutual aid for the similarly situated and is an oblique critique of the greed and callousness that for some are clearly named and for others remain unnamed and are silent about. This outpouring of solidarity initiated by the middle class and complemented by the patronage and support from the lower classes could be a manifestation of this emergent solidarity.

 

Beyond Mutual Aid: What alternative is embedded in this viral initiative?

 

The original quote from the Maginhawa pantry reads: “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan. Kumuha batay sa pangangailangan.” It could be an adaptation from Marx’s writings in his Critique of the Gotha Program: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”25 The quote, “From each according to his ability. To each according to his needs.”, comes from Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program, Chapter 1, and alludes to the communist horizon: “In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly—only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!”, although the substance and the context when Marx wrote this alluded to his imaginary of a communist future. It cannot be said that all who emulated the original pantry in Maginhawa share the same political views considering that only a few posts on-site and in social media displayed overt political messages. But that it became “viral” indicates that these community pantries and what they stand for resonated with the public – temperance against greed, compassion over indifference, and mutual care in the face of institutional neglect.

 

Given the provenance of this quote, it can be interpreted as a courageous declaration of a counter narrative against neoliberal and authoritarian discourses as it highlights socialist principles. In some community pantries, the Maoist principle of “from the masses, to the masses” (“mula sa masa, tungo sa masa”) were displayed in cardboard signages. It can be said that the current community pantry phenomenon, on the one hand, is a performative condemnation not only about the incompetence of the present administration but also a rejection of the capability of the current elite-driven system to effectively address the needs of the most vulnerable sectors of society.

 

 

“Mula sa masa, para sa masa” signage found in the Marikina Heights Community Pantry

Photo from Ced Moneda on Facebook26 Moneda, Ced. April 17, 2021. “Marikina Heights Community Pantry.” Facebook (Publicly shared). Accessed April 19, 2021 (https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=2819174044961758&set=a.1622016768010831)

 

 

 

 

 

“Mula sa masa, tungo sa masa” signage found in the Community Pantry of Victory Norte, Santiago City, Isabela

Photo from @alvarezalyyy on Twitter27 batongbakal/@alvarezalyyy. April 19, 2021. “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, Kumuha batay sa Pangangailangan.” Twitter (Publicly shared). Accessed April 19, 2021 (https://twitter.com/alvarezalyyy/status/1384024157650755585)

 

 

 

The tremendous public support behind the community pantries with the eightfold increase in number after it went viral in April 17, 2021 is indicative at the very least of necessary policy changes in government’s response to the acute economic crises that the pandemic has brought. Government should release subsidies to the poor and improve their health response to the satisfaction of the public who, seeing the absence of the State, have created their own networks of mutual aid to get by as manifested by the community pantries.

 

Defending Emergent Solidarities: Need for Vigilance against Repression and Attempts to hijack the narrative of mutual help

 

Just four days in after the first community pantry was initiated and a day after it became viral, various interests are already trying to hijack the narrative. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque issued a statement lauding the community pantries as manifestations of the Filipino’s bayanihan spirit. Such an interpretation effectively de-politicizes the community initiatives and coopts these as mere acts of civic duty. If they are not coopting, the same interests dismiss these initiatives as staged and organized by the usual suspects – political enemies of the administration from the so-called yellowtards, or dilawans to the radical left represented by the CPP-NPA-NDF.

 

In a facebook post, Jong Juguilon reported that signages placed in the Sta. Mesa community pantry were removed by police. There are now increasing reports of replicators being interrogated by police asking them about their background and their organizational affiliations.

 

 

Photo from Iskra Allende Roldan28 Roldan, Iskra Allende. April 19, 2021. “Hands off our Community Pantries.” Facebook (Publicly shared). Accessed April 19, 2021 (https://www.facebook.com/IskraDalangin/posts/10158385530558667)

 

 

 

The very real danger is that there are efforts this early by certain sectors to hijack the narrative and to rob this movement of its optimism and radical content. What should not be lost in the discursive field is that the establishment of community pantries is a transgressive act that lets us see what may lie beyond the limits imposed by the “natural order of things” and that these emergent agencies point us to the possibility of new political horizons.

 

The community pantries in the Philippines are representations of a different kind of contagion, the good kind representing the best of our fellow Filipinos who engage in collective acts of mutual aid. They are manifestations of new solidarities that are forged out of the collective trauma faced during this pandemic. Now that the people have congregated in these emancipating “viral” spaces, these should be defended against the cynicism of those who fear their yet unawakened political potential. The community pantries are not rally or demonstration sites as of yet, but the material conditions of want and frustration could turn them into overt sites of resistance in the very near future.

 

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Esguerra, Darryl John. 2020. “Palace: Filipinos should be ashamed as PH tops with most COVID-19 cases in SEA.” Inquirer.net. Accessed April 19, 2021. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1259636/fwd-nakakahiya-palace-says-filipinos-should-be-ashamed-as-ph-tops-asean-with-most-virus-cases

Gonzales, Cathrine. 2020. “‘Human rights violations’ amid quarantine enforcement add to COVID-19 blues.” Inquirer.net. Accessed April 19, 2021. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1312093/human-rights-violations-amid-quarantine-enforcement-add-to-covid-19-blues

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Ramos, Mariejo. 2020. “Pandemic weakens food security in urban poor communities.” Inquirer.net. Accessed April 19, 2021. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1341286/pandemic-weakens-food-security-in-urban-poor-communities

Roque, Harry. 2021. “Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on the community pantry.” PTV News. Accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.ptvnews.ph/presidential-spokesperson-harry-roque-on-the-community-pantry/

Tomacruz, Sofia. 2021. “Metro Manila ICU capacity now ‘high-risk’ as COVID-19 surge continues.” Rappler.com. Accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.rappler.com/nation/metro-manila-icu-capacity-high-risk-march-20-2021

Tse-tung, Mao. 1943. “Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership.” Marxists Internet Archive. Accessed April 19, 2021 https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-3/mswv3_13.htm

World Health Organization. 2020. “COVID-19 disrupting mental health services in most countries, WHO survey.” Accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.who.int/news/item/05-10-2020-covid-19-disrupting-mental-health-services-in-most-countries-who-survey

 

ANNEXES

Rappler’s list of community pantries: https://www.rappler.com/moveph/list-community-pantries-where-you-can-donate?fbclid=IwAR3ohIZ-bAXc5XLputOgw_exxP701boKlLC5LP8AJhQfIfeCSllcrGFCweo

Maginhawa St., Quezon City
begun by: Ana Patricia Non
First Facebook post: (April 14, 2021)
https://www.facebook.com/PatrengNon/posts/2880053828918981

Tumulong ang tricycle drivers sa pag-repack ng bigas (Tricycle drivers assist in repacking rice)
April 15, 2021:
https://www.facebook.com/PatrengNon/posts/2880744538849910

Instructions sa pagtulong, April 15:
https://www.facebook.com/PatrengNon/posts/2880907235500307

Matiyaga St., Quezon City
April 16, 2021
https://www.facebook.com/esfernando/posts/4398629596818177

P. Noval St., Manila
April 16, 2021
Toots Vergara
https://www.facebook.com/toots.vergara/posts/10158109438678603

Brgy. Caniogan, Pasig City
April 16, 2021
begun by: Iam Pasig Food Tour Group
Put up by: Ingrid Mediarito

Pasig barangay may community pantry na rin

Brgy. Batong Malake, Los Banos, Laguna
April 16, 2021
Ja Abdel

Bahayang Pag-asa, Bacoor, Cavite
Louie Marie and Corrine Dela Cerna
April 16, 2021(Started gathering donations)
April 19, 2021 (Planned date of operations)
https://www.facebook.com/louiemarie01/posts/10158058949128317

Matatag St., Quezon City
April 17, 2021
With:
contact numbers for reporting cases of violence against women
Contact numbers for free HIV testing

https://www.facebook.com/TheKejOfGlory/posts/10223677775724142

Loyola Heights Community Pantry, Loyola Heights, Quezon City
April 17, 2021
Ia Marañon

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208579815009129&set=a.1586685883344&type=3

Intramuros, Manila
April 17, 2021

Tulong Obrero Community Pantry, Narra St., Quezon City
April 17, 2021
Elmer Cordero ng PISTON 6
https://www.facebook.com/gmanews/posts/10159961267186977
https://www.facebook.com/ian.porquia/posts/2742495192633877

Southie Community Pantry
Purok 5, Sucat, Muntinlupa
Organized by: South Snippets
April 17, 2021(Started gathering donations)
April 19, 2021 (Planned date of operation)
https://www.facebook.com/southsnippets/posts/2475988485858521

Brgy. Malanday, Patiis, San Mateo, Rizal
April 17, 2021
Lief Reyes
https://www.facebook.com/lief.reyes/posts/3817909738244327

Legal Rd. cor. Premium St., Project 8, Quezon City
April 17, 2021
J Anne Alberto Habil
https://www.facebook.com/jen.habil/posts/485112142860605

Mother Ignacia Ave., Quezon City
April 17, 2021
Allia Acosta and JM Lanuza
https://www.facebook.com/alliaacosta/posts/10157625079157513

Caloocan Community Pantry, 6th St., C3 Caloocan
April 17, 2021
Ma. Theresa Punzalan
https://www.facebook.com/aynamooo/posts/10219520435341810
https://www.facebook.com/arkipelagonewscaloocan/posts/141694304629637

Marikina Heights
April 17, 2021
Cedric John Moneda
https://www.facebook.com/cjsmoneda/posts/2818159311729898

Brgy. Balibago, Angeles City, Pampanga
April 17, 2021
Hazel Day Gil
https://www.facebook.com/dghanne/posts/1579313012267397

Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya
April 17, 2021
https://www.facebook.com/bayombongpantry/posts/105735791648089

Bulabog, Boracay
April 17, 2021
Joana Rose Roman
https://www.facebook.com/roman.jrose/posts/890962371746553
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=103088828588827&id=102968148600895

https://www.facebook.com/energyfmkalibo107.7/posts/3983695115011872

Masterlist of Boracay Island Pantries: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1hral3-UIe1x5MQupnblFOx0FZeAEjXw9DAhICRe0NEM/edit?fbclid=IwAR0b6zTIAa6PxaGoh-SF7LXzkh3DgldSSsv2ZRs1eewznVBt4gK3QV_xWS4#gid=0

Parang, Marikina City
April 17, 2021
Mara De Guzman

Tabang Komunidad Pantry
San Felipe, Naga City, Camarines Sur
April 17, 2021
https://www.facebook.com/tabangkomunidad/posts/1721875794680680

Sta. Mesa Community Pantry
April 17, 2021
Ten Derillo
https://www.facebook.com/ten.derillo/posts/10219931826102008

Sta. Cruz Community Pantry, Sta. Cruz, Laguna
April 17, 2021
Josh Panganiban
https://www.facebook.com/owa.gabinabajan/posts/4525789390784371

P. Laygo St., Lipa City, Batangas
April 17, 2021
https://www.facebook.com/HelloLipa/posts/2229661327163914

Leviste Highway, Lipa City, Batangas
April 18, 2021

Kalayaan mula sa Kagutuman
Kalayaan Ave., Quezon City
April 17, 2021
https://www.facebook.com/iamraoulmanuel/posts/3979746392071759

Panorama St., Concepcion Dos Marikina City
April 18, 2021
Lexa Magat

Romans St. cor. Friendship Rd., Concepcion Uno, Marikina City
April 18, 2021
https://www.facebook.com/DoYouPermitIt/posts/3902539856506806

Payatas, Quezon City
April 18, 2021
Ma. Dianne Cariaga

Alcala, Pangasinan
April 18, 2021
Organized by: Alyansa ng mga Kabataang Alcaleno

Roxas Avenue, Davao City
April 18, 2021
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=4018335911554045&id=716461365074866

Baliuag, Bulacan
Baliwag Community Pantry
April 18, 2021
Organized by: Climate Change Center
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10222946146115503&id=1633960415

Bagumbayan Angono, Rizal
Bagumbayan Community Pantry
April 18, 2021
Organized by: JP De Borja
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=106352861575774&id=101813358696391

Bagumbong, Caloocan
SPPMA Community Pantry
April 18, 2021
Organized by: Saint Padre Pio Mission Area
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=510579230320064&id=106281110749880

Examiner St., Quezon City
Examiner Community Pantry
April 18, 2021
Organized by: Kalinaw Coffee Co.
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10226296295859369&id=1400450947

Brgy. Canaway, Iligan City
Iligan Community Pantry
April 18, 2021
Organized by: Lucia Silva & Luzanie Silva

Tiaong Community Pantry
M Dia St., Brgy. Lumingon, Tiaong, Quezon
https://www.faceùbook.com/rapplerdotcom/posts/4458787054142043

Brgy. Tinio, Cabanatuan City
April 18, 2021
Kathleen Musni
https://www.facebook.com/rapplerdotcom/posts/4459546270732788

 

Related News Coverage and Social Media Stories

 

Tricycle drivers help repack rice, organize lines:
https://www.facebook.com/PatrengNon/posts/2880744538849910

“Ito ang pamilya ni Randy Calumag, ang magsasaka ng Paniqui, Tarlac na nagbigay ng LIBRENG KAMOTE sa Community Pantry sa Maginhawa Street…”
(This is the family of Randy Calumag, a farmer from Paniqui, Tarlac, who gave free sweet potatoes to the Community Pantry at Maginhawa St.)
https://www.facebook.com/MagsasakaOutlet/posts/289818026001499

Tatay Elmer Coldero ng PISTON:
“Noong mangailangan ako, napakaraming tumulong at nagbigay. Panahon naman ngayon para tumulong at magbigay dahil napakarami pa ring nangangailangan.”
(“When I was the one in need, many people gave me help. It is now time to help and give because many are still in need.”)
https://www.facebook.com/gmanews/posts/10159961267186977

Mga mangingisda mula sa Binangonan, Rizal—
“Fishers from Binangonan, Rizal are set to donate more than 50 kilos of surplus produce to a Maginhawa-inspired community pantry in Quezon City later today.”

Interview with VP Leni Robredo for AP Non’s background, motivations for CP initiative (at mark 44:20 onwards):
https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=797314111191785&ref=watch_permalink

“Pagod na ako magreklamo. Pagod na ako sa inaction.”
(I am tired of complaining. I am tired of inaction.) https://www.rappler.com/moveph/community-pantry-covid-19-lockdown-april-2021

5 Comments

  1. […] each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” a viral slogan behind the massive ‘community pantry’ movement in the Philippines that took off this month. Great case study of emergent […]

  2. […] also a development that scholars warned in a paper published by the Philippine Sociological Society earlier this month could ‘hijack’ the […]

  3. Dan - April 26, 2021 Reply

    Since “it cannot be said” that proponents of the slogan all share the same political principles, it could be interesting to consider also the Biblical origins of the phrase given that faith may be a more widespread denominator. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” has always been linked to (and inherent in) basic Christian teachings, with many people thinking that Marx was borrowing from descriptions of the early church such as the following:

    “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4: 32-35, English Standard Version)

    That’s obviously not to say the sentiment is unique to Christianity, but given the role of faith in Filipino life it would seem an omission to ignore it.

  4. sind Ausdruck einer neuen Solidarität“, heißt es in einer am 18. April publizierten Studie, die in Gemeinschaftsarbeit zwischen der Philippinischen Soziologischen Gesellschaft (PSS) und Oxfam

    Translation:
    are an expression of a new solidarity, ”says a study published on April 18, which was carried out in collaboration between the Philippine Sociological Society (PSS) and Oxfam

  5. […] Patricia Non’s community pantry in Maginhawa became a nationwide movement overnight. Numerous pantries, in the form of wooden shelves, Monoblock tables under trees or beach umbrellas, cartons and boxes, […]

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