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The rise of community pantries

It is not just an act of exemplifying the “bayanihan spirit” that Filipinos are known for but a call for accountability. 

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(Artwork by Ana Victoria Ereno/TomasinoWeb)

Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha batay sa pangangailangan” in our current situation, this saying becomes more powerful now more than ever. As the pandemic prolongs, so do unemployment, lockdowns, and the rise of cases leaving people unable to fend for themselves. 

Photo courtesy of Ingrid Mediarito

Inspired by the initiative of Patricia Non creating the Maginhawa Community Pantry, chef and restaurant-owner Ingrid Mediarito shared with TomasinoWeb how she started “Love Cart” or the IAM Pasig Food Tour Group Community Pantry in Brgy. Caniogan, Pasig City. She shared that after writing a post on Facebook asking for help in starting a community pantry, many people responded to her in just a few minutes. “Ganoon siya kabilis po. Gaya-gaya lang po talaga. Ginaya ko lang kaagad kasi kailangan aksyonan agad siya kasi kapag too much planning, baka yung momentum pati enthusiasm ng tao tumulong mawala pa,” she said. 

Using a spare cart from her supplier and donations from friends and family, Mediarito was able to organize their “Love Cart” outside of her restaurant. Donations continue to arrive as people shared her Facebook post and saw the result of the community pantry. She added that people she didn’t even know messaged her asking how they could help in creating a “ripple effect”. “Hindi ko rin ine-expect na madaming magdo-donate,” she said.

Mediarito expressed that people told her to think and plan thoroughly because it cannot be avoided that people can take advantage of it. She said that people should be educated on what a community pantry is. 

Hindi lang siya ayuda o simpleng grocery na pwede kang kumuha na kahit anong gusto niyo pero it’s a give and take project,” she said. 

For them, it is not just a momentary project that after a few days, it will die down—like a trend. Mediarito said that encouraging others to give regardless of their social statuses and capabilities to help or donate, gives hope to other people that there is still kindness which inspires people to give more. She added that it gives them joy seeing indigent people capable of donating in ways they can.

They plan to establish more sites in Pasig City to extend their reach to Pasigueños to share donations and not just within the vicinity of Brgy. Caniogan.

Photo courtesy of Toots Vergara

In one of the corners surrounding the home of the Growling Tigers, Toots Vergara installed the P. Noval Community Pantry beside the Mang Tootz Food House where he is one of the managers. He said that they were also inspired by the community pantry in Maginhawa. 

By just starting with a sack of rice, 450 pesos worth of vegetables, and 300 pesos worth of groceries, they worry about how they can sustain their daily budget until the end of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ). But after posting in his Facebook account asking for help, donations continue to flow. “Ngayon ang daming nagpapadala ng tulong. Nakakagulat. As in. Solidarity talaga,” he said. 

Skeptical din kami na baka nga maubos agad yung laman ng pantry. Pero it turns out, kinukuha nga lang nila ang kanilang kailangan,” he added. 

Recently, two community pantries were set up around the university by the UST Center for Campus Ministry. Through a Facebook post, they announced that these will be set up at the UST Gate 10 in Dapitan st. and another one at Gate 7 along P. Noval. With this gesture, they hope to provide ease for those who are in need. For the supplies and food, the office is open for donations. “Sa mga nais pong mag-donate, mangyaring lumapit sa ating Parish Office” the post stated. 

Photo from AP Non’s Facebook account

The concept of community pantries was started in Maginhawa by Ana Patricia Non. What began as a small bamboo table containing produce and canned goods, instantly became an idea that was quick to spread all around NCR. After posting on April 14 about the pantry, Non stated in her post that there is no reason to be shy in taking what was needed, just be sure to leave some goods for others, “Wag mahiyang kumuha andun lang po iyun. May hand sanitizer din para sa mga kukuha at mag-iiwan.” She also encouraged others to donate if they can as the makeshift pantry is available from 6 am to 6 pm. 

In just a few days after her post went viral, as of April 16, there are now 28 community pantries in different locations: Maginhawa, P. Noval, Santa Ana, Manila, Brgy. Central, Commonwealth, Visayas Avenue, Pinyahan Diliman, Muntinlupa, Worker’s Pantry in Sampaloc, Parang and Concepcion Uno in Marikina. There are also some that were initiated in Laguna, Valenzuela, Cavite, Iligan, Bulacan, North Caloocan, and even in Iloilo, Pampanga, and Bicol. 

These makeshift pantries provide staple food such as rice, grains, canned goods, vegetables, and fruits. Apart from these, some pantries also have facemasks and soap. In a post from AP Non, Farmers from Paniqui, Tarlac even donated big sacks of Kamote. She captioned the photo with, “Mula sa masa, tungo sa masa”. 

From an individual’s initiative to help those in need, stemmed a selfless act that is quick to bloom in all places. Community pantries prove that sharing resources in this crucial and horrendous time can save everyone. It is not only proof of how caring for others is essential but also proof that the people have taken matters into their hands. 

Although community pantries provide essential goods for those in need the most, it does not easily solve the problem on how the government lacks competence in handling the pandemic. It is not just an act of exemplifying the “bayanihan spirit” that Filipinos are known for but a call for accountability. 

As the people behind these projects around the country urge for, you can start donating to community pantries near you or better yet, you can start one in an accessible part of your community to reach more people. 

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Chat with astrologer shapes the fate of a UST bar exemplary passer

For bar passer and exemplary performer Portia Wynona Soriano, turning to astrology is one last resort.

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Artwork by Wendell Adrian Quijado/TomasinoWeb

A saying goes, “When in doubt, dance it out.” But for bar passer and exemplary performer Portia Wynona Soriano, turning to astrology is one last resort.

Having finished the first day of the historic 2020-2021 Bar exams, Soriano was doubtful about the accuracy of her answers given her struggles with the exam. With all the worries coming in waves after the first day of the historic 2020-2021 Bar exams, Soriano enquired about the fate of her dreams with a virtual astrologer, setting the direction of her success today.

“Noong first day kasi, wala na talaga akong confidence so nag-download ako nung app na parang may astrologer tapos tinanong ko siya, ‘Will I become a lawyer this 2022?’” Soriano told TomasinoWeb laughing as she recalled the moment.

In response, the virtual astrologer said that she would indeed become a lawyer this year, allowing her to sigh in relief.

Screenshots of Soriano’s conversations with the virtual astrologer

“Medyo kumalma na ako, nag-ready na ako for the second day tapos yun na lang yung pinanghawakan ko and aside from that syempre nagdasal na rin ako,” she stated.

Law school journey

The divine prophecy was just a small portion of the entire journey towards the Bar. As a student in the Faculty of Civil Law, Soriano faced numerous challenges that added fuel to her fire to becoming a lawyer.

During her first few years in law school, Soriano became susceptible to fevers just as she was asked to recite the Lagman vs. Medialdea case. Her sickness, however, did not stop her from studying the case, which she said is about 70 pages long.

“Doon ko na-realize na gusto ko talaga maging lawyer kasi after kong mag-recite parang naka-ginhawa ako,” Soriano said. “Parang nawala ‘yung sakit ko […] parang nag-enjoy ako nung nag-recite,” she added.

Soriano also shared how the UST Law Review became a “turning point” in her law school journey. 

“Feeling ko doon ko na-level up ‘yung recitation skills ko, and also how to make case digests kasi through that training, I learned how to properly read the case,” Soriano said.

After graduating cum laude in 2021, Soriano went straight for the gold. She started preparing for review right after the list of graduates was released. On those days heading to the Bar exams, she would enroll in Magnificus Juris and follow the syllabus given by the Supreme Court.

But those days made Soriano that the actual preparation starts on the first day of law school.

“Kasi kung sobrang nag-aral ka talaga nung law school days mo– when you are reviewing– mabilis lang ma-refresh sa’yo lahat,” she said.

The rewarding aftermath

After the Bar, Soriano tried doing things that would make her avoid the thoughts of the results. She tried doing jump ropes, among other things, which she said was a “big part” of her life.

She also said staying fit and healthy has gold benefits for those taking the Bar exams. “You have to stay fit for the bar kasi kung hindi ka healthy, baka mahirapan ka.”

When the results were announced on April 12, Soriano learned that she had passed when she was packing her things for Nueva Ecija. And as if the cherry wasn’t already on the cake, she also learned that she is an exemplary performer, a recognition beyond her expectations.

“Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala, parang ‘di ko inexpect talaga yung exemplary kasi feeling ko sobrang dami kong mali sa questions sa bar,” she said.

Moving forward and persevering 

Now working in a private firm, Soriano said she wants to work in government but clarified that she still has a lot of work to learn about its “ins and outs.” 

Na-realize ko ngayong nag-w-work na ako parang sobrang theoretical nga ‘yung natutunan mo sa law school, parang andaming other skills na kailangan mong matutunan, how to interact with your clients,” Soriano said.

For Soriano, such success took a lot of hard work and dedication to her craft, and quitting is out of the question. 

“Fake it ‘til you make it, parang don’t quit. If you have a dream, don’t quit,” the lawyer said.

“Whatever comes your way, it will make you better din naman, so just learn from those adversities kasi those are the things that will make you stronger and prepare you for your dream,” she added.

Xander Ceballos
Stories Writer | + posts

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Kobe Dayao’s shot towards the UAAP Season 84 roster of anchors

“It feels almost like a dream to an extent kasi siyempre nung bata pa lang ako, I’m [already] listening to these guys,” the journalism major shared when asked what it feels like working with veteran analysts.

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Photo courtesy of Kobe Dayao

It was a few days before Christmas when Kobe Dayao, a Faculty of Arts and Letters senior, got the call from notable sports journalist Mico Halili. 

Dayao recalled Halili’s words offering him a tryout to be an anchor for the upcoming UAAP Season 84. 

“I obviously said yes. Really quickly, I tried out, and then a couple [of] weeks later, he messaged me and said, ‘okay let’s continue training in January,’” Dayao told TomasinoWeb in an online interview. 

Dayao began his training in January. In the same month, he got confirmation from Halili that he was accepted into the broadcast panel. Wasting no time, he trudged through the preparation by doing virtual simulations with the analysts.

“It feels almost like a dream to an extent kasi siyempre nung bata pa lang ako, I’m [already] listening to these guys,” the journalism major shared when asked what it feels like working with veteran analysts.

Dayao said the entire juncture was like a “pinch me” kind of situation because he still couldn’t believe it.

“At this point, I think I’ve passed my fanboy phase of getting in the same room with everyone, seeing all of these analysts, seeing all of these anchors in the same boat as I am,” he said, further stating he’s focused on doing well in the games and delivering the job. 

Dayao said he still feels pressured, and there’s even more pressure knowing that he’s the youngest anchor in the UAAP Season 84 roster. 

“I’m the only one in school. From everyone in there, ako na lang yung nagth-thesis pa,” he jokingly said. 

Despite feeling the pressure, Dayao knew that it was normal to feel the jitters because it would denote how much he wished to do a good job. Hence, the intensity surged in knowing that doing great is a way of giving justice to the people who gave him this opportunity, especially in his first games. 

He would be doing a solo play-by-play for one full quarter of gameplay, applying his own recording so it’d feel second nature come game time. Researching the players was also a part of his practice. Since some teams have a lot of rookies coming in, Dayao said they needed to do background checks, so they have something to talk about while they’re on the panel during the games.

“It’s a new experience for us, and we’re gonna have some learning curves, [but] I think that’s normal,” he said, emphasizing the need for having the right mindset in acknowledging that not everything will go smoothly and there could be instances when they would flop a little bit, but he’s fervently hoping it won’t be too much or not at all. What’s important is focusing on the job at hand. 

“We’re not there to boost our ego, build our own brand, or whatever. We’re there to tell stories, and we’re there to highlight the action. That’s our main job, that’s our goal, and if we deliver that, then that’s a job well done,” Dayao said. 

For Dayao, the commonality between the anchors of this generation from the ones before are telling stories and elevating the players to show they’re more than their jerseys — that there’s more to players and the game. 

When asked about what the audience should look out for this UAAP season, he said, “I’ll definitely look out for all the talent that’s coming through — [the] talent on the court [and the] talent off the court,” pertaining to the talents of the players and the set of correspondents bursting with different personalities and talents.

“I think the fans will learn to enjoy the reports, learn to appreciate them, especially the ones representing their school.”

Ada Pelonia
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“This is what my four years prepared me to do”: Mayuyu and his bid for Secretary seat

In the midst of the University elections season, Mayuyu encouraged the Thomasian community to scrutinize the candidates running for positions on both the central and local level. He believes that, if the University picks the rightful leaders for such positions, this will have a big impact in the years to come.

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Photo courtesy of Francisco Mayuyu

DISCLAIMER: TomasinoWeb remains to be a non-partisan media organization that does not campaign for any candidate.

One Saturday morning, TomasinoWeb spoke with Nutrition and Dietetics sophomore Francisco Mayuyu. The candidate, also known as “Kiko” among his peers and colleagues, is running as Secretary for this year’s University elections.

Hours before the annual miting de avance for the Central Student Council, Mayuyu felt a mix of emotions.

“It’s a mix of excitement and nervous[ness] as well,” he said. “I’m really glad na for the past weeks, we were able to reach a lot of students when it comes to our credentials and plans for the following academic year.”

Mayuyu, who has previously been elected to a post in a University student council, expressed his anxiety due to the responsibility of the role he is running for, granted if the Thomasian community seats him in this year’s elections. 

He mentioned that nervousness is part of the process. When asked about what he looks forward to after the annual miting de avance, Mayuyu expressed enthusiasm to hear the ideas of his fellow candidates.

On student leadership and the Covid-19 pandemic

Mayuyu’s track record of student leadership has been significant in his stay in the University. In his term as the former Senior High School secretary in 2019, he has handled and participated in a handful of projects. Now sitting as the executive coordinator to the Secretary of CESC and CSC, he has been involved in ten projects which commonly align with social issues, empowerment, and mental health.

He said that one of the reasons he wanted to run is his willingness to help ease the work of students. 

“Cliche as it may sound but that’s […] among the several reasons kung bakit ako tumatakbo as CSC secretary,” he told TomasinoWeb.

“I believe this is what my four years prepared me to do and […] I believe that this is where I will serve best,” he added.

The online setup has compelled many students in the country to adjust to the “new normal”. Mayuyu acknowledges that many student leaders are burned out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Marami talaga na student leaders na kahit gusto man nilang mag-rise up to the call, nahihirapan talaga sila ma-balance yung time nila,” he attests. “We are in [an] online set-up and mahirap mag-serve.”

However, despite the consequences, Mayuyu said that student leaders should relentlessly fight for their advocacies while continuing what they have started. 

“The good thing in this current status of student leadership in UST is their ability to inspire others to become leaders as well,” he said.

In his leadership stint in the University, he was involved in projects that tackled social issues. YOUthDecides, a voter’s registration and education campaign for Thomasians was one of them. 

He shares: “It’s a really pressing issue in the country, [especially] this time na makapit na yung national elections.”

On regrets and the next resolve

Despite his numerous contributions and high level of involvement in the Thomasian community, he says he still has regrets. According to Mayuyu, many students are unaware of the platforms and projects held by the University’s student councils. 

“Siguro one thing […] that could’ve been improved on is the part that we could’ve involved more students in making of the projects,” he admits.

“It’s understandable kasi ‘yun nga, may mental strains ngayong pandemic,” he added, saying that it is a “big wall” to conquer in reaching much of the student body.

To involve more Thomasians on a proactive level on the events in the University, Mayuyu believes that informing the community is the “best” approach. He referenced his platform, “POLARIS,” the creation of a centralized calendar to update Thomasians about the events happening in the University. 

On involvement to the Thomasian community and the country

While Mayuyu shows his side as a student leader, he also shared his sentiments and nostalgia as a regular student hoping for the return of the  face-to-face setup.

“It’s more of the people talaga kung bakit natin gusto bumalik sa face-to-face setup,” he said. “Nakikita natin na it’s [a] warm [feeling] to experience the Thomasian community.”

In spite of the heavy workload of the academic year, Mayuyu sees the importance of having a good support system of friends that you can trust. He claims that this is the secret to coping well with the “new” normal today. 

“I make sure that these people are [those] who I can trust,” he said. “I think that goes for a lot of students kung paano sila makakapag-cope dito sa online setup.”

In the midst of the University elections season, Mayuyu encouraged the Thomasian community to scrutinize the candidates running for positions on both the central and local level. He believes that, if the University picks the rightful leaders for such positions, this will have a big impact in the years to come.

“We are really giving the students […] to choose the right student leaders to serve in these positions.”

Mayuyu called students to raise their voice not just on social media but also on the streets. He stressed on the issue of misinformation and believes that it is the duty of Thomasians to uphold and help the country by making the right decisions.

Brin Isaac
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Blogs Writer (2017 - 2019), Blogs Editor (2019), Managing Editor (2019-2020), Executive Editor (2020 - 2021), President (2020 - 2022)

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