A rare opportunity in Chicago
By Mariano “Anong” Santos
PINOY came out a few days earlier for this May edition to make sure we will have that extra time to remind everyone that they are welcome to join the April 29 and 30 Gawad Kalinga Roadshow in Chicago. We feel strongly about the importance of these events.
It is, indeed, a rare opportunity for us to meet some of the most effective and inspiring GK advocates that are successfully creating changes in the way we move our homeland into the 21st century.
The team who is coming had already been to California, Texas, Florida and New York. We are fortunate to have them here. This Social Business conference being held on April 29, 9 am to 2 pm at the Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 St. Louis Ave., Chicago and at the Morgan Stanley offices, 70 W. Madison, in the Chicago Loop, on the same day from 5:30-9 pm feature three brilliant foreign young men who found a golden opportunity to help poor workers while they engage in socially responsible enterprises.
Dylan Wilk, the British millionaire who sold his software company in his home country, is now thriving as the CEO of "Human Nature," a cosmetic company that uses Philippine organic raw materials and employs hundreds of Gawad Kalinga villagers. He's coming to share his inspiring experience.
Listen also to a French student who quit his MBA studies in France to engage in making stuffed toys --an idea hatched in the GK Enchanted Farm in Bulacan. He also stayed in the Philippines and now helps create jobs for the poor Filipino workers. He, too, has a compelling story to tell.
Another British subject--a young journalist, went to the Philippines to write an article but stayed to come out instead with a powerful book about Gawad Kalinga. He is now engaged in a travel agency that specializes in "voluntourism."
Our own Jan Paul Ferrer will also talk about his silkworm project that he personally financed and is now looking to share his vision of being a social venture investor in the land of his parents.
These plus the presence of the GK Founder himself. Tony Meloto will there to share and answer your questions about making a difference in the lives of our people.
An anchor presentation will be on April 30, 4-9 pm at Elston Ave. United Methodist Church. Sponsors will provide free refreshments. Admission is free. Invite your friends to come with you. It will help organizers if you confirm your presence. Call Atty. Madrid Crost at 888-466-4478, Jan Paul at 312-419-3535 or Anong at 847 528-4991.
PNoy & Tony M.
On May 6, the President of the Philippines will visit us here in Chicago. The President and his entourage will stay overnight at the JW Marriott Hotel on Adams & Lasalle in the Chicago Loop. Did you know that PNoy came in second to GK Founder Meloto in a survey by Readers Digest on the question, "Who is the Most trusted Filipino?"
A respected observer once saw PNoy leaving everyone and crossing the room to personally greet Tony Meloto. Even PNoy reserves his utmost respect for this man behind Gawad Kalinga. Come on April 29 or April 30 and find out why.•
IL Student volunteers share their passion for GK work; Raise funds for their December 2015 Build-up in PH
By Grace Garcia
Supporters of Benedictine University and St. Francis University Gawad Kaling fundraiser including Fr. Mario Quejadas (facing camera 3rd fr. L), GK member Rita Pina (R in foreground) , GK national director Dr. Zita Yorro attended a night in solidarity dinner which raised money for the GK villages of Manapala and Banagan on April 18 at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL. (Photo by Stephanie Zmolek)
LISLE, IL.--Benedictine University college students in this city along with the Joliet Catholic Diocese hosted a fundraising event "Night in Solidarity Dinner" for Gawad Kalinga (GK) villages in the Philippines on April 18.
Dozens of college students from Benedictine University and the neighboring St. Francis University participated in the annual build-up of Gawad Kalinga villages since 2013. They were supported by the local Catholic Diocese led by Bishop Robert Conlon and Filipino priest Fr. Mario Quejadas.
The April 18 event coordinators, Stephanie Zmolek, a political science graduate from University of St. Francis, and Zach Oesterreicher, a senior at Benedictine University studying health science, were among the missionaries/volunteers who spent their Christmas vacations since 2013 building houses for the poor in Central Philippines.
The proceeds will be donated to the GK villages of Manapala and Banagas in Negroes Occidental. "I started working with GK because I wanted to continue the passion that I felt for this organization. That's why I started the GK in Benedictine," Zach explained.
University Campus Ministry
Through the Benedictine University Campus Ministry, Zach learned about the missionary trip to Manapa where he volunteered right after Super-typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013. While Stephanie learned about Gawad Kalinga through the University of St. Francis Campus Ministry. , She participated in the mission trip early 2013 even before Haiyan hit the Visayas months later.
Stephanie and Zach share their experiences with other students with the hope that they will sign up for the upcoming missionary trip.
Stephanie recalled her stay at the GK village near Iloilo City in 2013,"I was taken aback by the children's response. They were so welcoming, so full of life, full of spirit. Despite their living circumstances, they were so happy; they had this insatiable compassion for us."
She added, "It's not enough to be a U.S. citizen anymore, we have to be global citizens in order to truly understand the world we live in."
These college students are trying to advocate for more people to be aware of their place in the world and how each can nurture change.
"What we're trying to do is build an army of social justice advocates. This means to strive for the economic, political and social pursuit of equality for all people. Gawad Kalinga doesn't just serve Filipinos. It serves so many different people. And we try to reach out to the most vulnerable in our society such as children," Stephanie explained.
Their passion for Gawad Kalinga has sustained them during the past two years as they plan their next mission trip at the end of December this year.
As in the previous years, the archdiocese of Joliet along with student volunteers from Benedictine University and St. Francis University will visit these areas for two weeks at the end of December to build homes for the underprivileged.
Books for GK Walk
In a related development during the dinner, GK Chicago members Dr. Zita Yorro her husband, Dr. Oni Yorro, Butchi Impellido and Leslie Tiquia discussed forthcoming GK activities in the Chicago area.
Leslie Tiquia founded the Libra Basa Para PagAsa project and soon linked it with the GK Annual Walk. The first collaboration took place last summer. Eight balikbayan boxes of more than 1000 books were donated during the event and soon were shipped to the “Enchanted Farm” in Angat, Bulacan.
There was a $10 donation for refreshments and T-shirts from each walker and more importantly, their book donations. The walkathon was held in Arlington Heights, Illinois. The next one is planned on Sunday, June 7 at the community independence picnic in Lincolnwood, IL.
The walkathon this year aims for school supplies donation. Leslie also sees a library such with computers and WiFi.
After the walkathon Leslie went home and visited the “Enchanted Farm (EF)” and met Frank Chua, GK EF director in Angat. Frank assured Leslie that EF University really needed books for its library. Leslie was appointed as the GK Literacy Head.
Leslie said,"I wanted to do something where I could give back. If under-privileged Filipinos have access to books, they would have better knowledge. Books should be available for the street kids, the tricycle drivers, the laundrywoman. If there's a place where they could read books, they could improve their lives."
Gawad Kalinga, a 501c3 anti-poverty alleviation organization aims to end poverty by 2024. GK aims to help the poor live a life of dignity and self- sustainment. GK has grown worldwide establishing over 2000 villages.
Each person who would like to live in these villages does not have the houses given to them. Instead, they must earn their homes through "sweat equity" by spending a certain number of hours building houses.
In the past three years GK branched out to social entrepreneurship to create environmentally sustainable businesses that will help create jobs that do not exploit poor workers. To learn more, visit www.GK-USA. Org or call Jun de Guia, Chicago GK area coordinator at 847-848-2300.