By Augusto R. Bundang
(re-printed from Augusto R. Bundang’s Business World column “The Rule of Law”,16 February 2007)
If you’re a Filipino but have not yet heard of “GK,” you may have been too preoccupied with yourself or completely out of touch. “GK,” of course, is short for “Gawad Kalinga” (roughly, “to give care”), a powerful and dynamic multi-sectoral movement for nation-building that has evolved from a simple initiative by Couples for Christ in 1995 to rehabilitate juvenile gang members and help out-of-school youth in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.
The movement’s motto, “Less for self, more for others, enough for all,” directly speaks of its vision of a new, united, and strong Philippines where there are no slums, where lives are transformed, and where hope springs eternal.
Its fundamental goal is daunting yet with everybody’s help realistic: to build 700,000 homes for the country’s poorest of the poor in 7,000 communities in seven years from the years 2003 to 2010.
“GK777,” as it is called, simply means firing up countless Filipinos, both individuals and corporations here and abroad, to empower fellow countrymen in need of an environment where they can live, work, play and contribute to the economy with honor, dignity and pride.
Antonio “Tony” Meloto, the prime mover of GK who was chosen along with the movement itself as among the winners of the 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Awards (referred to here as the Asian Nobel Peace Prize), calls this endeavor as social engineering, noting that by providing the poor with a better environment, they become motivated and are able to achieve their dreams.
GK communities to date have already come up with a range of products to exhibit their creativity, heroism and excellence, thereby actualizing GK’s philosophy that the poor, given their talents and motivation, are producers and contributors to nation-building and are not liabilities to the economy.
Called “GKONCEPTS,” the products, which are truly a labor of love, are made by GK beneficiaries with the assistance of caretaker teams through the pro-community and pro-nation enterprises established in GK communities. They include superbly and delicately handcrafted capiz trash bins and tea lamps, colorful lotus tea light holders, elegant capiz penholders and charming dinner sets in lotus leaf basket cases, unique water lily trash baskets, and quality wine baskets.
Those interested in viewing and eventually getting hold of these fine items may visit, beginning this March, the popular online gift shop www.RegaloService.com .
GK, a proudly Filipino undertaking, has now become a model for development in Indonesia,Papua New Guinea, andCambodia. GK Villages are also set to be established in East Timor, India,Nicaragua, and Nigeria.
But ultimately, GK is more than just building houses – it is, quite importantly, the building of a better Philippines and a better future for Filipinos, as the lives of both beneficiaries and donors are changed forever in the service of others.