It’s official. Ana Patricia Non, founder of the Maginhawa Street Community Pantry is now a celebrity. She’s become the postergirl of the latest charity industry that is this week’s buzz on the social media spaces populated by the Philippines’ politically-passionate.
Initially, “progressive groups” — the Yellowtards (the bloc of partisans loyal to the Aquino-Cojuangco clan) and their henchmen the communists — were put on notice for baldly politicising what one would reasonably have assumed to be a spontaneous grassroots-originated community initiative. Non, to be fair, is entitled to enjoy the benefit of the doubt that her intentions were pure and that she was an accidental celebrity created by the Yellowtards’ and communists’ insatiable hunger for “heroes” to use as fodder for their dishonest rhetoric. Ironically, it is this very politicisation that brought to the fore Non’s ideological leanings, evidence to which she, interestingly enough, lays bare on her Facebook profile where she explicitly expressed support for “mass revolt” as a means to put “bread on the table”.
In light of all these and the continued emergence of certain behaviours that increasingly reveal what could be a more sinister backstory to this “community pantry” phenomenon, it seems that Non’s emerging celebrity is an engineered one. A recent article published by ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) shines a “spotlight” on Non complete with testimonials to her “bravery” gathered from her friends. Report author Rhia Grana gushes that it was Non who originated “a ripple effect, inspiring others in different parts of the country to follow suit” organising similar community pantries all over the country. Grana goes on to write…
Who is Ana Patricia Non? Who is this lady who reignited the Filipino bayanihan spirit with a cart of vegetables—and a sign that says, essentially, if those who are supposed to take care of us have failed to, we have each other’s backs?
That the Yellowtard and communist blocs of the Opposition would engage in such a dishonest campaign that aims to (1) claim that Non single-handedly pioneered the concept of the “community pantry” and then (2) stir up a media circus to create a cult of personality around her is disturbing, to say the least. However, such a crooked campaign is not unprecedented and by no means the sort monopolised by ABS-CBN. Back in mid-2019, the Inquirer ran a series of stories on their Lifestyle section dubbed “Filipinas for change” in which they featured prominent female leaders of various communist fronts including Sarah Elago (Kabataan Partylist Representative), Alex Danday (National Spokesperson Anakbayan), Paula Janer (Secretary-General of the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines), Kara Taggaoa (National Spokesperson for the League of Filipino Students), and Blaise Bellosillo (National Secretarty General National Union of Students in the Philippines).
The fact is, being a communist and protest rally fodder is no longer cool. One can look back and understand what goes through the mind of the average 19- to 20-year-old student at a big university as he or she regards the prospect of being part of a “movement” that supposedly seeks to save the world from the machinations of the “evil” Establishment. Sounds really “cool” right? Imagine being so “underground” and being so heroic in one’s efforts to elude police “surveillance” and being so clued in about insidious “conspiracies” being mounted by state forces to suppress dissent against “reactionary” initiatives to “disenfranchise” the masses.
Lots of big words right there — probably a messaging approach used by commies to make candidates for radicalisation feel they are part of someting really big. The reality is that grassroots initiatves like community pantries are small and are meant to be small. The way they are made out to be big is, ironically, what makes it easy to see how contrived they come across as a result of the way they’ve been politicised by a desperate Opposition. The politicisation involved here is framed by a national campaign context — i.e. to unseat a popular incumbent administration (or beat it legally in the coming elections). It just does not add up — a small initiative being used to fight a national battle. No sense at all in all that.
Best case scenario — Ana Patricia Non may become just another discarded relic in the same way Arroyo-era “whistleblower” Jun Lozada did. Hopefully it does not come to the point where Non needs to be paraded before the cameras surrounded by a troop of nuns. And the worst case? Well, let’s defer to the old showbiz wisdom on that: Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
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