Building the Nation is Our Business

GK's Tony Meloto
GK's Tony Meloto

By Antonio “Tony” Meloto

Let us always value our greatest asset and wealth: the Filipinos. We have lost our greatest treasure because we have forgotten majority of our fellowmen, as poverty brutalized our people. If you believe in turning the poor into our assets, like how we are helping them through Gawad Kalinga (means to “to give care”), then share with us the goal of building a prosperous first world nation through the following:

Expand your market.
We at Gawad Kalinga share the value of Microsoft founder Bill Gates (which he cited at his Harvard University commencement speech in 2007): Bridge social inequity to add to the business profit. Wealthy Filipino families here have started to discover that it is to their advantage to donate lands and build communities, like what the Concepcions, Del Rosarios, Hilados, Dimayugas, Laurels, and Lopezes, to cite a few, do – all helping and believing in what Gawad Kalinga advocates for the poor.

Migrate from philanthropy to stewardship.
If you want to help, think about nation-building. At Gawad Kalinga, from our people to our sponsors, we are not building houses as a temporary solution – we remove the ugly structures that result in peace and order and trigger economic activities. Like in Murcia, Negros Occidental, the local government bought five hectares of land at P200,000 per hectare. When Gawad Kalinga built 250 homes, the land value now is at P2 million per hectare. This is the first time we see in the Philippines a large scale donation of land made for the poor.

Create templates for development. For instance, around 400 major corporations have already partnered with Gawad Kalinga building homes for the homeless, putting up livelihood, and creating sustainable communities. Even rival businesses like Colgate-Palmolive, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever; Smart and Globe; and Petron and Shell, partnered with us. Their likes united because they see partnering with Gawad Kalinga not as a charity, but as a work of nation-building. They chose to help a cause that doesn’t necessarily appeal to their pocket and they have gone beyond conventional CSR (corporate social responsibility). They are also putting in their people’s expertise, to also let trigger their interest, realize their talent, and achieve potential for their greatness.

Choose to help one with the most impact.
Like those corporations and wealthy families, if you want to help, pick an organization or a cause that have the highest credibility and attract the most people, like from the academe, businesses, and other non-government organizations (NGOs) here and abroad, as credibility will what also make an activity massive and sustainable. If you choose to help Gawad Kalinga, you will see and feel the impact of your contribution, because what we’re doing is visible, quantifiable, and replicable.

Help a group that attracts diversity. We also attract collective response, like how rival corporations, NGOs, among others, are partnering with us to realize our cause. You can’t achieve the highest impact unless you are willing to work with other experts as well as humanitarian and philanthropic groups. That is how we work in Gawad Kalinga. We do that and we also want our business partners prosper, the political leaders to love this country, build a first world Philippines, and raise a first class Filipino who honors the nation and God.

ANTONIO MELOTO is the founder and executive director of the Gawad Kalinga Development Foundation, with vision for the Philippines to be a slum-free, squatter-free nation. Together with its partners, Gawad Kalinga is now in the process of transforming poverty stricken areas with the goal of building 700,000 homes in 7,000 in 7 years (2003-2010), and is in over 900 communities all over the Philippines and in other developing countries. In 2006, Gawad Kalinga and Meloto received the 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, the first from the Asian Nobel Prize to bestow such to both an individual and an organization.

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