Gawad Kalinga

Reflections on GK Global Summit

by admin on Jul.05, 2010, under Community Building, Volunteer Support

by Fr. Savio

(2nd Gawad Kalinga in Singapore June 25 – 27, 2010)

I thought I’d share with you a powerful experience I had when I attended the 2nd Gawad Kalinga Global Summit last June 25 – 27, 2010 in Singapore . We were hosted by two schools – Ngee Ann Polytechnic and the National University of Singapore. I had the good fortune of being invited for the summit because I and Bishop Honesto Pacana S.J. serve as spiritual directors for Gawad Kalinga in the province of Bukidnon . My fascination with Gawad Kalinga has grown since that very first day I was introduced to a Gawad Kalinga village in Natid-asan, Malaybalay. It was then that I saw very accomplished people, local and foreign, literally dirtied their hands and carried bricks to build houses for the poor of Malaybalay. What thay did is simply brilliance in the eyes of God! Gawad Kalinga, the movement, has as its goal the eradication of poverty in our country not just by building houses for the homeless but also by providing them education, values formation and livelihood(to mention a few of their programs) so that each village may be self-sustaining and thus provide leadership and example for other villages. It was because of Gawad Kalinga that its founder, Mr. Tony Meloto, received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership.

In the spiritual classic “The Imitation of Christ” we read that “It is not deep words that make a man holy and upright. It is a good life that makes a man dear to God. I’d rather feel contrition than know the definition thereof. I may know all the books of the Bible and all the sayings of the philopsophers but all these won’t profit me if I do not have the love of God.” It is not hifaluting words that endear us to God. It is faith in practice. It is love in the concrete. This is what I’ve always seen in Gawad Kalinga! One of the speakers in the summit workshops is an Englishman – Dylan Wilk. He is known to have been the 9th rrichest man in Britain when he was just 25 years of age. This was possible because of the computer games he sold through the internet or direct mail. But that business and his lavish way of life was not meant to last. He was introduced to Gawad Kalinga in the Philippines and the great work it is doing for the poor of the land. Dylan realized that even though he was filthy reach he never really did something significant for his own people. In fact, he thought of his business as pointless and useless. He sold his BMW and used the money to build 80 homes for Gawad Kalinga. What he is telling all of us is that there is no deep satisfaction and fulfillment from all the riches this world offers. Jesus did say, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” This has been the constant refrain of the speakers during the summit in Singapore . You have a Tony del Rosario who is CEO of Coca-Cola in Singapore , Malaysia and Brunei who found the missing piece in his heart when he was introduced to Gawad Kalinga. Or a Tony Olaes who is a veteran in the apparel industry in the US and who supplies imprinted shirts to Walmart, Target and Kohl’s but who realized that even though he can buy anything he wants there was something lacking in his life. Gawad Kalinga was the answer and now he serves as chairperson of Gawad Kalinga USA .

The summit began June 25 which happens to be the 16th jubilee of my ordination to the priesthood. The opening program was at 6:00 pm. Since it was my ordination anniversary I thought I would not attend the opening night but just go for Mass in a church nearby. And yet I came to the conclusion that it was God’s will that I attend the opening ceremony because that was the reason why I came to Singapore . It was God’s will that I join the summit all the way. And I most grateful for having attended that evening’s ceremony because the talks alone blew me away. Moreover, the summit as whole taught me another way of looking at the Mass. In the Mass, we are reminded of Jesus’words. “This is My Body which will be given up for you. This is My Blood which will be shed for you and for all men. Do this in memory of Me.” That is what I saw in Gawad Kalinga- all those volunteers from all over the world giving literally their body, blood, careers and their whole life in the service of the poor. Theirs is the Eucharist in the concrete. And they are most happy with this divesting of their lives because Jesus said, “Greater love no man has than that he lay down his life for his brothers.”

Gawad Kalinga speaks of love of God and love of nation. Just when so many of us have become cynical of our country and a great number leave the country for greater opportunities abroad, Gawad Kalinga haunts us of our love and responsibility towards our motherland. Why not stay and rally behind a nation ravaged by poverty in the so many forms it surrounds us. What can we do for our country? What can we do for our fellowmen in need?

Jesus in today’s Gospel cautions us not to rejoice even though the evil spirits are subject to us but to rejoice rather that our names are written in heaven. Our names will only be inscribed in Heaven if we reach out to the poor around us because that is what it means to truly love God. As the monk and philosopher St Basil the Great said,

“The bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry.
The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the person who is naked.
The shoes you do not wear are the shoes of one who is barefoot.
The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor.
The acts of charity you do not perform are the injustices you commit.”

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2 Comments for this entry

  • Chasidy Fileds

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    Thank You

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