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MMFF 2020: Merlinda’s Merienda For Frontliners

People often think that in this generation, genuine kindness is something that you can only see in movies in film festivals. It is rare in real life as if it is a make-belief. One would argue that it must be scripted or staged to find a person who, despite having less in life, will share the little things he or she has with others. But one story from an old town in RT Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay Province would tell you a different picture of reality.

When Corona Virus hit the country in the early days of 2020 and lockdowns were imposed, the struggle is real for every one. Malls, restaurants, pharmacies, grocery stores were forcibly shut down for the safety of many. Undoubtedly, this precaution took a toll not only on the economy but also on the lifestyle and needs of many people. Food suddenly became a scarcity as many could not go out to earn a living for their daily needs, even for those who are in the forefront in protecting the people whom we call the ‘frontliners’; who continuously perform their sworn duties for the country despite the invisible yet fatal threat. The world was truly shaken to its core.

Seeing the situation unfold right before her eyes, Merlina Beborde Maderada, a 55-year old mother of 5 and a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), could not sit still knowing that people’s stomachs are mostly empty and they sacrifice their own safety for the common good of many.


This is where the idea came to Merlina. As an active committee chairwoman at Sea Gentiles Christ Ministry, she knew that she had to do something. She convened her fellow members of the ministry and discussed to them her plans on helping out the community. The initiative was warmly embraced by the members and approved.

On April and May of 2020, Merlina and her group were able to distribute a total of 287 food packs and donated them to families who were directly affected by the implementation of safety measures in their municipality. Understandably, the first to be catered were the members of the ministry which they serve.

She was fulfilled to be able to be of help to her fellow ministry members. This drove her to do more and explore other things that she could do for others especially outside the ministry.

Nakit-an nako nga bisan naay Covid, adunay mga tawo nga nagserve pa gihapon sa gawas kanang sa checkpoint mga sundalo, pulis, og mga tanod (I saw that despite the presence of Covid-19, there were people who continuously serve at checkpoints such as men in uniform and our barangay patrols),” Merlina said.

With the dedication of these men, Merlina thought to help them in ways she knows how.


Merlina knows that the duty of a frontliner is not like watching your favourite movie on a comfortable couch. In fact, it is far from that. Wearing protective gears under the scorching heat of the sun all day can be extremely difficult.

When her initiative with the ministry became successful, she thought it would be easier this time. But she failed to remember other factors that needed to be considered in performing her initiatives –money, resources, and manpower.

Now that she plans to help people outside the ministry, who would help her? How can she finance this initiative when she herself has no money?

It is a good thing and a blessing that she is compliant to the mandates of the 4Ps program especially on maintaining backyard and communal gardens. From these, she harvested some vegetables to give to the frontliners. She was able to donate okra, sprouted monggo, string beans and eggplant and firewood to the 11 front liners assigned at the checkpoint en route to barangay Calula.

Her gardens have helped her realize many of her visions such as helping the community and providing healthy staple foods on their plate. Literally, it also brought her to places that she knows she could never have gone to if not because of her gardens. In 2016 she was the representative to the vegetables congress held in Tacloban City. In 2017 she also representative their home town in the vegetables congress held in Cebu City.

Kanang akuang garden nakatabang na sa amoa, sa akuang mga silingan, karon pati pud mga frontliners. Happy pud ko. (My garden helps us, it has also helped my neighbours and now it has helped the frontliners. I am glad),” Merlina shares her happiness to 4Ps city link.


It is not a secret in their little municipality that Merlina is a Kakanin or Merienda vendor. Many locals compliment her for her cooking skills. It can be considered as her expertise.

She used her expertise to help assuage the hardship that the frontliners experience while performing their duties. From her own pocket, she bought ingredients to cook and provide for the frontliners. Every three weeks, Merlina gives them mango pies, pancakes, and cold beverage (palamig) to thank them for their hardwork.

All of these, she does in the name of bayanihan or a custom of working together to achieve a common goal.

With this, Merlina feels like she does something for the community in this trying time of global pandemic. She thinks that her gesture is simple and small but to the people that she has helped, the idea of volunteering is already a big step that surely contributes to community healing.

“Kani lang pud ang pwede nako ikahatag labi na karon kay pandemic. Pasalamat mi kay naa ang 4Ps, wa mi naglisod kayo poreso murag kani na lang pud ang akoang ibalik para sa mga blessing og katabang na nadawat namo nga pamilya. (This is the only thing that I can contribute especially during the pandemic. I feel grateful that we are in the 4Ps program, at least the struggle is less that is why I do this as a give back for all the blessings that my family has received,)” Merlina says when asked why she started all of these initiatives.

Personally, Merlina is already content with her achievements in life. With the help of her husband who is a farmer, they were able to send their children to school and have 3 of her children graduate from college. 

She is the President of their Parent Leaders group and handles 11 parent leaders in her management.

This post was written by:

- who has written 137 posts on DSWD Field Office IX Official Website.

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