Save for the fact that she has been interviewed non-stop by various media outlets since setting up the Maginhawa Community Pantry on April 14, little has changed in the life of Ana Patricia “Patreng” Non.
The 26-year-old fine arts graduate from the University of the Philippines has always had the heart to help— a trait she developed at an early age through her parents. From her father, she learned to respect and support the indigenous Aetas in his native Pampanga, while her social worker mother exposed her to the lives of marginalized communities.
But Patreng’s community pantry proves that when given the chance, people are willing to help, too. As of this writing, there are over 80 community pantries in Quezon City alone, and more than 300 community pantries nationwide. There are also community pantries offering pet food, books, and seedlings for vegetables and fruit-bearing trees. Even the world has gotten into the spirit of sharing blessings with a community pantry set up in Timor-Leste.
My Pope Philippines chats with Patreng about her life before the Maginhawa Community Pantry, the real solution to poverty and hunger, and what her humble initiative has taught her.
Before the Maginhawa Community Pantry, what was your life like?
Meron po akong negosyo, furniture business na maliit. Okay po siya kaso nag-lockdown. ‘Yung isa kong woodworker ay dating construction worker na nawalan ng trabaho. Nagde-deliver kami, ka-partner namin ‘yung mga jeepney drivers na natigil-pasada.
Have you ever run out of supplies at your community pantry?
Hindi po. Araw-araw akong nagwo-worry, “Naku, mauubusan na tayo.” Pero sabi ng mga volunteers, “Hindi ‘yan, Patreng. Maniwala ka lang.” (Read: 3 Food Items You Can Donate to Your Local Community Pantry)
Pagdating ng hapon, ‘yung ubos po mapupuno ulit. Magugulat po kayo. Sobrang haba ng pila, akala niyo hindi sapat, pero laging ‘sakto sa mga tao. Lahat nakakakuha.
Are community pantries the solution to poverty and hunger?
‘Yung community pantry ay umaasa lang sa mga donasyon, hindi po talaga siya sagot sa hunger at poverty. Kung baga, additional lang siya dapat. Tingin ko po maso-solve siya kung ma-address ng government na taasan ang budget for food at ayuda, lalo na po ang taas ng unemployment and poverty rate sa Pilipinas.
What have you learned from running your community pantry?
Every day, iba-iba ang sagot ko dito. Kakaiba po ‘yung unity ‘pag nagtulungan ang Pilipino. Kakaiba kapag may common ground na ina-address. Tsaka ang mga tao, nakikinig po sila, pero dapat pakinggan niyo rin po sila. (Read: Pope Urges Leaders to Involve the Poor in Post-Pandemic Planning)