Present-day riders

>> Friday, April 30, 2021

March L. Fianza

B AGUIO CITY -- My eyes and ears were glued to the TV screen last week as I watched the story of the former policeman who was found guilty by a jury. Then there was the news about community pantries.
    I found that watching TV was an effective way to stop me from risking myself into mixing with a crowd of people who could be innocent carriers of the transmissible coronavirus.
    Before that, let me express my deepest sympathies to the family of Sir Bial A. Palaez, 89; who was called by his Creator to a more equipped planning and development office beyond the horizon.
    A month after the 1990 killer earthquake when the panic, confusion and the dust wrought by the calamity settled down a little, Sir Bial and I shared coffee on a corner table at the employees’ canteen of the Benguet Capitol to update ourselves of the disaster.
    I knew him as one who led the provincial planning and development office without grievances, until the earthquake struck.     With tears welling in his eyes he said, the office has to redo all the plans and on-going provincial socio-infrastructure projects that were destroyed by the earthquake.
    As a news correspondent whose weekly beat was the Capitol, I became a regular rider on his new service pick-up that traversed the towns of Benguet as he and his men assessed their projects destroyed by the earthquake.
    Mr. Palaez was a member of the team that finalized the planning stages in the construction of the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post in 1984. He was also appointed in 1988 to represent Benguet in the Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission that drafted the first regional autonomy bill.
    Sir Bial was also an elder member of the defunct Baguio Press Club and the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club having published one or two newspapers in Benguet during their heydays.
    With those cups of coffee, spirits, ideas and conversations shared, I would be lying to myself if I will not say that I enjoyed his company. His memories remain. Rest in peace Sir Bial. 
    The demolition team of Baguio was reactivated last month to execute orders of Mayor Magalong in relation to the illegal improvements and expansions of residential houses put up inside the Busol Forest Reservation.
    The city side of Busol has been squatted on by hundreds of residential houses that were built over the years, even while management was placed under the Baguio Water District.
    The last time I talked to friends in the DENR, they said it would be difficult to free the forest from houses numbering to thousands. The best action therefore was to strike an agreement between the city and the occupants to maintain their improvements and stop expanding.
    This was violated, hence the demolition orders. Some houses were demolished while other structures were saved after securing court orders. The latest I heard was that the house owners formed an association for unity of action.
    That could be the right move but not all may benefit from it. While they illegally occupied parts of the forest reservation, many faked their connections to deceitfully become riders on ancestral land claims that are genuine.
    Community pantries have been with us, especially during calamities when places are isolated from the rest of the world. We have seen food and soup kitchens put up around Burnham Park days after the July 16, 1990 earthquake.
    In Benguet, the basketball court of the capitol and all front yards of municipal halls became common kitchens that fed all who came since all access roads were erased from the map.
    There were no means to transport food supplies so that everybody was donating and sharing what they have. Rice, even pigs and chickens were given voluntarily as there were no supplies of animal feeds after the earthquake.
    Last month, the Members, Church of God International (MCGI) simultaneously launched their Free Store in Baguio, Benguet and Mountain Province. Coordinator Grace Doctolero of UNTV said similar stores were also launched in other parts of the country.
    The MCGI Free Stores had no other purpose but to distribute rice, canned goods, eggs, cookies, noodles, sugar, soap, shampoo and essentials to PWDs, vulnerable members of the community during the pandemic. The group intends to continue their Free Store monthly in places where they are needed.        
    Putting up a community pantry in Quezon City by 26-year old private citizen Ana Patricia Non whose only goal was to help provide food and necessities to people extremely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic is admirable.
    Written on Manila paper and posted as the instruction for all was the line: “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha batay sa pangangailangan” (Give whatever you can, take only what you need).
    Ms. Non said in a TV interview, there were now more than 300 community pantries nationwide that were giving away rice, noodles, canned goods, fresh vegetables, fruits and other foods for anyone in need who drops by.
    Patring’s pure and honest project was launched with no strings attached, until other personalities replicated her bayanihan initiative. Somewhere in the duplications in other barangays, unnecessary things were done.
    In one community pantry, persons who may or may not be connected to the operations of the community were mixing with people waiting in line and were distributing leaflets criticizing the government’s slow distribution of amelioration money.
    Another food pantry in Tondo was reported to have written “Community Pantry of the Philippines – National Pantry Association (CPP-NPA)” above a table but was taken down when a bystander commented against it.
    Such acts reached suspicious police and military authorities who started asking questions. Though the reports were isolated, the community pantries were unnecessarily tainted and the organizers red-tagged.
    Patring said she had to shut down her food pantry, thinking that some personalities who were red-tagged ended up dead.
    Even while it was hard to prove if such acts were connected to the community pantry, those with veiled interests could only be the ones who can ride on the good intentions of the community pantry organizers.
    By the way, I suspect that some community pantries that were launched in the provinces, including the one in Baguio were organized for another purpose. Receiving donated food and goods then giving them away were only secondary.
    Unfortunately, the food pantry organizers and the police were both victims of a third party rider. 



  © Blogger templates Palm by 2008

Back to TOP  

Web Statistics