At a covered commons within De La Salle University, Taft Avenue, an informal assembly line is supervised by the Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Pamilyang Pantawid (SNPP), and a combination of La Salle Brothers and priests of the Society of the Divine Word. They are repacking donated goods for distribution to targeted residents of impoverished Metro Manila communities.
The donations were purchased with funds raised by Bayanihan Musikahan, the marathon online concert series initiated and led by National Artist for Music, Ryan Cayabyab. The innovative and instantly successful fundraiser brought more than 80 musical artists performing from their homes, linked together on Facebook live streaming in programs that will be different every night for the next weeks.
As of March 25, Bayanihan Musikahan had raised nearly 15 million pesos from both major donations and some nearly miniscule contributions that add up considerably.
The farmers sold the produce at substantially discounted, wholesale rates. The Department of Agriculture in the Cordilleras volunteered to rent trucks to haul the vegetables to Manila, at no cost to the farmers. The price of the vegetables already includes the toll fees and meals for the driver and his assistants.
Bayanihan Musikahan partner NGO, the Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Pamilya ng Pantawid (SNPP), received the fresh harvest and set out for distribution to specific communities.
On March 26, packs of vegetables arrived in Quiapo, Sta. Ana, Sta. Cruz, and Tondo’s Baseco area, and received by the beneficiary families. These are communities in the network of SNPP. The families comprising these communities were the previous beneficiaries of the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer program of the government. As the pandemic reached Metro Manila, this cash assistance was shut off by the government.
According to Rey Laguda, PBSP Executive Director, “From farmers to marginalized families, this farm-to-table process is certainly inclusive and pro-poor. Let us continue to help one another. This is really citizen action at work.”
Laguda never fails to credit this massive effort to numerous individuals and organizations that immediately linked up at the very onset of the viral contagion in the Philippines. The project runs like a well-oiled machine, because each participating entity has decades of experience in what they do, whether as performing artist, civil society leader, music producer, digital technology specialist, foundation executive, and so forth. And now, even the homeless have literally lent a hand.
Bayanihan Musikahan, the nightly series of online concerts, successfully generated financial support from big corporations. Pilipinas Shell, the Phinma Group of Companies, Boysen Paint, AIA-Philamlife, PLDT, SGV, and others volunteered sizeable amounts. Most importantly, thousands of individuals are donating what they can.
The project has given a Philippine and global audience both lightness in a dark period, and a way of participating in an emerging phenomenon of citizen action.
Songwriter and music producer Trina Belamide, one of the program’s pioneer proponents, writes on her FB page: “Rey Laguda of PBSP said something to Ryan Cayabyab on our FB Live series about how our artists are able to provide real respite at the end of the day, for everyone…during these difficult times, and how many OFWs who watch us feel more connected to home because of these performances. This made me tear up. (These) artists set aside precious time to bring audiences into their space, into their lives, into their hearts, even though so many of us are the first to get cut in times of crises and do not have the financial security of a salary.”
Since it started airing online less than a week ago, Bayanihan Musikahan has been able to raise funds to sustain the purchase of survival packs for further distribution.
The “assembly line” at La Salle is composed of homeless individuals whom the university received and sheltered from the first days of the Metro Manila lock-down. Now with a roof over their heads, access to clean water, and food in their bellies, they are able to help in this effort to reach those like them; as well as the many more who may have homes and small incomes, but are severely compromised by inner city congestion.
Philippine Business for Social Progress is the Bayanihan Musikahan main partner for receiving and disbursing the funds, and in turn SNPP has mobilized their membership to undertake survival kit distribution. The survival kits replicate a formulation perfected by Caritas Manila, the other main partner of the project.
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