[by Jerome Gabriel B. Aguilar, BA Communication]
Times have certainly made a turn for the worst these days. Thanks to the pandemic, education was urgently shoved into the online platform, people have shut themselves in from the rest of the world out of fear and businesses have been getting the short end of the stick to a point of bankruptcy. Mistrust, selfishness, and pride reigned.
But it is at these times that we find hearts who continue to show love and compassion to the needy. Such was the case when I was invited by the Alumni Association of the University of Perpetual Help System – DALTA to participate in Community Pantry sa Perps; a collaborative effort to give basic necessities – and more – to nearby communities around the institution.
The community pantry organized by UPHSDM Alumni Association led by the President, Mr. Gabriel Maravillas, scheduled every Saturday of the month of May (May 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29) at the university grounds. Target beneficiaries were residents of Barangay Molino 3 and other settlements in the area – which, the school invited through the local government. After being given their own stubs, those who came were each given a plant seedling to tend at home, a bag of mixed vegetables, 3-in-1 coffee, packs of instant noodles, canned goods, eggs, a kilo of rice, and a gallon of water (these were made possible by sponsors such as the Coca-Cola Bottlers Phils, Bureau of Plant Industry, DALTA-JONELTA Foundation, UPH Molino Faculty Club, and the Office of Agriculture, Bacoor). Aside from the organizations various individuals have contributed to the pantry such as UPH faculty, employees, students, alumni and partners.
Technicalities aside, I was invited by an alumni of UPH-Molino who was a fellow officer in the publication back in the day. Besides helping in the distribution of goods, I assisted in taking pictures of the event. I wanted to go out of the house and be a part of a community pantry first-hand.
When I first came to the community pantry, it was a couple of hours before it would start. I was asked to help batch up chopped vegetables in bags for distribution later. As soon as everything else was accounted for, the people waiting on the other side of the university grounds joined in prayer. The officers of the Alumni Association directed them to where they needed to go. Camera in hand, I watched as the AA officers and volunteers cheerfully handed them goods while maintaining the social distancing policy. I was careful enough to make sure both the volunteers and the barangay residents weren’t bothered by my picture-taking.
I was pleasantly surprised. There was no bickering, disagreement, or unsavory encounters that day. The Perpetualite alumni knew what they came for – to help the less fortunate during these trying times. Whenever I saw an elderly gent or lady smile from what she received, I felt the unease of the world leaving their shoulders. There’s a decent sense of fulfillment knowing you made someone’s day in the most reassuring way possible.
When I attended that day, it was a Mother’s Day special. The pantry officers-in-charge would ask the women lining up there if they had kids and would then hand them leche flan along with a joyous greet of “Happy Mother’s Day!”. I was able to catch on video one such moment. The person who received her own leche flan and the greeting lit up in laughter. It was a sight for sore eyes in the sea of sick times I’ve had all year.
It is at times like these that I am thankful for being born into the light of crisis. To bear witness to the struggles around me and having the capacity to help, while being familiar with my own vulnerability as a human being. While I have these hands –and the potential to give back to the world that gave me the purpose of my own – I will not hesitate to take part in efforts like these in the nearer future. #UPHSDM