Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Filipino Spirit of Generosity is acquiring a critical mass....

Hello and thank you for this thread, Vicky and Prosy. I share your sentiments but would like to focus on the patterns common to GILAS, GK, and the other NGO initiatives.

Tim Finan, a leading anthropologist here in
Tucson, once noted that he learned a lot about social mobilization from reading about events, groups, and strategies in/from the Philippines. Dr. Lacquian was also quoted as saying that the future bodes well for the Philippines, because Filipinos have rejected violence (by the state and by revolutionaries) as a strategy for development. Thus, Filipinos are slowly institutionalizing democratic principles and practices in all levels of society.

This future though that Lacquian envisions seems hazy if you look at the present situation. Are we are really laying the foundation for a sustainable future?

It depends on what lens you use.

I, for example, was not aware that GILAS expanded so rapidly in so short a time. Truly amazing.

Boy Montelibano, Tony Meloto, and the other good folks at GK are of course showing how Lacquian's Philippine paradise is being shaped. My initial observations of the strengths of initiatives of GK and AFI, aside from the more obvious potentialities of NGOs, are:

- A point of convergence. GK leaders were quite insightful on this. GK sites, organized at a community level with a strong community, work, and moral ethic, present other NGOs specializing in niche services the opportunity to work at the community level. Barriers to entry are vastly reduced. It thus enables a more comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to capacity building for communities and their residents.

- High level, good quality communication. Development initiatives are hampered by costly, inefficient, ineffective communication among project partners, stakeholders, and beneficiaries. The retention and transmission of institutional knowledge or the shared mental model are also, at times, not effected. GK seems to be overcoming this difficulty because it is organized around a faith-based movement that values and promotes openness and timely communication. Embedded in its 13-weekly sessions in its Christian Life Program (CLP) and values transformation program for GK beneficiaries is a passion for sharing and articulating one's thoughts not only on spirituality but of the needs of the family and community. Coupled with the seven pillars (ministries/ goals) of Couples for Christ and the weekly meetings of CFC families, GK has a highly coordinated group of helpers and beneficiaries. Firms pay top consulting fees to achieve what CFC/GK organically develops in its activities.
- Organized communities. Community development activities sensitive to the psychosocial and spiritual needs of residents are the most important yet overlooked components of social and development work. The manpower, resources, and time provided are minuscule compared to the benefits a "happy, capable, and performing" community can generate. Housing, education, health, livelihood/productivity, etc. initiatives coupled with the restoration of human dignity, confidence, and a moral ethic is the best foundation for nation building.
- Convergence thru ICT- the GILAS initiative is showing how ICT can and is an important element of community development. As a Filipino infopreneur noted either you are in the digital world and progressing or you are not and will be left out. ICT will help in closing the digital/ social/ knowledge/ communication divide. ICT will also enable better communication and unleash the vast creative energies of Filipinos everywhere. GK, like GILAS has an e-commerce component to it. It has partnered up with the private sector through Rotary to set up Web-enabled businesscenters that will facilitate e-commerce, logistics services, and trade among GK communities. Capitalism with a conscience or conscious capitalism can do tremendous good.

- Diffusing power. Organized communities, in touch with one another, with transnational links, working towards economic sufficiency and adequate housing at the community level will eventually break the bonds of dependency on politicians, bureaucrats, and millenarian groups. The goal is to develop and expand an educated and aware middle class. Thousands of socially conscious middle class communities spread all over the country will be the tip of spear that will pierce the battle hardened shield of power brokers in the country. As you know, power is of several dimensions and go beyond the 4G of guns, goons, gold, and now girls. The power civil society is generating is based on a higher moral ground and legitimacy and supported by knowledge, capacity building, equitable and trusting relationships, and increasing social commitment to one another.
I have a particular affinity for what some call the soft aspects of development, the culture so to speak. The anthropologist Oscar Lewis spoke of a culture of poverty, while James Fallows spoke of the Philippine's damaged culture. But a clearer understanding and appreciation of the potentialities of the poor, their resilience, their inner strength, despite what Dominican priest Miguel Rolland said was the "absurdity and impossibility of their situation and existence" holds many lessons for us. It is a window to the resilience of the poor and our own culture. It is also the basis for nation building.
The patterns are emerging for a truly global model of human development and nation building that is a synthesis of family and faith-based human development complemented by capacity building and attention to the needs and aspirations of the household. This is the face that we must show to the world.
I apologize for the long response. This is an academic interest of mine. I hope you don't mind if I share this thread with others.
Salamat at mabuhay.
Absolutely! Imagine that, I did not even know your personal history to suggest you run for public office, and you have already.
I believe it is more than our emails that will change the country. It is also a critical mass of us Filipinos and Global Filipinos who " STAND ERECT AND SHARE OUR STORIES IN FREEDOM ", freed from the culture of poverty. I learned being in America, that my early years as an immigrant, while I came from a humble working class, I internalized a belief system that I am poor, yet, I was endowed with higher education that my hard working class parents paid for, and worked so hard for pinching pennies to give me an elite type of education at UP and St. Rita's College. I am glad the elite education did not create an elite ego, just grandiose and a rich imagination, made even richer by my encounter as as a student of the late NVM Gonzales.
Being poor is not just in finances, it is also a belief system, it is also a feeling of being poor and unable to appreciate what we have. As we replicate that belief system, we handicapped ourselves in not imagining another future. This is also why I have become an ardent supporter now of Gawad Kalinga, as they not only showcase the donors, but also the self-reliance of the donees, and how they create a new life of being of service to the community and of being the architects of their own lives, after reclaiming their dignities.
I have become a good fan of ABS-CBN's Balikbayan trail or their programming of business and finance and even the interior decorator shows or the Kapamilya, not so much for the glamour of the shows, but for showcasing the traits of our indigenous culture: love of family, the hospitality to strangers and their needs, their bayanihan spirit, their capacity to forgive. I believe the media can be a positive tool for social change in the Philippines that can feature the stories of our unsung community heroes, of good governors, of good city mayors, of good citizens, of what is a good Filipino whereever we are. We forget that we are in over 180 countries, part of the civic infrastructure, and making a positive difference in someone's life, as well as in our homeland, where a poor lola will feed orphaned children, not expecting anything in return, but simply being a good hearted-Filipino.
Colonization of over 400 years robbed us of our vibrant and rich imaginations, and we sometimes see only the antithesis of poverty. Yet, in the history of our indigenous cultures and peoples, our ancestors created the engineering marvel, called the Ifugao Rice
Terraces, sustained their generations of life with their traditions and healthy conduct.
We only need to remember our greatness in our past, pre-colonization, such that we can recreate a transcendent culture, much richer than we ourselves could presently imagine.
Like YoYo Ma said, nothing great was created exclusively in isolation from others. By opening ourselves to each other and to each other's good spirits, we allow only our best selves to manifest. I know this for a fact, I know this from experience of being in the Los
Angeles community for thirty five years, I am glad I am a Filipino and only have had the good fortune of meeting the best hearted Filipinos, who give to others!
Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D.
From: "AC GARCHITORENA, Victoria P."
Subject: RE: The Filipino Spirit of Generosity is acquiring a critical mass....
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2007 18:09:12 +0800
Thanks for your vote of confidence, Prosy!
For your information, I actually tried running for Congress way back in 1987, right after the EDSA People Power Revolution since Pres. Aquino needed allies in congress. In a moment of madness, I agreed to be her chosen candidate. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) there were 11 of us running in San Juan/Mandaluyong, and most of us were seen as allies of Pres Cory and only one was seen as an ally of Marcos – Ronnie Zamora, so we split the Cory votes and Ronnie won. I came in second to him, but never regretted it.
It became my "Road to Damascus". I could not turn my back on the poverty that I witnessed in my 45-day campaign. I saw the faces and heard the voices of the poor. That's what made me decide to go into development work. And I have been here since. So I feel that it was God's will that I run to see the true state of the nation and that I lose so I can devote my time to finding strategic solutions to lift the poor out of their vicious cycle of poverty.
I am happy where I am. What we must do is do some advocacy work on political reforms so that good people are encouraged to run. The priest running in Pampanga (Fr. Panlilio?) seems to be getting traction as an alternative to otherwise unpalatable choices there. Maybe that's what needs to be done in every town and city.
Those of you abroad who know the value of good governance can help by advising your friends and relatives here to take the matter of elections seriously and to vote in the good people in their towns and cities and not to be deceived by slick propaganda and empty promises and not to sell their votes to the highest bidder.
There is a lot of work to be done. We all need to be part of the solution.
Again, maraming salamat and God bless us all!
Vicky G.
(in my personal capacity)
-----Original Message-----
From: Prosy de la Cruz
Sent: Wednesday, April 04, 2007 12:19 PM
To: AC GARCHITORENA, Victoria P.; livingplanet2001@yahoo.com; Filipino-American_Network@yahoogroups.com
Subject: The Filipino Spirit of Generosity is acquiring a critical mass....
Perhaps, a more appropriate title of this discourse should no longer be the most corrupt country, but instead, the headline should be what I suggest above.
And perhaps it is time that good folks who run these private sector initiatives populate government service and become the politicians, we might as well be the change we want to see in the world. So instead of just running GILAS programs, perhaps, Vicky and Maya should run as senators if not congresswomen, until enough folks of substance become the critical mass in public service and government!!
Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D.
From: "AC GARCHITORENA, Victoria P."
To: "Hecky Villanueva" <livingplanet2001@yahoo.com>, Filipino-American_Network@yahoogroups.com
Subject: RE: [Fil-AmNetwork] Most Corrupt Country
Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2007 13:16:47 +0800
Thanks, Hecky, for this impassioned email.
Let me add my two cents worth on the many good things that are happening in the country.
One of the programs of Ayala Foundation (AFI) which we believe will have a strategic and long term positive impact on the country is GILAS, a multisectoral social consortium to put computer labs with internet access in ALL 5,789 public high schools across our 7,100 islands. It has the potential to transform the next generation into computer and internet literate adults who can find better jobs whether they stay in the country or go abroad. AFI is the secretariat and fund manager but it is supported by companies in the hardware, software, telecom, media, and other industries as well. The Japanese government has likewise been deeply involved in the provision of computers to the high schools.
To date, about 1,085 public high schools have been connected to the internet and about 3,000 already have computers. This means that about 1.8 million underprivileged kids already learn how to use the computer and about 520,000 already learn how to access information through the internet. It is a quiet revolution that is happening because the private sector - competing businesses, professional associations, prominent families, as well as Filipinos abroad - have decided to take the matter of using technology to leapfrog our youth development into their own hands. BIcolanos, Cebuanos, Ilocanos, Mindanaoans, etc. in the US have likewise responded to the call to help modernize the public high schools in their hometowns.
To be fair, the government - both national and local - are very supportive. The LGUs especially, the mayors and governors, are actually matching the funds we raise from the private sector and doing their share to bring their constituents into the 21st century. The task is daunting, but we cannot leave development to politicians and government officials. We all need to join hands to solve the basic problems of education, health, housing, credit, and the environment.
As you say, each of us must become the solution to our problems. Then perhaps government will follow the people.
There are many more projects being undertaken by foundations -corporate, family, community foundations which are helping lift individuals and communities out of poverty.
There is a new umbrella organization for microfinance initiatives called PinoyME, led by former President Corazon Aquino; there is Habitat for Humanity which like GK is providing homes to thousands of our families in the low income sectors. I think there is a website called www.goodnewsphilippines.org which tries to capture these many good projects and programs in the country.
Thank you too for mentioning RockEd. My eldest son Jaime is actively involved in its activities of using music to educate the youth on the Millennium Development Goals.
Yes, everyone must pitch in. And one way of doing that is informing others about programs on the ground which they can support, replicate, and expand. It also gives us hope and may inspire others to do likewise.
Mabuhay and God bless!
Vicky G.
Victoria P. Garchitorena
Ayala Foundation, Inc.
32/F Tower One, Ayala Avenue
Makati City, Philippines
Tel +632 759 4347; + 632 848 5785
Fax +632 848 5764
Ayala Foundation USA
255 Shoreline Drive Suite 428
Redwood City, California 94065
Tel +1 650 598 3126
Cel + 1 510 334 0384
Fax +1 650 508 8988

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