Giving Hope and Care to the Poor
God truly moves in mysterious ways. This has been proven many times and today is one of those times. We have heard complaints about how much labor we send out of our country. How many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) go abroad every year to help their families have better lives, how many immigrants leave the Philippines in search of a greener pasture. We also heard complaints about how the country having professional shortage because most of our good doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, etc. have tried their luck outside the Philippines.
We may not know the reasons why, but all these may be happening because of God’s great plan for our country or the world. Stories about how often Filipino nannies influence their employer’s children and instill in them Filipino traits, ways, customs and culture. Some nannies taught the children the Pinoy way of caring for people, how we view life and freedom, and how proud we are of our roots, beliefs, and our own. These influences, even though bits and pieces, have been ingrained in the children’s minds and somehow inspire them to be caring to others, to be compassionate, to be loving, and to be free — traits that they remembered until they grow up. In the long run these children wanted to pay back. Yes, pay back to the Filipino people.
The OFWs, the immigrants, and the foreign children, cared for by the Filipino nannies around the world, are the same people now helping the Philippines fight against poverty.
Last March 4 to 6, 2016 Gawad Kalinga USA mounted Hope Summit 2016 at Radisson USC Hotel in Los Angeles, California. The whole event was filled with activities.
During one of the plenary session, Dylan Wilk talked about “From Corporate Social Responsibility to Corporate Social Investment.” Wilk is the co-owner of Human Nature. A company that manufactures and markets home care, personal care and beauty products that have no harmful chemicals, did not use animals for testing, and uses products made from natural raw materials endemic in the Philippines. Human Nature is proud to say that their products can compete worldwide.
He also talked about a new way of handling business, which GK coined as “Social Enterprise Movement.” Social enterprise, which is to “be for the people” helps build the culture to help others. He said his company offers a minimum wage of P750 per day as compared to the regular minimum wage in the country which is only P434 per day. He said that based on their calculations, this should be the right amount of minimum wage an average family should get to have a decent way of life.
With this higher pay, it may help decongest the population explosion in the city by avoiding the influx of workers who look for higher pay in Manila. Aside from various policies of the company, like the “No Work on Sunday” policy and the Zero Interest Loans to their employees, the most surprising of all is the “No Firing Policy,” which takes place once an employee is regularized.
Another Social Enterprise speaker is Mr. Fabian Courteille, co-owner of Plush and Play toy company, which means: P-protect our children, L-love our country, U-uplift the lives of the poor, S-share this wonderful gift to others, and H-honor locally made products.
He said he designs and makes toys with the help of the people living in the GK Enchanted Farm in Barangay Encanto, Angat, Bulacan. Enchanted Farm is a thriving hub for locals and international entrepreneurs who build businesses which provide jobs for the locals. They have 20 social enterprises that have created products like cheese, peanuts, butter, stuffed toys, and silk threads.
He presented a marketing mix that he claimed he never learned in his business school in France. These include the Ten Ps: Product, Price, Promotion, Place, People, Process, Physical Evidence, Protection, Purpose, and Pinoy Touch. This Marketing Mix formula helped their small company compete with big toy companies in the Philippines. For the first time, Toy Kingdom, the biggest toy store in the Philippines, now features his Plush and Play toys which are all proudly Philippine-made.
Their company only uses Philippine raw materials as compared to imported toys, and utilizes the GK Enchanted Farm workers to create their toys. Their dream is to make Plush and Play toys the Filipino version of Hello Kitty. Three cute little girl scouts from Orange County also graced the event, namely: Allison, Marley, and Katie. They presented Mr. Meloto with their contributions of school supplies to Gawad Kalinga, to be distributed to the school children in the Philippines.
After the plenary sessions, delegates were divided into workshops. They chose which of the topics presented they wish to attend. Among them are the following: GK Template for Social Justice (The GK Model and how to partner); GK Social Entrepreneurship and Investments (Investing in the Philippines and Understanding Inclusive Growth); and Social Tourism (Explore, Transform and Celebrate).
In one of the workshops, they start with GK’s main goal–to eradicate poverty in the Philippines by 2024. They also believe that poverty is a behavioral problem with economic consequences, meaning it is really a person’s choice to be out of poverty. They also enforced the development of the values formation to be able to help poor people succeed in life. GK believes that they can realize this goal by creating an environment that will help the poor and promote the end of poverty mindset among the people relies mainly on relationships. They believe in people first, they build communities, not home, and they also believe that having a house does not end poverty.
GK believes in sustainable transformation to end poverty. With this they have four main parts which are Social Justice, Social Education, Social Business, and Social Movement. At the core of these are Presence and Values Formation.
In Social Justice, GK helps transform slum areas into peaceful and productive communities. Subparts of Social Justice include: Kusina ng Kalinga, a feeding program for the poor children in school and communities; Community Futsal, youth formation; and Disaster Response that offer immediate relief and provide provisions of basic needs. GK is helping these families recover fast and be back on their feet asap.
In Social Education, GK has School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development or SEED Scholarship that supports the education of future wealth creators and social innovators. They cater to the cream of the crop regardless of their status in the society. They also have the Eco-dorm that encourages students outside Enchanted Farm to join the SEED.
In Social Business they plan to build the first Farm Village University in the world to help countryside development. They also have OASIS Villas to stage global business events like APEC. Another subpart of Social Business is the Loan Application Evaluation, and the Business Incubation Program Support.
In Social Movement, GK have the Mabuhay Tour Packages. They promote level-up vacationing with a cause. They invite everyone all over the world to explore the Philippines, transform society, and celebrate the future full of hope. They promote Tom Graham, the co-owner of Mad Travel (Mabuhay Tour Package handler) and author of “The Genius of the Poor,” a book about the author’s experiences with the poor in the Philippines, talked about their tailor-made travel offerings for tourists, giving them the fun that they are looking for in travelling, at the same time making them experience volunteering in an organic farm (Enchanted Farm).
In partnering with the locals, they give their clients the vacations of a lifetime. Mad Travel’s goal is to make the Philippines the number one destination of Social Tourism in Asia. They created impact by supporting the poorest rural areas, which are often the most beautiful because it has been less travelled by tourists; the immersion of clients to local communities; improved bed and toilets; and solar panels for power in far-flung areas.
They also build empowered communities by training locals to become tourism experts, supporting them to develop their own products for the tourists to enjoy, and to promote and develop GK around the world.
Another speaker, Shirley Maya Tan, a Malaysian-Chinese who came from a wealthy family, talked about her experiences in GK Enchanted Farm. She said she became interested in GK because of the values formation, and the power of presence. She mentioned that the greatest treasures of the Philippines are not the beaches or the mountains but the people.