IT IS no longer about just giving money to build houses for the poor—this much was imparted to the visiting Gawad Kalinga volunteers from Chicago. They were given a tour of the many impressive features of a place called "Enchanted Farm" located in the Barangay Encanto in Angat, Bulacan—an extensive tour conducted by no less than the GK founder, Antonio Meloto.
Inspiring as always, Tony Meloto enthusiastically explained the many headways made by some of the young brilliant minds from the best educational institutions in the Philippines and abroad. During its few years of existence, the Farm became a laboratory for social entrepreneurs who develop products that will help not only the poor but as well as the Philippines –so it can grow into a First World Country.
Photo L: Chicago-area GK volunteers pose at the a souvenir-concession store that sell organic "itlog na maalat," chocolate from select cacao, "barako" coffee, the now famous "Human Nature" beauty products and various snack foods made from sweet potato and cassava. In the photo (from left) are Anong & Lynn Santos, Belle de Guia, Elvie Balbin, Adeline Fajardo, Linda de Guzman, GK Founder Tony Meloto, Marge & George Boerema, Pina & Ross Rina, Gerry Balbin and Chicago GK Head Herminio de Guia, Jr.
Tony Meloto explained the importance of having an "intelligent heart"—a concept that transcends the common notion of just doling out help for the needy.
Helping them, he added, extends to being an advocate to make them economically and socially able.
Further, he said, the Enchanted Farm should be able to develop the youth who would stay in country and take back the economic control from foreigners.
Above Photo: Foreign Students like the French youth work as interns learning social entrepreneurship and product development made from environment-friendly products like organic fruits and vegetables. Shown seated are Linda de Guzman and Tony Meloto listening to their sharing of their experiences.
Above Photo: Gerry Balbin gets an orientation of the features and uses of the expansive assembly hall in the Department of Trade and Industry Building which surrounded by a bamboo grove with solar panels and windmills. "A big wedding reception was held here recently," an Enchanted Farm guide told him.
He emphasized the importance of bringing the poor in a non-exploitative partnership. He also underlined the need to respect the proper stewardship of the riches of the country by being conscious of the environmental impact of what we are doing.
It is an amalgam of liberation theology and love of country. The volunteers who just days earlier were distributing gifts to residents of various Gawad Kalinga villages in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija were actually taken for ride to a new territory of involvement.
Although the work in the GK is always taunted to be holistic—the encounter at the Enchanted Farm made it clear that their work will now involve a challenge to go beyond building houses for the poor.
Gawad Kalinga's delving into social entrepreneurship has gained worldwide recognition. It has won awards and it made grants easier to get.
The message imparted on that February 11th visit at the farm was—"Are you ready to embrace the concept?"
Above Photo: Tony Meloto explains the making of mobile-sculpture which was made from illegally-cut logs recovered after a typhoon hit the Aurora province while GK area treasurer Pina Rina listens. (PINOY Photo by Anong Santos)
Above Photo: Young priests from a San Fernando. Pampanga seminary sharing their evangelization program in partnership with the Gawad Kalinga's mission of bringing liberation of the poor from gripping poverty as an expression of Christian Charity. "That's walking the talk," Tony Meloto emphasized.