Every December since 2016, Lotlot Jimunzala of CLC-Piling Punla has invited the tricycle drivers from a nearby tricycle depot to her home in Tandang Sora, Quezon City. They gather in her garage for a modest breaking of bread, always in the spirit of Thanksgiving. For years, Lotlot has depended on the tricycle drivers to get her to work and back everyday. In addition, she has appreciated the way they would often come by her house to drop off one thing or another that she might have left in the tricycle in the rush of the morning, or the fatigue of the evening.
Not surprisingly, when the lockdown was announced in March, her first thought went to them and all other workers who depend on a day's work to earn their keep. "Ako, no work pero tuloy pa rin ang pay, pero marami ang no work, no pay," she said. Lotlot, who has been a CLC community member since 1993, when she was still a student at Ateneo de Zamboanga, has a habit of thought that runs that way: toward others and what their needs might be. "Kristiyano ka, paano ka makakatulong?" she says.
She began by committing the amount that she would have spent on transportation to a pantawid fund for the drivers. Then she reached out to relatives, who were happy to add to the pot. In late March, she and a cousin who lived nearby started shopping and putting together food packs containing rice, canned sardines, meatloaf, noodles, coffee, and milk.
All in all, they did three rounds of distribution, helping feed 90 families.
By May, some of the tricycle drivers had already received assistance from their LGU's and local organizations. Lotlot noticed that some of them were foregoing the food packs, offering them instead to families in a nearby informal settlement who had yet to receive amelioration cheques from DSWD. She also noticed how members of her community were supporting each other: the fish vendor who gave free bigas to her customers; the owners of the bakery who did the same; "yung mga nasa mas malaking bahay", who distributed rice and canned goods to those in need. "Namangha ako," Lotlot exclaims. "Sa grasya ng Diyos, nabigyan kami ng pagkakataon na magbigay sa isa't isa. Tulong tulong kami, walang nagutom dito sa amin."
To speak of gratitude in this dark time of coronavirus may seem out of place. But Lotlot's and her communities' actions cannot but inspire a "Thank You!" By responding to the Lord's call to care for others, they've drawn us closer to the light we need to see by.
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