By: Patricia Yap
About a week ago, food-sharing projects commonly referred to as community pantries began to emerge around the Philippines, embodying the idea of “give what you can, take what you need”. The first of these was the Maginhawa Community Pantry, which has since inspired others to do the same, including a community library in Quezon City.
The Happy LibLarry is a mobile library established by freelance writer and bookworm Lorna Zaragosa in January 2021 as a tribute to her late father Larry who was a bookworm like her. In a Facebook post by The Happy LibLarry, Zaragosa said she initially started her own community pantry after being inspired by the Maginhawa Community Pantry, but after learning about the increase in mental health issues brought by the pandemic however, Zaragosa decided to combine her pantry with her mobile library. She said this is because reading helped her ward of depression and anxiety attacks.
Zaragosa was also worried about the project’s success and even received backlash for starting it in the first place. She wrote on Facebook: Kahit marami pong naghe-hate sa project na to at sa ideya ng community library, masaya lang po ako na makapagbahagi. Kapos din ako sa buhay pero it wouldn’t stop me from helping others (Even if a lot of people hate my project and my idea of creating, I am just glad that I am able to help others. Although I am not well off, that won’t stop me from helping others).
Fortunately, the project was a success and Zaragosa said she was delighted by the appreciation and support that her simple project received. Since Monday, Zaragosa’s community library has gained the attention of various news and media sites.
As of April 20, Zaragosa posted on Facebook that she is unable to accept more books at the moment due to the lack of space in her small apartment. However, people are still welcome to donate in cash or in kind to support the purchase of more food items for her community pantry located in front of a carinderia in Benefit St. Brgy. Sangandaan, Project 8, Quezon City.
The spirit of giving is at an all-time high in the Philippines as more and more community pantries start to pop up. Not to mention that there are multiple variations being established as well, such as a community pantry for pets and strays and a community toy pantry for children. Hopefully this same spirit remains even after the pandemic, but at the moment, let us all take part in this culture of bayanihan and help out however we can.
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.