COMMUNITY PANTRY IN TIMOR-LESTE. A team of diplomats set up a Philippine-inspired community pantry in the Southeast Asian nation on April 21, 2020. As of April 23, more than a hundred locals have benefitted from the initiative. (Photo courtesy of Vice Consul Laser Sumagaysay)

MANILA – The "bayanihan” spirit is spreading in Timor-Leste three days after a team of Filipino diplomats and Timorese nationals set up their own Philippines-inspired community pantry in Dili.

"Today is just Day 3 and we’ve received news of pantries opening up in the neighboring district of Viqueque and soon in Audian. We’ve also started receiving more donations/pledges, show of interest, and queries on this initiative," Philippine Embassy in Timor-Leste Vice Consul Laser Blitz Sumagaysay said in a Facebook post on Friday.

A team of Filipino diplomats and some Timorese nationals led by Sumagaysay on April 21 put up their own community pantry inspired by a project that started in Quezon City.

From their own pockets and donations, the team's pantry was able to provide food for 100 to 120 locals.

A second Timorese community pantry rises in the district of Viqueque about 180 km. away from Dili. (Photo courtesy of Vice Consul Sumagaysay)

Sumagaysay said the initiative has also served as a venue for information dissemination on what Philippine “bayanihan” is all about and how it relates to a community pantry, a relatively new concept in the country.

"While the initiative is largely inspired by the current Philippine community trend, we would like to share that the purpose of our initiative here in Timor-Leste is not solely about humanitarian assistance but also, and aptly so given our location and professional mission, diplomacy," he said.

"Sharing one of the Philippines' best cultural practices in the form of the 'Bayanihan’ brand and spirit, and purposely linking it with the selfless concept of the community pantry, is in view of contributing something meaningful and truly Filipino to this side of Southeast Asia."

Organizers orient recipients about the idea of getting only what they need so that more persons would benefit from the community pantry. (Photo courtesy of Vice Consul Sumagaysay)

Although there's no definite schedule as to when it will open again, Sumagaysay said his team would like to continue the pantry they piloted.

In the meantime, his team would like to shift donations to other new community pantries "so it would eventually be Timorese to Timorese but Philippine-inspired."

"For the coming days, we’re expecting a number of confirmed openings also," he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

"Unlike sa Pilipinas na instantly trending ang community pantries (Unlike in the Philippines where community pantries trended instantly), it’s still a much unfamiliar if not, until recently, unheard of concept here. It would be up to the success of info dissemination and the reception of the bigger Timorese population."

He said his team is willing to guide and provide support to other communities that would set up their own pantries in Timor-Leste. (PNA)