A closer look: Gawad Kalinga, a holistic approach to end poverty, is adopted in Sta. Barbara

March 13, 2010 at 6:47 am Leave a comment


By Deborah Castillo Beltran

There is no too rich who cannot care, and there is no too poor who cannot share.
– Antonio “Tony” Meloto
Founder, Gawad Kalinga

Gawad Kalinga (GK), officially the GK Community Development Foundation is a Philippine-based nation-building movement established in 2003 that aims to end poverty through holistic community development.
Poverty, as Gawad Kalinga sees it, is not an economic problem but a behavioral one since slum behavior breeds slum mentality. It is not lack of resources but lack of caring and sharing.

Hence, GK envisions land for the landless, homes for the homeless and food for the hungry through dignity restoration, values formation and resources-sharing (i.e., the brightest and the best share their resources with the least.)

The vision and mission of GK are concretized on the ground through 7 programs that respond to the most basic human needs for families to live a life of dignity and mutual respect. These are: (1) A Faith Community where residents are free to practice their religious belief in an atmosphere of mutual respect and reverence; (2) A Peace Zone where neighbors live in harmony with each other and where conflicts are justly settled based on higher principles of neighborly love and the common good; (3) A Tourist Spot where the sense of beauty and order is regarded as an indispensable part of dignified human dwelling; (4) A Productivity Center where the potential of human and natural resources are utilized to sustain the growth and development of the community; (5) An Environmentally Healthy Community where residents practice the principles of proper utilization and preservation of the environment; (6) An Empowered Community where individuals participate actively in governing the daily life and activities of their village; and (7) A Secured Community where residents are prepared to respond accordingly in the event of a natural or man-made calamity in order preserve lives and poverty.

In 2009, GK becomes a global model for poverty alleviation when it launched the GK2024, a 21-year vision (2003-2024) which provides the roadmap towards a First World Philippines. This emerged during the first GK Global Summit in Boston, USA where delegates especially from India and Columbia saw how this Asian model for development can be adopted to end poverty in other developing nations in the world.

Many dare to believe that it can be so. In fact, Tony Meloto, the founder of GK, was invited as one of the speakers in the APEC CEO Summit 2009 in Singapore, attended by more than 800 of the world’s top business leaders headed by US President Obama. In the summit, GK was showcased as the global model of social development consistent with the UN Millennium Development Goals that seeks to reduce poverty by half by 2015. Having been identified as the Asian model for community development and poverty alleviation, GK has provided successful program templates that have been replicated in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Cambodia.

Tony Meloto said that while the war against hunger is global, the fight is local. Hence, the goal of GK is to build a culture of productivity where every home is self-sufficient even with a limited land area. He further said that the battle plan is clear and simple: every home will plant five (5) basic vegetables for basic needs according to regional taste. Then every GK community should have a communal and commercial lot for farming that can provide for mass production, distribution and even for export.

Realizing this, several local government units responded to the call of poverty eradication using the GK solution. In Pangasinan, one local government unit that believes in the principles of GK and makes GK as one of its top priority project is the Municipality of Santa Barbara led by its incumbent mayor, retired three-star police deputy director general, Reynaldo V. Velasco.

Upon learning about GK, Mayor Velasco immediately identified a 2.8-hectare lot in Barangay Leet, Sta. Barbara to be the GK site. The site, which is now called GK – Larioville, was developed by the local government with the help of the provincial government under Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr.

After signing a Memorandum of Agreement with GK – Pangasinan, a breakfast forum was conducted to introduce GK to the prominent citizens of the town. Several kind-hearted Sta. Barbarans responded which gave rise to the construction of the first two duplex units.

Having seen the dedication and unparalleled commitment of Mayor Velasco’s administration in pursuing the mandate of GK, the GK national office tapped the Legionarios del Trabajo in Amerika and Japan Tobacco, International who eventually donated 25 units and 30 units respectively.

On April 25, 2009, a GK Summer Build was conducted in GK – Larioville. This was participated in by government officials and employees, Couples for Christ and its family ministries, Rotary Club of Makati Buendia, Philippine National Police, paroles and other GK volunteers. And on May 24, 2009, during the celebration of the 60th birthday of Mayor Velasco, 20 housing units had been inaugurated and were awarded to 20 selected beneficiaries.

Series of activities had been conducted in the GK – Larioville, namely, values formation seminars, feeding programs, mass weddings, skills training on handicraft production and more importantly, seminar on Bayan-Anihan, the GK program on food sufficiency.

Today, the homeowners of GK – Larioville have abundant harvest of vegetables for their daily needs and for commercial purposes.

On January 16, 2010 newly installed Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, Most Reverend Socrates Villegas, D.D., celebrated mass in GK Larioville with Rev. Fr. Fidelis Layog. Realizing the remoteness of the GK site and the village as a whole, Archbishop Villegas thought of putting up a missionary house in the area to respond to the spiritual needs of the people in Barangay Leet and nearby villages.

While Mayor Velasco was working hard for the development of GK Larioville, he did not leave GK Maticmatic unnoticed. GK – Maticmatic was started by Couples for Christ-Pangasinan in coordination with the previous administration of the local government unit. Twenty housing units were then constructed.

Adhering to the culture of high standards, Mayor Velasco initiated the reconstruction and beautification of the existing GK houses and worked out to build more. The first unit constructed was a single detached, followed by two duplex units all of which were inaugurated on the 21st of May 2009.

Several other units had been reconstructed in GK Maticmatic. On December 26, 2009, the last four newly constructed houses and the newly repaired Learning Center were inaugurated. To date, there are 13 newly constructed and reconstructed units in this GK site.

Lately, on February 24, 2010, the Rotary Club of Makati Buendia where Mayor Velasco is an honorary member conducted a fund-raising golf tournament for GK-Maticmatic in coordination with Darben Golf Club. Through this endeavor, six or seven houses more can be built. This was made possible through the support of San Miguel Corp, the grand sponsor, the major sponsors, namely, Pioneer Insurance, Land Bank of the Philippines, Magsaysay Transport and Logistics, Chelsea Shipping and numerous minor sponsors.

Through the combined effort of the local government headed by Mayor Velasco and GK-Pangasinan headed by Mr. Ricky Castillo, the local caretaker team and the different sectors of the society, GK Larioville and Maticmatic are envisioned to be model communities where peace, productivity, progress and prosperity become a way of life. By achieving this, it is hoped that Santa Barbara will be transformed into the kind of community that anybody wants to live in and will be proud of.

Entry filed under: Opinion.

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