High Five: Unique Community Pantry Ideas in the Philippines

by SEA Wave
SEA Wave SEAtizens Community Pantry Unique Ideas
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By: Patricia Yap


The saying that “one small act of kindness creates a ripple effect” has definitely become salient these past few weeks amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to a humble bamboo cart in Quezon City, Philippines, Filipinos and foreigners by now know the story of how it became the inspiration for countless other community pantries to appear all over the country. But by this time, unique variations have since taken shape. Here are High Five unique community pantry ideas in the Philippines.

Community Paw-ntries

SEA Wave - Community Pantry Philippines - Community Pets

Photo from Facebook User Avien Rosete

Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the lives of millions of people for a little over a year now, but it has also affected the lives of animals. Although the virus did not directly harm animals, its economic effect on humans clearly brought grievances to many pet owners and animal shelters who could no longer provide for their beloved animals nor sustain operations. The pandemic has also taken human lives and have left pets abandoned.

Fortunately, the aid of community pantries has extended beyond the reach of human hands to the paws of hungry cats and dogs. In some areas of the Philippines, like Makati and Taytay, community pantries for pets and strays have sprung left and right. Animal welfare organizations such as the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) even set up a small table outside of their gate despite their Facebook post stating that they are already low on resources.

Most of the pet pantries include pet foods and pet soaps and shampoos that owners can grab, while a few others provide pet ointments. Tupperwares of pet food and water are also left on the ground for strays to openly approach. Apart from providing basic pet necessities, one unique initiative that community paw-ntry organizers share is that they promote shelters near their area that could use donations and still have space for abandoned or stray animals.

Trash for Food

Since the first community pantry, the motto has always been “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan. Kumuha batay sa pangangailangan” (Give only what you can. Take only what you need), and for one community pantry in Mandaluyong City, this principle is taken a step further by asking residents to give what they can in the form of what everyone already has (in abundance even): trash.

For the residents of Barangay Addition Hills, each person may cut up their used plastic sachets into small pieces in exchange for food. The reason for such an exchange is because this community pantry aims at two things: to get rid of trash that clogs their city drains and to provide its citizens with enough food.

If you think the organizers will just chuck out the collected trash, think again because they’ll actually be sending these off to places that make ecobricks—a material that can be used as building blocks for crafting items like furniture, garden walls, and other structures. Mandaluyong City, after all, is known as a flood-prone area. As a result, not only do the residents receive food, but they also get a clean chance to get rid of their trash and prevent flooding in their city all at the same time.

Community Bikeshop

SEA Wave - Community Pantry Philippines - Community Bikeshop

Photo from Bikers United Movement Facebook Page

The Philippines is known for many things. Unfortunately, this includes being known as the country with one of the longest lockdowns in the world. The consequences of a year-long lockdown? Layoffs, unemployment, and reduced income for millions. And although a number of remote work options have sprung online, the gap in the Filipino population that can and cannot work from home is far too wide, so most Filipinos this year end up having to work as delivery riders for food and other small items.

While the majority of delivery riders in the country ride motorbikes, there are some who only have ordinary bikes to get the job done. Riding for long hours, however, can damage one’s bike; eventually causing another potential job loss.

But just this April 23, the Bikers United Movement, a group that advocates for inclusive mobility and transport for every Filipino, in collaboration with CycleBros, set up a #CommunityBikeshop to provide spare and brand new bike parts to bikers in need. In their Facebook post, it can be seen that they have safety light-up vests, helmets, seats, chains, and other items to give. Not to mention they also provide free bike checks, and a few bike mechanics have already lent a helping hand.

With their motto “Kumuha ng kailangan para makarating sa paroroonan” (Get only what you can to get to where you need), every Filipino biker that needs the extra push could definitely reach their destination; starting from securing a stable delivery job this pandemic.

Contraceptives and Advocacy

Two weeks ago, community pantries that gave unique items, such as books and children’s toys, apart from food had already become commonplace. In Davao City however, the LGBT-Queens Organization set up an ever more surprising and  unique community pantry by including contraceptives.

Taking the chance and initiative to promote their advocacy on responsible family planning and sexual health, the LGBT-Queens Organization’s President Regie Mangisay said they decided to provide free contraceptives to hopefully educate others and prevent the rising cases in STD and HIV cases in the country. Pills and condoms are both available, as well as water-based lubricants.

Although the pantry may come as a shock to some people, Mangisay was happy to say that their community pantry was openly accepted by the residents in the area.

Rolling Community Pantries

SEA Wave - Community Pantry Philippines - Rolling Community Pantries

Photo from Facebook User Lyra Royo

For Filipinos that do not have the capability nor strength to go to and line up in front of community pantries—especially under fiery heat—some individuals and organizations have decided to bring the community pantries to the people.

In Bugallon, Pangasinan, the organization GO BIKE Project believes that “Hindi sapat na may mailagay lang sa kumakalam na tiyan. Dapat ay mayroon ding abot kayang serbisyong medikal para sa lahat” (It is not enough to fill a starving body. There should also be a service that can provide basic medical care for all). Consequently, GO BIKE Project decided to roll out a community pantry that provides both food and basic medical care, aptly known as the Community Pantry with Free Healthcare Services on Wheels.

Likewise, in Quezon City, the place where the humble bamboo cart began, a kind-hearted individual named Lyra Royo made use of her small E-Bike to provide ready-to-eat and easy to prepare food items to the homeless. Since she is giving to the homeless, Royo makes sure that she first asks them what they need, and if they have the means to cook so she could give them what they can actually make use of.

According to many citizens in various Facebook comments, they noticed that a lot of homeless people tend to feel shy in approaching these community pantries. Royo’s rolling community pantry is then a perfect idea in reaching those who are most in need but are unable to receive. She also mentioned that the recipients are glad that they aren’t just given what they need, but are also remembered and cared for.

Once again, it is no longer surprising to see community pantries wherever in the Philippines. What’s remarkable is the unique variations that were inspired from just a single initiative. Truly, one act of kindness can create a ripple effect, and the Bayanihan spirit in the Philippines has been making non-stop waves ever since.


To learn how you can donate to these community pantries, please visit the following Facebook pages/posts and contact them or the individuals listed:

Community Paw-ntry in Makati via Avien Rosete: https://www.facebook.com/avien.ice/posts/10215106014923702

– Community Paw-ntry in Taytay via Louie Mae Molina Calison: https://www.facebook.com/gmanews/posts/10159990922026977

– Bikers United Movement: https://www.facebook.com/bikersunitedmovement/

– LGBT-Queens Organization in Davao: https://www.facebook.com/ThePrideofDavaoCity

– GO BIKE Project: https://www.facebook.com/gobikeproject/

– Rolling Community Pantry for the Homeless via Lyra Royo:  https://www.facebook.com/MathTeacherLyra/posts/4165281396864324

Do you know of any other community pantry efforts that you’d like to give a shoutout to? Share it with us in the comments section below!

SEA Wave magazine’s SEAtizens initiative is a series of inspiring stories of people in Southeast Asia who champion the human spirit by demonstrating courage, ingenuity, generosity, and selflessness.

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