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A miracle unfolding in the Philippines
By: Manny Hermano
CFC National Council Member
Email: mzhermano@comcast.net
Tel. : (630) 241-0258

      This month I am sharing with you the great miracle that is unfolding in the Philippines even as you are reading this - it’s the miracle of GK777. For those of you who have not kept up with news at home, you may ask what is GK777? I’m sure you know about People Power I & II. Well, GK777 is a kind of people power except that instead of being an upswell to change a corrupt administration, it is driven by the Filipino’s inherent love for country and love of his fellowman.
      GK777 was started by Couples for Christ in October 2003 to lift the Philippines out of the third world by building 700,000 homes for the poor, in 7,000 communities in 7 years. GK stands for “Gawad Kalinga” which is a Tagalog term meaning “to give care”. GK777 gets its funding through resources generated by ANCOP Foundation International, a nonprofit organization. ANCOP is the acronym for Answering the Cry Of the Poor.

Simple but daring initiative
GK itself started in 1995 in the Philippines as a simple but daring
initiative by Couples for Christ to help uplift the living conditions of some poor families. The approach of GK is to build a holistic community development model that would transform slum communities into clean, beautiful, peaceful communities and give back human dignity to the poor.
      This model will be the basis for replication in other parts of the Philippines and other third world countries where GK would also be introduced. Some GK work has already began in other countries, like East Timor, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, whereas other countries like Trinidad and St. Lucia have signified that they plan to start their own GK models soon.
      The GK experience has showed that simply by transforming the home and environment into a clean, dry and hygienic place, health problems in the former slum areas disappear and the poor are transformed into productive and self-sufficient citizens. With hope of a better life for themselves and their children, residents in the GK communities that had been troublemakers as slum dwellers become responsible citizens and after only a few months, there is already zero crime within the GK community!
As the GK work was developing and producing great results, it became obvious to the GK leadership that the Holy Spirit was showing the way to expand GK and to give it more impact and visibility. Thus GK777 was born.
      Very quickly, it has become a multi-sectoral partnership between CFC, the government, the private sector, the military, academia, the church, and others in the Philippines, all sharing a common vision of a new Philippines with no more slums. More importantly, GK777 has caught the attention of the Filipino diaspora, meaning all of us outside our home country, to recognize the great opportunity to make GK777 a reality and so now Filipinos outside the Philippines play a major role in this partnership.
      GK’s development model consists of 5 components: Shelter, Health, Education, Livelihood, and Community Empower-ment. Each GK village is composed of 30 to 100 families considered poorest of the poor. Through the selfless work of volunteers (who work on-site for 3-5 years) and the poor themselves, the goal of transforming unsuitable living conditions and defeatist attitudes into self-sufficient communities is being achieved
through the Filipino spirit of bayanihan i.e., becoming a hero to one another. GK is truly a People Power Movement endorsed by none other than former president Corazon Aquino, Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the United Nations, and several multi-sectoral partners all over the world. In the Philippines private sector, McDonald’s, SMART, Ateneo de Manila, UST, and the Catholic Church have already sponsored and built their own GK villages.

How does this affect me?
I live in the USA, how does this affect me?
Wherever we go as Filipinos, we will always carry with us some of the stigma of coming from a third world country as long as the poor in the Philippines continue to live in well-publicized squalid conditions.
      Our children do not deserve a heritage of garbage, corruption and poverty. GK777 provides all Filipinos the opportunity to be heroes by responding to this challenge to once and for all extricate the Philippines from third world conditions. Together we can show the rest of the world how a nation can be rebuilt by the collective caring and loving of its people.
      ANCOP Foundation USA was created to allow individuals or organizations in the US to become partners in rebuilding the lives and restoring dignity to the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. This is a chance for us to show other countries that a nation and its people, no matter how scattered, can unite in the spirit of heroism and patriotism to the great calling of nation
      As of today, Gawad Kalinga-ANCOP USA volunteers have already built roughly 7,000 homes in 300 communities from Luzon to the southern tip of Mindanao. Many Filipino organizations here in the US have already given to GK777 and even built enough homes and facilities such that the village they
built is named after their organization. CFC, who is spearheading this movement, has the infrastructure and the manpower to execute plans anywhere in the Philippines because of our more than 1 million members there and the dedication of our volunteers and the support of our partners.

The spirit of bayanihan is inherent in the Filipino, but over the years and even centuries, it has just remained dormant in the hearts of the Filipino people because we have given in to the circumstances and hopelessness of our country’s situation. Now through GK, we are restoring the spirit of bayanihan in the Filipino so that we can be heroes to each other.
      Current Opportunities to Participate in this Miracle and be a Hero, too

(1) NaFFAA or National Federation of Filipino American Associations will hold a conference-workshop at the Radisson Hotel in Rosemont on Sept 10-12, 2004. ANCOP/GK will be one of the main workshop presentors at the Radisson.
      At the NaFFAA gala night which will switch to Hyatt Regency O’Hare on Sept 11, ANCOP/GK will again have a short presentation so that all in attendance will have awareness of this great opportunity for all Filipinos to come together for this noble cause of nation building. Main presentors for ANCOP/GK will be Tony Meleto and Dylan Wilk, directors of ANCOP/GK based in Manila. For more information on NaFFAA and tickets, contact Tony Amante at 630-885-9458.

(2) GK Forum for Heroes - On Sept 12 from 5:30-8:30pm, ANCOP/GK will again have a presentation of GK777 this time to the general public for the purpose of spreading awareness in the Filipino community about this great opportunity for all Filipinos to come together for this noble cause of nation building. This event will be held at the Prairie Community Center at 6834 W. Dempster in Morton Grove and is free of charge. Friends of ANCOP/GK will be recognized and “deputized” in a simple ceremony. For more information, call Gerry Balbin at 847-383-4745.

(3) WOW-GK is a roadshow to be held on October 10 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, O’Hare. Besides the ANCOP/GK presentation, there will be dinner, entertainment and dancing. A Mercedes Benz E320 will be raffled at $100 a chance with only 777 tickets to be sold. Proceeds will be for the benefit of GK777. For information and tickets, contact Margie/George Boerema at 630-985-0092 or Sally/Esok Adraneda at 630-290-3228.

There are many ways in which we can participate. How you may ask? The first step is basically just to jump in the bandwagon, as this truly has become a bandwagon that is already taking off at great speed. This great miracle will COME TO PASS regardless of whether we participate or not because it is God’s work. Certainly, we don’t want to be left behind.
      That’s why the slogan of GK777 is rightfully so: “KASALI KAMI D’YAN!”