Ronald Hector A. Villanueva
Copyright © Ronald Hector A. Villanueva 2010
A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of
In the Graduate College
As members of the Dissertation Committee, we certify that we have read the dissertation
Entitled; The Human Endeavor of Intentional Communities: The Gawad Kalinga
Movement and recommend that it be accepted as fulfilling the dissertation requirement
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Final approval and acceptance of this dissertation is contingent upon the candidate's
submission of the final copies of the dissertation to the Graduate College.
I hereby certify that I have read this dissertation prepared under my direction and
recommend that it be accepted as fulfilling the dissertation requirement.
__________________________________________________Date: 05/13/2010
Dissertation Director: MAMADOU BARO, PhD
This dissertation has been submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for an
advanced degree at the University of Arizona and is deposited in the University Library
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Brief quotations from this dissertation are allowable without special permission, provided
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A dissertation is not a solitary undertaking. To write one, it takes a community of
kindred intellectual spirits, a supportive family, understanding friends, and patient
advisers. I would not have been able to complete my doctoral studies and this
dissertation without the generous funding support of The Wenner-Gren Foundation, Tan
Yan Kee Foundation, the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona, the Social
and Behavioral Science Research Institute, Dr. Bill Longacre, my parents, Chito and Lyn
Villanueva, and siblings, my in-laws, Danny and Charito Dimayuga as well as the
Dimayuga, Minutello, McCarthy, Mercado, Puno, and Acabal families.
I thank my colleagues and peers at the University of Arizona for their comments,
critiques, and encouragement. My dissertation committee composed of Drs. Mamadou
Baro, James Greenberg, Diane Austin, and Alexis Ellis was helpful and encouraging.
Special thanks to Dr. John Olsen and Dr. Barbara Mills; former and current School of
Anthropology heads, as well as Steve Kuhn, Mary Stiner, and Ann Samuelson. The everhelpful team of Norma Maynard, Kathy Stiner, Maria Rodriguez, Ellen Stamp, Catherine
Lehman, and now retired, Barb Fregoso, are the backroom heroes of the School of
Anthropology. Noelle Carampatan at ISPS and Kathryn Moser of the Graduate College
were a big help.
At the University of the Philippines, Diliman, a big thanks to Dr. Kiko Datar of the
Anthropology department and Dean Alex Brilliantes, Dr. Ledy Cariño, and Dr. Lily
Domingo for giving me a fellowship at NCPAG to work on GK. I thank the many in
Gawad Kalinga for allowing me to do research on Gawad Kalinga and for opening up
their lives and communities to me. The time and moments have enriched my family and
me in myriad ways. For this I am eternally grateful. They are too many to name, but you
know who you are.
In the United States thanks to the Gotuaco, Liston, Carampatan, Dofeliz, Leal, Cox,
Abong, Havey, Zlatow, Mueller, Fernando, and Gutang families, as well as Fr. Miguel,
Fr. Jojo Tabo, Fr. Les Niez, Fr. Ricky Ordonez, Fr. Bart, Fr. Miguel, Doc Joe and Techie
Garcia, the Filipino-American Students Association, the Mabuhay Club, Marc Johnston
and Dan Xayaphanh, Olga Kuhn, Mercedes Arguelles, Jenny Cano, John Climaco, Tedjie
Herbosa, ANCOP-USA, GK-USA, and GKalusugan USA, and my CSA 85 batchmates in
the U.S. for all your help.
Apologies to those not mentioned. My memory may have slipped but you are not
forgotten in my heart.
This dissertation is dedicated to the inspirational men, women, and children in the Gawad
Kalinga sites, as well as the GK supporters and volunteers, all of whom are striving to
build a better Philippines and a better world.
Not a word would have been written without the patience, understanding, wisdom,
courage, persistence, encouragement, and loving presence of my wife, Tammy.
dedicate this to you and our children, Bixia and Quintin.
Lastly, thanks to the Almighty God, who shows us that love of God is all about faith-inaction and loving your neighbor.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgement .................................................................................................................................... 4
......................................................................................................................................... 5
List of Figures ......................................................................................................................................... 7
List of Tables ......................................................................................................................................... 8
List of Plates ......................................................................................................................................... 9
List of Boxes ....................................................................................................................................... 10
....................................................................................................................................... 11
....................................................................................................................................... 14
1.0 Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 15
Research as personal discovery.................................................................................................. 28
Methodology............................................................................................................................. 40
Content Outline......................................................................................................................... 43
2.0 Gawad Kalinga and the fields of Civil Society and Social Movements .............................................. 44
Social movements ..................................................................................................................... 57
Philippine social movements ........................................................................................... 65
Theorizing Social Movements ................................................................................................... 77
The non-profit sector ............................................................................................................... 110
Philippine social history .......................................................................................................... 124
Structures of discontent: the global and local contexts.............................................................. 147
Globalization and neoliberalism .................................................................................... 148
Urbanization ................................................................................................................. 166
Slums and Informal/ Squatter Settlements ..................................................................... 191
Chapter conclusions ................................................................................................................ 224
3.0 To Give Care-the Gawad Kalinga story .......................................................................................... 227
Gawad Kalinga- the social movement organization .................................................................. 253
Gawad Kalinga’s village building process ............................................................................... 259
GK Program highlights ........................................................................................................... 271
The GK story vis-à-vis social movement theorizing ................................................................. 281
4.0 Deconstructing the Gawad Kalinga model ...................................................................................... 285
Bayani, Bayanihan, Bayan- the attraction to Gawad Kalinga .................................................... 309
Engaging others in addressing poverty, inequality, and (social) exclusion................................. 334
“Less for self, more for others, enough for all"- Resources for change ...................................... 345
Structural sources of resources ...................................................................................... 432
The GK Framing Process- “We’re building a nation” ............................................................... 440
Proposition #3: Convergence point of talent, treasures, time..................................................... 524
5.0 Gawad Kalinga’s challenges .......................................................................................................... 526
God is in the Beatitudes: The CFC conflict and the role of faith in social action ...................... 529
Nature of Conflict ......................................................................................................... 530
Faith/Religion’s Duality ................................................................................................ 531
Roman Catholic Church and social justice ..................................................................... 533
Popular Catholicism ...................................................................................................... 535
Organizational Issues .............................................................................................................. 538
Operations .............................................................................................................................. 541
6.0 Conclusion: Gawad Kalinga and Anthropology ............................................................................. 548
Implications on social movement research ............................................................................... 586
Challenges .............................................................................................................................. 590
Appendix A: Methodology................................................................................................................... 603
Appendix B: Philippine Housing Program ............................................................................................ 614
Appendix C: Letter of Separation of Couples for Christ and Gawad Kalinga ......................................... 635
Appendix D: Human Subjects Approvals ............................................................................................. 638
Appendix E: Photographs..................................................................................................................... 641
..................................................................................................................................... 649
List of Figures
Figure 1: Concepualizing the Gawad Kalinga social movement ............................................................... 45
Figure 2: Three spheres of governance (Serrano 1994, from Carino 2002:58)........................................... 49
Figure 3: Types of social movements (from Aberle 1966)........................................................................ 62
Figure 4: Stages of social movements (from Wikipedia, Blumer 1969, Mauss 1975, and Tilly
1978)..................................................................................................................................... 65
Figure 5 : Urban social movements on housing and poverty reduction ..................................................... 75
Figure 6 : Public participation/ publicness grid (Bozeman 1987, copied from Cariño 2002) .................... 113
Figure 7: Private-public continuum (Cooper 1991, from Carino 2002:58) .............................................. 115
Figure 8: Typology of Philippine NGOs and the Left ( from Colputura 2002) ........................................ 122
Figure 9 : Globalization and Neoliberalism: Its effects and responses to it ............................................. 164
Figure 10: Percentage of population living in urban areas by major area, 1950, 1975, 2005, 2030........... 172
Figure 11: Average annual rate of change of the urban population, 2000-2005 ....................................... 173
Figure 12: Urban Expansion of Metro Manila (1948 – 2015) ................................................................ 175
Figure 13: Self-Rated Poverty: Households Who Are “Mahirap”: Philippines, July 1985 to
February 2009 .................................................................................................................. 189
Figure 14: Proportion of each country's urban population living in slums (according to UN-Habitat
definition) ........................................................................................................................ 194
Figure 15: Slum populations in the developing world ............................................................................ 195
Figure 16: Distribution of Informal Settlers in Metro Manila by settlement type..................................... 202
Figure 17: Gawad Kalinga Organizational Structure .............................................................................. 259
Figure 18: The Gawad Kalinga process ................................................................................................. 265
Figure 19 : Conceptual Framework for Gawad Kalinga ......................................................................... 287
Figure 20: Theoretical classification and examples of three types of non-routine collective action
events p. 686. (Sampson et.al 2005) ................................................................................. 313
Figure 21 : Collective event trends across decades, by type: Chicago metropolitan area, 1970–
2000 (N p 4,667) p. 689 (Sampson et.al. 2005) ................................................................. 314
Figure 22: Groups that support Gawad Kalinga .................................................................................... 352
Figure 23: Major religions of the world ................................................................................................. 356
Figure 24: Worldwide geographical distribution of religions .................................................................. 358
Figure 25: Religious trends in the Philippines ........................................................................................ 360
Figure 26: Capacity building scope ....................................................................................................... 399
Figure 27: The capacity development process ........................................................................................ 400
Figure 28: GKonomics Framework ....................................................................................................... 438
Figure 29: GK’s Bayan-Anihan Food Productivity Program .................................................................. 439
Figure 30 : Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs .............................................................................................. 475
Figure 31: GKBI slide on mission, vision, and values ............................................................................ 482
List of Tables
Table 1: Differences between RMT and NSM (from Canel 1997) ............................................................ 91
Table 2: Political and Cultural Versions of New Social Movement Theory (Buechler 1995:457) ........... 103
Table 3: The Transnational Capital Class (from Sklair 1999:157) .......................................................... 155
Table 4: The Politics against Global Markets Frame (Ancelovici 2002) ............................................... 165
Table 5: Urban population (as % of total), Philippines ........................................................................... 172
Table 6: Approximate Probabilities of Staying Poor over a Five Year Period in Selected Countries
with Panel Data ................................................................................................................ 184
Table 7: Poverty in the Philippines Using International Poverty Lines, FIES years, 1991—2003
(ADB 2005:28) ................................................................................................................ 188
Table 8: Poverty Measures by Educational Attainment of the Household Head, 2000 (%) from
ADB 2005........................................................................................................................ 191
Table 9: Slums in Asia (table from UN-HABITAT and UN-ESCAP 2005) ........................................... 198
Table 10: Number of Informal Settlers in Metro Manila by City and Municipality, 2002 ........................ 201
Table 11: Informal Settlers Families, 2004 (table from Ballesteros 2005)............................................... 207
Table 12: Distribution of households by tenure and income group, 2000 in percent (Table from
Ballesteros 2005).............................................................................................................. 208
Table 13: Housing tenure in Metro Manila cities and depressed settlements, 2002 (table from
Ballesteros 2005).............................................................................................................. 209
Table 14: Housing backlog in the Philippines, 2006-2010 (table by G. Bongolan/ Home
Guarantee Corporation 2007)............................................................................................ 210
Table 15: Housing Need Every 5 Years, Metro Manila, 2007–2021 (from MMUSP presentation) .......... 211
Table 16: Dimensions of housing poverty (from Berner 2002:229) ........................................................ 213
Table 17: Summary of GK achievements as of April 2008. .................................................................... 274
Table 18: Qualitative summary of performance of GK sites visited ....................................................... 276
Table 19: GDI and HDI: Philippines, 2000 and 2003 (NCSB 2009) ....................................................... 292
Table 20: Gender Development Index by Component: Philippines, 2000 and 2003 (NCSB 2009)........... 292
Table 21: Gender Equality Ratio, Philippines: 2000 and 2003 (NCSB 2009) .......................................... 292
Table 22: Household Population of Top 8 Religious Affiliations by Sex: Philippines, 2000 .................... 359
Table 23: A sample listing of components of Values.............................................................................. 471
Table 24: Philippine national values in the GK context .......................................................................... 477
List of Plates
Plate 1: Literally living on the edge. Taguig City, Philippines, 2007........................................................ 24
Plate 2: GK Taguig Poveda Village, Philippines, 2007 ............................................................................ 26
Plate 3: A burnt BASECO and the GK BASECO Village established (first two photos by Raul Dizon) .... 32
Plate 4 : Marker of Dylan Wilk’s BMW M3-English GK Village and Dylan at the U. of Arizona ............. 34
Plate 5:Satellite data (2000) in false color of Metro Manila showing the density of urban
development (green) and open space (violet)..................................................................... 174
Plate 6: Slum home fronting a GK home in Taguig, Metro Manila 2007 ................................................ 197
Plate 7: Home in the garbage dumpsite of Payatas, Quezon City, 2007................................................... 200
Plate 8: Makati City, Philippines central business district 2008 .............................................................. 228
Plate 9: Bagong Silang, Caloocan City .................................................................................................. 231
Plate 10: Gawad Kalinga’s Seven Point Community Development Program .......................................... 271
Plate 11: Meals with Tony Meloto (left, in white), CFC-GK volunteers, and GK supporters ................... 354
Plate 12: The CFC conceptual arch which shows its vision, mission, goals, and platform of action ....... 369
Plate 13: Photo of cottages at GK Ray of Hope Village- Ma-a City Jail (photo by Nell Macaraeg) ......... 384
Plate 14: GK Bayawan Fisherman’s Village .......................................................................................... 385
Plate 15: The colors and sights of GK villages ....................................................................................... 396
Plate 16: CFC South Africa members visit the Philippines to explore GK possibilities ........................... 432
Plate 17: Numerous students from American universities and business persons help GK ........................ 432
Plate 18: Gawad Kalinga flyer .............................................................................................................. 444
Plate 19: Religious welcome sign and church in GK Brookside............................................................. 469
Plate 20: Gawad Kalinga sites are convergence zones for many activities .............................................. 495
Plate 21: GK’s internet connectivity program ........................................................................................ 500
Plate 22: GKom staffer documenting a GK build ................................................................................... 507
Plate 23: GK Expo 2007 ....................................................................................................................... 508
Plate 24: Joey Velasco at GK BASECO ................................................................................................ 510
Plate 25: Gawad Kalinga slogans .......................................................................................................... 561
Plate 26: GK marches to build solidarity .............................................................................................. 567
Plate 27: GK challenges ....................................................................................................................... 591
List of Boxes
Box 1: Couples for Christ.................................................................................................................... 232
Box 2: Gawad Kalinga had many sources of inspiration and innovation ............................................... 248
Box 3: Proactive Disaster management by Gawad Kalinga .................................................................. 325
Box 4: Anthropology of the Cross- Gawad Kalinga’s Padugo .............................................................. 347
Box 5: Notes on the 2008 GK Summit held in San Diego, California ................................................... 377
Box 6: Gawad Kalinga and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation/Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation ......... 405
Box 7: A GK Builder’s thoughts on establishing a GK Village, March 5, 2006 .................................... 415
Box 8: Mid-lifers doing good, ALL 85 GK Village.............................................................................. 418
Box 9: Forty from 25, homecoming celebration benefits Gawad Kalinga ............................................. 424
Box 10: First hand account of a first-timer to a Gawad Kalinga “build” activity ..................................... 452
Box 11: Joey Velasco painting for Gawad Kalinga ............................................................................... 509
Box 12: Thank you poem by a GK beneficiary ...................................................................................... 511
Box 13: Reflection of Stefanie Soriano, STC 85 ................................................................................... 522
Box 14: Notes on one GK site visited, August 2007.............................................................................. 545
Ateneo de Manila University
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Asian Institute of Management
Asian Institute of Technology
Alliance of the Poor to
Fight Demolition/Alyanasa ng mga Maralita Laban sa
Answering the Cry of the Poor
Area for Priority Development
Annual Poverty Indicators Survey
Bagong Lipunan Sites and Services Program
Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology
Bishops Businessmen Conference
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Certificate of Land Allocation
Couples for Christ
Concrete Inter-locking Block
civil society organizations
Central Luzon State University
Community Mortgage Program
Coalition of the Urban Poor Against Poverty
Community Organization of Philippine Enterprise
Concerned Citizens of the urban Poor
Conflict Resolution Group Foundation, Inc.
Department of Agriculture
Department of Agrarian Reform
Department of Budget and Management
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Department of Interior and Local Governments
De La Salle University
Development Management Officier
Executive Order
Environment Clearance Certificate
Executive Order
Family Income and Expenditure Survey
Framing Process
gross domestic product
Gawad Kalinga
Gawad Kalinga Isang Milyong Bayani (One Million
Gawad Kalinga Builders Institute
Government Social Insurance System
Human Development Index
Home Guarantee Corporation
Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council
Information and communication technologies
Information, education, and communication
International Monetary Found
Internal Revenue Allotment
Internal Revenue Allotment
information technology
Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralita Lunsod
Land Acquisition and Development
local economic development
Local Government Code
Philippines-Canada Local Government Support Program
Local government unit
microfinance institutions
Metro Manila Development Authority
Metro Manila Inter-Agency Committee
Metropolitan Manila Region
medium-rise building
Medium Term Philippine Development Plan
National Congress of Urban Poor Organizations
National Council of Churches of the Philippines
National Secretariat for Social Action
National Capital Region
National Economic and Development Authority
National Government Agency
nongovernment organization
Non-Government Organization
National Housing Authority
National Housing Authority
National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation
non-stock entities
National Statistics Office
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Organization of Petroleum Countries
project-affected families
Presidential Arm on Urban Poor Affairs
Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor
Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor
Philippine Nonprofit Sector Project
project manager
Philippine National Railways
Philippine National Railways
people’s organization
Presidential Committee for the Urban Poor
Republic Act
Securities and Exchange Commission
Singles of Christ
Share and Care Apostolate for Poor Settlers
Social Housing Finance Corporation
Soldiers in God’s Army
social movement
Social movement organizations
Social Movements
Social Security System
strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
Technical Assistance
Transfer Certificate Title
Taguig Designer City
terms of reference
Technical Working Group
University of Arizona
Urban Development and Housing Act
Urban Development and Housing Coordinating Council
United Nations
United Nations Development Program
United Nations Environment Programme
United Nations Human Settlement Program
United States Agency for International Aid
University of the Philippines
University of the Philippines National College of Public
Administration and Governance
Urban poor social movements
University of Santo Tomas
Youth for Christ
This is a story of a social movement’s conception and the articulation of its meaning and
meaningfulness. Gawad Kalinga, an ambitious Philippine community development cum
nation building movement,
initiated "GK777" to build 700,000 homes in 7,000
communities, in seven years. I assessed the national and global implications of this social
model of nation-building
development, poverty alleviation, and slum eradication. Using an ethnographic case study
to conduct an inductive, grounded theory analysis, the study sought to explore if
strategies and actions that go beyond traditional and conflict-centered social movement
perspectives are enabling Gawad Kalinga to achieve its goals and to transfer its model to
other countries. The global implications and replicability of Gawad Kalinga’s nationbuilding model on the emergence and development of other forms of social
movements, civil
compelling. The attempt at articulating and integrating political process and opportunity
structure, resource mobilization, framing processes, and new social movement theories in
explaining another form of social movement beyond conflict and contestation highlights
the need for more of research, long-term monitoring and evaluation, and theorizing in this
1.0 Introduction
You never allow a serious crisis to go to waste- Rahm Emmanuel on Charlie Rose,
January 19, 2009
One of the Beatles’ (1967) memorable lines in the song Within You Without You is;
“With our love-we could save the world-if they only knew.” Indeed love is a powerful
emotion, state, outlook, philosophy, belief, action, or however one defines it (Lewis,
Amini, and Lannon 2001) that can motivate people, as the Celine Dion (1992) song belts
out, to “move mountains.” One social movement is using love, as manifested by helping
the poorest of the poor meet their basic household and livelihood needs, to change
fundamentally Philippine society. This dissertation is not a story of love, but of a social
movement’s concrete actions of “love” in seeking to change society beyond the common
conception of social movements as engaged in protest, resistance, contestation, and
My dissertation is an ethnographic case study on the emergence and development of a
social movement that claims to eschew politics and class conflict, but is revolutionary in
the changes it seeks to bring about nationally and globally. In 2003, Gawad Kalinga
(Filipino for “to give” “care”), an ambitious Philippine community development cum
nation building movement, formally initiated "GK777" to build 700,000 homes in 7,000
communities, in seven years for the country’s poorest of the poor. Since 2003 and as of
2010, GK reported having built nearly 30,000 homes in over 2,000 communities in
various stages of development vis-à-vis their program components. They claim that even
without actively seeking donations, supporters worldwide have pledged to construct a
million homes.
GK boasts of setting up 420 community-managed farms to model
community-based food sufficiency. The first 107 farms produced 75 metric tons of
vegetables in 2009 enough to feed 17,000 people. In addition, GK established 384
community-based health programs as of January 2010. GK has initiated activities in
other countries, such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, South
Africa, India, and Vietnam with intentions of going global. To do so, it established a
regional hub office in Singapore under the sponsorship of the Singaporean government.
They say that grounds up work of this type engender positive social change.
Gawad Kalinga’s (GK) model is attractive for research on social movements as GK
posits solutions-oriented components that blend freedom, choice, and initiative with
community and collective action.
All these have long interested social movement
scholars (Lipschutz 2006, Davis, McAdam et.al 2005, Diani and McAdam 2003,
Lustiger-Thaler 2001, Giugni et.al. 1999, Putzel 1998, Kearney 1995, Edelman 1992).
GK claims their social movement is cultural and social, since they leverage Filipino
cultural values. Their framing of their version of collective action is represented in the
terms and slogans used such as “sharing of time and resources;” “massive mobilization of
volunteers and partners;” and, "padugo,” which means "bleeding for the cause" and
modeling "patriotism in action" (GK interviews).
The proponents of Gawad Kalinga assert that they are developing a movement that
incorporates the lessons of the past, their vision of an alternative future, and a template
for replicating their communities globally. While they have been widely cited in the
popular media and in a few management papers, no one has assessed it against models of
social movements seeking to address contemporary societal problems from a self-help
cum mutual aid perspective. I assessed whether their nation-building model, which uses
social networking, adopts a 'healing' relationships frame, promotes community
development, initiates environmental programs, poverty reduction, and housing is novel,
replicable, and scalable globally. Thus, this dissertation is a story of a social movement’s
intention of addressing poverty, homelessness, social exclusion, and economic
underdevelopment in the Philippines. With the GK movement growing and expanding,
an anthropological perspective can shed light on whether its model is another form of
social movement that is restructuring Philippine civil society in the process.
By ethnographic case study, I mean the use of ethnographic methods and perspectives in
identifying and evaluating many variables that may impact the social phenomena being
studied. Social actors who have agency or the capacity to act and the institutionalstructural-social settings of individuals, groups, and organizations of a particular society
may influence the “case” (Coward 2008, Gallant 2008, White et.al 2008). This study of
Gawad Kalinga is exploratory, descriptive, and explanatory from a social movement
Gawad Kalinga (GK) representatives say that they hope to achieve GK777 by promoting
elements of ethics and values found in Philippine culture. GK claims their "transformed"
communities are peace and faith zones, environmentally healthy, empowered, and
productive through sequential initiatives on shelter, health, food sufficiency, youth
development, and livelihood and productivity. GK, a ministry of the nearly million
member faith-based movement Couples for Christ 1 with chapters in 160 countries,
launched "GK1MB" to recruit another one million hero ("bayani") volunteers worldwide
to increase geometrically the establishment of "transformed" communities.
To GK,
community-wide cooperation and assistance or “bayanihan” occurs when each is a hero
or “bayani” to another in terms of heroic sharing and caring. Replicated over time and
space, bayanihan then stimulates nation (“bayan”) building. As one of GK’s numerous
taglines proclaim; “Embrace the poor, empower a nation. Embrace a nation, empower a
Social changes per political scientist Karol Soltan (1996) are large scale, require
revolution or extensive institutional reform, and have pervasive and long-term societal
consequences. Several social movements worldwide, working with the bottom of the
pyramid or the poorest of the poor, claim success in social change. Some social
movements are spurring social change by inspiring it, and addressing poverty via massive
mobilization of people, resources, technology, and skills, as well as developing strong
1 Couples for Christ (CFC) is a charismatic, lay, Roman Catholic faith-based social movement officially
founded in 1981 in the Philippines (http://couplesforchristglobal.org). The following sections discuss CFC.
community relationships (Graeber 2005, Cobb 2003, Cariño 2002, Muetzelfeldt and
Smith 2002, Independent Sector 2000, Kropotkin 1914/1955). Social movements are
commonly associated with contestations against the state, the powerful, and dominant
cultural codes. The focus of analysis on their effectiveness has been on the strategic use
of conflict of varying degrees to engender change (Diani 2006, McAdam, McCarthy,
Zald 1996, Nicholas 1973).
However, modeling best practices, social justice, and transformational engagement with
power holders in the housing, environment, livelihood and development, education, and
public health sectors, among others, are strategies of a few of social movements that have
replicated and scaled up 2 (Tarrow 1998, Torraine 1992). In this dissertation study, I
assessed one such social movement in the hope of reconceptualizing social movements
beyond collective action in conflict settings.
Anthropological theorizing of transnational social movements and civil society lags that
of sociology (Fisher 1997, Edelman 1992, Nicholas 1973).
This is lamentable as
ethnographic fieldwork can substantially inform current efforts to integrate the dominant
social movement theories of political process/ political opportunity structure, resource/
structure mobilization (RM), and framing processes to increase their explanatory power
(Klandermans and Johnston 1995). Further articulation of cultural processes in social
I chaired a panel session at the 2009 Society for Applied Anthropologists Annual Conference entitled:
"The Possibilities of Doing Good, Social Movements in an age of Neoliberalism,” which brought together
researchers working in this area.
movements may contribute to strengthening these theories (Fisher 1997). In this study, I
want to introduce another aspect of social movements that is not conflict based by
looking at the context that gave birth to Gawad Kalinga and how GK, as a social agent, is
redefining this context (Klandermans 2001 and 2000). Morris (2000:452) a researcher on
social movements noted that theory formulation needs to account for the social reality
that social movements operate in; specifically;
Future social movement theory can begin to correct these limitations by
incorporating analyses that explicate the causal role that agency-laden
institutions, frame lifting, tactical solutions, leadership configurations, preexisting protest traditions, and transformative events play in social
movements and collective action. The challenge for social movement
theory is to devise robust theoretical formulations of collective action that
corresponds closely to social realities.
Social movement debates are political and cultural in nature. They encompass several
theoretical orientations, which include a view of ‘societal totality’; concepts and images
of power; different levels of analysis; wide scope of social movement activity, varying
natures, and orientations; and diverse social bases of (Tilly 1999, Melucci 1996, Buechler
1995 and 1993, Piven and Cloward 1991). My goal was to study Gawad Kalinga and
unearth perspectives of how the political and cultural aspects can further delineate social
movement activities that seek change beyond the Marxian view of class struggle and the
post-Marxian perspective of cultural conflict. There is a need for this because Gawad
Kalinga’s strategy deviates from how others conceive social movements as a vehicle of
contestation and resistance. GK calls for engaging any individual or group regardless of
class, age, gender, political ideology, even ethics to engender transformational change.
They explicitly state that GK’s model of sharing, caring, and heroic service to the poorest
of the poor and patriotic volunteerism can transform an individual or group. GK’s
emergence, its early success and growth, and possible replicability elsewhere can be
explained by three propositions:
Proposition 1:
Under a neoliberal political-economic, historical, and geographic
regime, the poverty, social inequality, exclusion gaps have widened to
such an extent that neither the state nor the market are in a position to
address these issues. This will necessitate; (a) a massive mobilization of
people and resources at the societal level; and, (b) comprehensive
program of action. This context enables the emergence and expansion
of a social movement with a strategic engagement model that can
address poverty, social inequality and exclusion, as well as conflicts
over collective consumption and collective identity. This is the
confluence of the effects of neoliberalism and social mobilization.
Proposition 2:
Social movements involved in social change, poverty alleviation, social
justice, and community development may overcome resistance from
opposing and rival elite power holders and the State itself by engaging
these parties through culture and identity work that demonstrates: (a) it
is to the best interest of all parties to work together to minimize social
conflict and competition for scarce resources, and, (b) addressing issues
of contention and wide-scale social transformation will necessitate
alliances across political, economic, social, and sectoral interests.
Proposition 3:
Other forms of social movements extend beyond a conflict and
resistance theoretical framework. One such form eschews open and
direct conflict in favor of strategic engagement with subjects
(individuals, groups, or the state) and objects (issues, cultural codes,
resources) of contention with the goal of transforming and aligning the
subjects and objects to the interests of the social movement. This model
has the potential to expand and scale up as long as it maintains an
adaptable, social learning, community-based, and partnership-focused
framework to addressing challenges it confronts. It is a common set of
values that shape and influence collective action, in this case,
cooperative and mutual aid collective action.
Demonstrating the validity of these three propositions would show that social movements
seeking to foster broad social change might succeed by using a cooperative and
engagement model. This model would deviate from prevailing perspectives of new
social movements such as the contentious politics of Tilly (1986) and McAdam (2003),
the conflicts on collective consumption as proposed by Castells (1983), the legitimating
issues of Habermas (1984), the contingent politics of Laclau and Mouffe (1985), or the
cultural conflicts of Melucci (1999).
By exploring the positive consequences of
community organizing in the pursuit of service delivery, problem solving, capacity
building, and empowerment, I think this study builds on the cultural realm of new social
movement perspectives.
Gawad Kalinga emerges at a time when the Philippines and Filipinos like me are at a
crossroads. Within the last twenty-four years, Filipinos have ousted two heads of state,
albeit peacefully, in what is known worldwide as People Power (Hedman 2006,
Macapagal and Nario-Galace 2003, Pinches 1997). People Power was the precursor to
the collapse of the Eastern European Warsaw Bloc, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall,
the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the election or assumption to power of women
head of state such as the late Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan and Corazon Aquino of the
Philippines. Despite opportunities presented by People Power however, the Philippines
has inexorably declined economically, politically and importantly, in environmental and
quality of life indicators, compared to thirty years ago vis-à-vis our Asian neighbors
(UCAN 2009, Monsod 2009, Bello 2008, Hedman 2006, Pinches 1997, McCoy 1993,
Wurfel 1988, Fallows 1987). The country has simply not been able to take full advantage
of the opportunities and the inherent abilities of its people to progress as a nation.
“The Philippines is one of the world’s major development puzzles,” wrote two prominent
economists (Balicasan and Hill 2003:3). Despite extensive damage during World War II,
it had a higher per capita income in Southeast Asia, higher than South Korea, Taiwan,
China, Thailand, and Indonesia. Only Japan and the former British colonies of Malaya,
Hong Kong 3, and Singapore were more progressive economically. The outcomes over
the decades, they point out though, have been disappointing. Its real per capita GDP in
year 2000 was the same as in 1980. Korea and Taiwan’s per capita income overtook the
Philippines’ by the 1950s, Thailand by the 1970s, Indonesia by the 1980s, and China by
the 1990s. The country did not benefit from the Asian economic booms of the 1970s and
1990s. Worse, with the global economic reordering in the wake of structural adjustment
programs and neoliberal economic policies, labor-intensive industries migrated to even
lower-wage countries such as China. As the country became a minor player in the
region, trade and investment flows repeatedly bypassed it. Its social indicators reflect
this economic decline, vividly illustrated by the high out migration rates of its best and
brightest (Balicasan and Hill 2003:4).
The major causes of social instability are poverty, graft, corruption, and elite competition.
However, many believe that development itself is a factor, since some sectors have
exploited the current situation to the detriment of others. The commonsensical view is
that unequal access to resources and opportunities adversely affect more people (Monsod
2009, Bello 2008, Hedman 2006, Henderson 2005 and 2002, Abinales and Amoroso
Reverted to Chinese rule in 1997
2005, Boudreau 2004, Balicasan and Hill 2003, Sidel 1999). This debate continued as I
entered the doctoral program in anthropology to understand further perspectives on
underdevelopment from cultural or specifically, political anthropological intellectual
perspectives. That search eventually led me to Gawad Kalinga as a dissertation research
Plate 1: Literally living on the edge. Taguig City, Philippines, 2007
By attempting to build 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities, in seven years, Gawad
Kalinga seeks to spur five million of the poorest Filipinos out of extreme poverty. The
massive and ambitious home building goal seeks to generate the economies of scale
needed to tackle the seemingly insurmountable problem of poverty, inequality, and social
exclusion. GK seeks to create an environment of cooperation, sharing and caring, on-thejob training, resulting in social and economic multiplier effects. It seeks to channel
resources directly to addressing poverty without the draining effects of corruption, graft,
and red tape. From a knowledge standpoint, GK and its "army of workers" comprised of
volunteers, government allies, business, and civil society are attempting a new template
for governance. Governance, in this sense, refers to the structural power relationships in
society (Canell 1999, George 1998, Shore and Wright 1997, Schuurman and van
Naerssen 1989).
Studying a social movement with a social engineering 4 component such as Gawad
Kalinga provided me with the opportunity to conduct basic research that can have
practical outcomes. The importance of studying social movements like Gawad Kalinga
or online social networking initiatives such as MoveOn, MySpace and Facebook, faithbased movements or even the Christian Right is that their outlook is global. Their actions
are in the pursuit of some form of global change. Globalization is not only about
commerce, but fundamentally cultural (Kaldo 2005, Latour 2004, Fischer 1997, Kearney
1995, Edelman 1992). The global environmental sustainability, geopolitics, and poverty
issues are both local and global. This represents another aspect of globalization that is
not market-centered, but may be significant to how Philippine and global society are and
may be restructured (Graeber 2008 and 2002, Walker 2005, Falk 2005, Courville and
Piper 2004, Neamtan 2002, Jessop 2000, Anderson 1996). Thus, I pursued this research
because I feel that anthropology and anthropologists need to adapt to a “shrinking” and
globalizing world vis-à-vis anthropological research (Graeber 2008, Satish and Van
Willegen 2005, Castells 2004, Lindisfarne 2004, Baba and Hill 1997, Pearson n.d.). If
4 My use of the term “social engineering” reflects its use by GK officers. I take it to mean actions that seek
to transform how individuals and groups behave. While I note Karl Popper (1945) and James Scott’s
(1998) caveat on the rational and state-power implications of social engineering policies, note that GK is
outside of the State and seeks to transform both the powerful and the powerless.
they and I do so, maybe we can participate meaningfully in the search for solutions to
societal problems by contributing our anthropological perspectives.
Plate 2: GK Taguig Poveda Village, Philippines, 2007
If urban roles and identities shape and are shaped by the local-global nexus and collective
social action (Hugo 2003, Hulme 2003, Smart and Smart 2003, Owens and Aronson
2000, Stryker et.al 2000), how is the concept of community evolving within the context
of GK's activities and operational model? GK envisions a slum-free, squatter-free world
by modeling change through "daily heroism." For GK, the State needs the help of civil
society in addressing poverty, social inequity, homelessness, landlessness, and social
exclusion. For GK, their model is rebuilding communities through a focus on family and
then community-based relationship-building and more dynamic interaction among
different socio-economic classes, institutions, and organizations to address basic
household needs and issues of social justice. Through meaningful social interaction, GK
seeks to transform how politics- how scarce resources and social values are allocated and
distributed- is practiced.
In assessing GK, I sought to surface the cultural elements it is tapping. I wanted to find
out how GK’s model and strategy reflect man’s agency and society’s structure vis-à-vis
social movement activities. For example, when it seeks to “heal broken relationships” or
when GK uses the slogan “No More Slums, No More Violence, No More Poverty,” is
GK seeking to change the discourse on how national development should take place?
When GK says that the poor should be an active partner of development, is it turning on
its head Castell’s (1983) notion of the urban poor as a cheap social reproduction of urban
Thus, of interest in the "ethnographic" story of GK are the factors of its emergence and
development, the philosophical, religious, and moral discourses of GK's "ministry," GK's
use of the servant leadership model, the mobilization of a faith-based movement, and
GK’s discourse on community development, partnership building, and a "celebratory and
non-confrontational, but heroic stance" of action.
All these have an impact on the
transformation of partners and beneficiaries. By assessing GK, I hope to add to the
literature on social movements that seek to integrate current theories such as political
process or political opportunity structure (POS5), resource mobilization (RM), and
framing processes in new social movements (NSM) in a NOT mutually exclusive manner
to explain new social movements such as GK. Hopefully actors and their histories come
Research as personal discovery
In the fall of 2005, the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) hired me as
a graduate research assistant to do research on alternative cooking and heating
technologies for communities along the Arizona-Nogales corridor, which is part of the
border region of the United States and Mexico. During the course of my research, I
realized that Mexico and the Philippines both struggled with the challenges of poverty,
landlessness, homelessness, squatting, and rapid urbanization of frontier areas. What
were sustainable solutions to these issues, I wondered, that went beyond technological
Because of the pervasiveness of underdevelopment and the collective frustration of not
being able to actualize the full potentials of Filipinos, I sought to study and learn how
culture change can explain underdevelopment and how it can lead to positive structural
change. My doctoral studies assisted me in searching for answers to the problems of
class and ethnic group disenfranchisement, unsustainable patterns of urbanization,
environmental degradation and the underdevelopment from cultural to a planning and
Tilly (1999) prefers that “structure” be dropped from as this limits the breadth of the theory. Political
opportunities or political process theory are recommended terms.
policy perspectives. I pursued a doctorate in anthropology because I wanted to study,
learn, and hopefully develop new frameworks or models of sustainable development in
developing countries such as the Philippines, particularly in urbanizing areas. I wanted to
conceive, plan, recommend, and implement ways in which particular areas in the country,
and the whole country, could pursue development initiatives that would be sustainable,
environment-friendly, participatory, and transparent.
During the course of my work and graduate studies, I focused on both urbanized and
frontier areas. Having been involved in years of applied social research, I came across a
considerable amount of data and gained field experience on cultural and ecological
Further training enabled me to provide deeper analyses of these complex
questions and to join discussions that seek to: (a) assist communities adapt to changing
circumstances; (b) provide options to development initiatives should they have adverse
impacts; (c) assist development proponents implement socially-acceptable projects; (d)
develop a sustainable framework of implementation that are replicable; and (e) document
and establish generalizations on these social phenomena.
Communities should be able to decide their future based on accurate and timely
information, while government and business should initiate projects that are consistent
with sustainable development.
Thus, there are numerous opportunities to participate meaningfully in national
The shortage of skills, both analytical and technical, to address the
numerous challenges must be addressed. Government, business, industry, the academe,
civil society, host communities, and indigenous peoples need persons and institutions
who can help, assist, broker, facilitate communication and feedback with them on
the challenges of culture change, environmental degradation, and the implications of
globalization. I will never forget what a government functionary once told me a few
years back; "The country has a lot of experts, but no expert institutions." Building
"expert institutions" then is key result area of social movements engaged in nation
One day I came across an interview of GK founder Antonio “Tony” Meloto on Chicago
Public Radio (CPR). Two things struck me. The first, of course, was his elucidation of
the GK’s model. He spoke clearly about its mission, its origins, early successes, and
growth. The second point was his voice. It was soft, soothing, and tinged with humility.
He sounded sincere and credible, which are important characteristics for leaders engaged
in social action. Meloto’s charisma radiated through the airwaves. He message was
positive, inspiring, optimistic, and forward-looking.
I was intrigued.
He and the message were
At that moment, I decided that GK would be my
dissertation topic.
I had no theory to prove then. I felt though that conducting an inductive, ethnographic
case study would enable me to discover GK’s working model and contribute new ideas to
new social movements (NSM) theories. Being familiar with the Philippine historical-
geopolitical-economic-social environment, I felt that if GK could succeed and expand in
the Philippines, then GK was definitely worth studying.
Further, GK had global
implications for movements engaged in community development scaling up to nation
After completing and passing my comprehensive exams; writing and
submitting my dissertation research proposal, and arranging to work with Gawad
Kalinga, I flew back to the Philippines in mid-June 2006. This was my first trip back to
the homeland in three years.
Back in Manila, I would discover that friends, colleagues, and relatives were supporting
GK in various ways. I finally met Tony Meloto on July 11, 2006 at GK BASECO.
BASECO, short for the Bataan Shipping and Engineering Company is an aborted
reclamation site at the mouth of Pasig River where it leads to Manila Bay. BASECO
eventually became a slum settlement of at least 4,000 families. In November 2004, a fire
completely burnt down the slum. GK and Habitat for Humanity 6 eventually offered to
help. Each organization built 1,000 to 1,500 homes with the help of numerous partners
and volunteers. I originally planned to meet Tony Meloto after an out of town trip. I sent
him a short message service (SMS)/text message the day before and he replied that he
was flying in from Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, the sugar province of the country
and Meloto’s hometown. He replied that the same morning was a good time to meet
Habitat for Humanity (HFH) is an American faith-based organization engaged in home-building for the
poor worldwide. Former president Jimmy Carter is its most prominent volunteer. Beneficiaries of HFH
housing assistance are required to provide “sweat equity” or labor in home construction and to repay the
cost of the home provided. The amounts are supposed to be affordable.
because he would be busy in the coming days. He invited me to meet him in GK
BASECO and join him in his other meetings.
When I arrived at GK BASECO, there were many visitors. Workers from multinational
companies Unilever and 7/11 were helping in GK BASECO. There must have been at
least 200, possibly more, in BASECO. A stage was set up and there were various
speakers. I entered a coffee shop manned by middle-class looking people. The coffee
shop, aptly named Bayani (Hero) Coffeeshop, opens when there are many visitors at GK
The furniture and shop equipment are from the coffee conglomerate
Starbucks. It is a livelihood venture of GK.
Plate 3: A burnt BASECO and the GK BASECO Village established
(first two photos by Raul Dizon)
I finally meet Tony Meloto. He emphasized that GK designs villages to become middleclass villages. Hence, they price coffee accordingly. We had a table all to ourselves and
proceeded to introduce me to GK. We spoke for a long time. I would eventually spend
the whole day and evening at GK BASECO. Multinational consumer giant Unilever and
its then country manager Howard Belton apologized for intruding, but wanted to spare a
few minutes with Meloto on Unilever’s various GK activities and future events. Later on
7-11 Philippines, majority owner and former Trade Secretary Vicente “Ting” Paterno and
his son had coffee and asked if they could talk to Meloto.
Unilever and 7-11
incorporated GK into their respective corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.
Meloto repeated what he told me about GK to both Belton and the Paternos. The
Paternos seemed to be new to GK and asked sensible questions. The Paterno scion
probed him on the land tenure aspect of GK homes. Meloto explained that GK has
usufruct rights over the donated land and leases the built units to qualified beneficiaries
for 25-50 years.
Over the course of next four summers when I would do fieldwork on GK or when I
would see Meloto or other GK supporters in the United States, this scene would unfold.
First, the meeting, the getting to know you occurs. A friendship starts, with the slow
engagement of partners. Meloto, preferably, wanted those new to GK to meet him in a
GK village so they can see, hear, feel, and touch for themselves the miracle that he saw in
GK. Eventually, the engagement would progress into a deeper commitment of “time,
talent, and treasures.” The process of going to the poorest of the poor, experiencing a
whole new world that was simultaneously threatening, uncertain, depressing, yet filled
with potential, could be life altering. Even Meloto asked himself what he was doing in a
slum village when he began his work with the poor. Since GK villages were located in
the worst of possible sites, it was like an oasis of hope in a sea of violence and
If a GK village could sprout and grow, than anything was possible,
according to him. It was his faith that was guiding him, he said, since he had no plan, no
roadmap, or even the skills and experience of an activist.
When his son-in-law, Dylan Wilk, the British lad who became a millionaire selling
computer games before he was thirty years old, offered Gawad Kalinga US$100,000 after
a short visit to the Philippines because the GK model impressed him; Meloto refused the
money. He told Wilk that what GK wanted from him was his heart and his time. This
response of Meloto to Wilk’s offer was pivotal for GK and life changing for Wilk.
Meloto would tell me later; “If you go for the heart, the wallet will follow.” For Wilk, he
would say in public that in GK, he found “the difference between happiness and
pleasure.” He would eventually sell his cars, especially a BMW, that would fund a GK
BMW Village. He would eventually sell his business and use part of the proceeds to
become one of the largest individual donors to GK. He would also fall in love and marry
Meloto’s daughter and in the process he said, he fell in love with the Philippines.
Plate 4 : Marker of Dylan Wilk’s BMW M3-English GK Village and
Dylan at the U. of Arizona
My assessment of Gawad Kalinga is part of a personal search for “workable” models that
address social inequity and environmental issues. Coming from a developing country,
where the poor are everywhere and prescriptions from socialists and capitalists were not
working, the search for something that works is a preoccupation for me and my
generation. I looked for models in communities and civil society that blended freedom,
choice, and initiative with community and collective action. There were many examples
in the Philippines, which is coincidentally a center of civil society innovation (Clarke
1998, Bryant 2005). My intellectual search led to Gawad Kalinga. I wanted to explore
how civil society or a particular social movement can enact a sustainable development
model that is: (a) practical, (b) comprehensive, (c) collaborative, (d) charismatic
(leadership) and transformative, (e) economically just, and (f) sustainable, i.e. triple or
quadruple bottom line.
As an anthropologist on fieldwork with this social movement, what has my presence been
to Gawad Kalinga? GK folks have always been receptive to my presence, patient in
answering my unceasing questions, and generous to my numerous requests for data and
assistance. In the process, they allowed me to sit in several meetings and discussion
groups; participate in various GK activities; encouraged to comment on their activities,
and enjoined to give back in any way I can. My participant-observation time was very
enriching because Gawad Kalinga actively engaged me as they do all others.
GK folks were both intrigued and amazed that an anthropologist was interested in
studying their model.
Previously though, there were management, engineering, and
architectural students who studied GK. An anthropologist, according to GK’s Tony
Meloto, was intriguing because they were curious as to how I would assess GK’s
community development and nation building model from an anthropological perspective.
Thus, just as quickly as I would question Mr. Meloto, he would likewise ask for my
comments or observations. Engagement to him was a two-way street whether it was
between the rich and poor or the researcher and the researched. My first interview with
one of his closest advisers lasted six hours and continues to this day. Another officer was
amused at the number of GK sites I visited on my own.
This consciousness on engagement by GK folks enabled them to see the potential in
individuals and groups. I saw this many times and in quite a few instances applied to me.
Thus, while visiting up to 30 GK villages during the course of my fieldwork, GK folks
have requested my observations and comments on village conditions, as well as ways of
improving community development.
They asked me to join and process document
meetings with potential major partners. They were very curious as to the social metrics I
would use in my dissertation. How would you measure values transformation or what are
the best indicators of community development, they would ask. They even paraded me
on stage as part of a group of students from American universities either studying GK or
engaged in service learning activities in GK sites. This parade of students in a gathering
of over 10,000 GK supporters was part of their efforts to highlight the transnational
nature of GK’s work and appeal. I wrote a few articles published in GK publications and
Engagement to them necessitated taking ownership of GK work.
Thus, when I
recommended something to them, the response was always a thank you and an inquiry on
whether I would like to spearhead it. The joke around the GK office was that if you
recommend something to Mr. Meloto be prepared to spearhead it.
It would just be a matter of time though for me to become active in GK with the
participation aspect in the participant-observation methodology becoming more
prominent. When relatives, friends, colleagues, and former classmates became active in
GK, because either I kept on talking about it or someone else inspired them, it was
inevitable that my participation would be become deeper. When my in-laws adopted a
GK village, I had to join them in the community work and in the process help develop
programs that were site-specific. For example, I was able to convince a colleague who is
a partner in a carbon credit company to sponsor a biodigester for one GK village to treat
animal wastes.
The heat generated can produce electricity or enable household
businesses such as a backyard piggery or a bakery. If successful, this other GK sites can
replicate this.
Another friend who is a television news anchor featured GK twice in his news show.
Colleagues from the outdoor and cycling communities in the Philippines and in the
United States are proposing to build bamboo bikes in GK villages for export as a
livelihood activity of GK residents. My former high school classmates have chosen to
forego expensive homecoming parties in 2010 in favor of funding a GK village. In
Tucson, Arizona where I took my doctoral studies, GK requested me to arrange for
information, education, and communication (IEC) visits of GK officers to Arizona as
they campaigned nationwide to enlighten Americans and Filipino-Americans on the GK
model. I with the help of others organized two fund-raising walks and several meetings
for a projected GK Arizona village. Thus, if I were to note whether transformation does
occur, from personal experience, I can say yes.
Researchers note that joining a social movement involves both cognitive and emotional
alignment (Goodwin et.al. 2001 ). When an individual appreciates the fact that the
issues need resolution and is presented with and is convinced that the strategies, tactics,
subjects, including favorable opportunities, are appropriate to resolving the issues; then
that individual is motivated to join a social movement (Stryker et.al 2000, Hoffer 1951,
Cantril 1941).
I do not hint at a linear trajectory or a rational person acting (Polleta and Amenta 2001).
Rather, in my case, I emphasize more the context, which has made it possible for a social
movement like Gawad Kalinga to expand rapidly. GK appealed to me, because I have
been witness to many individuals, groups, and social movements that have sought to
remake Philippine society. Many have withered because of a variety of reasons, from the
harsh tactics of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, to the lack of logistical resources, to issues
of cooptation and credibility (Clarke 1998, Constantino 1998), to widespread
disenchantment with the abuse of People Power.
Gawad Kalinga officers have intimated to me that they do understand the issues these
social movements faced. A violent revolution is unacceptable to them because they are
devout Catholics. Communism does not appeal to them for partly the same reason,
although there are many ex-rebels who are now supporting them. A military junta, of
which there were several attempts to establish one, will only bring back memories of the
military abuses during the Marcos years and the deep depression the country sunk into
during the coup d’état-laden years during Corazon Aquino’s administration.
Their view is that a framework of healing relationships, between family members,
between rich and poor, and powerful and powerless is a better road to nation building.
This perspective appeals to me because I understand the thick web of relationships that
characterize Philippine society. Even the despotic landlord is in a symbiotic relationship
with his starving tenants (Kerklivet 1991).
Filipinos have extended families and
networks of alliances (McCoy 1995). Any radical change in society should take this into
As Jose Ma “Boy” Montelibano (rejoinder to Jaywalker blog 2007), one of
GK’s intellectual gurus, noted:
….Confrontation and participation in action which may incur possible
violence are not easy for most people, especially the peace-loving which I
believe most Filipinos still are. It is wise, in my mind, to formulate counter
measures to divisiveness and ego, including an aim to dismantle
wrongdoing, by simply getting more people to individually and
collectively (better and more effective) do good. Those who are afraid to
confront the wrongdoers may choose to "draw the water out of their pond"
by promoting a lifestyle of simply doing good. When more and more
people are doing good, especially in a collective or communal manner,
wrongdoers will find a superior force….
In GK, the help one provides translates into concrete action. Montelibano (2006 personal
communication) again noted that; “For all the criticism that is leveled against GK,
remember, yesterday they were squatters. Today, they are homeowners. Tomorrow, they
can begin to dream and change their lives.” Further, “what were gang leaders previously
are now college graduates, teachers, and professionals,” Tony Meloto (2006) told me.
The transformation is dramatic as it is concrete. The transformation occurs with each
home built and provided, and with each village established. The transformation is also on
those who helped they claim. This is their story.
The mixed-methods employed in this study are based on grounded theory, which is a set
of research activities, mostly qualitative, but which can include quantitative data,
conducted to gather data needed to understand a particular situation or phenomena
(Borgatti n.d., Glaser and Strauss 1967). It is inductive in that the researcher did not
attempt to test a proposition or theory at the start of the research. Rather, the goal was to
understand what is happening and then seek to explain the causal variables and processes.
The ideal result should be a theory that informs the phenomena. The starting point is a
situation, in this case the Gawad Kalinga phenomenon. The data gathered, observed, and
consequently evaluated, hopefully, lead to the emergence of theory.
This research
situation calls for understanding phenomena based on ethnographic field methods of
participant-observation in project activities, intensive interviewing, and informal
Data is subjected to note taking, categorization, comparison, memo
preparation, theoretical sampling (if needed, not applied in this study), literature review,
content analysis (Dick 2000). A good grounded theory incorporates the following: (a)
theory formation is inductive; (2) has theoretical elaboration; and, (3) is consistent with
identified assessment criteria (Pandit 1996, Haig 1995).
The research methodology was qualitative in nature. I conducted field research in the
Philippines over three summers from 2006 to 2009. In 2006 I conducted ethnographic
research from June to October.
In 2007, I conducted data gathering from June to
September. In 2008, I was there for two months from June to July. A personal trip home
enabled me to conduct a fourth tour of research from June 2009 to January 2010. The
extent of fieldwork complements my familiarity with most the country and of Metro
Manila, having lived and worked there until my entry into the doctorate program 7. I
visited more than 30 GK sites of various duration and frequency. I interviewed at least
100 key informants both formally and informally. I also have friends who are members
or who have worked with them. I know many of their private sector supporters. I
I worked for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines (DENR) for two
years before joining an environmental consulting company organized by the former DENR Secretary. I
stayed with this firm for 10 years before entering the PhD program. I participated in at least 100 of over
200 studies the firm conducted all over the Philippines. I still occasionally provide consulting work for
them. In addition, I am active in several environmental/outdoor organizations.
conducted several focus group discussions. I attended many GK activities. I actively help
three GK villages at present.
In between, I conducted secondary data gathering and further data gathering through
electronic (internet, phone, text) means. I also maintained contact electronicially and
face-to-face with U.S.-based GK volunteers and GK staff and officers visiting the United
States. I used literature review, content analysis, participant-observation, note taking,
data comparison, and theoretical sampling. Field visits were intended for: (a) scoping
and ocular site inspection, (b) field data gathering, and, (c) follow up research in project
sites (validation/additional research).
Appendix A.
The detailed methdology used is presented in
Content Outline
This dissertation follows the expected outline. Chapter 2 is the review of literature.
Chapter 3 is the Gawad Kalinga story. Chapter 4 deconstructs the Gawad Kalinga social
movement model. Chapter 5 is my attempt to deconstruct the Gawad Kalinga model
from a social movement perspective. Chapter 5 assesses Gawad Kalinga with a special
focus on challenges facing it.
Chapter 6 is the concluding chapter and provides a
synthesis of my observations and analysis of Gawad Kalinga.
Since I used the ethnographic case study method in this dissertation, I included stand
alone, but relevant articles or extended notes in the write up. These stand alone notes
were placed in “Boxes” and are labeled as such. Some of these boxes contain direct
quotations of key informants. In others, I paraphrased the quotations.
2.0 Gawad Kalinga and the fields of Civil Society and Social Movements
Proposition 1:
Under a neoliberal political-economic, historical, and geographic
regime, the poverty, social inequality, exclusion gaps have widened to
such an extent that neither the state nor the market are in a position to
address these issues, necessitating; (a) a massive mobilization of
people and resources at the societal level; (b) comprehensive and
multi-disciplinary program of action. This context enables the
emergence and expansion of a social movement with a strategic
engagement model that can address poverty, social inequality and
exclusion, as well as conflicts over collective consumption and
collective identity.
This is the confluence of the effects of
neoliberalism and social mobilization.
This chapter reviews the literature on civil society and social movements and the context
in which these entities operate. Proposition 1 is shown to be possible when there is
widening gap between winners and losers in a neoliberal regime. Losers can and do
mobilize against the state and power holders to secure concessions on resources or
services, recognized as safety nets or welfare. The State, depending on the geopoliticaleconomic situation, can provide concessions or repress these mobilizations. A third
option is that the State outsources these social safety nets and services to the private or
civil society sectors. Even if not, these sectors will seek to provide these social safety
nets if an increasing percentage of the vulnerable population is adversely affected. To
avoid social unrest, the provision of social safety nets and services is inevitable. It is in
this third area that Gawad Kalinga is prominent.
Conceptually, Gawad Kalinga is a social movement and simultaneously a social
movement organization. The provenance of civil society and social movement research
is old, long, extensive, and interdisciplinary (Lipschutz 2006, Stryker et.al 2000, Tucker
1991). Debate continues whether there is a difference between “old” and “new” social
movements or a continuum of research that accounts for the context or setting of a
particular social movement (Buechler 1995, Calhoun 1993, Tucker 1991, Piven and
Cloward 1991). Nevertheless, theorizing both civil and social movements has many
progenitors. Provided below is a brief summary. This chapter reviewed the literature on
these areas as it relates to my conceptualization of the GK social movement as shown in
the figure below.
Figure 1: Concepualizing the Gawad Kalinga social movement
Conceptualizing the Gawad Kalinga social movement
Political Opportunity
Structure (POS)
Many social and environmental
Poverty, angst, violence, etc
e.g. many partners,
funding opportunities,
padugo, etc.
Social Movement
Framing Processes
Bayani, bayanihan,
for the landless…People
SM Scholars: D. McAdam, S. Tarrow, M. Edelman, A. Touraine, B. Klandemans. M. Castells, G. Davis, M. Zald,J. McCarthy, etc.
Understanding Gawad Kalinga (GK) necessitates grasping its typology. Civil society
occupies, what scholars label, the seam between the state and the market. GK also
operates in this seam; hence, it is part of civil society, specifically a social movement.
Civil society interacts with the state at various levels and instances and acts and responds
to market phenomena as the latter may influence resources and participation. Civil
society is the historically diverse “arena of uncoerced collective action” by non-state,
non-market, non-family actors, groups, and organizations on shared interests, issues, and
values (Kaldor 2005, LSE 2004). GK is positioning itself as part of civil society that can
critically interact with the state to address social issues. To the market, GK frames itself
as a reliable partner by working on social and political issues that business needs to
The term “civil society” is an older concept than social movement, having been
conceptualized by Greek philosophers and extending to “modern” philosophers such as
Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Ferguson, Smith, Marx, and Hegel. Nicholas Onuf’s (2005)
discussion of civil society noted its structural basis, but with two differing views.
Aristotle viewed the family, state, and civil society as inclusive in the polis, which is an
association of all three forming a natural whole. Locke considered both political society
and civil society as one. To Kant, civil society was synonymous to “civitas” Latin for
citizenship, during the Roman Empire. This was the republican view. Hegel gave equal
footing between civil society or bürgerliche Gesellschaft and the family and state. He
also defined civil society as a system of human needs, satisfied by working together. The
focus was on the concrete needs of individuals, met by cooperation and voluntary
This simultaneously fostered democratic and social justice practices.
Liberals, while accepting the public nature of social space, sought to separate the
institutions of family and state. The structural basis refers to the institutions that form out
of persistent usage and practice.
The state and the family are two fundamental
institutions of society. Onuf (2005:53) observed that in both republican and liberal views
of civil society; “associations are seen to arise autonomously, coexist in egalitarian terms,
compete for private resources, form partnerships and rivalries depending on their goals,
and apply pressure on state institutions to achieve those goals.”
Tilly (1984) and others (Halperin 2004, Ileto 1978) note that civil society and social
movements became more discernable during the turbulent 17th and 18th centuries in
Europe marked by religious wars, the French revolution, imperialism and colonial
resistance, and the Industrial Revolution, among others. During this time of change and
flux, affiliations of actors and groups that would give rise to civil society were concerned
about protecting their lives, liberty, and property from the state (king), rivals, or the
bourgeois. Civil society was concerned about the public-private and state-market-society
boundaries vis-à-vis their autonomy, maintenance, reproduction, and change.
Civil society, thus, had different conceptions depending on how scholars conceptualized
it over time. The first conceived of civil society as a tool of capitalism. Back then,
European and specifically Scottish Enlightenment liberal philosophy saw attributed civil
society to autonomous, rational individuals interacting with one another civilly through
associational bonds, self-interest, and the rule of law.
It was about individualism,
rationality, and primacy of law associated with Western thought (Mein 2009, Vincent
2002, Comaroff and Comaroff 1999, Ferguson 1999, Nugent and Vincent 1999, Keane
1998, Hann and Dunn 1996, Edelman 1992).
Scholars accept though that the evolution of civil society and of social movements is not
linear and were context-specific. As Lipschutz (2006:4) noted; “markets appropriate,
states regulate, and social groups in civil society seek to accumulate power, provide
services, and protect their property.
Some of these social groups find themselves
oppressed or stymied by power or at risk from states and markets (or they “take up arms”
on behalf of others in these positions) and coalesce as social movements…”
In the 80s, scholars such as Adam Michnik (1985) reexamined civil society while
studying the increasingly tense political relationships in the then Eastern Europe states
and their growing internal political opposition. Likewise, in Latin America, Africa, and
Asia, civil society research sought to understand the dynamics of authoritarian regimes,
underdevelopment, and the rise of groups and movements outside of the state. In the last
twenty years, critical and political theorists such as Jean Cohen and Andrew Arato
(1992), Michael Walzer (1995), Jurgen Habermas, John Keane (2003), and Mary Kaldor
(2003) revisited and expanded the concept of civil society. The London School of
Economics also started an annual Global Civil Society yearbook edited by researchers
Anhier, Glasius and Kaldor (2001).
The debates on civil society “center on the normative understandings of what should be
the relationship between the state, the market, and citizens” (Mein 2009:356) and
analytically on whether civil society and NGOs are instruments of the State or elite’s
hegemony on society (Vincent 2002, Comaroff and Comaroff 1999, Ferguson 1999,
Nugent and Vincent 1999, Keane 1998, Hann and Dunn 1996, Edelman 1992). Broadly
defined in its normative, analytical, or combined sense, civil society is the realm of action
and groups outside of the purview of the State and institutions (Peterson, 1992/93*;
Lipschutz, 1992/93).
Figure 2: Three spheres of governance (Serrano 1994, from Carino
Over time, thinkers conceptualized civil society in two areas of public and social life.
Theorists such as Ferguson, Smith, and Marx associate civil society with the market and
the private sphere, while others such as Hegel, Gramsci, and Colas associate civil society
with politics and the public sphere. The commonality of these two broad conceptions is
that in looking at civil society, the separate spheres of state-public and market-private are
recognized. One, civil society or the association of groups and individual for various
reasons is outside of state control. This meant that civil society sought to provide public
goods and services that the state was unable to supply. Two, there were also private
goods, services, and associations that only the market or private sphere could provide.
The state was unable or disinterested in addressing these needs of the public. The
interaction, tension, and struggle of social forces in the area of state-market-society
enable the emergence of civil society.
Marx conceptualized civil society along these lines, but noted that civil society was a tool
for domination of the bourgeoisie class. This class needed civil society to protect their
property from the lumpen proletariats. To Marx, the separation of the state and the
market worked to the advantage of the ruling class and of capital. Marx (in Tucker
1974:163) viewed civil society or bürgerliche Gesellschaft as the;
form of intercourse determined by the existing productive forces at all
previous historical stages. It is the true source of history and embraces the
material intercourse of individuals within a definite stage of development
of productive forces and embraces the totality of commercial and
industrial life of a given stage. While it transcends the State and the
nation, civil society asserts itself in foreign relations as nationality,
inwardly organized as the State. The term civil society emerged in the
18th century when property relations evolved from ancient and medieval
society and only develops with the bourgeoisie…”
Thus, Marx assumed that if the proletarian revolution became successful, civil society
would become irrelevant and wither away. Lipschutz (2006:xx) highlights the critical
role that capitalism played in delineating the private-public boundaries and what that
meant for social and power relations. He wrote:
From a Marxist perspective, the division between public and private, and
the structural reasons for that distinction, are foundational to capitalism,
the liberal state, and the activities of capital. Justin Rosenberg (1994) and
Ellen Meiksins Wood (1995) both argue that capitalism represents a
separation of the political and the economic, the public and the private,
that is historically unique. Political authority over segments of the public
realm is hived off into the private sphere, where property rights are
guaranteed by, but insulated from, the state’s direct and structural power.
The other concept of civil society concerns politics, social norms, practices, and
standards that influential social forces such as the bourgeois class seek to propagate the
state. Two general social forces are at work here. One is composed of individuals,
groups, and organizations that push their vested interests or agenda through the market.
The other seeks to challenge, change, and/or control national politics, ethical practices, or
the structure of the state (Hegel 1821/1942, Gramsci 1970, Adamson 1980 and 1988,
Colas 2002).
American scholarship on civil society popularly associated with the
Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville (1835/1966) and his writings on American democracy.
He highlighted the check and balance role played by civil society in ensuring that power
does not centralize toward the state. Traveling across the United States, he cited several
examples of how diverse civic, professional, religious, secular, and ordinary groups of
citizens engaged in varied activities to promote democracy, transparency and
accountability, public commerce, public safety, civic duty, and morality, among others.
He contrasted what he observed in America with France’s ancient regime, which failed to
channel social pressures and dissent into institutions of politics and social justice
designed to address these issues. Tocqueville emphasized the necessity of civil society as
a countervailing force to despotism and the state’s tendency to centralize power and
undermine democracy.
Modernization theorists in the 1950 and 1960s built on Tocqueville’s writings to
reintroduce the importance of civil society in mediating social conflicts brought about
social change, economic development, socio-economic mobilization, and political
competition. In the 60s, 70s, and 80s, resistance to dictators and authoritarian rule, civil
and human rights, as well as environmental, feminist, and cultural issues reignited
interest in civil society, praxis, and social movements. Asia, Latin America, Eastern
Europe, Africa were arenas of contention as U.S-backed dictatorships as well as
communist-states crumbled amidst poverty, inflation, and the weight of their respective
Antonio Gramsci (1971) and others deviated from the ethnocentric view of civil society.
Civil society became an “arena for critique and contestation of dominant social values
and practices, including those associated with global capitalism” (Mein 2009:355). The
focus is on social critique, solidarity, and mutual aid of NGOs, peoples organizations,
communities of all sorts, and social movements, rather than Enlightenment ideals of
individualism, rationality, and civility. By social critique, Escobar (1992, 1995) and
others write about the pitfalls of development, capitalist modernization, and structural
adjustment, which many social movements work on worldwide. Dominant forms of
these issues are contested, critiqued, even resisted based on values, ethical, identity, and
cultural grounds.
Gramsci (1970) dwelled on the relationship of the state and civil society. He observed
that the state rules and maintains power by coercion, the threat of coercion, and by
consent. While the state represents the political society of force and coercion, civil
society represents consent. The distinction is not clear-cut and there are considerable
overlaps. Gramsci’s critique was that the bourgeoisie allow civil society to engender
social change as long as it does not fundamentally challenge their hegemony and
economic base. Civil society then is an unwitting tool of the bourgeoisie class.
Gramsci (1971) argued that capitalism was more adaptive then previously thought.
Capitalism maintained its dominance not only through political and economic coercive
and violent means but also by controlling the discourse of society. Gramsci illuminated
on discourse, which is how society communicates, debates, and discusses ideas, values,
ideologies, and what actions to take. It is in Foucaltian (1969) terms, the specialized
knowledge, and ways of communicating specific subjects and ideas.
Gramsci (1971) wrote that in capitalism, the rich and powerful or the bourgeoisie class
controlled and manipulated the discourse on how the economy should be managed, what
values should be upheld, and how society should conduct its affairs. In all these, the
interests of the bourgeoisie were preserved and maintained. The bonus is the acceptance
and acquiescence of the masses on the notion that their well-being aligns with the
interests of the bourgeoisie. What is good for the bourgeoisie is good for the masses.
Termed hegemony, this is a complex, series of layers of social structures, norms, beliefs,
practices that support a privileged class or of vested interests (Woost 2005, Crehan 2002).
In looking at the Philippine socio-economic-political context, Gramscian perspectives
provide a lens to understanding how 10% of the population can control political power
and one-third of the country’s wealth.
Gramsci believed that for the working class to gain their freedom and power, they needed
to develop their culture and to control their means of production, in essence both in
ideology and in practice (Woost 2005, Crehan 2002).
Gramsci called for counter-
hegemony (Moen 1998). Their values, to Gramsci, contradicted and undermined that of
the bourgeoisie class.
For the bourgeoisie class to maintain power and hegemony, it needed to show that their
norms, values, beliefs, and practices were normal, acceptable, desirable, and in the final
analysis, common sensical.
The class that exerts moral, intellectual, ideological
leadership and uses this leadership to manipulate allies will inevitably control the means
of production and the discourse on the means of production to its advantage. Thus,
religion, capitalists, the intelligentsia, and the media were and continued to be formidable
social forces in cultural hegemony (Massicotte 2004, Stillo 1998, Canel 1997).
In the Philippines, despite an active civil society, People Power, social and millenarian
movements, the political and business elite, often family based, still control economic
and political power. Elections have served to distract attention and mass mobilization for
political and economic reform. Hedman notes though that “coercive, clientilist, and
monetary inducements” subvert the electoral and democratic process (2006:17). These
transformismo events occurred during crises of authority, such as during the 1953, 1969,
1986, 2001 elections and People Power events (last two). Civil society participated in
these events and achieved concessions from the ruling class, but the fundamental societal
inequalities remained.
Hedman (2006) in her study of an election-watch movement in the Philippines used a
Gramscian perspective. Gramsci introduced the term transformismo wherein the ruling
classes maintained hegemony by absorbing gradually, continuously, and effectively the
“active elements” of allies and antagonists (Hedman 2006:16). This adaptive nature of
the ruling class that embraces anyone no matter the contradictions as long as they
maintain power is historically true in Italian as well as Philippine politics. In Italy,
Hedman quoting Gramsci, noted that the ruling elite absorbed all the subversive mass
Hedman (2006) writes that the dominant block of the capitalist class, the Catholic Church
hierarchy, and intervention by the U.S. government hamper civil society and other agents
of genuine reform. Since its independence from the United States in 1946, the Philippine
politics has remained in the hands of a few Filipino families. Their hegemony is deep as
it is historical and overlapping. As I assess Gawad Kalinga, I used a Gramscian lens in
determining whether GK is a transformismo phenomenon or something that is indeed
worthy of a paradigm shift.
Nevertheless, the Philippines is one of the first countries that mobilized people power in
the pursuit of democracy and governance. The National Movement for Free Elections
(NAMFREL, http://www.namfrel.com.ph), Asia’s first citizen’s poll watch group, for
example, was organized by 1951 for the mid-term legislative and 1953 presidential
elections. While some quarters have posited that NAMFREL was a CIA-funded and
created election-watch movement, NAMFREL has nevertheless been an active,
instrumental, and influential SMO in the Philippines (Farolan 2007, Smith 1981).
NAMFREL has continued to play a significant role in election watch activities especially
during the 1986 snap presidential elections up to the present and is active in several other
Thus, conceptualizing civil society and social movements (SM) should account for its
history, many interpretations, varied concepts and different definitions.
generally refers to non-state,
While it
autonomous, collective action, scholars differ on the
perceived capacity of civil society to engender change, its boundaries and the space it
occupies, and its dynamic relationship to the State. The heuristic value of conceptualizing
civil society is not lost on those studying SM in civil society (Misztal 2001). What
dynamics operate in GK wherein many of its supporters benefit from neoliberalism,
which impoverishes millions?
Research on governance, the dynamics of power
relationships among actors, is needed (Devas et.al 2004). The “inclusive democracies and
exclusive group centeredness” nature and challenge of civil society requires that it should
be an “historically and sociologically informed concept” (Misztal 2001:85).
How will current civil society and SM theories account for SM organizations (SMO)
such as Gawad Kalinga especially when it seeks to expand globally one community at a
time? GK’s activities reveal counter-intuitive perspectives. Their success in home
building, community development, and rapid scaling up of activities point to unexplored
dynamics of local and transnational activism. GK’s core member base is a faith-based
organization present in 160 countries. Their model, summed up in the symbolic framing
of “padugo, bayani, bayanihan, bayan”, presents itself as a potential to become a global
model for addressing poverty. This raises the need to study the institutional and cultural
dimensions of the construction
of repertoires of symbolic representation and
communication in SM mobilization (Zald 1996, Gamson & Meyer 1996, Kriesi 1996).
The following section discusses social movement research.
Social movements
Social movements form part of civil society. I attempt to conceptualize Gawad Kalinga
as a social movement.
The following sections reviewed the literature on social
movements and conditions that led to different kinds of social movements. The literature
also reviewed the different activities of social movements, with a focus on the
Philippines. This goal is to extend social movement perspectives beyond the conflict and
contestation dimension to include engagement, problem solving, and cooperation as
viable social movement strategies to engender social change.
From March 26 to April 10, 2006 there were massive immigration marches reaching over
140 cities in the United States. Likewise, in France, French immigrants went on carburning riots, followed by an over two month long student-led demonstrations over
various political-economic issues. Is there a relationship to globalization’s discontents?
In both countries, millions demonstrated against legislative proposals to criminalize
undocumented immigrants, socially exclude immigrants, or enact new laws designed to
facilitate the hiring or firing of employees (St. John 2006, Chrisafis 2006). Ironically,
both the United States and France are two of ten countries that host the most migrants
worldwide, but neither signed nor ratified the 1990 United Nations convention on
migrant worker rights (Deen 2006).
These demonstrations follow worldwide massive protests at the meeting sites of the
World Trade Organization (WTO) from Seattle (1999) to Hong Kong (2005), the
developed nations (G8), World Economic Forum (WEF), Free Trade of the Americas
(FTAA), International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank, and hundreds other in dozens
of countries in recent years (Paczynska 2006, Wood 2004). The ascendancy of the antiglobalization movement highlights the conflict-ridden era of the past few decades. Its
transnational character, number, frequency of protests, and the organizational capacities
are impressive (Ayres 2004, Graeber 2004). Are these protests against elite-initiated
globalization a redux of those in centuries past (Podobnik & Riefer 2004, Watson 2002)?
Differing perspectives influence political mobilization.
Are they reactions to the
perceived homogenizing effect of Western, materialist, Americanized, mass culture,
economic and structural changes based on neoclassical economic Hecksher-OhlinSamuelson and Ricardo-Vinder models? What does Marxist theory of sector, class,
redistributive conflict, and increasing wealth inequality reveal? What about Polanyi’s
counter movement theory of reactions against the pernicious effects of market forces
(Anceloveci 2002, Watson 2002)?
These perspectives cite increasing economic
inequality, social polarization, and overall displacement by globalized market forces.
Termed social movements (SM), these reflect a melding of resource mobilization (RM)
and political process or political opportunity structure (POS) theories, historical actors in
conflict or new social movements (NSM), or identity and anti-identity-based politics
(Tilly 2004, Escobar and Alvarez 1992, Edelman 2001, Oommen 1997, Garretón 1997,
Touraine 1985, Cohen 1983, Habermas 1981).
These political mobilizations though are not the only forms of mobilization. Recently,
some scholars debated the relevance of the worldwide anti-globalization movement after
the 9/11 attacks, Iraq invasion, and the perceived hegemonic stride of neoliberal
globalization (Paczynska 2006, Tilly 2004, Morse & Sitrin 2004). However, with a
better grounding of the issues on global security and the debacles in Iraq and
Afghanistan, anti-globalization activists and those adversely affected have begun
appreciating the synergistic possibilities of collaborating with the anti-war movement
(Ayres 2004, Falk 2005).
This highlights the importance of actors’ agency at the
conception and expansion of collective action, especially for those challenging neoliberal
globalization while benefiting from globalization (Watson 2002).
Social movements (SMs) are “collective challenges, based on common purposes and
social solidarities, in sustained interaction with elites, opponents and authorities” (Tarrow
1998:4). It is about either opposing the status quo or engendering change of a particular
issue, norm, practice, situation, ideology. While SMs have a long history, present forms
(Nicholas 1973; Kearney 1995, McAdam 1982; Tarrow 1994; Tilly 1978) coincide with
the development of the modern state, globalization, and the response of the marginalized
(Brosius 1999, Vertovec 2001, Maiba 2002). SMs have the capability to mass mobilize
(Pulido 1996) and form relations horizontally across states, with officials, and non-state
actors, vertically through sub-national, national, and international levels (transnational),
and enhance formal and informal structures that generate transnational activism and form
networks at various levels and localities (Tarrow 2005, Smith 2004). Thus, there is the
social movement and the social movement organization.
Socially movements are usually conceptualized as "negatively inducing" the State to
bargain with them (McAdam et.al. 1996). With other non-state actors, SMs form civil
society (Kaldor 2005, LSE 2004). Civil society, apart from the negative inducement,
may use “blended social action” of civic behavior - public claims making with initiatives
that directly and positively impact communities (Sampson et. al. 2005).
Social movements emerge and develop through the interaction of favorable political
opportunities, available resources/ structures for mobilization, and how issues are framed,
which act on and are acted upon by individual psychosocial aspects of meanings and
definitions (Klandermans 2001, Canel 1997).
All these motivate collective action
(McAdam et.al 1996). Today, scholars recognize that these SM theories, known as
political opportunity structure (POS), resource mobilization, and framing process are not
mutually exclusive.
Any overarching theory on SM or on a particular SM should
articulate the processes and interactions of these theories with one another over time and
space (Klandermans 2001, McAdam 1996, Escobar 1992).
This analytical perspective enables an understanding of SM and the global transition from
Keynesian welfare to the post-Fordist, neoliberal economic system (Bourdieu 1998,
Wallerstein 1992, Giddens 1990). This transition transforms social identities, public use
of space, employment patterns, and social relations (Giddens 2000). Conversely, the
State’s capability to provide social protection is compromised (Sachs-Jeantet 2003).
Increasing poverty and social exclusion generate SM, which collectively challenge elites,
authorities, and cultural codes. SM can organize at various levels and networks, mass
mobilize, and can disrupt public order (Tarrow 2005 &1998, Smith 2004, Pulido 1996,
Castells 1983).
Giddens (1985) identified four areas of social movement activity during the 20th century.
These include political, democratic, and civil rights; labor rights, ecological and
environmental issues, and the peace movement. These are broad categories, which
encompass other areas such as opposition to nuclear power, poverty and homelessness,
feminist, pro-choice, health, among others.
Oppositional forces may also organize
The pro-life movement, for example, anchored by religious
organizations is a counter-movement of the pro-choice movement. One of the earliest
typologies of social movements came from Aberle (1966) who listed four types based on
who is the target of the change and how much change is advocated. This is a 2 x 2
typology of specific individuals versus everyone or societal change and limited versus
radical change.
The reformative social movement is potentially where GK can be
classified. See Aberle’s (1966) figure below.
Figure 3: Types of social movements (from Aberle 1966)
Who is changed?
How much change?
Alternative social
Redemptive social
Reformative social
Revolutionary social
Scholars have attempted to trace the evolution of social movements (Christiansen 2009).
Blumer (1969), Mauss (1975), and Tilly (1978) observed that social movements have
different causes (summarized below) for their emergence. Mobilization begins despite
the absence of or minimal organization, constituents, and allies. Individuals and groups
begin to coalesce as they overcome obstacles and barriers to forming the social
movement. The life cycle of the American civil rights and the anti-Marcos resistance
movements are examples of the emergence and coalescing of social movements. At
some point with success and expansion, the social movement needs to bureaucratize.
With bureaucratization, high and more sophisticated levels of organization, coordination,
resource acquisition, and coalition-building strategies are pursued. This requires not only
volunteers, supporters, allies, and charismatic leaders who are the backbone of the social
movement, but also trained and paid staff to do organizational tasks in an efficient and
effective manner. At this stage, the social movement acquires a significant amount of
power to be able to comment, if not influence, the issues at hand. The last stage is
Social movements may decline for various reasons. It may have succeeded in achieving
its goals making the movement irrelevant. Preventing the construction of a pollutive
plant and overthrowing a repressive regime are examples of movement success. SMs
may also fail for a variety of reasons and proceed into an organizational death spiral.
More powerful social forces such the elites or the state may co-opt social movement
leaders or the movement itself. If that does not work, power holders may repress the
social movement as seen in the early stages of the slave abolitionist or anti-authoritarian
movements. Lastly, beyond movement success, a social movement may decline because
what is fighting for became mainstream or the state and elites accepted the cause.
Examples are labor, civil, and some aspect of women’s rights.
Note that there is considerable variation in movement paths because of a variety of
factors and contexts, many of which are specific to the social movement. Thus, this
schema for social movement development may or may not be linear, i.e. social
movements may leapfrog one or two or even forego (bureaucratization) any of the stages.
It may be possible to become inactive and then active again as conditions change. For
new social movements, discussed below, the issues may be longitudinal as they focus on
collective identities or lifestyle changes. Thus, the goals are open ended time-wise (Dela
Porta and Dani 2006, Tilly 1999, Freeman and Johnson 1999, Giugni 1999, Melucci
Figure 4: Stages of social movements (from Wikipedia, Blumer 1969,
Mauss 1975, and Tilly 1978)
The next section summarized the state of social movements in the Philippines.
defining characteristic of social movements in the Philippines is that many resist and
provide social services and assistance.
2.1.1 Philippine social movements
Philippine social movements have engaged in a gamut of actions from protests, to claims
making, and policy advocacy. This tradition dates back to the issues of agrarian reform
and the peasant revolts during the Spanish colonial period.
Social movement
organizations (SMOs) in the Philippines were active in the struggle against the Marcos
dictatorship, land reform, electoral reform, debt relief, migration, anti-corruption,
environmental, indigenous peoples, women, children, youth, teachers, Church, anti-U.S.
bases (before 1992), anti-nuclear arms and energy. and urban poor issues (UNRISD-PRT
2005, Ghimre 2005).
The struggle against the abuses of the Marcos regime partly
facilitated this strong tradition of NGOs and civil society in recent times. Political
administrations, human rights cases, electoral politics, international solidarities, agrarian
reform, migrants, transport, Mindanao crises, and communist insurgency of the
CPP/NDF/NPA. Thus, there has been a continuous struggle for land and resources by the
poor in the Philippines. The State and the elite have made concessions as an expedient
strategy. Urban upgrading necessitates either relocating informal settlers or providing
them with better habitation onsite. Poor people’s movements attract embarrassing media
attention and at times violent dispersals.
While avowedly political, poor people’s movements in the Philippines use self-help and
mutual aid to address members’ basic needs, build solidarity, and strengthen individual
and collective identity for further mobilization and collective action.
As Filipino
philosopher, Rainer Ibaña (1997:195) observed:
The skewed Philippine social structure compels civil society to focus its
discourse on the basic needs of the majority. Food, housing, peace, a sense
of community and the kind of shared goods being pursued by NGOs and
cooperatives must remain prominent in the agenda of civil society. It
might become possible also that instead of merely asserting the autonomy
of civil society from the state and from the economy, it may
diplomatically have to complement the social reform pro-grams of the
state and of the economy. Civil society, nevertheless, has the privileged
dual function of criticizing the state and the economy when they fail to
address the needs of the population, and of alleviating the social
conditions of the poor so that the latter may also share the privilege of
participating in civil society.”
Following Diani’s (1992) requirement of concrete action and behavior on the part of
social movements, work with the poor is an important activity area of Philippine NPOs
and SMOs. Poverty excludes the poor from social life. They have no or little access to
knowledge and information, networks of assistance, including state help, if any. They are
denied the dignity afforded to other humans and consequently feel alienated, lack selfconfidence, and self-respect. Hopelessness and fear abound (Toussaint 2005). In our
interviews, many noted that squatter communities were comprised of families that were
strangers to one another and alienated from the community.
My informants would
emphasize that politicians and other vested interests would repeatedly exploit this lack of
Metro Manila’s urban poor started organizing after World War II and reached a level of
organization by the late 1960s. Tondo, a district of the City of Manila and site of preHispanic kingdoms, was one of the first and largest slums in Metro Manila. Tondo is
north of Pasig River. Shortly before World War II, the Commonwealth government
reclaimed a part of it. Called Tondo Foreshore and planned for an international port, it
covered 147 hectares. Thousands of rural families invaded the area and settled there
when the reclamation project stalled.
In 1956, Republic Act 1597 (Tondo Act)
recognized it as a residential area. The law enabled residents to purchase land at five
pesos per square meter.
In 1973, the Marcos dictatorship announced its intention to redevelop the area by clearing
a part of Tondo Foreshore for an international container port annex facilities and a coastal
Buoyed by a World Bank loan, Marcos issued Presidential Decreed 580
repealing RA 1597. By then about 34,000 families or 175,000 people lived in the Tondo
Foreshore area fueled by the population growth of the urban poor in Metro Manila of an
annual rate of 12% in the 1970s to 80s. By the late 1980s, an estimated at 2.2 million
comprised the urban poor.
Tondo Foreshore is significant in urban housing movements because of two aspects. It
was not only the largest squatter area; it was the site of activist social and religious
workers and progressive students.
In 1970, 20 organizations in seven communities
thereat formed the Zone One Tondo Temporary Organization or ZOTO. During the early
years (1970-1975) of Martial Law, imposed by Ferdinand Marcos (starting 1972), the
urban poor sought to assert their rights by demanding for land and housing support from
the government, negotiating with them on land invaded and occupied, protesting and
rallying, and engaging the underground and international media in the hopes of shaming
the dictator.
ZOTO became one of the most well organized and active urban social movements.
ZOTO made several demands regarding the redevelopment of Tondo Foreshore. These
included the implementation of the provisions of RA 1597; maximum retention of
existing structures; a close-by resettlement program, no resettlement in multi-storey
buildings, affordable financing schemes for housing; and participatory planning. All
these would form key components in subsequent housing policies and programs.
Marcos responded with a variety of measures including outright oppression, negotiation,
cooptation, violence, and eviction. Marcos had ZOTO offices raided by and its leaders
arrested periodically. By the 1980s, the Philippines had one of the most active and
organized urban poor social movements in the world. They were organized enough to
make political demands, despite their difficulty in engendering broader societal support
or influencing urban policy.
Nevertheless, Marcos’ announcement in 1982 of his
regime’s plan to evict all squatters out of Metro Manila forced urban poor organizations
and allies to re-organize and mobilize. In 1983, charismatic opposition leader Benigno
“Ninoy” Aquino was assassinated upon arrival from political exile. This, among other
factors, plunged the country into political and economic crises. By 1986, People Power
deposed Marcos. Marcos’ downfall eventually opened up new opportunities for the
urban poor and landless to assert their rights.
Marcos’ squatter policy during Martial Law regime included clearing slums, evicting
informal settlers, and resettlement outside of the urban core. Among his more infamous
presidential orders included Letters of Instruction (LOI) 19 (1972), which ordered the
eviction of all squatters living on public and private lands without permit. This included
rivers and railroad tracks. Presidential Decree (PD) 296 (1973) ordered the eviction of all
squatters in easement areas. PD 772 (1975) supplemented LOI 19 and replaced PD 296
ordered the removal of all illegal constructions with heavy penalties for violators. He
also criminalized squatting. LOI 691 (1978) instructed local government officials to
implement PD 772.
By 1975, resettlement and some form of social housing were strategies also adopted by
Marcos. In 1975, the dictatorship established the National Housing Authority to devise
and implement a comprehensive housing policy. In LOI 555 (1977), Marco enunciated
his Slum Improvement and Resettlement Program (SIR) and Zonal Improvement
Program (ZIP) for Metro Manila. Also in 1977, he created the Ministry of Human
Settlements to build low cost houses under the Bagong Lipunan Sites and Services
Program (BLISS) targeting among others, the informal settlers in Tondo. Monthly rents
ranged from PhP 500-1500. In 1978, there were 415 “blighted areas” identified in Metro
Manila. Informal settlements occupied 700 hectares, of which 60% were state-owned
(Van Naerssen 1987:199-216).
Marcos used World Bank loans for his SIR-ZIP program. In 1979, a (then) West German
government mission reported that 60-70% of families in the Tondo Foreshore Project
could not afford rent. Their monthly income in 1978 was between PhP 40-250 pesos.
Family expenses were mainly concentrated on food (60%) with three percent left for
housing (PhP 7.50). On other hand, the SIR-ZIP monthly amortizations ranged from PhP
105-205 pesos a month. By 1986, the loans reached $130 million, one of the world’s
largest housing programs supported by the World Bank.
Beneficiaries used a variety of coping strategies. They refused to pay the amortization.
Others shared their homes with their extended families or with other families. Others
abandoned their homes, relocated, or went to other informal settlements. By August
1982, the dictatorship awarded around 4,200 lots to 5,000-30,000 peoples. This was way
below the target beneficiary goal of 250,000 people/11,000 families. The cost recovery
was very poor and eventually bankrupted many of the government shelter agencies (Van
Naerssen 1987).
Despite the oppression of the Marcos regime, urban social movements continued to
organize and mobilize. In July 1982, seven organizations, including ZOTO organized the
Alyanasa ng mga Maralita Laban sa Demolisyon/ Alliance of the Poor to Fight
Demolition (ALMA), to resist Imelda Marcos’ “Last Campaign” to evict informal settlers
from Metro Manila.
ALMA linked demolitions to the neoliberal and globalization
strategy that prioritized large-scale projects such as highways and ports that facilitated the
entry and operations of transnational corporations of the United States and Japan. These
mobilizations and statements expressly linked the Marcos dictatorship to support from
the United States and other developed countries and to neoliberalism and global
capitalism (Van Naerssen 1987:199-216).
Other NGOs such as the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), the Share and
Care Apostolate for Poor Settlers (SCAPS), agencies of the Catholic Bishops Conference
of the Philippines, the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP), the
Community Organization of Philippine Enterprise (COPE), Concerned Citizens of the
urban Poor (CCUP), and Bishops Businessmen Conference (BBC) also worked on social
housing issues. These groups represented a wide political spectrum and continued to
pressure government on housing. Land invasions occurred in 1986 in the Ortigas area
covering 19 hectares, the NHA project areas in Capital Bliss, QC and Karanglan Village,
among others after the overthrow of Marcos during the 1986 People Power Revolution.
Syndicates, urban poor, and local politicians initiated, participated, and/or supported the
In June 1986, the Conveners Group of the Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralita Lunsod
(KPML) organized by ZOTO, the Coalition of the Urban Poor Against Poverty (CUPAP)
and PANAMA in Navotas municipality (now city) organized a National Congress of
Urban Poor Organizations (NACUPO). This national coalition of 80 urban organizations
represented 340,000 of the 2.2 million urban poor. They demanded a moratorium on
demolitions; the payment of development costs, prioritization of on-site development and
not resettlement, and a halt to housing projects funded by loans from the World Bank and
other financing agencies, and the structural conditionalities imposed by these institutions.
Then President Corazon Aquino issued Executive Order (EO) 82 in 1986 creating the
Presidential Committee for the Urban Poor (PCUP). However, five members of PCUP
were presidential appointees. Further, a subsequent executive order, EO 84, adhered to
PCUP’s recommendation of strict debt repayments on housing. In November 1986, the
government demolished and evicted informal settlers in Parola, Tondo. This affected
7,000 families. The demolition and eviction injured 30 injured and killed one. The
following year, at least 50 demolitions occurred (Van Naerssen 1987).
Van Naerssen (1987) and others despite observed that urban social movements had to
constantly struggle as they were working against the interests of powerful others at the
local, national, and global levels (Schuurman 1989). Van Naerssen (1987:215) wrote:
It is argued that a real urban movement has to be aware of the class-based
interests of the government and its links with the US. Ultimately, the
problems of the urban poor are firmly rooted in the structure of an
underdeveloped nation within the world capitalist system. Fighting this
system serves the interest of the urban poor. Hence, the urban social
movement cannot be seen as separated from a wider political movement.
Van Naerssen (1987) concluded that the two main tasks of an urban social movement on
housing are not only to secure access to decent housing and security of tenure, but also to
engage in income generating activities that address urban poverty. The second is to
formulate and initiate activities that address poverty, social exclusion, and inequality at
the local level and which “stimulate a greater consciousness with respect to structural
causes of the urban poverty at the national level” (Van Naerssen 1987:216).
These issues persist despite the history of political activism to address poverty and social
inequality. Thus, Philippine civil society has taken into account the need to mobilize but
at the same time address basic household livelihood needs. The orientations of civil
society and external agencies in their strategies for poverty reduction may comprise four
The first is a market orientation by increasing the incomes or assets of the poor to pay for
housing, infrastructure, and services. The second is the welfare provision of providing
housing, infrastructure, and services without full-cost (loan) recovery. The third is claims
making on the state, wherein the poor demand made the state to provide housing,
infrastructure, and services. Civil society organizations assist the poor to reduce their
voicelessness and powerlessness.
The last is self-determined solution or self-help,
autonomous actions that may make use of community, civil society, and state support in
non-traditional ways. This combines direct and participatory action, the development of
relationships, and seeks to address most, if not all, aspects of urban poverty (Castells
1983, Mitlin and Satterthwaite 2004).
From the discussion above, the dynamics of a social movement that addresses basic
household livelihood needs at the community level as a strategy to engender fundamental
societal change is discernable in the Philippine setting. On the other hand, I have noticed
that there has been no intermingling of insights and perspectives gleaned from research
on social justice and poverty movements and self-help/ mutual aid initiatives. When
combined, what are the possibilities if these strands of research on these phenomena?
When the four strategies delineated above are simultaneously implemented what kind of
social movement and civil society result as it seems Gawad Kalinga is attempting to do?
Figure 5 : Urban social movements on housing and poverty reduction
Gawad Kalinga photoset
Photos from Gawad Kalinga-ANCOP
(urban housing movements):
1. Market orientation by increasing the incomes or assets of the poor to pay for
housing, infrastructure, and services.
2. Welfare provision of providing housing, infrastructure, and services without fullcost (loan) recovery.
3. The third is claim-making on the state, wherein demands are made on the state
for housing, infrastructure, and services.
4. The last is self-determined solution or self-help, autonomous actions.
All may involve community, civil society, and state support in non-traditional
ways and combine direct and participatory action, the development of
relationships, and seeks to address aspects most, if not all, aspects of urban
poverty (Castells 1983, Mitlin and Satterthwaite 2004)
Two understudied aspects also need scrutiny: the role of religion and faith-based
organizations in social movements and the symbols, rituals, and communicative media
strategies used (Kemper 2006, Smith 2001, Morris 2001, Nash 2001). Faith-based social
movements comprise a major part of social movements. In the Philippines, the religious
sector has been historically politically influential in millenarian movements,
independence efforts, social justice, and opposition to the Marcos dictatorship (Ileto
1998, Nadeau 1998). Religion has the dual aspect of being conservative and resistant to
change and efforts at social justice. The other side is its social movement characteristic
of challenging elites, authorities, and prevailing cultural codes.
Thus, civil society and social movements in the Philippines have been both politically
active and problem solvers. This is true for GK’s parent social movement organization.
Couples for Christ (CFC), which started Gawad Kalinga, itself has a history of occasional
political activism with its role in EDSA 1 and 2, electoral reform via NAMFREL, and
now Gawad Kalinga. Nevertheless, GK’s activities reveal counter-intuitive perspectives.
Their work on home building, community development, and scaling up of activities point
to dynamics of local and transnational activism, which should be explored. GK’s core
member base is a faith-based organization present in 160 countries.
Their model,
summed up in the symbolic framing of “padugo, bayani, bayanihan, bayan”, is being
pushed as global model to address poverty. If this is the case, the institutional and
cultural dimensions of the construction of repertoires of symbolic representation and
communication in social movement mobilization
should be explored (Zald
Gamson & Meyer 1996, Kriesi 1996).
An ethnographic assessment of social movement organizations (SMO) that account for
the historically grounded social and political field, the "submerged" aspects of SMO
activities, and the lived experiences of social movmeent activists may provide a deeper
analysis of the emergence and development of transnational movements that employ an
innovative and adaptive cultural repertoire of collective action, symbolic representation,
and communication (Kray 2006; Edelman 2001, Touraine 1995).
The next section summarizes the critiques of the various social movement theories. I
then relate these critiques to my assessment of Gawad Kalinga as a social movement.
Theorizing Social Movements
The discussion below describes the strengths and weaknesses of the various strands of
social movement theory. An overview of non-profit activities follows. I also included a
discussion on my intellectual biases vis-à-vis how humans act at the individual level that
influence collective action. At the national and transnational levels, I discuss phenomena
such as globalization, neoliberalism, and urbanization; how these shape the Philippine
social-political-economic context, and enable the emergence of the GK social movement.
Early on, theories on social movements were formed based on specific experiences and
context, mostly that of Europe and North America. The researchers were also mostly
from the same two continents. In the last three decades however, social movement
activity has increased worldwide and so has research and theorizing. The debates on
social movement theory dwell on definition, identification, time and space contexts,
variables, and the relationships of variables such as culture, identity, and structure. The
interrogation of social movement theory may imply skepticism and caution particularly
on theories or their variables that are unproven or difficult to prove (Foweraker 2005,
Goodwin and Jasper 1999, Jasper and Goodwin 1999, Johnston and Klandermans 1995,
Polletta 1994, Buechler 1993, Downey 1986).
The early theories of the social movements concerned activities in the arena of civil
society, when sovereign individuals sought to protect their freedom, property, and future
from the state, which in the case of most of Europe in 16th to 19th centuries, was the
monarchy. Civil society actions were outside of the state and its institutions. It was selfinterested actions, which may or may not preserve existing social relations and
hierarchies (Lipschutz 2005).
Tilly (1984) and Halperin (2004) posit that social
movements as conceived at present became apparent in the 19th century due to social and
political conflicts and the struggles prevalent in Europe until the mid-20th century when
the state partly acceded to demands for wider inclusion in the political and economic
process of the disenfranchised, the poor laborer, and the powerless.
Social movement (SM) researchers by the mid-20th century sought to explain the
emergence of social movements first through collective behavior theory, then later on
supplemented by theories such structural-strain, relative deprivation, and mass-society.
These theories used structural-functionalist perspectives to explain collective behavior.
These older theories of collective action assumed conditions of structural dislocation and
rapid social change, economic crisis, and exploitation of sectors of society. It also
implied a linear and unmediated trajectory of exploitation, frustration, and suffering
leading to collective action.
These theories generally proposed that social movements emerged when there is a
breakdown in one, a combination, or in all of the social, cultural, political, and economic
spheres. Individuals, in grasping the meaning of the events, come to believe that the
situation is problematic in society. Many become emotional because they experience
(relative) deprivation of some good, resource, or privilege, which they desire to gain or
protect. Following Durkheim (1933), others feel alienated, insignificant, or socially
detached. Elites become open to the possibility of change while the other classes sense
the potentials of mobilizing (mass-society). Participating in a social movement provides
a sense of inclusion, empowerment, and meaning to their lives.
As a form of collective behavior, social movements arise spontaneously, were
unorganized and unstructured, emotional, unpredictable, irrational, and therefore
Social movements operated in emotionally charged and energy-laden
contexts that may encompass mass enthusiasm, hysteria, excitement, rumor, and social
contagion in the early stages (Oberschall 1973). There were spectacles of riots, mobs,
panics, and violence.
These activities were considered outside of institutional or
everyday activities and implied the loosening of some social control; otherwise, the social
movement would have been repressed (Morrison 1978, Tilly 1978, Blumer 1969,
Kornhauser 1959, Hoffer 1951).
Emotional or psychological factors formed the bases of these interpretations of social
movements. Scholars then ignored the political context (Buechler 2000, McAdam 1982).
The emergence of social movements did not depend on human actors. As agents, humans
were reactive and not critical to successful mobilization (Hoffer 1951).
Researchers, primarily sociologists, critiqued these collective behavior perspectives for a
number of reasons (Lipschutz 2005). First, the conditions for collective action were more
fluid, open-ended, and contingent vis-à-vis agency and structure. Second, newer theories
highlighted political contestation over resources. It is about the nature of conflict. With
relative deprivation theory, which was the gap between what people believe they deserve
and what they receive or achieve, it was difficult to explain the ubiquitousness of
deprivation at one time or another (Gurr 1970, Runciman 1966). Further, as a motivating
factor, it did not attract more participants to the social movement as it should have. The
presence of the social movement as a cause and effect is circular reasoning. Mass society
theory, on the other hand, could not explain why those not experiencing anomie and
social detachment still joined social movements. Some cases had participants joining
because of solidarity with a friend or companion (Kornhauser 1959).
With rapid social change and breakdown in social structures, the emergence and
development of social movements became possible if participants believe there are
societal problems, experience these problems or deprivation (structural strain); then
become aware of a widely disseminated proposed solution to these problems. An event
or other factors precipitate the formation of the social movement. The state or elites may
allow the movement to prosper because one or the other may not have the capacity to coopt or repress the movement. Lastly, actors actually strive to mobilize, organize, and
expand the social movement. The issue with this explanation is that deprivation, again, is
a both cause and effect of the emergence of the social movement (Smelser 1962). It also
does not account for the free-rider 8 issue raised by Mancur Olsen (1965) in The Logic of
Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups.
With the rise to prominence (at least in popular awareness and conscience after World
War II) of social movements concerning national independence, civil, labor, suffrage, and
other rights in Europe, North America, and worldwide, human agency and rationality
became possible explanations to understanding social movements. Scholars noted that
social movement may contain a certain amount of emotions, but these movements were
not irrational. Further, new theories explained the free-rider issue of Olsen (1965).
These theories became dominant in the latter half of the 20th century, namely resource
mobilization and political process or opportunity structure. Later on, culture theory that
explored class, identity, and meaning became a third dominant theory (Dani 1992).
Resource Mobilization Theory (RMT) proposed that experienced leaders, in the political,
professional, and managerial sense, provided the investment or sunk costs of activism,
which made it easier for others to join, participate, or be active in a social movement.
The “political opportunity structure theory,” (POS), on the other hand, was
entrepreneurial in the sense that there were opportunities to mobilize and organize a
Free riders are those whose consumption of a public resource, good, or service is more than what they
contribute, compensate, or shoulder of their fair share for its production and/or maintenance. In such an
event, the burden of production or maintenance of that resource, good, or service fall on others (Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2003: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/free-rider/). In social movement
research, individuals are motivated to participate in a social movement based on how much of their
personal resources such as time, effort, money, emotions, etc. they will have to expend to benefit from
participation. A free rider seeks to benefit without contributing personal resources. A theoretical issue is
explaining why people believe and join a social movement without contributing (Lipschutz 2005).
social movement. The barriers to organizing and mobilizing as well as the start up costs
were minimal. The actions were now rational, self-interested, and planned, and the
politics oppositional and contentious (Tarrow 1998, Dani and McAdam 2003, Alberto
Melluci 1989, Tilly 2004, Smith and Johnston 2002).
Resource Mobilization Theory
In Resource Mobilization Theory (RMT), social movements emerged as challenges to
those in power, dominant norms, practices, beliefs, practices, a call to change, questions
of inequality, and the articulation of grievances, dissatisfaction, discontents, and demands
(Tarrow 2001, Dani 1992). RMT concerned the periodic or constant protest and conflict
over the “allocation of goods in the political market” (Canel 1997:2). RMT arose in the
1970s as an alternative to collective behavior theory.
RMT explored the rational,
practical, strategic, and political motivations and strategies of social movement and
actors. It looked at how actors mobilized and networked for collective action and how
social movements and the SM organization emerged.
RMT posited that personal
resources, professional activists and organizations, and access to external logistics and
resources enabled social movements to engage in contentious collective action at several
levels including, importantly, the political-institutional level (Buechler 2000, Tarrow
1998, Canel 1997, McAdam, McCarthy & Zald 1996). Resources include knowledge,
funding, media, labor, solidarity, legitimacy, and internal and external support from
powerful elites. It also depended on networks and the formation of a collective identity
attuned to political opportunities for mobilization.
Essentially, it explained the “how” and not the “why” of social movement formation.
Mobilization is possible in the presence of dense social networks polarized from elites,
have no representation, share a collective identity, can access resources for mobilization,
and have critical mass.
While collective behavior attempted to answer why social
movements emerged, RMT sought to explain how social movements emerged (Tarrow
1998, McAdam, McCarthy & Zald, 1996).
RMT has two broad camps. The first associated with John McCarthy and Mayer Zald
focused on the classic entrepreneurial (economic) aspects of RMT, while Charles Tilly,
Doug McAdam, and others focused on contentious politics for resource mobilization
(Kendall 2006).
Critics of RMT raise questions on the privileging of a somewhat restrictive rational
choice theory to the exclusion of social-psychological motivating factors, the highly
quantitative approach; the preoccupation with funding, resources, formal organization,
and bureaucratization; the individualistic approach to collective action, and the exclusion
of Marxian analytical lens of class and power relations, and lastly, the micro processes
that explain the transition from condition to action (Canel 1997, Cohen 1985 Touraine
1985). The utilitarian bent of RMT was not lost on researchers who observed that other
social movements operate with less resources but higher motivations (Piven & Cloward
1995) as ideology may be a critical motivating factor (Fitzgerald and Rodgers 2000).
The RMT perspective is important in the study of GK because one key strategy of the
social movement is the massive and simultaneous mobilization of manpower and
resources in home building and community development to address poverty.
instead of mobilizing to resist the State, a powerful other, or a dominant cultural code,
GK is mobilizing to do good in order to transform powerful others.
Political Process Theory
Political Process Theory (PPT) sought to address criticisms of RMT. Eisinger (1973) laid
the foundation for the model by asking why some movements emerged despite the lack of
opportunity to do so. The critical factor in this model was the political opportunities that
opened up because of tensions, ruptures, or conflicts among elite power-holders and their
institutions and structures, the state included (McAdam, 1996). This is the “opportunity”
part of the model.
Along with elite conflict, and other elites supporting the social
movement, the state’s capacity to repress mobilization falters.
More avenues for
democratic participation open up. All these form part of the opportunities (Meyer 2004).
The Political Process Theory shares many elements with RMT, but is distinct in the
following aspects.
First, researchers consider the political structure an external factor, not controlled or
influenced by the challenging social movement. The political structure, however, is
critical to the social movement’s success.
Second, recognizing RMT, the SMO’s
competence and access to resources, the networking and interaction of SM leaders,
members, and allies, as well as movement incentives are all critical internal factors.
Lastly, McAdam’s (McAdam et al. 1996) “cognitive liberation”, wherein the SM
participants become conscious, aware, or reflexive of the current situation as unjust,
illegitimate, and subject to change or reform by them, is an important factor (Buechler
2000:37). All these point to a political mediation model. It allows for an analysis of the
interaction of the political context in which the social movement operates, the strategic
choices it makes, and an evaluation of outcomes and consequences.
Scholars critiqued the political process theory and its derivatives on practically the same
grounds as RMT. It overemphasized the “rational, instrumental, individual” aspects of
SM participants in collective action. They questioned the external factors of the political
structure in that these removed agency from SM actors and made them reliant on it as a
critical external factor. Lastly, neither PPT nor RMT discuss the cultural aspects of
social movement as an important factor in social movement emergence, development,
and expansion.
Lipschutz (2005) noted that the literature on social movements is: (a) limited by its focus
on behavioral aspects of popular political action, (b) on agency to the detriment of
structure, (c) was lacking in the definition and identification of political opportunities, (d)
the marginalization of some social movements because of state-centeredness, and (e)
inadequate analysis of the relationships among culture, identity, and structure in social
“New” Social Movement theories
Researchers criticized PPT and RMT for privileging resources and organization over the
role of culture. In reaction, social movement scholars, particularly in Europe, attempted
to bring culture into the equation. RMT and PPT highlighted a sense of injustice and
contestation, which generally led to the emergence of social movements. Culture, and
theories about it, sought to explain why and how social movements mobilize individuals.
The paradigm on collective action shifted from structural to cultural analysis in what
emerged as social constructionism theory (Tarrow 1998).
Culture theory may also
address the free-rider issue of movement participation by providing the motivation to
The Social Constructionism Theory of the 1980s built on symbolic interactionism
perspectives, which grew out of the work of sociologists Cooley (1902), Mead (1913),
Blumer (1962), and Goffman (1957 and 1969) among others. These provided a way of
understanding the process and potential of the creation and interpretation of meaning.
Thus, collective action became “an interactive, symbolically defined and negotiated
process among participants, opponents and bystanders” (Buechler 2000: 41). Culture
theory articulates the process, micro and macro, of how individuals and groups perceive
the sense of injustice and the need to act by specifically, joining a social movement.
Termed injustice frame, it is the ideas, symbols, and processes by which others perceive,
understand, articulate, share and act on the injustice frame. The metaphor used by Snow
and Benford (1988) is that of a picture frame. A picture frame provides a specific scene
of the larger world.
The picture frame is laden with information, ideas, symbols,
messages, including an implied course of action. The frame guides what and how people
and groups discuss and reflect on the issues, grievances, and discontents (Snow and
Benford 1988).
In an injustice frame, the considering the importance and significance of facts and the
course of action that follows depend on their presentation. Second, individuals do not
rely on only one frame. Rather, their own circumstances enable them to develop and use
multiple frames depending on the situation. Third, for a social movement to successfully
frame or reframe an issue, it must be able to understand, enter, and transform the
worldview of allies and adversaries alike.
Lastly, frames hint at moral and ethical
principles (Ryan 2006). In sum, framing identifies and defines a problem and its causes,
elaborates on the moral and ethical aspects of the problem, and recommends courses of
Thus, grievances and discontent are framed first diagnostically, when a problem and a
target of action is identified. Framing then becomes prognostic in the search of solutions,
strategies, and tactics to address the problem and contend with the target. Diagnostic and
prognostic framing enables decision-making on whether to recruit members for collective
action or not. Reaching a consensus to act collectively requires motivational framing that
makes a compelling argument and an inspirational message. Social movements are
vehicles for beliefs and ideologies and the construction of an alternative reality. They
succeed through frame alignment, wherein the frames of the social movement align with
that of movement participants. The frames of each party resonate with the other (Hunt et.
al.1994, Snow and Benford 1988).
Frame alignment is an important rhetorical element in social movement mobilization.
The framing process should be robust, complete, and thorough. The proposed framing
should be congruent with the larger belief system in terms of salience and
interrelatedness at many levels. The proposed frame should be relevant to the lived
experience of participants. Lastly, it should be timely vis-à-vis cycles of protest and
Frames types include bridging (linkages with other frames), amplification (clarification
and reiteration of the frame), extension (of the boundaries of the frame), and
transformation to be able to be congruent with the recipient of the frame (Snow and
Benford 1988).
Successful framing leads to new concepts, values, meanings, and
understandings, which garner movement support and aligns personal and collective
identities infused with values and goals (Tarrow 1998, Snow et al., 1986, Goffman 1974).
While social constructionist theory seeks to connect RMT-structural and cultural analysis
through the framing model, it suffers from ahistorical, abstract and general approaches to
explaining collective action and social movements. It does not fully integrate other
theories of collective action (Buechler 2000).
In response, European new social
movement (NSM) perspectives sought to address these theoretical gaps. At present,
NSM and RMT are the dominant paradigms for understanding the emergence,
significance, and nature of social movements (Lipschutz 2005, Buechler 1995).
New social movements
European social and critical theory and political philosophy influenced new social
movement (NSM) theorizing via critiques of Marxian analysis of collective action.
Researchers leveled two issues of reductionism against Marxian analysis. The first is that
economic reductionism assumed that the logic of capitalist production and its
consequences motivated all political social action. Other factors, social or cultural in
nature, were of secondary significance. The second is that class relations rooted in the
mode of production were the primary generators of actors in collective social action.
NSM theory disavows these two reductionisms and considers a more open ended,
processual, multi-actor framework of collective social action. Politics, ideology, culture,
identity are among the other important variables of collective social action. NSM theory
is not a monolithic theoretical framework. Rather it comprises several theories, some of
which seeks to reincorporate Marxian analysis in a more nuanced manner.
Buechler (1995) summarized the thematic approaches of NSM theories. The first is that
most NSM theories recognize the important role and the explanatory power of symbolic
action in civil society, the cultural sphere, and collective action in addition to RMT in the
political-instrumental sphere.
Second, NSM theories emphasize the significance of
processes that promote and increase autonomy, self-determination, and capacity-building
vis-à-vis strategies and tactics that increase power and influence. Third, some NSM
theories go beyond RMT by focusing on postmaterialist values in collective action rather
than conflict over power and access to resources. Fourth, NSM theories attempt to
deconstruct the complex formation processes in collective identities and group interests
rather than accept the static structurally determined nature of conflict and resource
competition. Fifth, NSM theories seek to deconstruct the social nature of grievances and
ideology rather than deducing it from just the structure in which the movement is
Sixth, NSM theories recognize the value of networks even if they are
“submerged, latent, and temporary” as these networks “undergird collective action” in as
much as centralized organizations are assumed to accomplish (Buechler 1995:442).
Lastly, NSM theories consider the totality of society in its analyses. Hence, society is
historically situated even if characterized as postindustrial, advanced versus developing
capitalism, an informational society, a globalized world, and so on.
Table 1: Differences between RMT and NSM (from Canel 1997)
Resource Mobilization
New Social Movement
System integration
Social integration
Civil society
Political realm
Cultural realm
Instrumental action
Expressive action
The major strains of NSM theories include those of Manuel Castells, Alain Touraine,
Alberto Melucci, and Jurgen Habermas, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. I discuss
each briefly in terms of the topic and approach. I draw heavily from the summaries of
Lipschutz (2005), Buechler (1995), and Canel (1997).
The social reality of the present: identity, decentered subjects, and politics
Most if not all of the NSM theories situate present conditions within a post-industrial
society. This is not surprising since the major theorists are European. For Touraine
(1985), NSM emerged in a post-industrial and programmed society that is a hierarchical
system of systems. The actors’ culture and social relations as embodied in conflicts over
their meaning, define this society of system of systems. Touraine introduces the concept
of historicity or reflective social action, as the “capacity of the social actor to construct
both a system of knowledge and technical tools that allow them to intervene in their own
functioning” (Buechler 1995:444). Conflict arises in the struggle to control historicity
wherein a dominant class of managers and technocrats seek to control the popular class of
consumers and clients of the state. Culture is the arena of conflict with the goal of
controlling production, capital, power, information, production of social meaning, and the
autonomy of the individual. It is the competition for the production of not only political
and material goods but symbolic goods as well. Touraine adds that the transitions from
commercial to industrial and post-industrial societies were discontinuous in that each had
distinct cultural models and central conflict issues.
Critical theorists Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (1985) diverge from Touraine’s
view by privileging political articulation and broadening politics. According to them,
NSM emerge because democratic discourse became available while at the same time new
forms of hegemony arose after the Second World War. Democratic discourse entered
new areas of social life creating new antagonisms. The democratic revolution and the
newly opened democratic space opened are “subversive powers” because these allow for
collective action that challenge the existing hierarchical and power systems.
democratic discourse has several elements. One is that the values of individuals and
groups converge on a democratic tradition that prioritizes equality and liberty. Two,
democratic discourse allowed individuals to act collectively.
Three, identities and
interests do not follow a single logic, primarily economic. Rather, social agents are
“essentially decentered” and a “locus of multiple subject positions” corresponding to
varying social relations and the discourses that shape these relations (Laclau and Mouffe
1985:76). Four, because the identity of social agents are contingent on the interplay or
politics of social relations and discourse, identities constantly shift and adapt to situation
and relations. Fifth, this affects hegemony because the discursive construction is subject
to constantly changing identities. Sixth, power relations then are analyzed as one that is
not questioned (subordination) versus the other, which is opposed and challenged
(relations of oppression). Identities are affected and transform the consciousness of these
identities, which give rise to antoganisms and on to NSMs (Mouffe, 1988: 94; Laclau and
Mouffe, 1985: 159).
Laclau and Mouffe (1985) also posit that structural transformations encourage NSMs
because antagonisms result from the hegemonic formation of capitalist penetration. The
penetration of capital has restructured production, the state, and culture by engendering
increased commoditization and bureaucratization and social life. Scientific management
has commoditized labor, while the welfare state has bureaucratized social relations and
allowed the state to penetrate the private sphere of life. A third phenomena is the mode
of cultural phenomena. The establishment of mass and a homogenizing culture, and the
process of massification of social life resulted from changes in the modes of cultural
diffusion and the establishment of a mass culture. These are homogenizing ways of life
and cultural patterns. Resistance to these changes then emerges (Mouffe, 1984: 140–41;
Laclau and Mouffe, 1985: 163–4).
The crisis of legitimation
For Jurgen Habermas (1984,1987), modern social structures restructured the public
sphere, which is where people formed a “public” to attempt to reach a consensus on
issues, ideas, norms, values, beliefs, practices, and the production of meaning that
animate society and is a counterbalance to state power.
The public sphere’s key
characteristic is its critical nature. However, a number of factors that transform a critical
public into passive consumers undermine this public sphere. Worse, rather than a public
minded population committed to rational consensus, these factors encourage selfinterested competition for the resources provided by the state.
The process of
modernization, Habermas posited, led to the growing power and influence of economic,
administrative, and technological rationalization, which is also known as system steering
mechanisms. Such institutions as the welfare state, corporate capitalism, culture of mass
consumption, mass media, and state regulation via legal, education, medical, psychiatric,
and media technologies facilitate system steering integration.
Habermas’ lifeworld or lebenswelt in German is the phenomenological concept of how
the world is experienced, perceived, and lived. It implies intersubjectivity, socialization,
rational discussion, and consensus.
Lifeworld is the consensus-based production of
meaning in society. It shapes the public sphere. Crisis and conflict emerge when the
steering mechanisms intrude into the “lifeworld” because it disturbs the production
processes of the norms, values, practices, and meaning. It disturbs social integration.
Habermas specified the intrusion of the state and the market into areas of private life
relegating individuals to roles such as employee, consumer, client, and citizen as the
“colonization of the life-world.” The intrusion disrupts and re-organizes basic roles in
The state seeks to control what the market cannot influence in order to continue capital
accumulation and maintain legitimacy of power holders. It does this through non-market
or capitalist means of providing non-productive labor, services, and goods. It reorders
the decision-making processes in favor of the economic and administrative structures
following logics of exchange based on capital and power.
However, issues of legitimacy arise because economic relations are politicized (access
and inequality), non-productive labor and goods lead to fiscal crisis, and the market’s
image as an efficient allocator of resources is undermined. Accountability dissipates
from the context of the lifeworld. The state increasingly becomes the source of power
and (unequal) access and becomes an arena of contestation. Because of this, NSMs
emerge between the system and lifeworld to; (a) defend the lifeworld from colonization
by the state, and (b) sustain or re-create the public sphere with its rational
communications and consensus-building practices.
The issue is cultural reproduction more that material reproduction. Areas of contestation
include quality of life issues, self-realization, identity formation, participation,
accountability, growth as a central concern, environment, and peace, among others.
Again, politics or market compensation find it difficult to address these concerns and
fears. For Alberto Melucci (1980), the post-modern society “brings with it new forms of
social control, conformity pressures, and information processing to which new social
movements respond” (Buechler 1995:446).
Modern society is characterized by rapid change, diversity, competing messages and
ideas, which impact traditional points of reference, identity, support, and socialization.
NSMs enter new areas of conflict that interact with everyday modern life such as
symbolic or cultural codes and identity, expressive, and personal claims. This implies
opposition to the “instrumental rationality of the dominant society” as well as the power
that lies behind administrative practices (Buechler 1995: 446). Melucci (1980) helped
define the critical role of identity in NSM and cautions that identity is fluid; hence, NSM
is a continuous exercise in identity and meaning production, which may include
expanding networks of like-minded groups on temporal and contingent bases. It is not
Most if not all NSM theorists believe there is a definite discontinuity between NMS and
the traditional forms of collective action. The post-modern and post-industry era bring
new actors, new issues, new carriers of values, new modes of action, new organizational
forms, and new forms of conflict. In terms of actors at the center of contestation,
economic and social classes were the traditional collective actors. In NSM, it is an
aggregation of various groups and actors with contingent identities as discussed and
differing ideologies as discussed above (Offe 1985: 831).
Issues and values markedly differ between the two, with NSM theorists stressing
contestation of the production and processing of meaning or symbolic issues and the
formation and constitution of identities. In “old” social movements, the focus was on
strategic-instrumental action over the mode of production and its distribution.
It is
cultural reproduction, social integration, and socialization versus material reproduction
(Cohen 1983, Habermas 1981). Thus, in NSM the issues are wide and varied and include
discrimination, oppression, appropriation of physical space, environment, consumerism,
peace, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and so on. NSM advocate for
values of equality, participation, autonomy democracy, diversity, governance,
accountability, adaptability, among others. These struggles blur boundaries between
public and private spheres (Laclau and Mouffe 1985, Offe 1985: 817, Melucci 1980:
Since the issues and actors differ, the arena of contestation differs. For NSM, because the
issues are about new meanings, communicative forms, and reinterpretation of cultural
aspects such as norms and values, actions take place at the public sphere or at the level of
social integration. Unlike in old SMs, NSMs do not occur at the level of the state. It is a
shift of social conflict from the political sphere to civil society and culture (Touraine
1985, Melucci 1985). Canel (1997:10) quoting Cohen (1983: 106) writes that NSM “are
transforming civil society by creating “new spaces, new solidarities, and new democratic
forms. It is in the context of these ‘liberated’ spaces, where alternative norms and values
guide social interaction, that new identities and solidarities are formed.” NSM theorists
differ on the location and linkages of NSM vis-à-vis civil society, the political sphere,
and the impact the boundaries between the private and public spheres (Mouffe 1988,
Tourraine 1985, Offe 1985, Melucci 1985, Habermas 1981).
Some of NSM’s defining characteristics include a value system that is post-materialist,
problem solving oriented, globally aware, resists mass culture and bureaucratization, and
is concerned with human and civil rights and autonomy (Offe 1990, Burklin et.al 1990,
Cohen 1983). Organizationally, NSMs differ from old SMs. NSMs comprise many
groups and individuals connected to one another by strong or weak and direct or indirect
ties. Some are part of dense or loose networks. Participating individuals may have
multiple memberships.
Individual or groups might have short, part-time, or long
participation and involvement at varying levels of distance. Leadership may be flat. The
point is organizational forms and activities are more fluid than rigid, with less distinction
as to hierarchy, more open to participation and level of commitment and roles among
other instrumental and expressive activities (Offe 1985, Melucci 1985). NSM is as much
an ethic as it is a lifestyle blurring private and public roles (Melucci 1980).
implication is that since the goal is production and reproduction of meaning or
challenging cultural codes, the NSM itself and the actions of a NSM participant by
themselves indicators of success.
NSM highlights theorizing on networks of participation and assistance.
information, and communication technologies (ICT) helped transform information
processing and diffusion and consequently, human activity. The potential for infinite
connections among actors, domains, and activities was not lost on Castells (1996). A
highly networked and interdependent economy and information society reorganizes
social relations in many ways including NSM. Examples are the global NSMs on justice,
peace, and environment, which use networks, and ICT.
Escobar (2000) extended
network theory by exploring the transformation of NSM vis-à-vis globalization, diversity,
and neoliberal capitalism, among others. He notes that networks, to be relevant, must be
agents of transformation. Afterall, they can be sources of information, culture, and soft
power. He introduces the concept of meshwork as the “articulation of heterogeneous
elements without imposing uniformity” (Escobar 2000: 10) that can reconfigure culture,
economy, nature, and identity.
Transformation of the urban space
Manuel Castells’ (1983) work on the transformation of urban space by capitalism has
significantly informed NSM, especially that of urban NSM. In urban areas, demands for
collective consumption goods necessitate state action on providing and promoting these
non-profitable but needed public goods and services. These include public infrastructure,
welfare, social safety nets, and services. In this context, Castells notes the rise or urban
social movements (USMs) in contestation with state and other social and political forces
that seek to control and shape urban social life. Protest and conflict arise in three major
urban issues.
The first is demands on collective consumption. Castells notes that this “challenges the
capitalist logic of exchange value with an emphasis on the provision of use values in
community contexts” (Buechler 1995:443).
Second, other demands revolve around
opposition to bureaucratization of urban life that leads to cultural homogenization. It is a
struggle for cultural and collective identity in specific areas of the urban space, similar to
the Habermas’ defense of the lifeworld. Community organizing and formation is a
strategy and tactic.
Third, USMs seek to promote more egalitarian, democratic,
transparent, and decentralized forms of government in the pursuit of more autonomy and
Thus, this is a set of identities, values, and interests between those who promote and
benefit from capitalism, commoditization, and bureaucratization as against those
emphasizing cultural identity, community solidarity, autonomy, and opposition to a
system of logic of mass culture, commoditization, bureaucratization, and class
domination. He builds on Marxian analysis of class domination but incorporates nonclass based USM, which is the mutual interplay of identities, culture, power relations and
politics (Buechler 1995).
Critiquing the NSM paradigm
The debates and issues on NSM theories revolve around five aspects. The first is the
debate on whether NSMs are really new and reflect a discontinuity from old SMs. Laclau
and Moffee (1985) suggest NSMs are new and old SMs because both forms share
egalitarian, democratic, and for some, even identity formation principles (Thompson,
1975). Further, more empirical research is needed to establish discontinuity especially on
modes of action, organization, politics, material production, historicity, and evolution (of
the SM), among others (Buechler 1995, Tarrow 1991, Brand 1990, Cohen 1983).
Second, NSM theories do not fully explain whether NSM are progressive or reactive
because; (a) the emergence of NSM is not fully explained; (b) the processes by which
collective action occurs or the ‘condition’ to ‘action’ (planning, strategizing, mobilizing,
etc.) is not elucidated; (c) it does not fully explore the relationships of identity formation
and mobilization and action; (d) it does not explore other causes aside from democratic
discourse and structural factors to explain NSM; (e) NSM are given either a marginal or
defensive role when they may be vehicles of emancipation and values systems. In other
words, NSM can be proactive via institutionalization of their practices; (f) in conditions
of crisis of capitalism and modernity; NSM theories can definitely situate NSM.
The third debate is on whether NSM are political, cultural, or both. Definitions and
concepts clash. Exclusive focus on one or the other hinder analysis of NSM, civil society,
state, market, and politics. There is a need to meld power and social relations, the
individual and group processes of identity formation, and the arenas of conflict.
The fourth issue debates the social base of NSM.
With labor class in old SMs
disregarded in NSMs, what constitutes the social base out of which NSMs grow?
Researchers have supplanted class with cultural elements of age, status, race, ethnicity, or
gender, which shape group identities. The focus is on values and ideology rather than the
economic logic. This issue also extends to the paucity of research on the organizational
dimensions of NSM, such as leadership, recruitment, goal displacement, team and group
identity formation, communication and so on. Thus, researchers need to conduct more
research of different contexts. Buechler (1995:457) summarizes the debates in the table
Table 2: Political and Cultural Versions of New Social Movement
Theory (Buechler 1995:457)
In the Philippine historiography of social movements, scholars used nearly all of these
theories. Peasant unrest as studied by Connolly (1992) Kerklivet (1999, 1986, 1977,
1974), Pomeroy (1978), Lachica (1971) cited landlessness, unequal landlord-tenant
relations, economic difficulties, among others in the rise of peasant movements. During
the Spanish and American colonial periods, folk and millenarian movements emerged to
oppose the occupation as studied by Lachica (1971), Sturtevant (1976), Ileto (1979), and
for Rafael (1993) via cultural modification. Nemenzo (1984) looked at the millenarian
aspects of peasant revolt movements. Lanzona (2000) looked at gender roles and clashes
in peasant movement decline. Bryant (2005) partly explored the struggle and dilemma
for resources and social capital of Philippine environmental NGOs as well as civil
society-state cooperation. Silliman and Noble (1998) edited a book on Philippine NGOs,
civil society, and the Philippine state. Clarke (2010) explored the same line of thinking
as this study vis-à-vis Philippine civil society. He conceptualizes it as the institutional
space between the state and the market, a realm of values, and a bulwark of liberal
democracy and capitalism. They all hints coalescing the three dominant theories on
social movement.
Understanding GK necessitates looking at the historical context and processes of its
emergence and its expansion. The processes involved range from the dynamics of social
movements to geopolitical events to identity, both in the social and collective aspects.
Afterall, there are numerous actors participating for varied reasons. The motivations
vary. Social formation is influenced largely by the mode of production, especially in a
developing country such as the Philippines. The base or mode of production consists of
the forces of production. The forces of production in turn include the natural resources,
technology, and even in modern times, the capital to produce things of value to humans.
By necessity, the forces of production include human labor power. The second variable
of the mode of production is the relations of production, characterized primarily by a
division of labor. This is evident in families all the way to modern day corporations. The
relations of production include the division of labor, ownership of the forces of
production, as well as the products of the forces of production, i.e. who owns these and
how is it distributed (Roseberry 1997, Kearney 1984, Tucker 1972).
To the base or mode of production is the superstructure.
Marx includes in the
superstructure the institutions of law, education, religion, family, beliefs, world view,
ideology, and even culture. The base and superstructure are distinct in capitalist society,
with the latter embedded in the former in other forms of societies. Marx (1969:503)
described the dynamic between base and superstructure best:
In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that
are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of productions,
which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material
productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production
constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on
which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond
definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of
material life conditions the social, political, and intellectual life process in
general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being,
but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.
I conceptualize institutions, in this instance, as “modes of association” (Elkins 1996:201).
It is a systematic set of power relationships that allow individuals or groups to perform
functions assigned to them by society or a community under a collectively designed set of
rules, procedures, and practices to achieve a collectively identified and agreed upon
vision, goal, or objective (Searle 2005). Institutions have collective identity and purpose,
assigned roles and functions, a logical structure to the power relationships needed to get
things done, and an understanding of what constitutes an “institution” among its
For GK, it is about not only reforming not only political and governmental institutions,
but also the educational, religious/spiritual, cultural, economic, and technical institutions.
Thus, as I study Gawad Kalinga, I take note of Marx’s conception of history. Roseberry
(1997) wrote that Marx’s historical materialist framework grasps both the ‘innermost
secret’ of social structures in terms of the division of labor and the power structure in a
society at particular times. It is materialist because humans are social beings and as such
determine social consciousness. The forms of mode of production utilized by individuals
constitute “the fundamental, determining relations in society.” It is realist in that these
modes of production and the consequent social relations are material, exist and therefore
are empirically observable. Fourth, it is structural because over time or historically, these
modes of production and social relations form the classes, powers, and institutions of a
particular society. Class and its implications on power and power relations is a very
important institution worthy of analysis. Lastly, class and other institutions that emerge
strongly influence human activities.
Roseberrry (1997:26) also noted that “individuals acting upon nature, enter into definite
relations with each other to provide for themselves and for the reproduction of a whole
mode of life. In the process of provisioning and of interacting with nature and with
others through their labor, man transforms both nature and the collectivity of individuals.
Thus, the collectivity of humans acting in and on nature, reproduce and transform both
nature and the material conditions of their actions.” The emphasis is on materiality in the
form of transforming, creative labor, in specific conditions. Applied to political-economy
including capitalism, the perspective looks at capital as dependent on a situation in which
working people have been stripped of ownership or control of the means of production as
well as from a community of producers. It involves the accumulation of the means of
production in the hands of a few and is dependent on “free” or very cheap wage labor
(Castells 1983). To some extent, a Marxian lens may be helpful in understanding the
political-economic situation in the Philippines, which has generated very unequal
economic and power relations.
This perspective is useful as we look at the multidimensional aspects of GK. While GK
leaders state that they are learning as they go, as they experience, and as they encounter
problems, they are explicitly seeking to address multiple issues that confound national
development. GK seeks to address poverty, homelessness, underdevelopment, unequal
social, economic, and political relations, among others, simultaneously.
What this
implies is that there is conscious and deliberate attempt to reengineer Philippine society
not through a confrontation and conflict but through social transformation.
GK is
leveraging culture work to achieve political, social, and economic goals.
As I explore Gawad Kalinga’s social action, legitimacy becomes a critical variable as it
will enable GK to gather resources, gain more influence and eventually power, moral at
least. Legitimacy is the generalized perception that both its members and the public
perceive an organization’s actions, activities, and structure as desirable and appropriate
(Human and Provan 1996). Legitimacy plays a critical role in the evolution of social
systems, including social movements.
Institutional theory posits that building legitimacy is the key factor behind organizational
strategies and structures (Dimaggio and Powell 1983, Meyer and Rowan, Tucker). While
other theorists observe that organizations differ in many ways, others note a pronounced
homogeneity in organizational forms and practices.
Dimaggio and Powell (1983)
theorized that at organizational founding and early growth, organizational diversity
exists, but as an organizational field becomes well established, pressures toward
homogeneity are exerted through institutional definition or structuration. Structuration
commences through increasing interaction among organizations and entities in a field,
defined interorganizational power relations and coalition, increased information load that
needs to be digested, and mutual awareness of organizations in a field. This process of
homogenization or isomorphoism is mediated by coercive, mimetic, and normative forces
(Dimaggio ad Powell 1983).
Gawad Kalinga’s version of civic behavior- the focus on “healing” social relationships as
a poverty alleviation framework, “celebratory, non-blaming, engaging” community
development and nation-building activities- seems to extend the SM negative inducement
concept. GK’s model hints of a social economy, the “specific spatio-temporal contexts
oriented to the rhythms of social reproduction” (Jessop 2000:94). GK’s transformed
community is a peace zone and faith community, environmentally healthy, and
productive with shelter, child/ youth development, health, environmental, food, and
economic productivity initiatives, community empowerment and values transformation.
GK's model may potentially create a social economy by engaging the rich and powerful
and making them more responsive to the poor.
GK attempts to focus on identities and relationships. The postmarxist argument that while
capitalist exploitation must be addressed, there are forms of oppressions beyond
economic oppression that require the “radical democratization of relations throughout
society” bears scrutiny (Eschle 2001:64, Beuchler 1995, Moen 1998).
An ethnographic assessment of social movement organizations (SMO) that account for
the historically grounded social and political field, the "submerged" aspects of SMO
activities, and the lived experiences of social movmeent activists may provide a deeper
analysis of the emergence and development of transnational movements that employ an
innovative and adaptive cultural repertoire of collective action, symbolic representation,
and communication (Kray 2006; Edelman 2001, Touraine 1995).
The next section discusses the non-profit sector, which is part of both civil society and as
an organization, social movements.
The characteristics of non-profits especially in
service delivery fit with GK’s model of sharing and caring in the hope of transforming
unequal relations.
The non-profit sector
Social movements are broad based and composed of different entities of individuals,
groups, associations, organizations, and alliances. Thus, there is the social movement
and the social movement organization (SMO). Most SMOs are non-profit in nature.
Their number, variety, and impact on the field of social movements and in society have
generated interest and research on their nature and activities.
Relevant to social
movement research of a non-conflict and problem-solving nature are those non-profit
organizations (NPOs). NPOs are formalized or organized groups, independent, selfgoverning, and private, run usually by volunteers, striving to fulfill social and economic
missions for the general public interest and are ultimately nonprofit seeking and
distributing (OECD 2003, Ben-Ner and Gui 2003, Cariño et.al. 2001, Salamon and
Anheier 1992). The term “non-profit sector” is American in origin, while in France it is
referred to as “social economy” or “économie sociale”, which emphasizes the socioeconomic dimension. The “third sector” aspect locates it between the state and the
private sector (OECD 2003).
The demand for NPOs can arise in an event of a failure of an “efficient market” and/or
“contract.” In the former, the conditions for perfect competition are not present and there
is limited access to purely private goods. In the context of NPOs, there are goods
(material), services (non-material and even intangible) considered “public goods”, which
no entity is willing to provide, such as public spaces, infrastructure, culture and the arts,
and special needs of a specific population. The state or government is responsible for
providing these goods and services, assuming that the public has agreed to task the
government to be the provider. When there is considerable debate or disagreement in
allowing the state to provide these goods and services, the demand is unmet.
opportunity then arises for NPOs to fill these unmet needs (Ben-Ner and Gui 2003,
Salamon et.al. 2000).
In a “contract failure,” consumers or other interested stakeholders find it difficult to
“monitor the quality of the good or service being produced because of information
asymmetries” (Hansmann 1981 in OECD 2003:10). These information asymmetries
result from a breakdown in producer-consumer relations or the good in demand is a
public good. A public good, as stated, is necessary regardless of whether people will pay
for it or not. In this case, consumers favor transacting with an NPO because NPOs are
supposed to be non-profit seeking. Consumers also assume NPOs will not exploit any
informational advantage (OECD 2003).
The John Hopkins Comparative NonProfit
Sector Project labels this theory first posited by economist Burton Weisbrod (1977) and
Henry Hansmann (1981) as the heterogeneity theory. The heterogeneity results from
“conflict” in the means of provision of certain goods and services and the limitations of
the state in providing these public goods and services. Unmet demands raise tensions and
can lead to conflict (Salamon et.al. 2000).
Another theory for the demand for NPOs is the interdependence theory, which is the
opposite of the “conflict” relationship between the state and NPOs. In certain situations,
it is to the advantage of both the state and NPO to cooperate, collaborate, and help each
other. NPOs may have certain strengths such as long-term experience and expertise in an
area or activity, an effective organizational structure built up, and an extensive social
capital (relations that can leveraged) and network established, which the state can
mobilize. On the other hand, NPOs have certain limitations, notably resources to scale
up their activities, which the state can assist. Thus, it is to the interest of the two parties
to collaborate with one another (OECD 2003, Salamon et.al. 2000).
I am cognizant of the “relational” aspect NPOs provide. In economic interactions, there
are “relational motivations” such as good feelings, attention, prestige, friendship, and
belonging that may exist in one form and level or another. Researchers have labeled
these networks, relationships, or interpersonal interactions as relational goods that can
become local public goods arising from a social-economic process. In brief, community
relations are warm and strengthened. As a local public good, there are stakeholders who
strive and desire to sustain and promote this good. The economic market can fail in
sustaining and promoting this relational-public good because there may be few incentives
to maintain this public good, the resources are limited, or social group interaction may
suffer from “coordination problems” (Ben-Ner and Gui 2003:14-15). NPOs are in a
position to strengthen relational goods because its non-profit aspect minimizes conflict.
Second, NPOs are collectively managed, controlled, and led. Lastly, coordination and
communication is thick and deep, and should, thus, be considered a significant asset
(Ben-Ner and Gui 2003).
A third theory that is structural in orientation is the social origins theory. This theory
emphasizes the historical, socio-cultural, political-economic, and institutional contexts
for the rise of NPOs in different countries. Scholars use this theory to explain the type of
welfare systems in Europe and the United States (Salamon et.al 2000).
The social
movement literature has extensively explored this theoretical aspect, which I discuss later
Figure 6 : Public participation/ publicness grid (Bozeman 1987,
copied from Cariño 2002)
All theories should be considered in conceptualizing the nature of NPOs in a particular
country, place, or even worldwide. As the organizational theorist Paul DiMaggio (2003)
noted, an ecological approach to non-profit research is important so that variation in
NPOs’ form, structure, behavior, motivation, strategizing, and actions can be accounted
for. Second, the attempt to determine the cause and to explain certain relations, actions,
or outcomes of NPOs originates from confluence of factors. NPOs can evolve according
to the context of the situation or the local-global environment. Researchers should be
able to capture this change if there is emphasis on the “historicity, internal heterogeneity,
and conditionality” of NPOs (DiMaggio 2003:315). Many NPOs operate at the local
level. They act and rely on and are acted and relied upon by “local formal and informal
networks of people, knowledge, and resources”
(OECD 2003:13).
Further NPOs
contribute to local development by:
“defining new goods and services related to the specific needs of the local
territory, generating integration and creating jobs, improving the
atmosphere and the attractiveness of the territory, consolidating
partnership and empowering local actors, emphasizing “the long run” and
therefore by consolidating sustainable projects” (ECOTEC 2001 in
OECD 2003:13).
NPO activities include cultural, education and research, health, social services,
environment, development, civic and advocacy, philanthropy, international, religious
congregations, business and professional, unions, among other initiatives. NPOs are a
major economic force; vary greatly in different countries and regions, are concentrated in
welfare services with regional variation, and are funded mostly by fees paid, as well as
the public sector (Salamon et.al 2000).
The John Hopkins Comparative NonProfit Sector Project surveyed the NPO sector in 35
countries and noted that the NPO sector employed close to 39.5 million people full time.
This is equivalent to 3.6 percent of the working age population, 7.3 percent of the nonagricultural sector, and 46 percent of the public sector. As an economy, it would be the
sixth largest after the United States, Japan, China, Germany, and France (OECD 2003,
Salamon 2002).
Clarke (2003) cites five general and key factors for the proliferation of NPOs or his
preferred term NGOs, in the developing world.
The first is that non-governmental
development agencies in the develop transfer significant amounts of aid directly to
counterpart NPOs/NGOs in the developing world. In 1990, developed countries NGOs
transferred US$7.2 billion to developing/southern countries NGOs. This is a significant
amount equivalent to 13% of official aid for that year.
Figure 7: Private-public continuum (Cooper 1991, from Carino
Second, multilateral and bilateral aid and development agencies also transferred
significant aid and development to developing countries through southern NGOs. Clarke
(2003:7) noted that in a neoliberal climate, there is widespread disenchantment with the
capacity of states to provide basic services. The United States Congress, since 1981,
required the United States Agency for International Aid (USAID) to channel from 12 to
13.5% of expenditures through NGOs. Third, the nearly global neoliberal climate and
economic structural adjustments undertaken by developing countries amidst economic
difficulties forced developing countries’ governments to reduce basic services and
hesitantly recognize and involve NGOs in socio-economic planning and basic services
provision. Fourth, the non-profit sector has evolved over time. Large-scale political,
social, and ideological movements, which were once formidable and cohesive,
fragmented due to global and local events and changes. Worldwide, dictatorial regimes
systematically and brutally repressed left-wing movements.
Communism eventually
collapsed in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Lastly, economic growth in
many countries and regions brought about multidimensional social changes. NGOs arose
to address grievances resulting from societal change.
Fifth, traditional institutions, such as political parties, labor unions, and government
agencies, were incapable of addressing the “complex process of social differentiation”
brought about by economic growth in developing countries. NGOs were established to
address specific and
general concerns of particular sectors, i.e. legal, medical,
educational, business (Clarke 2003:8).
Thus, using Korten’s (1990) typology of NGO evolution, NGOs have evolved from relief
and welfare to local, small scale development to “sustainable systems development” to
the current, still-being-defined promotion of institutional and structural reform through
increasingly NGO/PO coalitions, both nationally and internationally” (Korten 1990:1151127 in Clarke 2003:13).
From the discussion above, it becomes evident that NPOs not only meet some of the
basic needs of vulnerable populations, but in the process, their actions transform the
social and political relations to some extent. In the Philippines, the NPO sector or the
more neutral and preferred term, the voluntary sector, is numerous, varies in size,
orientation, location, function, and activity, is politically prominent, and has transnational
linkages (Silliman and Noble 1998). The NPO sector is explicitly recognized in the
Philippine constitution as an equal partner with government in providing needed service
and in policy formulation. Its political muscle became evident twice in the fifteen period
1986-2001 with the removal of two sitting presidents by people power (Quebral 2004,
Clarke 2003, Silliman and Noble 1998). As stated above, the types of NPOs in the
Philippines range from NGOs of various types, POs, and cooperatives, and number in the
tens of thousands to an upper estimate of over three hundred thousand (Cariño 2002).
The Philippine Nonprofit Sector Project (PNSP) team (2001) commented on the wide
range of estimates of the number of NPOs. First, tens of thousands of non-stock or profit
corporations registered in 1990s in government agencies such as the Securities and
Exchange Commission and the Cooperative Development Authority. Clarke (2003:70)
reviewed SEC record from 1984-1995 and observed the significant increase in non-stock
entities and NGOs. In 1984, there were 31,719 non-stock entities (NSEs) and 23,800
NGOs. By 1995, NSEs had risen to 93,597, while NGOs numbered 70,200. However,
these numbers do not include other government offices such as the Department of Social
Welfare and Development or the Department of Agriculture, or even local government
units that may recognize other NPOs.
Cooperatives registered in the Philippines also number from a low of 35,000 to a high of
The data is confusing as SEC records show 152,535 registered non-stock
corporations as of 15 June 2002. Further, a 1997 University of the Philippines National
College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG) estimated the non-stock,
non-profit organizations such as cooperatives, NGOs, accredited people’s organizations
and other people’s organizations registered at between 249,000 and 497,000 (Alliance
2004, Cariño 1997). The numbers are significant and their impact, notwithstanding that
many, if not majority, of these organizations may be ineffective (Racelis 2000).
NPOs that dissolved or became inactive are not self-reported or monitored vigorously. In
an updated paper, Clarke (2010) reported civil society organizations (CSO) as of 2007 as
124,506 distributed into 27 types of CSOs. In contrast, the United States had 1,448,485
CSOs. The United Kingdom had 265,000 and Canada had166, 227 CSOs respectively in
NPOs in the Philippines vary according to their nature.
For example, membership
organizations may be of the professional, academic, and civic type (PACO) or of the
grassroots/people’s organization (PO) type. POs may be government run and initiated
(GRIPOs) and/or genuine, autonomous POs (GUWAPOs).
organizations (NGOs) or institutions may support POs. These organizations may extend
support in the area of development, justice, and advocacy (DJANGOs). Traditional
NGOs (TANGOs) engage in charitable, welfare, and relief oriented activities. The NPO
may be a funder (FUNDANGOs). NPOs/NGOs continue to evolve and may receive
funds to both disburse and implement specific projects. These types of mutant NGOs are
known as MUNGOs. Government run MUNGOs are labeled GRINGOs, while business
oriented MUNGOs are labeled BONGOs. Unreliable NGOs are derogatively labeled as
NGO ideologies run the gamut of communist/national democrats
(NATDEM) to liberal democrats (LIBDEM) to socialists (David 1998).
The NPO sector has evolved through out Philippine history.
Prior to the Spanish
colonization, communities in the Philippines had a tradition of social cooperation,
assistance, and giving among family members, the clan, neighbors, and community.
When the Spanish colonizers arrived, both the religious orders and the colonial
administration established charitable, welfare, medical, and educational institutions to
further their own goals and interests. During the American colonial period, the scope,
magnitude, and membership of these institutions expanded.
As in the politics of
colonialism, the colonized used these forms of assistance to adapt, cope, and even oppose
colonial rule. The historical successes and challenges of these various initiatives and
institutions have laid the foundation for the NPO sector of the present (Cariño et.al. 2001,
David 1998).
The period before, during, and after World War II and the granting of independence is
replete with the further expansion of the NPO sector in the Philippines. This ranged from
the benevolent assistance of the elite class, to the “everyday forms of resistance” of the
lower-class, and the initiatives of an emerging civil society towards the imposition of
martial law in 1972 (Silliman and Noble 1998). The Jesuit sociologist John J. Carroll
(1998) noted the history of urban labor unions during the Spanish colonial times and the
active involvement of Jesuits with the organization of the Institute of Social Order (ISO)
in 1947. Fr. Carroll highlights the linkage of the Jesuits with the formation of key
institutions in the NPO sector such as the major union, Federation of Free Workers
(FFW) in 1950, the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) in 1966, the
Philippine Ecumenical Committee for Community Organization (PECCO) and the Zone
One Tondo Temporary Organization (ZOTO) in the early 1970s.
With the onset of martial law and the economic, political, and social difficulties and the
conflicts it spawned, the NPO sector further expanded (Carroll 1998). The Presbyterian
minister Herbert White, an associate of the foremost American community organizer,
Saul Alinsky, assisted and trained both PECCO and ZOTO members and officers.
White’s training and organizing visit was facilitated by the Rev. Denis Murphy, S.J. of
ISO and now of the Urban Poor Associates and Tom Gaudette, another associate of Saul
The Philippine NPO sector or civil society, after the People Power Revolution in 1986
and more than twenty years after, still has a “vibrant public discourse” and strives to
remain autonomous, plural, diverse, democratic, community-based, participatory,
transparent, and non-profit distributive (Silliman and Noble 1998:18). The sector is fluid
and is evolving, while maintaining its “persistent critical spirit” in recognition of the
legacy of the popular, indigenous, and historical movements that it inherited (Cariño et.al
2001:26). It will have to adapt to the trend of increasing institutionalization as the
country evolves into a more politically complex society with still many weak institutions
(Silliman and Noble 1998:18). It will also have to address the ever-present challenge of
funding constraints, volunteer fatigue, over commitment, and issues of legitimacy and
representation, among others (Quebral 2002, Cariño 1999, Carroll 1998).
Figure 8: Typology of Philippine NGOs and the Left ( from Colputura
To support and complement theorizing of social movement (SM) emergence and
development, this research looked at organization-SM interaction.
This research
hopefully adds to the mixed-methods, multi-level, comparative (Smelser 1976), urban
anthropology literature (Basham 1978; Sanjek 1990), specifically the management of
private and public sector partnerships in self-help, community-driven initiatives (Lewis
1959; Eames & Goode 1977; Mangin 1967). Since modern society has an organizational
base to it, what are the organizational implications (Bode 1998)? Organizations need to
be effective in order to survive. Organizational effectiveness means continued access to
resources and meeting the needs/ demands of multiple constituents (Pfeffer & Salancik
1978). New perspectives posit that social movements have an impact on organizations;
organizational change takes the form of internal social movements; and social
movements use organizational forms to strategize and mobilize (Zald et.al. 2005, Strang
and Jung 2005, Davis and Zald 2005). How effective is GK’s social networks? Will it
achieve its goals, including promoting institutional reforms in Philippine society? What
is the impact of GK on the more than 100 corporations and the more than 300 mayors
supporting it and vice-versa?
Because GK has a seven-point program, how will
anthropology theorize the evolving nature of the State when it delegates or "privatizes" its
responsibilities to SMOs such as GK? How will the presence of a rapidly expanding
SMO such as GK restructure society? GK espouses cultural values in its developmental
model. How valid is this in various contexts, in which it operates?
As Cohen & Bailey (1997) note, assessing group effectiveness is a heuristic process that
takes into account task design, group composition, organizational context, environmental
factors, internal and external process, group psychosocial traits, and aspects of
effectiveness. It is a departure from the “input-process-output” approach. This heuristic
process seeks to identify how factors have a direct and/or indirect impact on outcomes
(Baba 1988; Rosen 2000). For example, how grassroots initiatives such as GK emerge
and operate in an urban milieu is intriguing. Thus, my ethnographic research sought to
articulate these molecular processes including how GK operationalizes organizational
Anthropologists are in good position not only to provide this needed
contextualization, but also to theorize on the evolving nature of social movements and
Philippine social history
This section provides a summary discussion of the social history of the Philippines. The
objective is to provide the reader with the background information on why the
Philippines is politically, economically, and socially structured. In particular, Philippine
social history will show that historical events paved the way for a powerful elite minority
controlling both power and economic opportunities, since colonial times.
neoliberalism has impacted the Philippines and the elite economically, other elites have
benefitted from this global economic arrangement.
A minority elite amidst an
impoverished majority may spur unrest and reactionary repression.
It also may
encourage the proliferation of social movements and non-profit organizations involved in
a gamut of activities from resistance to service provision and delivery.
The geo-political history of the Philippines can be roughly divided into the following
periods, which scholars correlate with the country’s political, economic, cultural, social
These are the pre-Spanish colonization, Spanish colonization, the short
revolutionary period, American colonialism, the World War II years, independence and
neocolonialism, the Marcos dictatorship years, and post EDSA revolution (Woods 2005,
Sidel 1999, Lande 1997, Wufrel 1988). The Philippines by the time of European contact
was neither isolated nor backward. Prior to the Spanish colonization, what was the
Philippines was comprised of clusters of coastal and upland communities engaged in
hunting, gathering, fishing, shifting cultivation, maritime trade, feasting, and raiding.
These communities of mainly Malay stock were organized around bilateral kinship
groups of 100 households or less and led by a datu or chieftain. Residents sought
leadership of the barangay through valor, fighting and leadership skills, economic
success, access to the spirits, and alliances forged. This indicates both a charismatic
leader who ruled by consultation. Animism was the practiced religion. Residents were
literate. Maritime trade ranged from India to China and within Southeast Asia (Patane
1996, Hutterer 1977, Jocano 1975).
Junker (1999:3) notes that major islands in the Philippines especially in the coastlines and
lower river valleys had “politically complex, socially stratified societies” generally
recognized by cultural evolutionists as hereditary chiefdoms. Chiefs amassed power by
controlling the agriculture through land control, debt-bondage, formalized tribute
systems, investment in luxury goods and crafts as well as craftsmen, interisland trading,
and raiding. Families used wealth for ritual feasting, bridewealth payments, elite gift
exchange, alliance and regional authority building through prestige goods and feasting.
Artifacts recovered indicate that as early as the Chinese Sung period (A.D. 950-1279)
there was long distance trade in prestige goods involving Chinese, Indian, and Arab
Philippine lowland polities were characterized as having “highly decentralized power
bases and weak regional integration, with relations of political subjugation maintained
primarily through personal alliance and clientage ties involving continual gift giving,
ceremonialism, and prestige display” (Junker 1999:83). What can be considered the
primary power or political base is actually an alliance based on kinship, cognatic, and
ritual relations and friendships. These alliances were dynamic and shifted over time
depending on the fame, fortune, and charisma of the leader and his allies.
Political patronage and alliances have a long history in the Philippines pre-dating
European contact. Combine this with geographic, ethnic, and linguistic diversity, low
and dispersed population densities, and abundant agricultural land in the Philippine
islands, and it was difficult to organize a complex, centralized, and large-scale polity in
prehispanic Philippines.
As described above, what most probably occurred instead was political authority based
on control of labor and tributary resources that were material or prestige-based, alliancescentered, and exchange of favors. Personal relations and networks were integral to
leadership, authority, and wealth. Birthright was not a surefire way to leadership because
of shifting political alliances and personal ties (Hutterer 1977, Warren 2002). Thus, there
were many chiefdom polities varying in size, scale, and complexity depending on their
wealth, power, agricultural base, trading network, and success in raiding or defending
their communities. Political and military power shifted relatively quickly especially
between the tenth and sixteenth centuries (Junker 1999, Baccus and Lucero 1999).
Political scientists look at the Philippines as alternating between “development and
decay” over time. Politically, the issue of legitimacy and stability are key indicators; the
absences of either one indicating decay. In studying developing countries, development
and decay needs to take into consideration history, culture, politics, economic, and
institutional contexts.
For the Philippines, “popular democracy, military rule, and
revolution are real options in the political future of the Filipino people” (Wurfel
In the 16th century, Spain colonized the Philippines and sought to convert the islands
named Philippines, after the Spanish King Philip II. The Spanish colonization lasted
more than three centuries. The colony existed under an uneasy alliance of Spanish civil,
military, and ecclesiastical authorities.
While the assigned governor-general had
authority over both the Roman Catholic Church and military, Spanish friars had much
more contact with the colonized peoples and their education, moral formation, and
spiritual nourishment. This enabled church officials to gain influence and in many
instances translate this to economic power (Ileto 1979, De la Costa 1965)
The Spanish legacy is pervasive. Their entry halted the spread of Islam and trade of
Muslim traders north of Mindanao. Slave raiding of coastal communities also declined.
Trading with other Southeast Asian communities ceased because Spain controlled foreign
trade via the Manila Galleon trade. Spain also fundamentally revised the concept of land
from that of usage to that of ownership. Communal ownership of land, long practiced by
pre-Spanish communities was disavowed in favor of large royal land grants- encomienda,
friar lands, and favored an emerging and pliable elite. The Spanish colonial government
also used the Chinese as a business and social buffer between the colonial capital of
Manila and the rest of the country. Chinese merchants were the financiers and traders for
the Spanish colonial bureaucracy (De la Costa 2002, Warren 2002, Hutterer 1977).
Some Philippine observers have noted that the Spanish colonization ushered the
continuing enmity between Christians and Muslims. The Catholic religion displaced
traditional religions and with it the culture that defined Filipinos (CRS 2005, McAmis
2002). Others say that the Philippines’ Malay cultural roots and identity were subsumed
and branded as inferior to the Iberian culture. They also introduced the concept of a
central bureaucracy governing a state called the Philippines and the possibilities of the
centralization of political power with the capacity to distribute largesse. The Spanish
colonial government cultivated a landed, native elite as allies to control the masses. They
learned Spanish and were educated, while the masses did not have as many opportunities
to be educated (Scott 1994).
During the revolutionary period, the elite filled up most of the revolutionary leadership
although there were those from the masses.
In addition, there were grassroots,
millenarian movements that periodically rose against the Spain. Native and mestizo (or
mixed race) elites benefited from export agriculture that made them afford secular
education. Travel to Europe to study was possible for the more ambitious. In Europe and
elsewhere, liberalization, secularization, and nationalization were gaining popularity and
these were not lost on these Filipino elite. The periodic waves of reform and repression
of Spanish colonialists increased the dissatisfaction and anger of the ilustrados 9 (Karnow
1990, Constantino and Constantino 1975, de la Costa 1965).
This came to a head when Jose Rizal, a multi-dimensional and talented doctor, poet,
novelist, Chinese mestizo intellectual wrote to novels, which criticized Spanish rule and
commented on Filipino nationalism, which spurred the revolution. Earlier, the Spanish
authorities persecuted and humiliated his family after implicated them in revolutionary
activities. They also exiled Rizal once and eventually martyred him in 1896. Rizal,
Andres Bonifacio, the ilustrado revolutionary leaders, and the masses who joined the
revolutionary movement were critical to the formation of a sense of nationhood. This
sense of nationhood combined with a sense of individual rights and community
responsibility, a commitment to learning and improvement, participation in a community
of nations, and a recognition of our Malay culture influenced by history and colonization
(Guerrero 1962/2007, Rafael 2003, Ileto 1979).
The Spanish-American War cut short the revolutionary period.
The February 1899
Treaty of Paris enabled the United States to annex and colonize the Philippines with a
payment of $20 million to Spain.
While ilustrado revolutionaries initially assisted
Americans in their war with Spain, this treachery led to the U.S.-Philippine War, which
Ilustrado is Spanish for erudite, enlightened, or learned. In Philippine historiography, the Ilustrados
referred to the native-born, educated, travelled, landowning, and networked elite and/or middle class
during the Spanish colonial period. The Ilustrados came from various racial and ethnolinguistic lines and
included those considered Indios (native Filipinos), Insulares (born in the Philippines of Spanish parents),
or meztizos (mixed race parents). Having been educated and/or having travelled abroad, they
experienced the wave of liberal reforms sweeing Europe and sought reforms, rather than revolution in the
Philippines. The Ilustrados though played key roles in the developing Philippine nationalism leading to
the revolt against Spain.
lasted officially until 1902 and unofficially until 1913. A total of 126,468 US soldiers
served in the Philippine war theater against 80,000-100,000 Filipinos with tens of
thousands of supporters (Ramsey 2007, Agoncillo 1990, Constantino 1975, Wolff 1960).
Officially, 4,196 American soldiers died from (1,020) actual combat and disease, with
another 2,930 were wounded (Gates 2002 and 1983).
suffered 2,000 casualties.
The Philippine Constabulary
An estimated 34,000 Filipino soldiers along with from
200,000-1,000,000 civilians died directly or indirectly because of the war. Arguably
genocidal, the Philippine-American War Centennial Initiative organization estimated
slight over half a million civilian deaths, and 20,000 military deaths. This excludes the
100,000 deaths from the Moro Rebellion (Abinales and Amoroso 2005, San Juan 2005).
Torture techniques used in the American Indian, Vietnam and in Iraq wars were also used
in the Philippines.
The institutions of political parties, elections, a strong presidency, independent judiciary,
professional civil service, public education are legacies of American colonialism.
American colonial policies included mass education and acculturation to the American
way of life. Native elites were educated and encouraged to acquire local political power
and management. Filipino landlords and their land acquisition activities were neither
officially encouraged nor discouraged. Authorities promoted free trade between the two
countries. Political participation expanded at all levels, but only tended to benefit elite
families as a zero sum, political spoils exercise (McCoy 1992, Karnow 1990).
The Japanese invasion and World War II left a path of destruction and delayed the
transition to independence of the Philippines. The war enabled peasant revolutionaries to
hone their strategies and capabilities for the agrarian unrest after the war. Postwar
politics after independence on July 4, 1946 remained firmly controlled by elite families.
Rehabilitation, modernization, and urbanization characterized the economic activities
during that time. The United States maintained neocolonial influence over the country
with lopsided treaties such as the 1947 Military Bases Agreement and the Laurel-Langley
Agreement of 1955 that gave parity rights in economic and military spheres (Kerklivet
1990 and 1977, Agoncillo 1990).
The role of the United States cannot be underemphasized. As a colonizer, it shaped the
political institutions of the Philippine Commonwealth, which skewed political power and
wealth to the elite class. After all it needed this class for its colonialization program and
after the grant of independence in 1946, an influential base to support and protect its
biggest naval and airbases in the Philippines for next 46 years (Karnow 1990, Agoncillo
1990, Constantino 1975, Wolff 1960).
characterized the Marcos dictatorship.
A number of articles and books have
Suffice it is to say that crony capitalism,
dependence on foreign aid and American largesse, exploitation of the natural resources,
human rights violation, the Filipino diaspora, economic decline, among others, are the
dubious legacies of Marcos and the colonial legacy (Salonga 2001, Wurfel 1988, Bonner
1987, Aquino 1982).
In the Philippines, politics is highly political. It figures highly in Philippine culture and
has developed historically. First national identity is shaped by historical events and
experiences, public education and discourse, and a search for identity that incorporates
the past and a vision of the future. Identity is also shaped by regionalistic, ethnic,
religious, linguistic, and cultural diversities. Patterns for trust and obligations vary and
are between patron-client, kinship, allies and shaped by reciprocity, sensitivity to debt,
alliances, face, and social harmony. Politics as practices is highly competitive, winnertake all with a strong presidency. Legitimacy is expected, often times demanded, and
must be defended. Filipinos are both secular and sacral in their social and political
spheres. These shape the value systems of Filipinos (Abinales and Amoroso 2005, Sidel
and Hedman 2000, Sidel 1999, Rafael 1993 Mccoy 1994, Ileto 1979).
Philippine political observers note the following trends. The first is the shaping and
formation of a political-economic elite over time with interests in maintaining political
power to safeguard their economic interests first in agriculture and subsequently in
commerce and manufacturing. This generated intra-elite conflict and shifting alliances.
The second is the periodic mass mobilization of discontents brought about by agrarian
unrest, mass education, modernization, urbanization, and other socio-economic
The third is that the Philippines is part of a larger system of core-
periphery, globalization, international division of labor, resource exploitation,
geopolitical developments that affected relations with the United States and regional
countries (Abinales and Amoroso 2005, Sidel and Hedman 2000, Rafael 1993, Ileto
As seen from above, the complex relationships between Filipinos and their environment
provide fertile ground for research. Issues of development, social justice, globalization,
free trade, the advent of the post-industrial and information age, and the environmental
effects of unbridled capitalism, among others, have created many fields of inquiry in the
various disciplines, including anthropology. Not a few scholars of Philippine history and
political economy privilege the enduring socio-cultural legacies of more than 300 years
of Spanish colonialization, followed by nearly 50 years of American colonialization,
lingering American neocolonialism, and the disastrous impact of the Marcos dictatorship
on tumultuous state-society interactions (Boudreau 2004, Hedman and Sidel 2000).
From these socio-cultural legacies, scholars delineate the dynamics of a weak state
brought about by a history of cooptation and capture by vested sectoral interests, notably
those in a minority, landed, business, and political elite class. The competing interests,
nevertheless, make up a strong society (Abinales and Amoroso 2005). The twin horns of
a weak state and strong society, according to social scientists P. Abinales and D.
Amoroso, is a “recurring dilemma of state-society relations in the Philippines” (2005:1).
Specifically, they note the Philippine state’s incapability to provide reliable basic
services, ensure peace and order, promote long-term economic development, limit
corruption and rent-seeking practices, and stem environmental degradation. Thus, there
are the persistent calls for better governance from bureaucrats and politicians, as well as
concessions to both powerful and marginalized sectors. If not managed, these lead to
political crises and eruptions of violence as experienced in every decade after World War
II (Boudreau 2004, Hedman and Sidel 2000, McCoy 1994, Kerklivet 1990 and 1977).
Strong-arm leaders, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in particular, along with some
technocrats, business clans, and military officers, have attempted to strengthen the state
to solve these developmental issues. Their efforts have so far been unsuccessful with the
Marcos dictatorship strengthening the Maoist and Muslim armed rebellions leading to
countless deaths and human rights violations. Along with their unmitigated corruption,
Marcos and his cronies plunged the country into a severe economic slump in late 1970s
to 1980s, the lost decade (Boudreau 2004). Add to these the numerous failed coup
d’états, aborted military takeovers, or military interventions during the Aquino, Estrada,
and Arroyo administrations, there is lingering suspicion, distrust, and apprehension of
strong political leaders and a politicized military. In other words, Filipinos fear a strong
state. Abinales and Amoroso (2005:2) note that; “Today, everyone wants law and order,
but no one trusts the police. Together, those who use a weak state and those who fear a
strong one may constitute a majority coalition of sorts. Yet the call for good governance
does not abate, for Filipinos are neither complacent nor quiescent…”
“Social forces” shape state-society relations and its results over time. Social forces are
groups of varying interests, loyalties, and persuasions or “powerful mechanisms for
associated behavior” (Migdal 1994:20 quoted in Abinales and Amoroso 2005:9) that
compete with one another for symbolic and material resources in the quest for political
and social power within the state. Strategies of struggle and accommodation, alliance
and coalition building, selective use of violence, and charismatic and competent
leadership enable a particular group to access resources and maintain it through these
strategies. It also enables the control of the production of social meaning, symbols, and
political resources.
Social forces are similar to civil society, social movements, and the non-governmental
and non-profit sector in that they occupy the social and political space between the family
and the state. It differs though by its focus on “contending” with and possibly seizing the
state, accessing political power (to control production of social meaning) and material
“Social forces are therefore movements and voluntary associations with
political agendas that contend with each other and the state. They seek to achieve their
goals through coalition or accommodation with or defeat of other groups or the state, are
willing to move into the state, or may endeavor to take over the state” (Abinales and
Amoroso 2005:10).
State-society relations as mediated by social forces are useful then in understanding the
historical arc of the Philippines’ political economy and its actors. Nevertheless, caution
is the log over the quicksand of Orientalism and essentialism in interpreting Philippine
society. As Hedman and Sidel (2000) note, the waxing and waning of international
media attention on the Philippines has mostly centered on romanticized stories of
political struggles, weather and geology-related disasters, violence, both criminal and
political, and the political malaise afflicting the nation. Philippine scholars were no less
different. Spanish and American colonial researches on the Philippines were biased,
ethnocentric, if not racist. Research on Philippine politics and society in the last 30 years,
while more politically correct, has adopted three perspectives.
The first is what they call the exposé mode wherein one end-goal of the research was to
enlighten the Filipino reader on issues of democratization, social justice, and human
rights, among others. They hoped to achieve this by “exposing” how powerful actors, i.e.
colonial collaborators, Marcos, the military, landowners, political dynasties, and business
elites undermined democracy and development in the Philippines. The audience was the
Filipino reader and the goal was advocacy of social justice. While noble in intent, the
“tone and substance in these studies sometimes inadvertently echoed the moralizing,
muckraking accounts that American colonial authors had offered many decades earlier”
(Hedman and Sidel 2000:4). They asked, how can this perspective account for the
studies on “patron-client” relations of the 1950s and 1960s that portrayed Filipinos as
deferential and family/community oriented and the 1960s and 1970s accounts of Filipinos
as courageous rebels and subversives?
Because social forces were varied, multidimensional, and dynamic, another perspective
of research was to be more sensitive to the point-of-view of Filipinos. In particular, they
sought to articulate the self-understanding, aspirations, and world-views of the “ordinary”
Filipino. While this was certainly a reaction to the negative essentialization of Philippine
society, they also sought to bring a voice to other historical actors, notably the poor and
marginalized who struggled and organized themselves into various social movements.
Reynaldo Ileto’s Pasyon and Revolution (1979) is one example, as is the pathbreaking
study of Vicente Rafael (1993) entitled Contracting Colonialism.
In the former, Ileto traces the linkages of social memory to popular political struggles and
their resilience over time. In the latter, Rafael dissects how the dynamic between the use
of the colonizer’s language, its translation into the colonized people’s local language, and
the pitfalls in interpretation or rather misinterpretation. Thus, to Rafael, the missteps and
misinterpretations in communication enabled the colonized Filipinos to resist and accept
some of the abuses of the Spanish colonizers. The resistance came in the form of
bargaining or negotiating amidst clarifying what the Spanish friars or colonial officials
were demanding of them.
The third line of research is ethnography-focused with anthropologists exploring how
ordinary Filipinos shape their identities, cope with poverty and social justice, and find
meaning in their lived experiences.
Jesuit anthropologist Albert Alejo wrote of
indigenous peoples (IP) in Mindanao claiming surprise at Alejo’s interest in their culture,
when they said they had lost their culture already (Alejo 2000). His research with the
indigenous cultural community (ICC) would show that it was in fact cultural regeneration
starting first with the tribal leader’s clan that was critical to their struggle for social
justice in a “contested environment.”
The spiritually inclined anthropologist Melba Maggay (1994) wrote of the Filipinos’
coping and adaptation strategies in the face of more powerful and violent others, be it
Spanish or American colonizers or the dictatorial Marcos regime. Kerklivet (1990) wrote
about how peasants coped under capitalist penetration of nearly all aspects of rural life in
a particular Philippine province.
He, like the anthropologist Canella (1999), would
observe that the poor had their strategies of negotiating and cajoling elite and powerful
Filipinos in the pursuit of dignity and equality.
Complementing these perspectives, Hedman and Sidel (2000) and other scholars attempt
to grasp aspects of change, flux, and transformation in the Philippines during the 20th
century and its implications on the 21st century.
These scholars note that the
transformations occurring in Philippine society are dialectical and non-linear. Afterall,
social forces and the state seek to control and are in turn affected by the impacts of
capitalist development, industrialization, and urbanization, changing production and
consumption patterns, new forms of social forces, popular mobilization, and the
corresponding changes in the political (contestation and struggle) and social landscape,
and its transformational influence on Philippine society (Abinales and Amoroso 2005,
Alejo 2003, Nadeau 2002, Rafael 2000 and 2005, Kerkvliet 1990).
All these lead to what Balicasan and Hill (2003:3) have noted as the puzzling
development trajectory of the Philippines.
These two prominent economists have
observed that the country’s initial conditions were favorable upon independence in 1946.
The country had: (a) relatively benign colonial rule, (b) good quality educational system,
(c) no serious ethnic conflicts, (d) favorable access to the American economy, (e)
comparatively well-developed civil, political, judicial, and legal institutions, (f) a free
press, and (g) resource rich. Thus, the country had a good foundation of human and
natural resources as well as developed institutions, which enabled it to progress until the
mid-60s, despite regional tensions such as the Vietnam War, Indonesia’s konfrontasi
versus the new state of Malaysia, and the separation of Singapore from Malaysia
(Balicasan and Hill 2003:3).
The outcomes over the decades, they point out though, have been disappointing. Its real
per capita GDP in year 2000 was the same as in 1980. Korea and Taiwan’s per capita
income overtook the Philippines’ by the 1950s, Thailand by the 1970s, Indonesia by the
1980s, and China by the 1990s. The country did not benefit from the Asian economic
booms of the 1970s and 1990s. Worse, with the global economic reordering in the wake
of structural adjustment programs and neoliberal economic policies, labor-intensive
industries migrated to even lower-wage countries such as China. As it became a minor
player in the region trade and investment flows repeatedly bypassed the Philippines. Its
social indicators are indicative of this economic decline, vividly illustrated by the high
out migration rates of its best and brightest (Balicasan and Hill 2003:4).
Until year 2007, the Philippines’s average GDP growth was highest during the period of
1950-1960 at 6.5%. It declined to 5.1% during the decade 1950-1960, before recovering
to 6.3% during the decade 1970-80 due in large part to debt-driven growth. Debt along
with economic and political crises of the 1980s lead to a 1% growth during the “lost
decade” of 1980-1990, before increasing to 3.2% during the politically challenging postMarcos decade of 1990-2000. Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore,
and Thailand grew faster with each passing decade until the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
A key point is that the Philippines, unlike its Asian neighbors, did not experience
sustained economic growth in the lat 30 years (Balicasan and Hill 2003:7).
The country’s economic decline in the last three decades, they explain however, should
be understood in the context of the following: (a) the country’s extensive wartime
damage, (b) the political-legal-judicial-economic institutions were subject to cooptation
and manipulation by powerful interests, (c) the relationship with the United States was
problematic, uneven, and ultimately disadvantageous to the Philippines, and, (d) the
economic, political, and institutionally disastrous tenure of President Ferdinand Marcos.
The country’s economic performance, while disappointing compared to Asian economies
in the 1990s, is comparable to developing countries in Latin America and Africa. The
economic decline became more pronounced in 1980s at the tail end of the Marcos
dictatorship and the first half of the 1990s during the tumultuous administration of
Corazon Aquino. The Philippines though weathered the Asian financial crisis of 1997
better than most Southeast Asian countries (Balicasan and Hill 2003:4-5).
The country’s economic performance since 1970 is characterized by Balicasan and Hill
(20003:10) and others as (a) debt-driven growth during the period 1970-83 until the peak
of 1977, (b) stagnation and deep economic and political crisis from 1984 until the
overthrow of Marcos in 1986, (c) erratic recovery from 1987-1991 brought about by
Aquino’s reform agenda, return of some capital, strong and growing Asian economies,
coup attempts, (d) mild crisis 1992-93 brought about by the impact of the coup attempts,
power shortages, Mt. Pinatubo eruption and other weather and geology-related disasters,
end of U.S. financial payments for use of their two military bases, (e) recovery and
growth from 1994-97 brought about by Ramos reform and liberalization program, strong
regional economy, (f) Asian financial and political crises, from 1998-2001, external and
internal factors conspired to threaten the economy, which the country weathered and
capped off with People Power II that ousted President Joseph “Erap” Estrada.
At present the Philippine economy is made of three major sectors, namely, (a)
agriculture, fisheries, and forestry, (b) industry, and (c) services. Agriculture, fisheries
and forestry (AFF) has been in steady decline since the 1970s because of resource
constraints especially in forestry and fisheries.
Investment in agricultural support
infrastructure and services has been inadequate and subject to governance issues. There
are also market-distorting forces in the sector including the inept, slow, and underfunded
implementation of the agrarian reform program, the efficiencies of quasi-monopolistic
government trading agency such as National Food Authority, and a weak policy
environment on agriculture.
Industry has not been able to compete regionally and globally, hampered by structural
adjustment programs (SAP), disastrous neoliberal economic policies, and an entrenched
industrial oligarchy unwilling to innovate and respond to global trends and changes.
Challenges include the need to diversify export products, the absence of a dynamic small
and medium enterprise sector unlike in Taiwan and Singapore, absence of a strong basic
industrial foundation, poor rural infrastructure, services, research and development (Bello
et.al 2006). The service sector is the bright spot in the economy with consistent growth
in the last three decades.
In terms of macroeconomic policy, the monetary and exchange rate policy framework has
resulted in “lower inflation clear objectives, and assignment of instruments.” The chronic
fiscal deficit, often monetized, has been addressed by depoliticizing the central bank,
creating a new institution, the Bangko Central ng Pilipinas, absorbing the old central
bank’s debt, targeted inflation, instituted a floating exchange rate within a managed bad,
adoption of a nominal exchange rate. Challenges include governance in and privatization
of crony assets, chronic underinvestment in public goods such as infrastructure, education
and health, corruption and rent-seeking activities, and continuing decentralization.
Successive administrations have liberalized trade has been liberalized with some saying
too much deregulated banking, which led to more professionalization and competition,
emphasized export-oriented manufacturing especially in electronics, as well as more
emphasis decentralization, property rights, and the investment climate, and slow, but ongoing legal and judicial reform (Bello et.al. 2006, Broad and Cavanagh 1994).
Political observers cite the need for more effort in improving and expanding physical
infrastructure, especially in a 7,107-island nation. The highly politicized regime needs to
be managed, reformed, and altogether restructured to address the country is
developmental needs.
Population growth should be below the country’s economic
reproduction or growth rates. Corporate governance, including the stock market needs to
be reformed and improved.
The environment and natural resources needs better
management with emphasis on protection of what remains and rehabilitation of denuded
and degraded areas. Peace and order, especially in Mindanao, need to be improved
(Abinales and Amoroso 2005).
With this economic track record, the question of causality continually arises. What is
causing the haphazard development and underachieving record of the Philippines? A
historical overview will show that the modern economy of the country had its roots in the
intensification of agricultural commercialization during the 19th century initiated by
British and American trading houses, Chinese traders, Filipino-Chinese mestizo, and
Filipino-Spanish landowners.
The economic base of this landed elite, according to
Balicasan and Hill (2003:46 ), was unlike Thailand and Indonesia where a bureaucratic-
aristocratic elite class emerged from the pre-colonial ruling class. In the Philippines, the
landed elite formed a power base, which was outside of the state. Later on though, these
autonomous landed elite formed an influential base of leaders of the First Republic of the
Philippines and eventually, when they were co-opted by the American colonial regime to
serve in many positions of the colonial bureaucracy and in elective political positions.
These political 10 and bureaucratic positions enabled the local elite, following the exposé
mode, to strengthen their power base and extend it vertically to the provincial and
national levels. This power network unified the elite and now political class. One clear
benefit was the preferential access to natural resources such as farmland, logging, and
mining concessions, as well as the lucrative American market for natural resource and
farm products, i.e. sugar, abaca, and copra. Another benefit was access to state resources,
such as government financing for their business and political activities (pork barrel).
After World War II, there were rent-seeking opportunities in rehabilitation and reparation
funds, import substitution, and foreign exchange controls policies of the government.
In all these state development activities, the elite class consolidated their political and
social networks, built up their wealth many times through rent-seeking activities, and
manipulated the political system and bureaucracy to serve their interests.
Alfred McCoy (1992) edited a book, An Anarchy of Families, and showed how some of
An example is the establishment of a colonial legislature in 1907. However, only literate males who
owned property and had certain language qualifications could vote. This enfranchised a mere 1.4% of
the population and disenfranchised the rest (Sidel and Hedman 2000:15).
the biggest political and business families came to wealth and power, how some of them
lost it, how some continue to survive and expand, and what ideologies undergird their
elite status. Political clans continue to play an undue influence on politics and the
economy in the Philippines (Teehankee 2007).
In sum, the Philippines democratic and governmental system is complex in that it both
supports and impedes development. Its strengths lay in the democratic roots planted by
the Aquino administration after the 1986 People Power EDSA revolution. This included
a more “open and accountable” system of government, a pro-policy reform agenda,
actions that sought to dismantle vestiges and institutions of the Marcos dictatorship,
recover ill-gotten wealth, and the peaceful and orderly transition to the elected Ramos
It impedes development because the political system is highly personalistic with a zerosum, winner-take all contest.
The bureaucracy is bloated, needs to be culled, and
professionalized. Turn-over up to the 4th of layer the civil service (department secretary
to assistant secretary and director levels) as well as the from 6,000 to 100,000 positions
that is directly or indirectly appointed by the President are the unintended consequences
of this winner-take all contest (Coronel 1998, Rocamora 1988). Continuity of policies
and reforms in the bureaucracy is thus compromised. Civil service is highly unstable.
Sidel and Hedman (2000:13) introduce the concept of trasformismo, adapted from
Antonio Gramsci (1971). Trasformismo is the political process wherein the ruling, often
conservative, class coopts radical mobilization or pressures by “absorbing and inverting
these pressures…until they serve the opposite of their original ends” (Anderson 1994 in
Sidel and Hedman 2003:13).
They suggest that EDSA 1 (and 2) should be situated in a more historical and structural
context of the Philippine politics characterized by recurring pattern of “underlying
tensions in Philippine society crystallized into full-blown political crises-in the early
1950s, the late 1960s and the mid-1980s” (Sidel and Hedman 2003:13). These crises,
according to them, occurred because of; (a) the failure of existing mechanisms to channel
popular mobilization and participation into elections, (b) monopolization of power by an
incumbent president seeking reelection, and (c) events were beginning to threaten the
interests of some of the major social forces such as the business class, Catholic Church,
and the United States.
While trasformismo
may have averted widespread societal
conflict, the crises will be recurring because universal mass suffrage may extend to extralocal forms of mobilization, i.e. EDSA, attempted coup d’état, etc.
Second, the
bureaucratic class or sector, revolving around the president, at times, threatens the
interests of the agro-commercial-industrial oligarchy and its capacity for capital
accumulation. Growing presidential power and its exertion of its “political and economic
prerogatives” force the oligarchy to react as shown in the 1950s (HUK rebellion) and
1980s’ EDSA 1 (Sidel and Hedman 2000:14).
Second, political, economic, social, and institutional reforms are undermined at many
points in the bureaucratic, legislative, and local government tracks.
For example,
ERAP’s infamous “Midnight Cabinet” reversed policy and program decisions of his
Cabinet Secretaries. Third, inequality is systemic, deeply rooted, and impedes reform.
The next sections discuss the global conditions that enable the emergence of social
Structures of discontent: the global and local contexts
In this section, I describe the contexts in which Gawad Kalinga emerged and operates in.
Using the frameworks of civil society and social movements, I describe the global
environment in terms of such trends as globalization, neoliberalism, and modernity and
its implications on Philippine political-economic development and consequently,
Philippine civil society. From the global context, I provide a synchronic and diachronic
context of the Philippine situation using political-economic, environmental, and urban
aspects. The global and local contexts interact with one each other.
The discussion will show that the research literature on the impacts of globalization and
neoliberalism on the political economy of the Philippines and its impact on poverty and
the urbanization of poverty is robust. The Philippines, like Mexico, has long been a
laboratory of free trade and economic liberalization, neoliberal thought, and structural
adjustment programs imposed by multilateral financing institutions under the influence of
the developed countries.
Wallesterian perspectives on core-periphery relations and
experimentation with neoliberalism have been disastrous for both countries economically
and socially. Both, in turn, have depended in large part on the export of its labor and
their remittances, ironically from the United States.
For the Philippines, it continues to struggle from the lingering effects of a brutal and
corrupt dictatorial regime propped up by the American government, which left the
country bankrupt by 1986. The consequences were multifaceted. Poverty, social and
economic inequality, and exclusion are the definitive consequences of the confluence of
external factors and Philippine political society. However, the poor and vulnerable are
not passive. They can resist. They can make claims for concessions. They can also act in
a way depicting self-help and mutual aid.
2.5.1 Globalization and neoliberalism
Globalization needs to be defined in terms of its “form, discourse, and goal” (Anceloveci
2002:2) as it is contested (Rodrik 2002). It is the intensification of worldwide economic
and social relations via the internationalization of trade, finance, manufacturing, and
technological innovation, a world security system, growing environmental impacts, and
the growth of social movements (Kearney 1995, Bello 1996, Baltodano 1999). It is
characterized by trade liberalization, globalization of financial markets, intense capital
mobility, use of powerful information communication technologies (ICT), new
international division of labor (NIDL) coordinated from capitalist core countries,
individualization of wage relations, privatization of government social services. In effect,
all these represent the severance of the economy from social reality (Fröbel et.al 1981,
Dieleman & Hamnett 1993, Bourdieu 1998, Bello 1996 & 2002, Harvey 2003).
Since the 1970s, various parts of the world have been observed to be increasingly
integrated to a global economy and financial system. Some also claim an emerging
global culture and political system (Castells 1983, Wallerstein 1979/2000).
globalization is also the “social, economic, cultural, and demographic processes that take
place within nations but also transcend them, such that attention limited to local
processes, identities, and units of analysis yields incomplete understanding of the local”
(Kearney 1995:548). Globalization research can be divided into four research clusters
namely; the world-systems approach pioneered by Wallerstein (1979), the global culture,
the global society, and the global capitalism approaches (Sklair 1999).
Consider the phenomenal growth of international trade and finance as one indicator of
economic globalization. Between 1950 and 1998, exports of goods grew from $311
billion to $5.4 trillion, a 17-fold increase. Services exported increased from $467 billion
in 1980 to $1.3 trillion in 1997 equivalent to 1/5 of total world trade. Foreign direct
investments (FDI) increased from $44 billion to $644 billion, while mostly private capital
flows (88% at one point) to developing countries grew from $21 to $227 billion, an 11fold increase from 1970-1998. Transnational corporations (TNCs) multiplied from 7,000
to 70,000 in 1970-2004 with about 690,000 foreign subsidiaries. Fifty-one of the 100
largest economies are TNCs (UNCTAD 2005, Chandrasekhar et.al. 2002). TNCs employ
73 million or three percent of the world’s labor force. If agriculture is excluded, the
figure rose to 20%. This clearly indicates the rising influence of TNCs (Gershman &
Irwin 2000).
TNC overseas sales grew 20-30% more than home-operation exports.
Goods and
services sold by foreign subsidiaries were valued at $9.7 trillion in 1997, 50% more than
total world exports. Air transport, in terms of international passenger-kms, increased
nearly 100-fold from 28 billion to 2.6 trillion, while air freight increased from 730
million to 99 billion ton-kilometers carried from 1950-1998.
Average air transport
revenue per mile fell though from $0.68 in 1930 to $0.11 by 1990 (1990 US$).
International tourist arrivals increased from 25 million to 635 million from 1950-1998.
An estimated 69,000 people crossed an international border daily in 1950 and rose to
approximately two million by 1998 (UNCTAD 2005, Chandrasekhar et.al. 2002).
This unrelenting global economic integration is bypassing geopolitical boundaries
making the local and global more permeable and boundaries more porous. What were
once peripheries are becoming regional centers of migration, information and
communication technologies (ICT), and commerce (Rodrik 1997, Sassen 2002). While
the World Bank insists that integration of the world economy has resulted in economic
growth of 2.5% during the period 1965 to 1989; their annual reports show country trends
of contraction in industrial production, increased unemployment, increased military
spending, decreased spending on social welfare, increased infant mortality, increased
capital flows or reversed net transfers of funds from developing nations to developed
nations, and worldwide drop in real wages (Nash 1994).
The economic crisis that has afflicted the major financial centers of the world only
reinforce the impact of globalization. The financial contagion has quickly spread from the
United States and now affects the European Union, China, and the Asia-Pacific region.
The financial, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sectors have greatly increased the
coupling of various and numerous economies, such that “profits while private, the
consequences are socialized” (iTulip website 2009).
While much have been written about globalization and its conceptual twin neoliberalism;
globalization is conceptualized as a new phenomenon with sources of change
externalized rendering local areas as static and dependent on outside agents.
tendencies neglect the historically “complex relationship between movement of people
and commodities and the making, erosion, and remaking of historical places” (Greenberg
& Heyman 2005:1).
Mobilities should constitute not only capital, but actors, commodities, ideas, and
biophysical commodities, which generate both nuanced reproduction and transformation.
Perspectives shift from a nearly universal bipolar views of space, time, and classification
as being of Wallesterian core-periphery with sharp boundaries that are dependency
theory-oriented to more dynamic, unbounded, multidimensional, and multi-level global
spaces. Whereas an ethnocentric analysis perceives time from the point of view of the
economic and cultural powers with a master narrative of linear theories of economic and
social development; the rise of multiple centers of innovation and competing capitalist
actors demand a non-teleological sense of time and narrative of loci, actors, and events
(Kearney 1995). This is a processual approach to temporal and spatial arrangements
(Greenberg & Heyman 2005).
Three institutions played important roles in the “Golden Age” (1945-1975) of G8
economic growth and present day globalization namely; the IMF, World Bank, and the
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which evolved into the WTO in 1994.
The first two are popularly known as the July 1944 Bretton Woods (New Hampshire)
institutions. IMF’s original mission was to prevent economic crises by coordinating
action eliminating trade barriers, destructive economic policies such as cutthroat currency
devaluations, and promoting a fixed exchange rate system to facilitate orderly
international commerce.
The World Bank (est. 1946) formerly the International Bank for Reconstruction and
Development (IBRD) was responsible for post-war reconstruction of national economies
of western European countries, Japan, and later on the developing world. GATT sought
to reduce tariffs and facilitate international trade. All three promoted the “embedded
liberalism” framework of free international trade mediated by restrictions on capital
mobility and a domestic social contract between capital and labor. Organizers believed
this form of reconstructed global economy would be a deterrent to communism. The
Golden Age ended with declining growth rates in G8 countries, stagflation (high
inflation/ unemployment), the election of neoliberal (rhetorically) leaders in Germany (H.
Kohl), England (M. Thatcher), and the United States (R. Reagan), and the debt crisis in
the developing world (Gershman & Irwin 2000).
Economic neoliberalism is best understood by exploring the nature of capital as
dialectically analyzed during its investment phase (specific time, place, and use) and its
reinvestment in another cycle (Harvey 2003). Greenberg and Heyman (2005) focus on
“discretized capital”- mobile, low context investment capital associated with
The mathematico-philosophical term “discretized” signifies capital’s
abstract and dimensionless form, but a carrier of information, which is used to acquire
more resources. ICT enable easy and timely measurement of capital’s efficiencies (via
mathematical representations ROI, cash flow, etc.) across localities in terms of spatial
factors such as labor, land values, logistics, available skills of local partners, etc.
Discretized capital provides capitalists an option of reinvesting or transferring production
to more profitable sites. The easy conversion of discretized capital to fixed assets gives
capitalists more leverage and initiative and is facilitated by the rules, practices, and
institutions set by wealthy nation-states and multilateral institutions.
Tensions exist between states, which seek minimal disruption of established means of
production and consumption and the stability of communities, Harvey’s (2003)
“territorial logic,” and discretized capital, which searches constantly for profitable
investments. Each investment cycle or the insertion, maintenance, and extraction of
capital in a physical production process or mercantile circuit constitutes a small crisis
because of the investment risks (Greenberg & Heyman 2005). If invested poorly, these
are grossly devalued and may induce political instability (Harvey 2003).
“molecular” commercial and trade activities shape capital and labor arrangements in a
given territory.
These arrangements lead to geographic clustering for economic
efficiencies, producing uneven socio-economic development. The relentless compression
of time and space in the capitalist political economy fundamentally affects modes of
representation, cultural change, and even Smith’s (1759) moral sentiments.
Capitalists seek to manage time by overcoming hindrances to the processes of
production, distribution, marketing, and profit taking of goods, services, and capital and
eventually “covet monopoly powers because they confer security, calculability, and a
generally more peaceful existence” (Harvey 2003: 96). In neoclassical economic theory,
governments intervene in the economy to protect private rights, redistribute resources,
and correct market failures (Linneman & Megbolugbe 1994). Neoliberalism involves the
removal of tariffs, trade barriers, and privatization, essentially a fundamental
restructuring of the size, scope, role, and rationale of the state in the economy. States are
pressured to liberalize international capital flows, open domestic markets to foreign
competition (free trade), privatize state-owned firms and public services, deregulate the
labor market, dismantle the social safety net especially in developing countries to free up
funds for debt repayment, and maintain these programs to ensure competitiveness. This
is in a sense a normative system of competitive capitalism (Toussaint 1999).
Table 3: The Transnational Capital Class (from Sklair 1999:157)
Neoliberalism’s implications run deep.
While trade in goods and the movement in
abstract capital is allowed, the free movement of humans or labor is not. Contextrelevant regulations such health and environmental regulations are considered trade
barriers for removal, while regulations that benefit the economically powerful such as
intellectual property rights and equal economic rights (property rights) of foreign
investors are pushed.
Privatization goes beyond infrastructure and includes the commoditization of public
goods and services such as water, education, and health services.
encompasses several aspects of policy instruments, including the disposal or transfer of
government assets and/or functions to the private sector. It also includes the withdrawal
of financing for the production of goods and services (load shedding) and contracting
these out to the private sector (empowering). Privatization aims to increase the
economic efficiency of entities and markets, raise government revenues to sustain
services, and facilitate resource and political distribution (Linneman & Megbolugbe
1994). All these are codified with a demand for transparency and enforceability leading
to a highly legalistic environment demanding the best legal and accounting expertise
available (Greenberg & Heyman 2005, Gershman & Irwin 2000).
Capital has shifted from financing industrial production to financial capitalism as seen in
the growth of the international banking business from $55 billion in 1965 to over $2,200
billion annually by 1981.
The enormous growth of capital handled by banks and
financial institutions are beyond the control of nation-states and regulatory agencies and
lead to a highly competitive setting of speculative currency exchanges, resource
concentration, imbalances in development, rapid inflation despite sluggish economies
(Nash 1994:11).
The concentration at an unprecedented scale of capital is used to
dominate others through “financial power, economies of scale, and market position, and
avid protection of technological advances” (Harvey 2003:98).
Effects of SAP on the Philippines
Neoliberalism is the ideological parent of structural adjustment programs (SAP) imposed
by the IMF/WB as instructed by the “Washington Consensus” on debtor countries. SAP
requires an anti-inflation, low growth, export-driven, privatization, and liberalization
economic policy, which has adversely affected domestic economic activities and
removed direly need social protection programs (Bello 1996). SAP also prioritizes debt
repayment and this is possible with consumption taxes, low inflation, and a stable foreign
exchange rate set in dollars that can be immediately extracted. Neoliberalism along with
SAP are destined to advance the “discretization of capital by means of an attack on local
capital designed to pry valuable assets lose from place” (Greenberg & Heyman 2005:7).
The commercial debt crisis in the late 1970s to mid-1980s arose from several factors
affecting the repayment ability of developing countries such as the Philippines. The first
is the expansion of international banking and bank lending to the developing world by
commercial banks awash in dollar revenues from member countries of the Organization
of Petroleum Countries (OPEC). OPEC would unilaterally raised oil prices in 1973.
Developing countries used foreign debt to finance their industrialization program when
export demand from developed countries started to decline.
Second, the oil price
increases eventually led to the shift in monetary policy in the United States when it
removed the U.S $ from the gold standard. Interest rates soon rose and made the dollardenominated foreign loans of developing countries costlier to service.
Stagflation in developed countries and decreasing commodity prices meant lower export
receipts for developing countries and higher debt servicing costs. Third, the development
model of the developing countries, namely state intervention in the economy via
industrialization, state-owned development corporations, subsidies to consumers,
protection of favored sectors from foreign competition led to uneven growth (Bello 1996,
Broad 1990).
An export-driven program is feasible if there is determined program for import
substitution to build local industry such as in South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. If the
export program only involves processing and assembly components (labor) it does not
lead to industrialization or may even deindustrialize it because domestic markets are
pried open such as in Mexico and the Philippines.
Some did succeed but others, with
small domestic markets, increasing oil and petroleum-products imports, increased
economic demand-making by citizens forced governments to borrow even more.
Crony capitalism, e.g. Philippines under the Marcos dictatorship worsened matters. The
debt crisis became global when Mexico defaulted in 1982, although others started
defaulting in the late 70s. The United States organized a rescue package because of fears
on the effect of the default on American financial institutions. The Philippines also
defaulted in 1983 and has been under IMF tutelage until recently. G8 countries worried
that more loan defaults might adversely impact the global financial system.
WB/IMF then imposed SAP on debtor nations to restore growth and resume foreign debt
payments (Gershman & Irwin 2000, Toussaint 1997, Bello 1996).
SAP in practice neither reduced the foreign debt nor stimulated economic growth in
debtor countries. In fact, the debt stock rose from $616 billion in 1980 to an estimated
$2.2 trillion by end-1997. The ratio of external debt to GNP for developing countries
was 50% higher in 1997 compared to 1982 despite the continuous debt servicing. The
Philippines even passed a law requiring automatic debt repayment, but the foreign today
stands at $69 billion (Bello 2005). SAP seriously compromised public investments,
which are crucial to economic growth.
The private sector did not fully cover the needed social investments in such areas as
sanitation, water supply, schools, health facilities, and housing that are important to
poverty reduction. Despite increased TNC economic activity, poverty is widespread
globally with an estimated three billion people subsisting on $1-2/day (1.3 billion on
$1/day). Daily 840 million go hungry. In the developing world, three-fifths of 4.4 billion
lack basic sanitation; one-third lack access to clean water and one-fourth do not have
adequate housing. One-third of the population in lead developed countries, mostly in
sub-Saharan Africa, will die before the age of 40. One hundred countries have declined
economically in the past thirty years with per capital income lower than they were 10 to
30 years ago. African households consume 20 percent less at present compared to 25
years ago. During the period 1980-1993, real incomes of one billion people fell, while in
the 1998 United Nations Human Development Report, the world’s 15 richest people had
combined assets exceeding the total annual gross income of sub-Saharan Africa. The
world’s three richest individuals had more wealth than the combined annual GDP of the
48 least developed countries (Gershman & Irwin 2000, Ghai 1997).
The poor are excluded from social life by poverty, have no or little access to knowledge
and information, networks of assistance, including state help, if any. They are denied the
dignity afforded to other humans and consequently feel alienated, lack self-confidence,
and self-respect. Hopelessness and fear abound (Toussaint 2005). The 1997 Asian
financial crisis revealed the deficiencies of a low wage, export-oriented, open economy,
with no financial controls on its movement. Low wages dampen consumption reducing
the multiplier effect, savings for investment, and social expenditures.
A liberalized
financial environment made it easy for capital to withdraw suddenly from Southeast Asia
in 1997 when the property prices fell. As a result, the Philippines foreign debt increased
due to a 43% devaluation of its currency. The stock exchange fell 41% and 1.015 million
Filipino workers lost their jobs raising the unemployment rate to 13.3%, the highest in
seven years. It increased economic migration.
A March 1998 IMF credit facility (US$1.6 Billion) was conditioned on the deregulation
of the oil industry and streamlining of the civil service (Varona 1998). In agriculture,
about 45,000 corn farmers were adversely affected because of the entry of dumped corn
from G8 nations (Paragos Phils. 2005). The poverty headcount index was 49.2 in 1985,
dropped to 36.9 percent in 1997, but rose to 39.5 percent in 2000 due to the 1998 El Nino
and the Asian financial crisis. Environmental shocks such as El Nino caused a 30%
contraction in agriculture, the largest in 30 years.
The Gini coefficient of income
inequality climbed from 0.42 in 1985 to 0.51 in 2000. Using 1994 as the base year, 41
percent of the population of 67 million then was below the poverty line (Cororaton et.al.
The Philippines has undertaken trade liberalization since the 1980s with mixed results on
poverty reduction. Its economy has 35 production sectors divided into agriculture,
fishing, and forestry (13), industry (19), and service (3). Using the computable general
equilibrium model (CGE), the current Doha round of WTO negotiations will adversely
affect rural households in the country because of increased import prices and decreased
export demand for agricultural products. Poverty will slightly increase and will affect
rural households, unemployed, and self-employed. Consumption prices are expected to
rise more on average than household nominal incomes. A Doha accord will also increase
world prices (Cororaton et.al. 2006).
Apart from the economic sphere, globalization has increased flows of news, information,
art, culture, and people. Income inequality has increased between individuals, classes,
states, and regions leading to increased economic migration from the poor peripheries to
the few wealthy cores and further increasing the density of urban areas. Cultures and
identities at these intersections clash, get assimilated, and adapt to new settings leading to
new iterations that are difficult to bound in terms of space and cultural affinity. Politics
become transnationalized (anchored in nation-states, while transcending one or more
other nation-states) with these diasporan communities and movements that have both
local and global linkages (Castells 2004, Kearney 1995). The consequences of neoliberal
globalization include the deterritorialization of production, consumption, politics,
communities, and identities; the pervasiveness of migration and its social implications on
both sending and receiving communities; and the homogenizing effect of structures that
have no reference to local spaces (airports, chain restaurants, malls, factories, etc.).
These transformations are difficult to manage (Wolfe 1992; Beck 1992; Caplan 2000;
Tulloch & Lupton 2003) and have compromised the state’s capability to provide social
welfare. Personal experiences, media, ICT highlight the state’s impotence failing and
heighten public knowledge and interest on these risk issues (Beck 1992; Cerny 2002;
Mythen 2004). These transformations generate social movements (Castells 1983). The
growth of civil society organizations has been phenomenal.
International non-
governmental organizations (NGOs) grew from 176 in 1909 to 28,900 by 1993.
Development NGOs registered in OECD countries grew from 1,600 in 1980 to 2,970 by
1993 with corresponding increases in total spending from US$2.8 billion to US$5.7
billion (Baker & Chandler 2005). In the United States alone, non-profit, tax-exempt
NGOs generated $621.4 Billion in revenue. The sector employed 15.1 million people or
about 6.9% of the total workforce (Lewin Group 2000). The Philippines had 60,000
registered NGOs (1995), 3,000-5,000 of which were development-oriented (ADB 1999).
Social movements (SMs) in the Philippines have been active in the struggle against
Marcos, land reform, electoral reform, debt relief, global taxation, anti-corruption, and
urban poor issues. Philippine SMs have engaged in the gamut of actions from protests,
claims-making, to policy advocacy (UNRISD-PRT 2005, Ghimre 2005) as discussed
In the developing world, the capitalist mode of production has limited presence in labor
power as the majority is still engaged in non-capitalist forms of production subsumed
under the dominant capitalist mode of production.
This results in significant class
heterogeneity and income inequality. Labor has not played a historically important role
and is not yet critical to Philippine SMs. The spatial disarticulation between production
and consumption, now evident in late capitalism in the developed world, was always
present here because of rapid urbanization without capital accumulation. The state plays
a significant control in resource allocation, graft, corruption, nepotism, and clientalist
relations, while civil society has played a critical role in opposing or responding to
excesses (Schuurman 1989).
Figure 9 : Globalization and Neoliberalism: Its effects and responses
to it
Intense capital
Winners and losers
Rapid urbanization
with ‘global cities’
Income inequality
Social polarization/
exclusion and
Growth of gov’t (i.e.
prison industrial
Cultural tensions
Social justice issues
Failed states
Fundamental shifts
in social institutions
Social dumping
Environmental and
market crises
Globalization and Neoliberalism
 State weakened or
becomes protectionist/
 China-model of
 Conflict and resistance
 Crime and underground
 Rise of social movements
 Urban responses such as
rise of gated communities
and slums
One specific strategy of social
Poverty reduction and
Income Maintenance:
Genuine liberty
Does not distort markets
Unpaid work recognized
Environmental strategies
Builds capacity and solidarity
Globalization is the intensification of worldwide economic and social relations via the internationalization of
trade, finance, manufacturing, and technological innovation, a world security system, growing environmental
impacts, and social movements (Kearney 1995, Bello 1996, Baltodano 1999).
A paradox of the anti-globalization movement is the second look given to the role of the
state and of sovereignty. In contradistinction to protectionism, which demands high
tariffs and restrictive trade policies to protect local producers, the anti-globalization
activities look at the state to manage globalization. It is politics against markets, not
nations against one another. Collective action frames are strategically constructed and
articulated, under certain material, institutional, and cultural constraints, by political
agents (Davis & Zald 2005, Clemens 2004, Ayres 2004). For Tarrow (1993), it is in
struggle that people discover which values they share as well as what divides them. They
learn to frame their appeals to the former and paper over the latter (Benford & Snow
2000). See table below.
The next section discusses urbanization.
Gawad Kalinga (GK) establishes GK
communities in urban and rural areas with the goal of spurring dramatic and significant
changes. The first GK site was in an urban core, slum area. The “poorest of the poor”
that GK wants to reach out to are mostly in urban areas. While rural poverty is just as
problematic, food is obtainable from the environment, i.e. uplands and coastal areas. The
urban poor live in a mainly cash economy and must pay for their subsistence with cash.
Thus, poverty is more pronounced.
Table 4: The Politics against Global Markets Frame (Ancelovici
2.5.2 Urbanization
In the previous section, I provided an overview on globalization and neoliberalization and
its effect on the Philippines. Both significantly influence another social phenomenon,
To reiterate, the Philippines and Mexico were the two countries first
subjected to structural adjustment plans (SAP) that have devastated the economies, social
safety nets, and communities. In the Philippines, it also propped up the Marcos regime
(Broad 1998, Broad and Cavanagh 1993).
The complex confluence of poverty,
inequality, political repression, and inadequate social safety nets have generated
movements that were social, political, and, for the Philippines, need-based, in nature.
Movements in the Philippines emerged in opposition to colonialization, occupation,
agrarian unrest, and urban poverty, landlessness, and homelessness.
This section
elaborates on urban issues as a variable on the emergence of urban social movements
such as Gawad Kalinga.
Five research areas broadly categorize the urban literature.
These are: (a) the
phenomenon of urbanization and its consequences, (b) urban poverty research, livelihood
systems, coping strategies, and social capital, (c) civil society and the role on community
organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOS), (d) urban planning and
management, and (e) urban politics (Devas et.al 2004:4-5).
By urbanization, I use the anthropological and bureaucratic definitions. By bureaucratic,
the United Nations defines an urban agglomeration as an area that is heavily built-up,
densely populated, comprised of a city center or proper, suburbs, and other nearby or
accessible areas that are settled by residents who work in the city proper or suburbs. A
metropolitan area is defined by a government based on population densities (five million
or more), geopolitical boundaries, and gross income. It may also include the presence of
infrastructure needed for economic activities and growth as well as the provision of social
Thus, the bureaucratic definition includes scale and scope in terms of
population densities, geopolitical boundaries, and economic activities (UN-Habitat 2003).
By anthropological, I looked at the urban as conceptualized by Mumford (1938),
Hannerz (1980:98-118), Zenner (1994), and Smart and Smart (2003) and summarized by
Low (1996).
The urban encompasses diversity and accessibility.
Diversity is
conceptualized in terms of the division of labor and diverse roles, such as social and
technical roles, specializations, and repertoires.
Diversity also implicates spatial
differentiation within the defined boundary of the urban.
Heterogeneity is a key
characteristic of the urban. It has a bearing on social relations, politics, and economics.
Accessibility involves the presence and relations with the other/s. It is about segmented,
impersonal, or interpersonal relations and their different manifestations in culture. It
incorporates the social organization of space, time, knowledge, and identity and the
resulting cultural meanings (Fox 1977, Hannerz 1980, Logan & Molotch 1987, Sow
1996, Sassen 2000).
It also covers the context (of the city) in which these phenomena are both enacted and
observed (Brettell 2000, Basham and de Groot 1977). Mike Davis (2004:7) uses Gregory
Guldin’s (2001) conception of urbanization “as structural transformation along an
intensified interaction between every point of an urban-rural continuum.”
I acknowledge Louis Firth’s (1938) conceptualization of the urban as encompassing
“dimension, density, and heterogeneity” as well as Henri Lefebvre’s (1974) evolution of
the urban as incorporated in human activities toward fulfilling basic needs, finding work,
and seeking pleasure. Because of this, the urban is active as it is productive. It involves
the “social production of space” (Lefebvre 1974). There is movement, dynamism, and
energy by actors interacting across space, class, and power relationships (Grönlund
1999). Urban areas are “dissipative complex systems with emergent properties and an
evolutionary history” (Byrne 2001:11).
As cultural centers, cities facilitate integration of its inhabitants, secularization of
relationships, continuity, and transmission of culture, and the generation of ideological
change (Hannerz 1980, Fox 1977).
Castells (1983) introduced the collective
consumption concept to frame relations in the economic and social spheres and collective
action. Castells (1983) used the three dimensions of production, power, and experience.
Production refers to how the economy and society is organized. Power relates to how the
State and institutions operate and how power relations influence interactions. Lastly, the
dimension of experience is about how individuals relate and create meaning in their lives
including through collective action.
In recent decades, urban areas have become dominant because profit seeking business
entities locate there to take advantage of availability of labor and other cost-saving
features (Castells 1978 and 1981). Demand for goods and services further increase the
concentration of businesses catering to these demands. The concentration of businesses
generates competition for land, infrastructure, and services. Ooi and Phua (2007) quote
Hardoy and Satterthwaite (1995:301) in that:
Cities have become centers where vast numbers of people compete for the
most basic elements of life: for a room within reach of employment with
an affordable rent, or vacant land on which a shelter can be erected
without fear of eviction; for places in schools; for medical treatment for
health problems or injuries, or a bed in a hospital; for access to clean
drinking water; for a place on a bus or train; and for a corner on a
pavement or square to sell some goods—quite apart from the enormous
competition for jobs. In the majority of cases, governments have the
power and resources to increase the supply and reduce the cost of many of
The world is a fast urbanizing planet. Worldwide and in Asia, urbanization differs as to
its range, scope, quality, magnitude, experience, consequences, and challenges as well as
between and with-in specific cities and towns, countries, and regions. Urbanization is
linked with both economic development and poverty.
Harvey (2003) posits that
globalization fuels urban growth through the further integration of markets and capital;
although national and regional development policies, internal conflicts, displacement of
people towards urban areas, and the presence of urban social amenities and services are
also significant factors (Mayer & Kohn 1959; Weaver & Browning 1976; Van Hear
2003; Waddington & Sabates-Wheeler 2003).
Developed countries are more urbanized, although developing countries are fast
urbanizing. Today, urban areas account for fifty to eighty percent of gross domestic
production of national economies (Weiss 2001).
Urbanization has implications on
mobility, migration, and how an urban society feeds, shelters, provides energy,
employment, public infrastructure, and basic social services to its growing population.
Problems result though from its success at attracting capital, labor, talent, and resources.
These include inadequate housing, waste management, declining water quality and
supply, worsening air emissions, traffic congestion, and massive material and energy
utilization (Hardoy & Satterthwaite 1989, Hardoy, Mitlin, & Satterthwaite 2001).
The world population in 2005 was 6.4-6.5 billion. This will increase to 8.2 billion in
2030. Of this, the worldwide urban population was 3.3 billion or about half of the
world’s population. This is expected to rise to 4.9 billion or 60% of the total world
population by 2030; although some estimates put the percentage at 76.1% by 2030 9 (see
figure below). Thus, while the world population will increase by 1.7 billion, the urban
population will increase by 1.8 billion during the same period (Population Reference
Bureau 2007, UN-ESA 2006, UN Habitat 2003, Smart and Smart 2003).
In 1977, there were only 195 cities with populations of one million or more. By 2005,
this number would have reached 430 (UN 2004). About a million people worldwide
migrate weekly to cities hoping to improve their lives. One in three will live in poverty
and reside in urban slum settlements (Reckford 2005) because of intense competition for
finite jobs, economic opportunities, public services, space, and housing (Davis 2004).
Developed countries are heavily urbanized with 75% of the populations living in urban
areas. This will increase to 81% of the population by 2030. In less developed countries,
44% currently live in urban areas. This is will increase to 56% by 2030 (PRB 2007).
About half of the world’s urban populations live in Asia. Of the 20 megacities in the
world with 10 or more million people in 2006, eleven are in Asia. In 1950, only one city
in Asia had 10 million or more inhabitants. By 2015, there will be 23 cities with
populations 10 million or more. India and China alone have a quarter of the world’s
urban population. The two countries along with the United States have the largest urban
populations. As of 2005, Europe, Northern America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and
Oceania were highly urbanized with 70% or more of their total population living in cities
(UN-ESA 2006). The prognosis for the future is an even more urbanized world at 76.1%
urbanized by year 2030.
Figure 10: Percentage of population living in urban areas by major
area, 1950, 1975, 2005, 2030
Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2006)World Urbanization Prospects: The 2005
The Philippines is among the heavily urbanized countries in the world with close to three
quarters of the population living in urban areas. The Philippines has a 65% urbanization
rate (NCSB 2008). In 1950, it was only 27.1%. By 2005, it was about 63% urbanized.
Urban areas in the country grew at a fast annual rate of nearly 5% from 1960 to 1995. It
slowed to about 3% annually at present (World Bank 2002).
Table 5: Urban population (as % of total), Philippines
PHILIPPINES : The midyear population of areas defined as urban in each country,
as reported to the United Nations*
Ranking: 75 (2005)
(prognosis) (prognosis)
Source: Globalis/UN Common Database (UN Population Division estimates)
Clearly, all estimates from different sources show an increasing, almost inevitable trend,
of urbanization worldwide. Metro Manila is the 20th most populous urban area according
to the City Mayors website (2007) with 10.8 million, now at 11.55 million inhabitants.
The Philippines has reduced its urban growth rate to about 3.2% from a high average of
5.1% between 1960 and 1995 and 1.95% by 2007. Still it is among the highest in terms
of urban growth rates, with more than half of the population living in urban areas. It may
reach 60% by 2010 if present trends continue. The country has 32 highly urbanized cities
(NCSB 2008, Llanto 2007).
Figure 11: Average annual rate of change of the urban population,
Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2006).
World Urbanization Prospects: The 2005 Revision. Working Paper No. ESA/P/WP/200.
Metro Manila had a 2007 population of 11.55 million (NCSB 2008). Although Metropolitan Manila is
the country’s political, economic, commercial, and financial capital, its land use is
predominantly residential.
The land use breakdown is residential at 60%, 8%
commercial, 5% industrial, 5% institutional, 12% agriculture (which is unlikely at
present); and open area at 10%. Demographia (2009:2), an urban research portal, defines
an urban area as a “continuously built up landmass of urban development” or the “urban
footprint” of an area.
Plate 5: Satellite data (2000) in false color of Metro Manila showing
the density of urban development (green) and open space (violet)
Source: Insauriga, S. I, (2001) Social Vulnerability Assessment of Metro Manila
For Metro Manila, Demographia included the provinces bounding Metro Manila that are
undergoing urbanization in relation to Metro Manila. These include the provinces of
Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, Batangas, and Quezon.
Because of the inclusion of these
provinces, the 2009 population for this Metro Manila urban agglomeration is 20,075,000
covering a combined area of 1,425 sq.km. (550 sq.miles).
Figure 12: Urban Expansion of Metro Manila (1948 – 2015)
Source: National Transportation Center, University of the Philippines 2007
Earlier, we noted that high birth rates and rural migration into urban areas fuel urban
populations. Migration is a function of the economic activities of industry and commerce
and the availability of myriad services, which attract migrants. In the developing world,
industries and services generate more than half of the gross domestic product (GDP) in
urban areas. These attract people in search of economic opportunities, access to basic
services, or those fleeing harsh economic, political, and environmental conditions in rural
areas. The UN estimates that urban areas will be the site of virtually all population
growth in the next 25-30 years (Mitlin and Satterthwaite 2004).
One consequence of globalization under a neoliberal framework is unsustainable
urbanization fueled by higher rates of urban migration and urban poverty. The relevance
to the study of Gawad Kalinga is apparent in: (a) urban poverty creates the need and
demand for institutions that address or seek to address urban poverty; (b) urban poverty
does not exist in a vacuum, with the poor acting and/or mobilizing to lessen the impact of
poverty on themselves and their families; and, (c) the state attempts to address urban
poverty and the demands for action based on the pressures applied to it with one attempt
to accommodate groups and movements that may be of help.
The UN estimated 924 million slum dwellers in 2001, comprising 31.6% of the world’s
urban population. Failures of national and urban policies on housing as well as delivery
systems result in the prevalence of slums (UN-HABITAT 2003). In the developing
world, about 600 million people currently live in “at-risk” homes, e.g. life and health
threatening. By year 2025, two-thirds of the poor in Latin America and one-third to
almost half of the poor in Asia and Africa will be living in urban areas (Hall 2002).
While urban poverty is pervasive in developing countries, as they industrialize, these
countries may follow resource use and consumption patterns of the developed countries
with dire environmental implications (Concepcion 1993). Of the thirty largest urban
agglomerations, sixteen are from Asia. Metro Manila, Philippines ranks 20th with a 2007
population of 11.55 million (NSO 2008, UN Pop. Div. 2003). Metro Manila has 526
slum communities housing 2.5 million people on vacant public or private lands, near
rivers and garbage dumps, along railroad tracks, alongside industrial establishments, and
even under bridges (UN-HABITAT 2003).
This “explosive growth” in the urban
population especially in Asia puts a “heavy pressure on urban employment,
transportation, public water supplies, and environments” (Yutaka 2003:270).
In Metro Manila, urban challenges include rapid population growth of about 2.11%
during the period 2000-2007, a housing backlog of about 824,724 units in 2006,
relocation of about 300,000 households from hazardous areas or areas marked for
government infrastructure projects, lack of access to basic services such as electricity,
potable water, and sanitation facilities, public transport, heavy traffic, flooding risk due to
clogged waterways due to garbage dumping, and urban poverty. Metro Manila had about
545,000 informal settler families as of September 2007. About 40 percent or 219,000
families occupy privately owned properties, while 20% or almost 108,000 families
inhabit hazardous areas. At least one million housing units will be needed in Metro
Manila by 2021 to eradicate slums. This will cost an estimated PhP454,786 billion (Cities
Alliance 2008: 33)
Metro Manila is an important research site on USM on housing. It is the Philippines’
economic, political, social, and cultural center.
Because of perceived economic
opportunities, social amenities, and services, in-migration has increased its population to
over 10 million. It has the world’s highest population density, an annual housing backlog
of over 80,000 units, and 3.5 million slum dwellers comprising nearly 40% of its
population (NSO 2000; Beltran 2001; NEDA 2004). Earlier studies on the slum’s origin
in Metro Manila note the devastation of the city after World War II. The impoverished
population started settling on the open space of rubble. Squatters have been part and
parcel of the rehabilitation and growth of Metro Manila (Abrams 1953, 1964). Since then
Metro Manila had one of the world’s earliest and most organized urban social movements
(USM) on housing for the poor (van Naerssen, 1987).
Access to housing and land tenure open up opportunities for other sources of income
(rent out rooms, stores, home-based livelihoods, etc.), give the poor more confidence,
increase their social capital with local businesspersons and retailers who now view them
as rooted/emplaced to the area and reliable business partners, and release their creative
energies towards community building and income generation. The positive impacts are
in the socio-economic, psychological, and political spheres.
The administrative and
technical requirements and skills required in processing as well as the management of the
financing and permits transform the beneficiaries. It changes their outlook on themselves
and others, i.e. government agencies, civil society, other poor communities, rest of
society (Porio et.al 2004).
The focus on urban poverty reduction in the developing world is compelling because of
three reasons. The first is that because the increasing proportion of urban populations to
the total population. The second is because of the scale, depth, and severity of urban
poverty and its deprivation experienced by the urban poor. The third is the possibilities
for urban poverty reduction presented by civil society (Mitlin and Satterthwaite 2004).
Urban social movement (USM) research is becoming more interesting as researchers
recognize that the possibilities for a broader assessment of the issues, values, ideals,
purposes, and even potential solutions to contemporary problems that USM, be they
environmental, political, or identity-based, offer. The articulation of the local and global,
in partnerships, networks, and coalitions, over time and in space is conceptually
intriguing. An embedded characteristic of USM is that they are critical to the social
construction of conflict in the city (Hamel et.al. 2000, Castells 1983).
The impacts of neoliberal globalization on urban areas and the response of various urban
actors need to be explored. Urban roles and identities shape and are shaped by the localglobal nexus and influence collective action. How is the concept of community evolving
in this context? Some studies show counterintuitive findings. A recent assessment of
4,000 events in Chicago for the period 1970-2000 revealed durable civic engagement,
declines in 60s-style protest, and an increase in “blended social action”- public claims
making with civic behavior (Sampson et.al 2005).
Jessop (2000) raises the potentialities of a social economy as a counterpoint to capital
accumulation of the neoliberal economy (Harvey 2003). A social economy seeks to “reembed the organization of the economy in specific spatio-temporal contexts oriented to
the rhythms of social reproduction rather than to the frenzied circulation of digitalized
finance capital (Jessop 2000:94). In this context what roles do middle-class USM, such
as Gawad Kalinga on housing, the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) assistance
associations, and RockEd (a burgeoning movement on alternative education through
cultural awareness) play in achieving either this blended social action or social economy?
Will it be in reducing poverty or a focus on addressing the social exclusion of the poor?
This raises the post Marxist argument that while there is a need for a “collective
emancipation from capitalist exploitation”, there are forms of oppressions beyond
economic oppression that require the “radical democratization of relations throughout
society” (Eschle 2001:64). It forces a rethinking of the role and purpose of civil society
in a dynamic globalizing setting but with local concerns.
Urban Poverty
Economic growth and development are double edged.
While it contributes to
urbanization, it also attracts the poor, especially the poor from rural areas.
(1994:605) noted that the “deregulation of labour markets and economic enterprise,
privatization, modernization of the state and economic stabilization” have impacted cities
in developing countries. Not all people are winners in an urban area. Berner (1999) and
Davis (2004) observed the “urbanization of poverty.” Castells (1978 and 1983) in fact
theorized that slums in urban areas enable the “city” to reproduce itself in terms of cheap
labor. Slum dwellers provide a reservoir of labor for jobs that are not desired, do not pay
too much, and at times, can be informal or illegal.
Lacquian (1969) in his study of Philippine squatter colony theorize that squatter areas
provide poor rural migrants to the city with a transition area. This transition area, the
slum, enabled the migrant to acclimatize onself to urban living, look for a job, and earn
living at relatively low or affordable costs. Afterall, land costs and therefore residential
costs in urban areas such as Metro Manila are a major cost factor for an individual or
family (Strassmann and Blunt 1994).
In this study, I conceptualize poverty beyond the official poverty figures we earlier
presented from the government and United Nations. Poverty incorporates the household
livelihood needs framework and Amartya Sen’s (1981) conceptualization. This is goes
beyond cash income levels and explores the myriad needs, vulnerabilities, and
deprivations associated with poverty. It also recognizes the assets and potentials of the
poor (Mitlin 2003, Prowse 2003).
Amartya Sen (2000) looked at poverty from a multidimensional perspective. It is the
absence of options and/or freedom to lead a life that the individual values or desires. It is
the deprivation or lack of sufficient, stable income, assets, and opportunities. It is the
lack or absence of safe, secure, adequate housing. It is the absence or inadequacy of
needed infrastructure and social services. Low-income households can be particularly
sensitive to rising prices. It is also the absence and lack of access to social safety nets,
legal rights, power, participation, respect, voice, and dignity as a citizen or member of
Urban social vulnerability is a serious problem that is not being addressed adequately,
especially for the urban poor. In a comparative study of Mexico City, Los Angeles,
Tokyo, and Manila, all considered megacities, specific problems documented included:
(a) fragmented and uncoordinated responsibility for different at risk groups, (b) legal
barriers to access social data, (c) staffing shortages and lack of training in handing social
data, (d) limited or no planning ant municipal level, (e) limited or ritualistic use of
community or neighborhood groups, (f) political hostility to NGOs, (g) funding shortages
and high turnover in NGO staff. The findings reveal a need for sustained capacity
building of the social basis for risk reduction and disaster preparedness, as well as
“revitalized democratic participation in the governance of cities, better education
systems, employment generation, broader inclusion of women, minorities and youth…”
(Wisner 2003:217).
This multidimensional perspective of poverty enables one to appreciate how someone
classified poor will find it difficult to realize the full potential of a human being, as a
member of society, and in their meaningful participation in the development process
(Mitlin and Satterthwaite 2004). Using the World Bank static level of $1/day poverty
index and combining it with national poverty data, Mckay and Baulch (2004) sought to
estimate the number of persons worldwide who are chronically poor. Chronic poverty is
the state of being poor for five or more years.
It is extended in duration,
multidimensional in the capability deprivations, cognizant of individual and household
poverty, and treats poverty in its absolute and relative aspects (Hulme and Shepard 2003).
In the late 1990s, they estimated the chronically poor to be between 300-420 million
Asia has continued to struggle with poverty. In the 1970s, over half of the population in
the Asia-Pacific region was considered poor. The average life expectancy was 48 years
and less than half or 40% of the adult population was literate. At present, the percentage
of poor people decreased and is now about one third of the population.
The life
expectancy has improved to 65 years and there are adults that are more literate (70%).
Those considered poor in Asia decreased by 100 million to 900 million from one billion,
despite an increase in total population to about one billion in 2000. Nevertheless, poor
Asians still constitute about 70% of the world’s poor and about a third of the Asian
population. In India, 450 million are considered poor. In China, there are 225 million
poor, while in Southeast Asia, there are an estimated 55 million poor.
Thus, while urbanization is rapidly occurring in Asia bringing with it wealth and
development, poverty is the other side of the development coin with at least 25%
remaining poor (ADB 2004). Around 27.2% of the chronically poor were in Southeast
Asia, where the Philippines is located. Further, in the table below, the probability that the
static poor in the Philippines will remain chronically poor is between 0.3 to 0.4 or
between about one-fifth to two-fifths. Eight of the ten countries listed below account for
78% of the chronically poor.
Table 6: Approximate Probabilities of Staying Poor over a Five Year
Period in Selected Countries with Panel Data
Table from Mckay and Baulch 2004:6
Rich countries influence poor countries most directly and economically through
international trade.
For those countries in Asia dubbed as newly emerging and
industrializing, the growth was through manufacturing exports to rich countries. Exports
increased significantly from 25% percent in 1965 to nearly 75% in the next 30 years.
The poorest countries though did not benefit from this export boom because their
products were mostly textiles and agricultural in nature. International trade liberalization
did not benefit textiles and agricultural exports because of massive agricultural subsidies
in OECD countries and highly restrictive market access for textiles (Hertel and Winters
Because rural poverty is pronounced in Asia, the poor tend to migrate to urban areas.
Urban migration from a poverty perspective is a coping strategy for the urban poor.
Urban areas need new and cheap labor, which rural laborers provide. Agriculture, the
default livelihood activity of many rural folks, is beset with uncertainties such as weather
conditions, poor soil condition and fertility, land tenure and security, unstable water
supply, high agricultural debts, rising costs of agricultural inputs, falling prices for
agricultural products, and peace and order issues, among others. Non-farm livelihood
activities, both in rural and urban areas become a family coping strategy. If rural nonfarm jobs are unavailable, urban migration is almost a certainty (Sheng and Mehta 2008,
Sen 2000). Until recently poverty was rural-based. However, since urbanization is
rapidly occurring in many parts of the world along with population growth, urban poverty
is also becoming prevalent (Devas et.al 2004:2).
The urban agglomeration that is Metro Manila continues to expand. In 2007, its total
population was 11.55 million, with an average household size of 4.62 persons. With a
land area of only 636 square kilometers, the Metro Manila population density was 18,093
persons per square kilometer. Metro Manila.
Its extended peri-urban region has
approximately 54% of the Philippines’ urban population 11. Of this percentage, 28% is in
Metro Manila, while 26% is the surrounding provinces of Central Luzon and Southern
Tagalog regions. The nearby provinces of Cavite and Rizal are growing at 5% annually
(NCSB 2008, ADB 2004)
This makes the Metro Manila region one of the biggest, if not the biggest concentration
of the consumer market in Southeast Asia, making investments even more attractive. The
government economic agency, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)
has noted that Metro Manila’s urban population growth is an important factor in
economic growth and development, employment patterns, quality of social services and
public infrastructure, which are essential to alleviating urban poverty (2002). In fact,
about 90% of the country’s private business, cultural, educational, and medical
establishments are located in the Metro Manila agglomeration. Because of this and as
mentioned earlier, the Metro Manila region generated 32.5% of the country’s GDP and
had the highest gross regional domestic product per capita in 2006.
Nevertheless, poverty is still prevalent with the uneven distribution of wealth and income.
Metro Manila, according to the government surveys, had the highest annual per-capita
poverty threshold in 2000, 2003, and 2006.
Urban poor families in Metro Manila
numbered 110,864 in 2003 and 167,316 in 2006. As of April 2008, Metro Manila’s
The NCSB puts this figure at 65% for year 2008
unemployment rate was 13.8% (NCSB 2008, ADB 2004). I earlier quoted a recent third
party survey that put the nationwide unemployment rate at 34.2% as of May 2009
(Diokno 2009). About 60% or 1.8 billion of the world’s urban poor are below the age of
18 In the Philippines, urban poor youth comprise five of the seven million urban poor
Filipinos. This is equivalent to about 8.2% of the total Philippine population. (Tulchin et
al 2003:1).
From the poverty figures presented earlier, rural poverty is significant in Asia and in the
Philippines, in particular. The poverty headcount index was 49.2 in 1985, dropped to
36.9 percent in 1997, but rose to 39.5 percent in 2000 due to the 1998 El Nino and the
Asian financial crisis. The El Nino caused a 30% contraction in agriculture, the largest in
30 years. Income inequality, measured by the Gini coefficient has climbed from 0.42 in
1985 to 0.51 in 2000. Using 1994 as the base year, 41% of the population, or 67 million
then was below the poverty line (Cororaton et.al. 2006). Official government estimates
as shown in the table below reflect an increasing magnitude of poor from 25,472,782 in
2000 to 27,616,888 in 2006. This translates to 860,934 poverty-stricken people in Metro
Manila in year 2000 increasing to 1,156,313 in 2006. The poverty incidence among the
population for the country was higher in 2000 at 33%. It went down to 30% in 2003 and
then went up to 32.9% in 2006. For Metro Manila it was 7.8% in 2000, 6.9% in 2003,
and 10.4% in 2006, reflecting growing urban poverty. The fast urbanizing regions of
Region III and IVA have even higher poverty incidences.
Outside of Metro Manila and in other urban centers of the country, the poverty incidence
is quite high ranging from 15% up to more than 60%. Earlier, I noted the significant
income inequality in the country and across the 17 administrative regions. With a national
Gini coefficient of 0.46 in 2006, much of the wealth in concentrated in a minority of the
population. Poverty can also be self-rated. In the First Quarter 2009 Social Weather
Survey conducted last February 20-23, 2009, 47% of the Philippine population or 8.7
million Filipino families considered themselves as poor or “mahirap.” Another 27%
considered themselves borderline poor, while 26% thought they were not poor.
The trend in Self-Rated Poverty has been downward trend in the last year, declining from
59% in June 2008 to 52% in September, remaining 52% in December 2008, declining to
47% in February 2009. For the Metro Manila respondents, 49% considered themselves
poor. In addition, the same survey reported that 36% or an estimated 6.7 million Filipino
families considered themselves as “Food-Poor” with another 34% considering themselves
“Food-Borderline Poor”, and 30% as “Not Food-Poor.” It has likewise declined from a
igh of 49% in June 2008, to 38% in September, increasing to 42% in December 2007,
then declining to 36% in February 2009 (Social Weather Station 2009).
Table 7: Poverty in the Philippines Using International Poverty Lines,
FIES years, 1991—2003 (ADB 2005:28)
Figure 13: Self-Rated Poverty: Households Who Are “Mahirap”:
Philippines, July 1985 to February 2009
Source: http://www.sws.org.ph/pr090421.htm
The numbers for poverty may even be worse then the available data present. According
to urban researchers Diana Mitlin and David Satterthwaite (2004), urban poverty is
underestimated globally for a variety of reasons. One is that middle and upper income
groups statistically mask the depth of urban poverty. Second, the costs of are higher in
urban areas compared to rural areas. However, these higher costs are not accounted for in
official poverty line estimates.
One glaring example they note is that low-income
households spend between 20-33 percent of their income on housing or rent. They also
live farther away, where it is cheaper, from income sources and therefore spend more
time, effort, and money (5-15 percent) to earn a living and avail of services. Even basic
services such as water are not adequately available. Water purchases may cost lowincome households from 10-20 percent. Lastly, most of measures of poverty fail to
consider living conditions, asset bases, safety nets, and civil and political rights.
To reiterate, poverty in the Philippines includes not only inadequate income, but
deprivation and lack of access to assets. Assets cover human, physical, natural, financial,
and social capital. Human capital includes education, skill, knowledge, good health, and
nutrition that enable a person to be productive and earn a living (Sen 2000,
Frankenberger & McCaston 1998). In the Philippines, the level of education strongly
influences poverty incidence.
The country’s public education system, once of high
standards, has deteriorated due to resource constraints and increasing student populations.
In turn, this has led to declining participation rates, low cohort survival rates,
deteriorating quality of education, as well as the public education system. Social capital,
which is the social resources, networks, relationships that people can draw on is more
robust in a healthier and more educated and productive community (ADB 2005).
Table 8: Poverty Measures by Educational Attainment of the
Household Head, 2000 (%) from ADB 2005
2.5.3 Slums and Informal/ Squatter Settlements
Urbanization is linked to social and economic development as well the “urbanization of
poverty” (Tukstra and Raithelhuber 2004, Berne 1997). Rapid urban growth pressures
local and national governments to keep up with increasing demands for infrastructure and
basic services such as decent and affordable housing, security of tenure, water, electricity,
sewerage, public transportation, communications, and welfare.
Local and national
governments, especially in developing countries, often times fail to provide all these,
which impact the poor and vulnerable the most. While the poor in urban areas may have
higher cash incomes than their rural counterparts, the higher costs associated with owning
a home or renting leave them with little resources to spend on other basic needs. More
often than not, the poor move into established slums or squatter settlements. The more
intrepid invade government or privately owned land and set up informal/ squatter
The slum according to the late urban scholar Lewis Mumford (1961) is one of three main
elements of the urban complex, the other two being the factory and railroad. Even
Freidrich Engles (1845:37) noted, “Every great city has one or more sums where the
working class is crowded together.” Slums refer to an area of the city or urban area that
has substandard housing or living conditions. It is area specific. Slums are a complex
result of many factors including rapid urbanization, urban poverty, the existing social
order, inadequate urban policies and programs, rural to urban migration, natural
population growth, reclassification of land by the government, annexation, socioeconomic and political factors, including macro economic polices (such as structural
adjustment programs for the developing countries), and the effects of globalization
(Bergel 1955:39-41). Slums are a global issue with shifting attitudes toward it over time
ranging from its criminalization to partnerships (Sietchiping 2005).
Slums and squatter settlements are characterized as to its appearance (often overcrowded,
dirty, crime-ridden, of poor quality), economic status (urban poverty), population (filled
with millions of residents), health (sanitation infrastructure and garbage facilities), morals
and way of life (social space, mobility, slum permanency), among others (Anderson
Squatter settlements have different names.
In the Philippines, it is
Filipinized to iskwater. Bangladeshis call them Sukumbashi (squatters). Cambodians call
them Sumnong Anatepatai (illegal settlement).
Indians call them Bastee (dirty
settlement). Koreans call them Muhogu chongchakji (settlement without permission).
Indonesians call them Kampong liar (illegal settlement). Malaysians call them Setinggan
(squatter). Pakistanis call them Kachi abadi (temporary settlement). Sri Lankans call
them Palpath (shanty settlements).
Thais call them Chumchaon bukruk (illegal
community), and the Vietnamese call them Nhaa tam bo, which means temporary house
(UN-DESA 2003:5). In Rio de Janerio, Brazilians call them favelas. In Mexico and
southwestern United States, they are called colonias.
In the Philippines, they are
popularly known as squatter settlements, although the politically correct term is informal
settlements. No nation has been able to prevent slum formation or address it completely
under the “pressure of mass movements of people” (Abrams 1953:10).
In 1964, the United Nations estimated the slum population at 370.000. By 1968, it
increased to 1.1 million. An estimated 923,986,000 people live in slums worldwide as of
2003. This is equivalent to 31.6% of the 2003 global population. Researchers expect the
figure to increase to three billion by 2050 if no action is taken. Asia accounts for 60% of
the total slum population in the world. In Asia, about 550 million people live in slums.
In Africa 187 million are slum dwellers, while in Latin America and the Caribbean, 128
million live in slums.
An estimated 54 million urban residents live in slum like
conditions in developed countries, which were once thought to have largely addressed
slum conditions. These figures translate into 43% of people living in slums or slum-like
conditions in developing countries, 78.2% in least developing countries, and six percent
in developed countries (UN Habitat 2003).
Figure 14: Proportion of each country's urban population living in
slums (according to UN-Habitat definition)
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Urban_population_living_in_slums.png, 2007
In the figure above, most slums are located in urban areas. In the developing world,
slums have a significant footprint in urban areas. Slums and squatter settlements are
urban poor settlements but vary in size, shape, origins, histories, cultures, community
dynamics, and evolution. The UN-HABITAT in 2002 defined a slum 12 as “a contiguous
settlement where the inhabitants are characterized as having inadequate housing and
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "slum" probably originated from the phrase "back
slum," which refers to a back room or alley. It may also have originated from the Irish phrase S lom é
(pron. s'lum ae) meaning 'exposed vulnerable place' (Oxford English Dictionary). Mike Davis (2004)
noted that it was defined in James Hardy Vaux’s (1812) Vocabulary of the Flash Language. Slum was
defined as either lodging or a racket, which referred to fraud and robbery. Hence, slum as a slang term
then had a negative connotation. In the same dictionary, the term lodging-slum is defined as “the
practice of hiring ready furnished lodgings, and stripping them of the plate, linen, and other valuables”
basic services. A slum is often not recognized and addressed by the public authorities as
an integral part of the city” (UN-HABITAT 2003c:6). This definition hindered data
gathering on slums.
Thus, the UN-HABITAT eventually redefined slums from a
household perspective in that a slum household lacks or has no access to the following:
Access to improved water,
Access to improved sanitation,
Security of tenure including protection from arbitrary, unlawful eviction by the state,
Durability of housing and a non-hazardous, residential location, and,
Sufficient living area and overcrowding (UN-HABITAT 2003c, p.7).
Figure 15: Slum populations in the developing world
Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/06/africa_enl_1150478454/html/1.stm
Hence, a slum is a deteriorated part of a city characterized by poor and substandard
housing, lacking tenure security, squalor living conditions, and inadequate infrastructure.
It may have once had better living conditions. I hesitate to include the description of
deteriorating social conditions, as this is debatable based on ethnographies of slum
communities (Pinches 1997, Lewis 1957). Although slums vary as to their typology,
their inhabitants are poor and many are vulnerable. In both developed and developing
countries, slums in inner cities are usually rental tenements in poor condition and
Slums in Asia are considered marginal settlements and may include inner-city slums,
illegal subdivisions, and informal/ squatter settlements. Illegal housing subdivisions are
either user-rented or user-purchased. These illegal residential areas involve occupying
and subdividing land, which is not theirs and/or not suitable for habitation.
settlements are in many instances tolerated or protected by corrupt bureaucrats or
powerful patrons. The markets for these residential sites are low-income residents, to
whom developers lease out the subdivided land from one to ten years. Developers may
or may not provide basic infrastructure. Other forms of slums that are popularly known
are shanty towns, favelas in Brazil, skid row or skid road, ghettos, colonias, and barrio all
of which have ethnic, racial, and class connotations, apart from the state and quality of
the dwellings and the community. Thus, slums refer to the condition of the settlement
(UN-DESA 2003).
Having defined slums, I recognize the power of the discourse associated with the use of
the term. Gilbert (2007) and Angotti (2006) cite the negative connotations associated
with the term over time. Importantly, they caution against the use of generalized and
essentialist approaches to slum eradication. Some even question whether the slum should
be eradicated by any means. While slums are defined by their spatial and physical
characteristics, in reality and all over the world, they are heterogeneous. Their evolution
is conditioned by local factors as well as global phenomena such as global capitalism,
neoliberal economic and social policies, including structural adjustment programs,
reduction of state services and subsidies, especially for agriculture, de-industrialization,
and urbanization-without-growth (Davis 2006).
Gilbert (2007) also raises an important question of what the focus should be. Should it be
the causes of slum formation, the effects of slums, the slum dwellers, or the slum
conditions? Thus, I am cognizant of the dangers of reifying the urban and note that slums
are a product of people, places, and interactions at different levels. One product could be
that slums are a potent symbol of the failure to provide for the poor’s well being and at
the same time, the poor’s strategy to claim their space and right to a better economic
existence. As Gilbert noted, the term slum is a “relational concept” that that is influenced
by “social class, culture, ideology,” and vested interests (2007:700).
Plate 6: Slum home fronting a GK home in Taguig, Metro Manila
A squatter settlement on the other hand signifies the legal status of the land or structure
inhabited. Usually the resident does not have permission or the legal right to set up one’s
house on the land or structure. Squatters or the arguably politically correct term, informal
settlers, establish “squatter settlements” on private or government land, on areas that are
hazardous such as steep slopes, floodplain or river/stream easements, and on privately or
government-owned buildings or structures. I once saw someone living in the ceiling of a
bus stop. The residential structures are built without regard to building or planning
standards and regulations and could consist of non-permanent, semi-permanent, or
permanent structures. There is an acute lack of infrastructure. Security of tenure of land
is extremely uncertain, informal dwellers could and are often ejected from their homes,
and their houses demolished.
Squatting to Abrams (1953:11) who studied the
phenomena during the post-war years “is the appropriation of another’s land for ones use
without title or right.” He added that squatting in the Philippines has been called “an art
and profession.”
Table 9: Slums in Asia (table from UN-HABITAT and UN-ESCAP
Urban poverty and slum/squatter formation coincide as the latter provides a somewhat
affordable housing option for the urban poor (Lacquian 2004 and 1969).
In the
Philippines, available estimates by UN-Habitat (2001) place the number of slum dwellers
in the country’s urban centers at about 20 million. This is about 44% of the country’s
urban population. Of this figure, around 57% are in Metro Manila. The urban slum
population of the country will rise an estimated 2% a year.
At going rates, the
government estimates the slum population to reach 100 million by 2020, if the public and
private sectors (Tulchin et al 2003:1) invest no significant infusion of resources into low
cost housing. By year 2015 the UN-Habitat estimates the slum population of the
Philippines will reach 29,053,000 (Olesen 2009).
The reality in the Philippines is hard to ignore. The slum population is significant and
increasing. It presents a crisis and an opportunity for mobilization and organization. In
Metro Manila, a 2003 unpublished count by the government estimated the number of
slums at 526. All cities and municipality in Metro Manila had a slum. Some 2.54 million
men, women, and children live in these slums. The figure may have increased to about
3,750,000 individuals comprising 681,096 families, living in densely populated
settlements at an average of 370.11 families per hectare. Ragrario (2003) noted an Asian
Development Bank Metro Manila Urban Services for the Poor (MMUSP) Barangay
Survey finding of long-term settlement of the slum or squatter area ranging from 19.2
years on average to, in many instances, 40 years or more. About three quarters of the
households thereat were long-term residents (more than five years). Many moved from
other parts of Metro Manila and were living in different parts of the metropolis for nearly
20 years.
Plate 7: Home in the garbage dumpsite of Payatas, Quezon City, 2007
This is no different from earlier surveys of the urban poor dating back to the 1980s. Back
then, a typical urban poor family comprised six members and was nuclear.
dependency ratio was 4.2 for the bottom 10% compared to 2.5% for the top tenth decile.
This indicates high unemployment rates and low wages for the poor.
attainment is in inverse proportion poverty level.
The urban poor also resided in
hazardous areas and had homes constructed with temporary materials. An average of 6.6
persons comprised a household. The report cited a 1983 Manila Health Department study
showing the household density at 11 to 12 persons per house. Lastly, informal settlers
sublet their homes or rooms to augment their income (World Bank 1991).
Table 10: Number of Informal Settlers in Metro Manila by City and
Municipality, 2002
Source: HUDCC unpublished report 2 002/ from Ragrario 2003
About 57% of government-owned and 43% privately owned land and/or properties and
danger zones are slums or squatter settlements (Ragrario 2003). In Metro Manila, any
open, unguarded, unfenced space is at risk for occupation and settlement. These include
river and stream easements, garbage dumps, the land along railroad tracks, bridges,
sidewalks, even ceiling of bus stops shelters. In 2000, about 110,826 households lived in
these areas (Manila Observatory and Urban Research Consortium 2005).
owned lands, in a clear case of tension and conflict between the income classes,
constitute a significant percentage of land occupied by informal settlers.
The figure below shows the distribution of informal settlers vis-à-vis of land
classification of land occupied. Private and government owned lands comprise the bulk
of lands occupied by informal settlers. This is not surprising, as the private or public
sectors own majority of the urban land. Areas deemed too dangerous to reside in because
of hazards are another source of land for informal dwellers. The risks are high though as
seen in the flash floods in 1991 in the Province of Leyte, which drowned at least 4,000
informal settlers.
Figure 16: Distribution of Informal Settlers in Metro Manila by
settlement type
Source: Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor
I discuss slum formation processes in the next section. Slums are the most visible
manifestation of urban poverty and social inequality and exclusion. In the following
section, I relate slum formation to the consequences of unregulated capitalism. Slums are
the setting in which Gawad Kalinga emerged. GK works with the poorest of the poor.
For GK stalwarts, slum residents form one part of the partnership in the poverty
alleviation movement. The poor are both the subject and agents of poverty alleviation.
Slum formation in the Philippines
Slum and squatter formation have a long lineage. Slum formation has a number of
drivers. Colonial, economic, and social policies along with war, rural poverty, peace and
order and migration factors play significant roles. The economy, from rural to the urban
to the national and on to the global level, influences the growth of urban areas and
consequently slums. Slums and informal/ squatter settlements reflect an acute lack of
affordable and decent housing with access to basic services and instruments of
productivity, i.e. public infrastructure, utilities, and communication facilities.
urbanization and the urbanization of poverty will increase the slum population worldwide
by an estimated 100,000 daily over the next 30 years.
Urban poverty has many causes, which I discussed earlier. Urban poverty makes it
difficult for a household to afford decent housing- already in short supply-, which makes
slums and squatter settlements a viable, but risky alternative. Davis (2004) noted that the
decoupling of urbanization from industrialization is major driver of poverty in urban
Industrialization, he thinks, is necessary for authentic national economic
Urbanization processes accelerated worldwide in the 1980s and 1990s due in part to a
number of factors. While urbanization was perceived as a benefit of modernization,
industrialization, and globalization; at present it is also emblematic of a income
inequality, slum formation, and urban poverty. Globalization also involves, at times an
uneven process of that may either perpetuate or create new inequalities among nations,
areas, cities, corporations, institutions, groups, and even individuals (Kuvaja 2009,
Giddens 2003). Do note that these mega-cities in the developing world interconnect to
the global economy through trade, information, and communication technologies, as sites
of foreign direct investments, capital flows, business process outsourcing, and travel.
The crisis of capitalism, which Harvey (2006) and Castells (1983), Bello (2009) and
others write about, involved economic restructuring and structural adjustment programs
(SAP), has undermine agriculture, manufacturing, and industry in developing countries
and forced governments to reduce provisions for basic services, social safety nets, and
investment in public infrastructure. Declining agricultural productivity, rural joblessness
and poverty, and lack of livelihood opportunities in rural areas have led to intense ruralto-urban migration. This is what Davis (2004) calls urbanization without growth, at least
for the low income groups. Rural-to-urban migration in search of jobs or economic
opportunities is a safety valve or coping strategy for the rural poor (Berner 2002).
The push and pull factors of migration such as perceived and actual economic
opportunities, a receiving support network, rural poverty and lack of opportunities
thereat, among others, contribute to the establishment of slums and squatter settlements.
The lack of livelihood and employment opportunities in rural areas is a major driver of
rural to urban migration in the Philippines. Agriculture has failed to provide sufficient
household income because of inadequate support to the industry in terms of financing,
public infrastructure, farming technology innovation, capacity building, and worsening
environmental conditions. Thus, they have no or little productive assets and can only sell
their labor. Land reform has not been comprehensive or transformational to them. Peace
and order conditions in the countryside, i.e. communist and Muslim insurgencies,
exacerbate the issue. Enterprise development is miniscule because of low capitalization.
Lastly, migrants perceive cities as site that provide more amenities, opportunities, and a
better quality of life than in rural areas (Manalo 2008)
In rapidly urbanizing areas, inhabitants prize urban lands, which are often times in short
supply. When available, the cost for owning land is prohibitive. The urban poor, helped
minimally by the State, often resort to establishing slums and squatter settlements to meet
the housing need.
Providing housing by whatever means, thus, is influenced by
economic, political, and social structures of a country, the urbanization process of an area
or city, the availability, cost, quality, legal, and ownership status of land in the area
targeted for housing, and the government’s political will to enforce property rights or
promote and implement social housing (Davis 2004, Berner 2002).
In many developing countries, the formal market for housing has consistently failed to
meet the housing demand of a rapidly growing national and urban population. Estimates
of the urban population living in informal settlements range from 30-70%. The United
Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS) estimates that up to 64% of the housing
security units in developing countries and up to 85% of the new housing thereat is
informal, unauthorized, and considered illegal (UNCHS 1996: 200).
settlements/ squatter colonies have become a fundamental fixture of urban areas that are
struggling to provide affordable housing to a growing urban population. These areas in
essence subsidize the urban economy vis-à-vis housing.
Up to 60-70% of housing in urban areas in the Philippines is on land that owned by
someone else other than the structure owner. These are squatted lands (ADB 2001). The
Philippine government estimated that there were 675,000 informal settler families in the
country with 146,000 families located in Metro Manila.
The peri-urban regions of
Region IV-A and Region III which bound Metro Manila also have significant informal
settler families. Regions with major urban areas such as Regions V, VI, and VII also
have significant numbers of informal settler families (NSO 2004, Ballesteros 2005).
Table 11: Informal Settlers Families, 2004 (table from Ballesteros
Slums and squatter settlements as well as gated and guarded residential communities, airconditioned shopping malls and commercial areas, and golf courses characterize urban
growth in Metro Manila (Jones 2002).
A highly speculative land market, the
concentration of urban land in a minority, the high cost of land that coincide with urban
inflation, low urban household income, and few economic opportunities for the poor
classes affect housing in urban areas in the Philippines, especially in Metro Manila
(Kuvaja 2009). For those who manage to own their home, the average home size is 30
square meters or lest (NSO 2000). In the FIES Survey of 2000, 75.5% of the respondents
indicated that they were owners of their home, while 20.4% were tenants, and 4.1% were
home sharers. For Metro Manila owners constituted 69.5% of the respondents, tenants
constituted 25.7%, and sharers constituted 4.8%. The results indicate high ownership
rates, although ownership refers to ownership of housing restructure regardless of
ownership of land (Ballesteros 2005).
Table 12: Distribution of households by tenure and income group,
2000 in percent (Table from Ballesteros 2005)
As seen in the table below, Metro Manila cities and municipality have high ratios of
persons living in areas labeled as “depressed.” The Municipality of Pateros had 58.5% of
its residents living in depressed areas in 2003, which is the highest in Metro Manila. The
city of Valenzuela on the other hand had four percent of its population living depressed
areas, but over half or 54% is marginal (MMUSP 2003).
Table 13: Housing tenure in Metro Manila cities and depressed
settlements, 2002 (table from Ballesteros 2005)
The housing need will increase due to natural population growth and migration. For
urban areas such as Metro Manila, meeting the demand will be very challenging. The
population of the Philippines will increase from 88.57 million in 2007 to an estimated
98.2 million in 2015. With high urban population growth and high urban poverty rates,
the housing challenge will only become greater. An estimated 60% of the population will
live in urban areas. During the period 2000-2004, the housing demand and need rose
from 2.4 million to 3.6 million units. Yet the private sector was only able to provide an
average of 50,000 housing units per year, targeting mostly those who could afford to
purchase those homes. The government’s National Shelter Program, on the other hand,
averaged 120,000 housing units “assistance” for various sorts per year (Llanto 2005,
Ballesteros 2005, HUDCC website). Again, most of the beneficiaries were from income
classes that could afford the amortization rates.
Table 14: Housing backlog in the Philippines, 2006-2010 (table by G.
Bongolan/ Home Guarantee Corporation 2007)
The housing sector in the country is characterized by a huge housing need. The housing
demand according to the HUDCC for the period 2006–2010 will be around 3.76 million
housing units. Higher estimates put it at 4.028 million. Of this amount, 1.17 million
units are for the housing backlog, while the remainder or 2.59 million units are for new
The average annual housing demand is between 751,000 and 805,000
housing units. The regional distribution of housing need shows that the National Capital
Region has the biggest projected housing need of 984,908 units. Regions IV and III
ranked second and third with 690,755 and 361,334 units, respectively. For the Medium
Term Development Plan (MTDP) 2005-2010, the Philippine government’s goal is to
provide housing to 1,145,668 households valued at PhP 217.04 billion. The ratio planned
was 68.1% socialized housing, 31.8% low cost housing, and 0.01% medium housing
(HUDDC 2009, MMUSP 2005).
As of 2006, Metro Manila had an estimated total housing backlog of 824,724 units.
About 36% or 301,005 households of the estimated housing backlog targeted
beneficiaries require resettlement because they were in hazardous or dangerous areas
were located in right-of-way targeted for infrastructure development. Identified housing
programs will require approximately 2,408 hectares of land.
The government
recommended onsite upgrading for the remaining 64% of the housing backlog or 523,719
households. This requires another 2,880 hectares of land. (NEDA 2005).
Table 15: Housing Need Every 5 Years, Metro Manila, 2007–2021
(from MMUSP presentation)
Addressing housing needs
In this section, I summarize the strategies to manage slums and their proliferation by the
state, the poor themselves, and civil society. What becomes noticeable from this review
is that not one sector can address the issue of lack of land for housing and housing by
itself. Government, the traditional and expected institution to provide housing for the
most vulnerable is ill equipped, lacks resources, and the political will to fulfill this
mandate. The poor cope, strategize, act, and mobilize. The slum is their response, which
is unacceptable to other sectors of society. Civil society has attempted to help, but is
hampered in a similar fashion as the state. Gawad Kalinga, over the years and through an
evolutionary way, proposes the massive mobilization of manpower and resources and in
partnership as an alternative way of addressing urban poverty and slum formation.
In the table below, housing and poverty have a multidimensional relationship. Housing,
according to Berner (2002:229) is a factor, indicator, and cause of poverty. In housing as
a factor of poverty, the lack of quality housing, tenure insecurity, needed public
infrastructure and services affects the quality of life of the slum dweller in terms of
his/her deprivation and lack of access to human, physical, natural, financial, and social
capital/assets. As an indicator of poverty, slum and squatter settlements often have
limited or no access to public infrastructure, basic social services, and importantly,
opportunities to grow and meet the full potential of a human being. As a cause of
poverty, the absence of these infrastructure and services cuts off opportunities, resources,
and networks of communications and assistance that enable one to become more
productive or initiate enterprises. The cycle continues with the succeeding generation as
the slum becomes entrenched, but does not improve.
Table 16: Dimensions of housing poverty (from Berner 2002:229)
The space occupied by a slum, a squatter settlement, or an urban area may be considered
neutral, but in reality it is not. People, their actions, and events define the urban space
over time. Historiography shows that humans used space not only to meet their physical
needs, but also to reproduce socially. In the process, the use of space manifests power
deployed and class differentiation. Areas in the city are off-limits based on private
property laws and/or affordability. Mobility is bounded. The State can expropriate or
alienate property depending on need and intended use. Slums and squatter settlements
reflect an acute lack of affordable and accessible land for housing and housing
infrastructure. The squalor associated with many slums not only reflects urban poverty,
but either the lack of resources on the part of the State or its neglect of this sector of the
urban population. Gated exclusive residential villages imply wealth and the capacity of
the elite to segregate themselves from the poorer other (Kuvaja 2009).
Nevertheless, people are agents and are not passive. They act, organize, mobilize, and
innovate to not only survive and reproduce, but also to struggle to achieve their full
potential. They appropriate space in the urban area and they use these spaces to meet
their needs. Thus, the urban space manifests social differentiation, power differentials
across sectors, governance, and the structuration of the economy and society. Power
enables an individual or an institution to decide on how to appropriate urban space
(Kuvaja 2009).
While slums and squatter settlements are visually associated and popularly perceived
with squalor, sub-standard housing, criminality, overcrowding, and disease-ridden, this
perception belies the reality of the roles that these have in an urban economy. These
include; an alternative to the housing shortage, a reservoir of labor, often exploited, a
consumer market, micro-enterprises and underground economy, which makes them a
potential economic and productive sector (Berner 2002, Sassen 1991). In fact, in many
urban areas worldwide, gainfully employed and underemployed workers in the private
and public sectors, who cannot afford decent housing increasingly, find themselves in
slums or squatter settlements.
In Metro Manila, the police officer is sometimes a
neighbor of the drug dealer. This also implies that access to housing structure is possible.
Rather, the problematic issue is lack of access to urban land (Berner 2002:228).
Managing informal settlements have a long historical trajectory dating to the Spanish
conquest of what is now Metro Manila. In transforming Manila into the capital of their
new colony, the Spanish colonialists established the land use of the area according to
their political, religious, and economic agendas. The layout had to take into account the
defense of the city, the projection of colonial power, the configuration of the hierarchies
of colonial society, the highly prosperous yet risky galleon trade, and the missionary and
at times highly political activities of the religious orders. The poor and the oppressed, for
example, Chinese merchants, were relegated to certain areas of the city. Intramuros, on
the other hand, was the colonial center, from which radiated the rest of colonial society.
Since then, Manila continued to grow and has always been a destination point of rural
migrants in search of opportunities or escaping from rural difficulties or challenges. Van
Naerssen (1987) noted that Metro Manila had a low property tax regime, rampant land
speculation, government agencies beholden to elites, which were unwilling to initiate an
urban land reform program.
Government policies on housing have evolved from the laissez faire policy during the
Commonwealth period, which only involved infrastructure and regulation, to an
interventionist policy during the post war period. This involved subsidies and assistance.
Starting the 1970s, the policy has become developmental involving regulation, direct
provision of housing, and enabling programs (World Bank 1993).
During the
Commonwealth Period, informal settlements were already considered an urban issue. In
1939, President Manuel Quezon’s administration purchased large tracts of land north of
Manila. President Quezon intended to establish a government campus and to disperse
housing from the core of Manila. The planned housing projects for the poor eventually
became middle class housing. Many of the urban poor indeed move to what became
Quezon City and established many informal settlers using government and private land.
Further, after World War II, thousands of war refugees moved to Manila to take part in
the reconstruction activities and aid, as well as to take over abandoned lands. The
Intramuros, Fort Santiago, and Tondo foreshore lands were favorite destinations as they
were open, abandoned, ruined or had parks, piers, fishponds, and available materials used
to make shelters. Abrams noted “the areas shared characteristics of being with the city
core, the waterfront, and centers of work” (1970:141).
Worldwide, government responses to the slum and squatter settlement issue can be
reduced to two extreme strategies. According to Berner (2002:230) these strategies look
at housing as either a commodity or a human right. If it is a commodity, the private
property rights and housing standards are primordial. This means that slums and squatter
settlements must either be formalized via purchase and upgraded to meet building
standards or demolished and evicted This is costly and unsustainable process in terms of
resources, violence, trauma, suffering, and the destruction of the asset base of the urban
poor. Informal settlers fight back and if evicted, somehow manage to come back or set
up new settlements.
If it is a human right, then social housing is the main strategy, but the results have not
been encouraging. Issues of rising land and building costs, inefficiencies, profit taking,
speculation, graft, and corruption plague social housing projects worldwide. Worse,
often times, relocation sites are far from the needed transportation and communication
infrastructure, basic services, and work sites. In the Philippines, many relocation sites
were unfinished and immediately became slum settlements. In addition, many of the
low-cost housing projects had poor financial designs, that only low, middle, and highincome groups could afford these housing programs. The poorest of the poor and the
truly homeless could not or would never be able to afford these housing programs,
funded by high-interest foreign debt provided agencies such as the World Bank or Asian
Development Bank.
The 1950 New Civil Code of the Philippines governs property rights and security of
tenure. This law defines land ownership as the possession of a formally registered title of
ownership to the land. The land title gives the titleholder the rights to the benefits of the
land, excluding natural resources, which is stated-owned. Thus, informal settlers have no
rights whatsoever to the land unless their occupancy is legalized by a transfer of land
Even if one has the resources to purchase land in the urban area, the
identification, purchase, titling, transfer of title, permitting, or security of land is a
complex and lengthy process.
Government has limited administrative resources,
technical skills, and capacities on land administration that impact the land market. There
are information asymmetries on ownership, boundaries, government programs, and
resources, permitting, and so on. All these make for a fertile ground for corruption at
stages of land administration. The land market is inefficient and benefits the powerful
and lead to high urban land prices (Llanto 2007, Mendoza 2007, de Soto 2004).
Governments seek to address slums and squatter settlement issue in a variety of ways.
Evictions have always been a state option in addressing slums.
Starting 1951, the
government employed squatter eviction and resettlement. In 1960-61 Sapang Palay,
north of Metro Manila, Carmona in Cavite province, and San Pedro in Laguna province,
were designated as resettlement sites. These sites were outside of the urban core and
about 30-45 kms outside of Metro Manila. In December 1963-64 4000 the government
evicted informal settlers living in Intramuros. A few months later, they evicted another
11,000 families from Tondo and the North Harbor area. The government resettled the
informal settlers in Sapang Palay. Later on, the government established the Bagong
Silang relocation site in Kalookan City to accommodate another 11,000 squatter families.
Worldwide in the 1970s, governments took to slum demolition, criminalizing squatters,
eviction, demolition, and resettlement. This has not led to slum eradication, lessening, or
even prevention, as some of the causes of slum formation are structural. For example, the
formal market mechanism for providing housing has failed to meet the rising housing
needs of the urban population. Thus, the urban poor built their own housing to the best of
their means regardless of the ownership, legality, or building standard of the land and
structure respectively. In reality, this “self-help” housing found in slums and squatter
settlements have somehow contributed to easing the acute housing shortage in urban
areas (Berner 2002:227).
During the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, the Marcos administration used a three-pronged
approach. To relocate and resettle informal dwellers outside of Manila the government
purchased land.
Sapang Dalaga in Bulacan, Bagong Silang, Kolookan City, and
Carmona, Cavite are some of these relocation sites. The government established the
National Housing Authority (NHA) in 1975 to address the housing needs of the poorest
30% of Filipinos. Seven years after its formation, by 1982, 11,369 families relocated to
Sapang Palay, 10,059 to Carmona, 3,327 to San Pedro, and 8,020 to Dasmarinas, Cavite.
This totaled 33,000 families and not 46,000 families as NHA claimed (Van Naerssen
In its first 10 years of operation from October 1975 to December 1985, the NHA
constructed 4054 new housing units nationwide or a measly average of 405 per year
(Berner 2000).
These relocation sites had repayment difficulties; were far from
employment areas, were costly to get to; and had elementary and inadequate basic
services and infrastructure. The joke driving past by the one Carmona resettlement area
was that it was the “kubeta” or toilet village, because it was never completed except for
the toilets. The other strategy was to criminalize squatting. Presidential Decree No. 772,
issued in 1975 and enforced until 1997, led to some of the most violent and destructive
demotions and mass evictions. Many of the relocation sites were not developed or were
not much of an improvement of the slum conditions they experienced. Many of the
informal settlers moved back to Manila, since their sources of income were located there
(Porio and Crisol 2004, Starke 1996, Berner 2000).
A third strategy was on-site slum upgrading, which Marcos resorted to after the
difficulties and failures of the strong-arm approach. Marcos established the Cabinet-level
Ministry of Human Settlements to coordinate the housing efforts of the government. Led
by First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, the ministry became infamous for its
politicking and promotion of Imelda’s political power based, inefficiencies, corruption,
and the establishment of housing projects that only the middle and upper middle classes
could afford.
With no systematic programs, policies, rules, and regulations, a few
informal settlements were upgraded.
To this end, the government utilized a few
intermediate instruments of tenure such as presidential land proclamations, occupancy
leases, and local ordinances. Land proclamations cover informal settlers on public lands
and have improved tenure security of a large number of urban poor in a short time with
minimum resources. Land proclamations assure informal settlers that they will not be
evicted and social services will be improved while the formalization of plot ownership is
being processed.
Likewise worldwide, by the 1970s, onsite and slum upgrading, self-help, and the
provision of services became prime strategies to address the lack of urban housing. This
formed part of the “enabling” approach that aid, development, and multilateral agencies
were pushing for to address the housing crisis. The enabling approach, a component of
the neoliberal framework sweeping the world during the 1980s and 1990s, sought the
withdrawal of the State in the provision of housing and encouraged the decentralization
of housing provision activities. Structural adjustment programs (SAP) sought to cut
subsidies, welfare, and social safety nets, including housing. This was to reduce budget
deficits, allow market forces work, permit private sector participation, privatize as much
as possible government services, and let civil society and local government units help in
housing. The hoped for results would be a trickling down of economic benefits enabling
the poor to progress and afford decent housing.
It would allow market forces to
incentivize entrepreneurs to enter the housing market (Olesen 2009)
However, slum upgrading is undermined by the same factors that affect social housing;
high financial, political, and social costs, inefficiencies, and at times profit taking and
corruption in the implementation of the program. Some look at slum upgrading also as
decongestion, which would entail relocation and resettlement.
Raising building or
community standards is costly especially for a slum area when standards are too high;
when the “planning-servicing-building-occupation” process has high multiplier costs of
up to 40% for each stage; and importantly, when the land issue is not address. In effect,
many states are reactive, depending on the political climate, events, and resources
available. The “muddling through’ activity results in “too little, too expensive trap” of
urban housing programs (Berner 2002:231-232).
Access to affordable land is the
primordial issue.
In the Philippines starting the 21st century, President Arroyo has used land proclamations
to a greater degree than her predecessors have.
During her first two years, these
proclamations have reached 645,910 families living in 33 informal settlements in Metro
Manila and elsewhere covering more than 22,000 hectares (Murphy 2002). As a tenure
instrument, land proclamation seems to be the most impressive. However, its application
is limited since most squatters are occupying private land. Furthermore, it is still oriented
towards ownership and land titling.
The search continues for easier intermediate
solutions like long-term leases and guarantees against eviction. It would be a mistake,
however, to think that presidential land proclamations were entirely the initiative of the
President. Murphy (2002) points out that except for a case where the proclamation
implemented to woo the political constituency of political rival most proclamations were
the result of the work of urban poor federations and NGOs over many years.
Informal markets
By their number, presence, scope, and magnitude, slum and squatter settlements are a
reality, phenomenon, and success. They are concrete manifestations of how the poor
cope, survive, and innovate in order to assert their right and presence to the city and the
opportunities the city may bring. Slum and squatter formation is a process. The need
must be apparent, the options few. Land must available for the taking. It must also be
accessible and relatively near to transportation, employment, or livelihood areas. Water
must be accessible too in whatever delivery form and should be affordable. Often times,
sites fulfilling these conditions are marginal and hazardous, i.e. floodplains, steep slopes,
riverbanks, dumpsites, etc. (Berner 2002:233).
Slums and squatter settlements entail costs. Land acquisition is risky and illegal. Those
initiating or leading a land invasion will ask for help or payment in terms of cash, labor,
assistance, or favors. For latecomers, they may have to pay for the “right to squat” or pay
rent. This means that one is either paying for the right to use the land and build a home
or rent a structure. A variety of groups facilitates this invasion and conversion of land
to housing. These include the homeless, the urban poor, professional syndicates, local
politicians, warlords, slumlords, police, military, politicians, bureaucrats, unscrupulous
property developers and even landowners themselves, and practically any group who sees
the potential and acceptable risks of slum development. (Berner 2002:237).
Development of slums and squatter settlements is cheaper vis-à-vis the “planningservicing-building-occupation” standard. Hence, they are quicker, more nimble, and
flexible in establishing. The market, which is the bottom-of-the-pyramid is the widest.
Thus, entry requirements are minimal. The infrastructure needed to set up a home is
basic and does not need to meet building standards. It is at their pace that they improve
or upgrade their home. Improvements are an asset in terms of labor, time, and material
expended. However, consumer costs for water, electricity, food, transport, and “rent” are
continuing and may even be a higher as a percentage cost of the family income. Also,
security of tenure is precarious and a continuing worry.
This sometimes prevents
investment in upgrading both homes and community infrastructure (Berner 2002:237). In
Appendix B, I summarize the government’s housing programs and the hindsight
perspectives on it.
Chapter conclusions
This chapter sought to conceptualize Gawad Kalinga as a social movement (SM) by
melding the three dominant SM theories, namely political process and opportunity
structure, resource mobilization, and framing and new movement theories. As social
psychologist and social movement theorist Bert Klandermans (2001) has suggested it
would do well for SM researchers to study SM through these three theoretical lenses. For
Gawad Kalinga this perspective proves beneficial. The Philippine political-economicsocial context has proven hospitable to the emergence and expansion of the one of the
world’s most dynamic civil society centers (Bryant 1997, Clarke 1998, Carino 2001).
Beyond the local setting, phenomena such globalization and urbanization and its impacts
on the local context are important.
Consequences from both include the rise of transnational activism and diaspora
philanthropy, both of which provide resources to GK.
mobilization and expansion.
Resources are critical to
The study of GK emphasizes the need to include the
insights and perspectives gained from the literature on mutual aid and self-help
initiatives. Culture work, assessed under framing and new social movement theories,
provides the lens to study the motivations to explore, join, participate, commit, and help
grow a movement such as GK.
This chapter showed the evolution of civil society and social movements in response to
social change and the pursuit of freedom, liberty, protection of private property and
rights. However, there are social movements that emerged that seek to mediate and
improve social relations and power disparities, as well as to improve societal conditions.
These social movements seeking to address societal problems especially of the poor and
vulnerable become more prominent when the state and private sector are disinterested,
incapable, or both in addressing the needs of the poor and vulnerable. Thus, in a country
such as the Philippines, there is a tradition of civil society and social movements resisting
a corrupt regime and at the same time working on solutions to poverty, homelessness,
hunger and so on. In the case of Gawad Kalinga, it is attempting to mobilize the state,
the market, and civil society to address social justice and poverty challenges in a
cooperative engagement manner.
The acute of legal housing and the rise of slums and squatter settlements reveal dynamics
of urbanization, the urbanization of poverty, and the response of the poor. Self-help and
mutual aid housing in slums show the resilience and coping strategies of the poor. Thus,
when Gawad Kalinga (GK) enters a slum with the intention of helping slum dwellers, it is
collaborating with a sector that has historically shown that it is capable, adaptable, and
can potentially assist GK meet its goals. The next chapter provides an overview of the
Gawad Kalinga social movement.
To Give Care-the Gawad Kalinga story
What the first-time visitor to Manila quickly notices are the extreme contrasts. Upon
arrival, a wave of humidity and heat outside harshly replaces the coolness of the airconditioning of the airport. A throng of humanity waits for relatives arriving. In many
instances, what looks like a clan is on hand to welcome the hardworking daughter, son,
mother, or father, who worked abroad, sent money home monthly, and is arriving for a
long deserved vacation. Others are back from a short trip to the regional shopping
centers of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Macau. It is a busy airport. As one drives away
from the international airport and towards the bustling commercial and financial city of
Makati, one is visually assaulted by the traffic, the slums, the squatters, street beggars,
sidewalk and even highway peddlers selling cigarettes and candies by the piece, the
throngs of people, and the pollution from vehicle emissions.
However, less than ten kilometers north of the airport, the scene changes dramatically.
Reaching the Makati Central Business District (CBD), manicured gardens and trimmed
trees, glistening high rise buildings, sleek shopping malls, trendy restaurants, and late
model European and Japanese cars abound.
Nearly everyone is well dressed as
professionals should be. They even look and smell good. Hotels are tastefully furnished
and clean, the service is prompt, courteous, and meant to spoil the guest. The food is
superb. The nightlife and shopping districts can easily rival those in Europe or North and
South America. Some of the most exclusive and gated residential villages are located in
Makati, which is one of 17 cities and municipalities that comprise the Metropolitan
Manila Region or the National Capital Region (MMR/NCR) of the Philippines. The city
of Makati has just over 500,000 residents (NSO 2007) occupying only 27.4 square
Yet, it is the Philippines’ financial, commercial, and diplomatic center,
established mainly through the entrepreneurial drive, vision, and managerial competence
of the mestizo Zobel de Ayala clan (Shari 2003).
Plate 8: Makati City, Philippines central business district 2008
While Makati is the country’s version of New York City, it also mirrors the inequality
that is prevalent nationwide. It is here and in the other cities of Metro Manila that one
experiences the contrasts that characterize the Philippines, how historical, politicaleconomic, and social factors and forces influence wealth and poverty and the interact
between the two.
Bagong Silang: “New Born”
In contrast to Makati is Barangay 176 13, popularly known as Bagong Silang in Kalookan
City, which is also part of Metro Manila. Its census population as of 2007 was 221,874
(NSO 2008), although the actual number could be at least double that. A few have told
me that it could be a high as one million. Bagong Silang is the official birthplace of
Gawad Kalinga. It is the biggest government-sponsored relocation site for “squatters”14
and largest barangay (population-wise) in the country. Many of the residents there were
relocated from other squatter areas such as Smokey Mountain, Balong Bato, Balintawak,
Bgy. Pinihan and others.
Muslim refugees and migrants, Visayans 15, ex-soldiers,
widows, orphans, the homeless, and others considered socially excluded found their way
there. Many experienced the demolition of their shanties that traumatized them. It is a
failed government-initiated relocation site.
Because of practically non-existent
government relocation assistance and social services, poor infrastructure, high rates of
poverty and unemployment, and general apathy from society, there were very low trust
levels, rampant criminality, and unsafe and poor living conditions. Bagong Silang was
exactly the opposite of its name- “New Born.” The journalist Ma Ceres Doyo (2009)
Barangay is the smallest geopolitical unit in the Philippines. Several barangays make up municipalities
or cities. The term is from the Malay word balangay (sailboat). It referred to well-established villages
that existed prior to the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. As of December 2007, the Philippines
has 41,995 barangays in 1,494 municipalities and 135 cities that comprise 81 provinces (NSCB 2007).
Squatter is the colloquial and at times disparaging term for those who “squat” on privately owned or
government-owned property. The politically correct term is informal dwellers.
Visayans are Filipinos from the central islands known as Visayas and Cebuano-/Visayan (language)
speaking part of the Philippines
….It used to be called “kubeta” (toilet) village, the lair of akyat bahay burglars, sopas
boys (pickpockets) and other criminal gangs that preyed on hapless citizens. The place
was “tapunan” (dumping ground) for corpses of victims of guns-for-hire. “Sumpak”
(improvised shotgun), “pana” (arrow) and all types of crude deadly weapons reigned
supreme. Crime defined the place. And also poverty, disease, malnutrition. That was
more than 10 years ago, before Couples for Christ’s Gawad Kalinga (CFC-GK) built its
first ever housing project for the poor in 1999, in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City. Bagong
Silang (newborn) was not as hopeful and bright as its name sounded when it first began
as a relocation area. Some 2,000 poor families were dumped there in 1982 to get them out
of sight during an international beauty pageant and an Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) meeting..The place was a vast expanse dotted by countless holes on
the ground where toilet bowls should be. That was as far as the government went. It
didn’t take long for the place to come into its own as some kind of a ghetto, a fearsome
no-man’s land, one of Metro Manila’s blighted areas…
When I visited the Gawad Kalinga sites in Bagong Silang in 2007, many of what Doyo
described above still existed. The difference though was two-fold. The first of course is
the presence of about 2,000 GK homes spread over 15 GK Villages in Bagong Silang.
These are the seeds planted and growing in a land of despair. The second is the struggle
of the residents to make a life of their own despite the neglect of government. There are
quite a number of homes similar to those found in middle class villages, built of concrete,
multi-story, and with vehicles inside.
There are many small businesses and shops.
Traffic is bad with all the vehicles and tricycles 16. The population density is high.
Homes are packed tightly. The roads are narrow. There are multitudes of people. When
I visited the GK sites there, there was a welcoming crowd of at least a dozen Mabuhay
Pollutive two-stroke mostly Japanese or Chinese-made motorcycles with a side-care to ferry paying
passengers. There are at least 1.7 million motorcycles registered as of 2001, majority of which are twostroke motorcycles. In Metro Manila alone, there are at least 162,000 of these motorcycles (EMB
website, Lorito 2003, CBPO 2003).
and scores of children who followed us around. Poverty was prevalent, but
there were stirrings of economic progress and vibrant community solidarity.
Plate 9: Bagong Silang, Caloocan City
Bagong Silang was the site of Gawad Kalinga’s conception, difficult pregnancy, and
eventual birthing. In Bagong Silang, members of the faith-based movement Couples for
Christ (CFC), which founded Gawad Kalinga, sought to implement its Seven Pillars
ministry in a deeper and holier way by “loving the poor and to seek a new path towards
self-discovery as a Filipino by finding our dignity and pride as a people within the
country” (GK website).
The community of Bagong Silang was among the most
challenging communities in Metro Manila. Thus, it provided this hardy band of CFC
members with the setting to pursue their own questions of: “1) why Filipinos who are
naturally gifted and hard working are poor; 2) why those born in slum communities have
Mabuhay ladies is the welcome and hospitality group of GK. Women and other residents guide visitors
to GK villages and are informational resource persons (Esteves 2008).
difficulty in getting out of poverty and 3) why gentle Filipinos become criminals when
brought up in slum communities?” (GK website). The faith-based movement Couples
for Christ started GK and is described in the box below.
Box 1: Couples for Christ
GK’s conception started with the Catholic charismatic movement Couples for Christ
(CFC), when CFC members ministered to out-of-school youth and gang members in the
mid-1990s in the Philippines. As an evangelistic and missionary movement, CFC’s work
with the youth was one of several initiatives in conjunction with its Seven Pillars,
namely; (a) evangelization and missionary work, (b) pastoral support, (c) strengthening
of the family, (d) promotion of social justice and human development, (e) Gawad
Kalinga, (f) promoting and defending life, and, (h) special ministries. Gawad Kalinga is
an offshoot of CFC. Couples for Christ (CFC) is a charismatic, lay ecclesial, Roman
Catholic faith-based social movement officially founded on June 26, 1981 in the
Philippines by 16 couples headed by Frank Padilla, its Executive Director for its first 26
years. It is breakaway group of another faith-based group called Ligaya ng Panginoon
(Joy/Happiness of the Lord). The split resulted from disagreements on the rapid
expansion of CFC activities. CFC works for the “the renewal and strengthening of
Christian family life” via massive and rapid evangelization and formation, family
renewal, “total Christian liberation,” and effective and efficient governance. One of its
mottos is “Families in the Holy Spirit Renewing the Face of the Earth” (CFC
websitehttp://couplesforchristglobal.org/). It has seven main ministries or the Seven
Pillars listed above.
CFC’s objective is to strengthen the Filipino family not only spiritually but relationshipwise. To do this, the father had to be enticed to join the weekly prayer meetings. How did
they finally recruit the macho Filipino father? (McKay 2007, Ponce 2001). They tapped
into his social nature.
CFC prayer meetings are dinner parties for a
"household" composed of several couples. Look at it as the bourgeoisie version of Karl
Marx's communist cell. CFC's mission is Catholic evangelization and the first members
were the educated and middle class.
It would only be a matter of time before they recruited from the other socio-economic
classes. CFC focuses on the family. To CFC and anthropologically, the family is the
primary economic and social unit. Marriage and the establishment of family enable one
to enter, maintain, and expand not only one's status relations, but one's economic network
as well (Diani 2006). When individuals and their families are progressing spiritually and
relationship-wise, then they become a force of good in their community and in their
CFC nestles itself in a parish and has succeeded in establishing a presence in every
province of the Philippines and in 160 countries. CFC members organize themselves into
prayer and social groups called “household cell groups” of 10 to 12 individual members
comprising five to six married couples. A “household head” mentors these groups.
Several of these groups constitute a “unit,” which in turn combine to form a “chapter.”
Several chapters form a “cluster” and several clusters can become a “sector.” An “Elders
Assembly” comprised of the heads of the Metro Manila, provincial, regional areas, the
different ministries, the international regional coordinators, the mission directors, and
their spouses governs CFC.
Bi-annually, the Elders Assembly elects seven members to an International Council (IC)
and 15 members to a Board of Elders. From within the IC, they choose the CFC
executive director and the different directors in CFC. Frank Padilla, a co-founder of CFC
was its director from its founding until 2007, when he and fellow IC director and GK
founder Tony Meloto resigned due to conflicts regarding GK’s direction, partnerships,
and other personal and organizational issues. Atty. Joe Tale who has expressed full
support for GK until a second organizational conflict erupted in 2009 now heads CFC.
Frank Padilla has set up a parallel organization called Couples for Christ Foundation for
Family and Life
The entry point for CFC was through the youth. CFC’s youth ministry, CFC-Youth for
Christ (YFC) 18, held a three-day youth camp for the out-of-school youth in Bagong
Silang the day after Christmas 1995. Aside from being out-of-school, some of the
participating youngsters were also members of the most violent and notorious gangs in
the barangay. It was not easy. CFC elder Tony Meloto, the public face and founder of
Gawad Kalinga, recounted how he and his young daughters experienced threats and
CFC established the CFC-Youth for Christ in 1991 as a pilot program; initially named the Young Adults
Program (YAP) in Los Baños, Province of Laguna, Philippines (YFC Laguna is the first chapter and
even a year older than YFC). A pilot program for two years, YAP' became formal with CFC’s split from
the Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community in June 1993. YAP was renamed CFC-YFC. YFC is actively
engaged in a “full-fledged evangelization and morality programs” (http://cfcyouthforchrist.net). In 1995,
CFC-YFC held that seminal Youth Camp for the out-of-school youth of Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.
With a burgeoning work with the poor and the youth program, YFC would expand nationwide. By 2003,
CFC-YFC would have a presence in all Philippine provinces. By 2005, YFC would be established in
more than 100 countries. YFC eventually establish the Serving In God's Army (SIGA) youth
development and rehabilitation program. It would be YFC leaders and CFC elders’ work and
experiential learning that would evolve into Gawad Kalinga.
verbal abuse they first sought to start the youth program. According to him, it took many
prayers, effort, and time spent in Bagong Silang before they could establish a relationship
based on friendship, trust, and mutual assistance. The youth camp was a breakthrough
and by the third day, Meloto remembered, the youth (and gang members) began to
appreciate the sincerity, persistence, and love that CFC and YFC members offered. The
gang members agreed to participate, leave or surrender their weapons, and not cause
Meloto recounts that another breakthrough involved producing the Bagong Silang
Musicale, which expressed the true stories of residents and the youth of Bagong Silang.
Through theatre, the residents and youth were able to express themselves, tap their latent
creative juices, work on a project as a community, develop confidence, and in the process
heal themselves of the despair, frustration, and violence that characterized their
individual and communal lives.
The musicale recounts the story of Jess a youthful gang member who impregnates his
girlfriend. From there, his life quickly spirals into desperation when he and girlfriend
have an unsanitary abortion and his sister and father die because of his gang-related
activities. Salvation for him and his girlfriend comes from Jesus Christ appearing before
him and offering the only road to redemption. Jesse turns from his gang ways, marries
his girlfriend, and becomes a true Christian. The messages of Christian faith, morality,
and hope resonated with the country’s predominantly Roman Catholic population. The
government’s education department supported the musicale. In the process, it had one, if
not the longest runs in Philippine theatre.
It also opened up opportunities for
participating Bagong Silang youth to perform in different locales, including abroad.
Tapping the creative talents of both GK benefactors and beneficiaries is a core strategy of
the informational, educational, and communication (IEC), and “framing” activities of
With a foot in, CFC volunteers with other community volunteers sought to improve the
conditions in Bagong Silang. Youth programs introduced included theater activities,
sports, and livelihood training. Along the way, five basketball courts, eight deep wells,
six schools, and two libraries were constructed and set up by 2001 (Genzola 2005).
Supporters awarded promising youth scholarships. Not surprisingly, real life followed
theatre life. Take Abigail Santos, who is currently a SIBOL 19 teacher at one of the GK
villages. She was one of the original cast members of the musicale having grown up in
Bagong Silang. When she joined the cast, GK volunteers noted her shyness. Eight years
hence, after performing in front of a cumulative 300,000 viewers and completing a
psychology degree on a GK scholarship, her reticence has been replaced with confidence.
Santos was one of the speakers in the 2004 Global Women’s summit attended by at least
19 SIBOL means in Filipino “to grow”. SIBOL is GK’s early childhood education and feeding program
nestled within the established GK communities. It is for the GK beneficiary-resident children ages 3-6
years old. The SIBOL schoolteachers in each GK village are mainly volunteers surviving on modest
stipends. Hence, they are the “unsung heroes” of this GK pre-school program. The educational
program is holistic, value-based, and parent-oriented, i.e. their active participation is required and
needed to educate their children. GK expects the community to play an active role in “educating” the
child (GK website).
5,000 women participants (Cuevas 2004, GK website). Instead of following the Filipino
diaspora, she chose to give back and became a SIBOL teacher.
Her older brother
Anthony is the currently the full-time director of the musical, while her mother assists
with the finances of the show (Blades 2007).
Another example is Edward Fernandez, another Bagong Silang Musicale alumnus.
Fernandez was an orphan early on, when his father died early, and his mother left him
with his grandmother when he was five years old. His mother returned- some consider it
a kidnapping- for him when he was ten years old. He started taking drugs at 15 years old
and got into street fights that nearly killed him a year later. His life changed when he
participated in the CFC- GK programs. GK also awarded him a scholarship that enabled
him to earn a political science degree. While he plans to enter law school, he organizes
and leads a dance group called Image Fox, which has been winning dance competitions.
He is now a fulltime worker for Gawad Kalinga in the SIGA 20 program and is a creative
dance instructor to SIGA members (GK website).
The Bagong Silang Musicale is partly borne out of the community development work in
Bagong Silang of eminent cardiologist Dr. Teofilio T. Bangayan and his A Living for
Christ Foundation. Some of those who worked in his foundation were CFC members,
SIGA is an acronym for Serving in God’s Army. In Filipino, SIGA means “street toughie.” An
alternative meaning is “to light.” It is YFC and GK’s youth development and rehabilitation program.
which led to the establishment of these youth-oriented programs 21. Eventually, CFC
members established ANCOP (Answering the Cry of the Poor) Foundation in 1996 to
generate resources for their quickly expanding programs. Tony Meloto and other CFC
volunteers realized early on that while these troubled youth were improving when they
participated in CFC programs, they would revert to their old ways when they returned to
their homes and slum environment.
Meloto has frequently stated in public “a slum environment creates slum behavior.” It
finally dawned on them that the environment needed to be changed. The swamp needed
to be drained of poverty, inequality, and social exclusion. These youth needed another
chance in life. At its most basic, these children need a home they could feel safe in, live
in comfortably, and reestablish their family relationships. They needed both a physical
and spiritual environment to heal.
“In the United States, no Filipino became homeless or a beggar. Filipinos did not build
squatter communities here,” so said Gawad Kalinga’s Tony Meloto (2008) in his talk to
Filipino-Americans and American supporters of Gawad Kalinga.
Behind these two
statements is the development and prosperity key that enabled Filipinos in the United
States to have the second highest per capita income of all Asian-American groups. FilAms are the largest source of remittances to the Philippines (Opiniano 2006). They are,
Dr. Bangayan and Tony Meloto would later disagree on operational issues and directions of their
respective community development programs.
in essence, the embodiment of the American dream. How did they do this? Meloto
hinted that creating an environment where Filipinos can work hard and enjoy the fruits of
their labor constituted a major component of the Gawad Kalinga model.
To him,
Filipinos need an environment where they can meet their basic physical needs, live in
security and dignity, and become the best they can be. Anthropologists call this the
household livelihood security framework (Frankenberger & McCaston 1998) 22. It is
about having the resources to make the right choices. Again Gawad Kalinga’s Tony
The saying, ‘Give someone fish and he will continue to ask for fish; but
teach someone to fish and he will fish for himself’ is not true in the
Philippine setting. The poor know already how to fish, but they ain’t
fishing! We need to change the environment for the poor to become
God’s perfect creation. 23
To spur institution building, Gawad Kalinga communities are supported by a seven point
on-site community development program that includes: (1) site and shelter development,
(2) community organization/Kapitbahayan and values transformation, (3) communitybased health program, (4) child and youth development, (5) economic productivity, (6)
environment, and (7) a Mabuhay/ welcome program (Gawad Kalinga and ANCOP USA
websites). They posit that only a holistic program that develops the individual, family,
and community will succeed in building strong institutions in the Philippines. Only
organized, principled, and economically and environmentally sustainable communities
HHLSF identifies basic needs, stakeholders, the means to address these basic needs, and contexts:
historical, social, cultural, economic (Frankenberger & McCaston 1998)
Personal communication 2006. Mr. Meloto has repeated this statement numerous times in private and in
public settings.
can survive and withstand the vagaries of Philippine politics, poverty, inequality, and
social exclusion. With 2,000 communities in various stages of development since GK’s
launch in 2003, more than half a million poor Filipinos are enjoying their own colorfully
painted homes amidst a safe, secure, and happy community. They are beginning to access
education, health, training, livelihood, and capacity-building services (GK monitoring
report 2008).
ANCOP and the conceptualization of Gawad Kalinga
The model of now known as Gawad Kalinga had at its entry point in home building. GK
claims that providing homes that were comfortable and secure (tenancy-wise) enabled
families to save, invest, regain their dignity, and rebuild their lives. From the few homes
that they fixed, the results look dramatic. Yet these youth and their families struggled to
renew themselves in a slum community. The scale of renewal needed to expand. Stable
families could build stable communities.
Meloto and other GK stalwarts noted that CFC’s Seven Pillars provided a holistic
approach to family and community development.
Supporting these families and
eventually their communities with education and scholarships, health, values
transformation, community organizing, livelihood/productive opportunities, and spiritual
ministry from 1995-1999 provided for individual and community empowerment. These
holistic programs spearheaded by ANCOP evolved into what is today GK’s various
programs of shelter (TATAG), child & youth development (SIBOL, for pre-school
children, SAGIP for school age children and SIGA for teenagers), health (LUSOG, now
KALUSUGAN) and livelihood (SIKAP). 24 The key learning is that the model evolved
over many years and experimentation.
In Bagong Silang, GK boasts that the first family they helped in 1999 is a continuing
testament to the viability of this model. This family squeezed into a tiny, run-down
home. The parents had intermittent, very low paying jobs. All the children were school
dropouts. Two of them were gang members, one its leader. One was a run-away. CFCGK worked with them, repainted, and eventually rebuilt their 20 sq meter home. The
transformation has been dramatic as it is miraculous. Today, their home is a two-storey,
concrete, and sixty square meter home that is a symbol of faith at work and community
self-help. Today, the mother heads their community’s GK Micro-lending program. I
held one of my focus group discussions at her place. She was a gracious host and a
helpful key informant. The father is active in the gardening and feeding programs of GK.
Five of the six children finished college and are either working or helping out with GK
(Philippine Daily Inquirer 2007) 25.
Note the linguistically and culturally appropriate use of program terms. TATAG is the Filipino root
word to build or establish. SIBOL as stated is “to grow.” SAGIP means “to save.” SIGA is “street
toughie and is an acronym for Serving in God’s Army. Literally, it is Filipino for “to light.” LUSOG
means “healthy”. KALUSUGAN means “health”. SIKAP means “to progress”.
See http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view_article.php?article_id=46011. This family
is one of numerous public faces of GK. From beneficiaries, they are now benefactors, working with and
for GK and helping out in other GK communities. Some of them have taken up leadership positions in
Note the linguistically and culturally appropriate use of program terms. TATAG is the Filipino root
word to build or establish. SIBOL as stated is “to grow.” SAGIP means “to save.” SIGA is “street
They paid a high price though. One son died after gang members stabbed him when he
tried to help a friend-neighbor the gang was mauling. In growing GK, advocates heed the
call of padugo or bleeding for the cause.
In Bagong Silang, GK volunteers and
beneficiaries have literally paid in blood. Tony Meloto has buried six youth killed in
gang-related violence over the years. He said that rival gang killed them when they
stopped carrying weapons and lessened their gang activities. They were practically
defenseless when attacked by rival gangs.
Social and experiential learning leads to Gawad Kalinga
By year 2000, the positive impacts of CFC and ANCOP were becoming visible, dramatic,
and substantial. CFC members asked themselves: is this replicable elsewhere? Tapping
the competitive spirit of CFC and YFC they held a contest among themselves to see
whether the “miracle” of Bagong Silang could be replicated elsewhere. They titled this
contest “Gawad Kalinga”, in Filipino; it means “to give care” or “an award for caring”.
This contest resulted in the first 30 Gawad Kalinga communities established nationwide.
toughie and is an acronym for Serving in God’s Army. Literally, it is Filipino for “to light.” LUSOG
means “healthy”. KALUSUGAN means “health”. SIKAP means “to progress”.
See http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view_article.php?article_id=46011. This family
is one of numerous public faces of GK. From beneficiaries, they are now benefactors, working with and
for GK and helping out in other GK communities. Some of them have taken up leadership positions in
It provided CFC, YFC, and ANCOP with an emergent and powerful community
development model.
By 2002, CFC-GK started to ramp up its home building activities. In February 2002
during the annual congress of Singles for Christ 26 in Dumaguete City, Province of Negros
Oriental, Philippines, they conducted the first ever Gawad Kalinga “community build.”
Sixteen YFC and SFC teams of 25 members each built sixteen houses over the weekend.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was a guest of honor during the
conference, was reportedly so impressed by the build success that she gave PhP30 million
(Philippine Pesos) or about $585,023 27 from her presidential discretionary funds to build
another 1,000 houses (Verallo 2003).
This offer of governmental help put Gawad
Kalinga in a quandary. How were they to respond? Was government sincere or was it
planning to co-opt CFC-GK? CFC-GK eventually accepted the money, but it used the
opportunity to set the moral tone and lead by example in two ways.
First, it built a thousand homes in one year. The rate of home building was impressive,
because not even the more successful property developers or contractors involved in
building socialized housing homes could achieve this building rate at this cost. Also, the
Singles for Christ (http://www.sfcglobal.org/), established in April 1993 by about 40 single men and
women after a three day workshop in Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines, is CFC’s ministry for single/not
married, young professionals from 21 to 40 years of age. In 2005, it reported over 300,000 members
worldwide in 160 countries. Aside form unmarried individuals, there is Handmaidens of the Lord
(HOLD) for widows and Servants of the Lord (SOLD) for widowers. CFC is “womb-to-tomb” ministry
hence it has also Youth for Christ (12-21 years old) and Kids for Christ (4-12 years old).
($1=PhP51.2817 in 2002 based on the Philippine Bangko Sentral or Philippine Central Bank. See
amount enabled CFC-GK to build 1,000 homes, which cost PhP30, 000 or $585 each.
This amount was lower than the cost to construct private and most especially socialized
Second, CFC-GK responded by invoking “padugo,” Filipino for “to bleed.” In this case,
it was “bleeding for the cause.” I explain padugo in detail in the next chapter. To honor
of President Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration’s grant, CFC members committed to
build another 1,000 homes using their own resources as their counterpart contribution.
This effort generated a lot of publicity for CFC-GK and inspired many individuals,
groups, and organizations to collaborate with them in the succeeding years. By June
2002, GK established 97 communities and built 2,214 homes. Six months later, another
55 villages were established and 1,182 more homes built or a total of 152 GK
communities and 3,396 homes (Contreras 2003).
The next year on July 28, 2003, CFC members formally registered their community
development program with the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission as the
Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation, Inc.
The not-for profit
foundation’s organizational purpose is the "advancing and upholding an integrated,
holistic and sustainable community development program, especially in the depressed
areas, addressing shelter, livelihood, education and health issues in the spirit of nation
building, to strengthen the development and improvement of human and spiritual
formation of couples and their children and to foster cooperation with others in the
pursuit and realization of the objectives for which (GK) has been established."
months after, on October 4, 2003, GK held its first of a series of annual “GK Expos” in
Fort Bonifacio, City of Taguig. In this first expo dubbed "Bawat Pilipino, Bayani!”
(Every Filipino a Hero!) and attended by an estimated 40,000 participants. GK launched
GK777, which sought to build 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities in seven years or by
the year 2010.
In November and December 2004, at least four violent typhoons unleashed mudslides
and landslides that devastated communities in Luzon Island, Philippines and destroying at
least 40,000 homes. In response, GK launched Kalinga Luzon in partnership with the
National Disaster Coordinating Council, the Department of Social Welfare and
Development, local government units, the academe, and private sector to provide homes
for typhoon victims in more ecologically and less-risky relocation sites. Included in this
assistance was GK’s seven-point community development program. On February 17,
2006, devastating typhoons likewise caused deadly mudslides in the southern part of the
Province of Leyte in the Visayas. GK then launched a similar program dubbed Kalinga
Disasters caused by natural phenomena aggravated by denuded forests severely impacted
many upland and rural communities. Often times, government was caught flat-footed. It
did not have the manpower, resources, skills, or even an implementable disaster
management plan. In September 2010, I personally witness this with Typhoon Ondoy led
to wide scale flooding at the eastern part of Metro Manila affecting an estimated 3.25
million residents. The government was slow to react. Gawad Kalinga, on the other hand,
managed to mobilize 6,000 volunteers over a two-week period to distribute close to
300,000 food bags. Many donors and volunteers chose to work with Gawad Kalinga and
its partners rather than the government.
In fact, the Philippine military ended up
providing Gawad Kalinga with the much needed security escorts and military trucks to
enter flooded areas and to distribute relief goods to the increasingly desperate flooded
On February 25, 2006, GK launched the Isang Milyong Bayani- GK1MB- or "One
Million Heroes” campaign to encourage Filipinos to volunteer at least four hours a month
of their time in GK-related activities and to geometrically increase the establishment of
"transformed" communities. In October 2006, GK held their annual Expo entitled "The
PoWEr of WE" at the sprawling SM Mall of Asia, which I attended. In the parade of
participants, tens of thousands joined in. The seminar-workshops were packed. It was a
widely successful expo. President Macapagal-Arroyo graced it and once more pledged
more funds to GK. The October 26 to 28, 2007 GK Expo was held once more at the SM
Mall of Asia, with the theme "GK1World.”
Since its official incorporation as a non-stock, non-profit foundation, GK has engaged in
a numerous partnerships and initiatives.
Notable among these are its claims of
partnerships with over 300 mayors, over 400 domestic and international corporations,
over 150 schools, colleges, and universities, and tens of thousand of individuals. It has
built GK communities in Muslim Mindanao through its by launching the Highway of
Peace campaign in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, specifically the
Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Lanao del Sur provinces.
Likewise, it has reached out to the Philippine military and police by building homes for
them through the Kawal Kalinga and Pulis Kalinga programs.
The volunteer and institutional partnership drive illustrates GK’s strategy of growing the
movement in supposedly sustainable manner.
Volunteers and institutional partners
provide the warm bodies, resources, and intellectual capabilities to expand the social
movement’s activities. Jose Ma “Boy” Montelibano, another GK informant, key GK
advisor and newspaper columnist observed that GK is a culmination of the Filipino’s
search for sustainable development models. GK seeks to set up intentional communities.
As far back as twenty-five years ago, he was already thinking of a more sustainable
development path. Economic and human development needs to happen first, he said. He
looked at many models from capitalist to socialist and discarded many of them. He said
that development is like taking care of your children. How do you mold them, how do
you change them?
To him, it is not about charity or dole outs. It is charity at first, but then more. In GK,
one ends up doing something that changes how things are fundamentally done.
Community development in the 1980s was a solo and individualistic act. In GK, it is
group and team-based. Meloto, he noted, was active and spent time with the youth in
CFC. It would be a matter of time that they would begin to interact with the poor youth.
In addition, he noted, Meloto came from humble beginnings. Thus, Meloto knew the life
experiences of the poor and had a deeper appreciation of the needs of the poor from the
physical, material, emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects.
Expansion and evolution
From this one home in Bagong Silang, there are, in 2009, over 2,000 GK communities in
various stages of development all over the country. Each community established; each
home built is a story in itself. From an ambitious community development movement, it
is now scaling up into a nation building movement seeking to address poverty in
Philippine urban slums. GK claims their "transformed" communities are peace and faith
zones, environmentally healthy, empowered, and productive through initiatives on
shelter, youth development, health, food, and livelihood. GK’s success led to the GK
Executive Director/Founder and the organization winning the 2006 Ramon Magsaysay 28
awards for individual and organizational community leadership and other similar awards.
Considered the Asian Nobel Prize, http://www.rmaf.org.ph. The GK founder has won a number of other
awards as well such as Ozanam Award (Ateneo de Manila University), 2003, Manuel L. Quezon Award,
2006, f1st ever Gawad Haydee Yorac, 2006, 1st ever Jose P. Laurel Award 2006; TOFIL 2006, People of
the Year, Philippine Star 2006, Filipino of the Year, Philippine Daily Inquirer 2006, Mabuhay AwardsAmerican Field Service Awards 2007, Service Above Self Award, Rotary International District 3780
Quezon City 2007, Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary Foundation 2007
Logistical support initially came from its at least 100,000 core volunteers, mostly
members of the million member Catholic lay ministry, Couples for Christ (CFC) with
chapters in 160 countries 29. GK now has offices in 20 countries and a regional office in
Singapore, sponsored by the Singaporean government. While GK officers maintain that
it does not actively solicit donations and leaves it to potential supporters to discern how
they can help, it has received funding pledges for over one million homes and has “landbanked” nearly enough land for the planned 7,000 communities. Gawad Kalinga claims
their sites are “non-sectarian, multi-sectoral, non-partisan and non-discriminatory”. Each
volunteer is a hero (bayani) to one another, which leads to community-wide assistance
(bayanihan). Replicated over time sand space, bayanihan then stimulates nation (bayan)
building. I discuss GK’s form and structure further in the succeeding sections.
Box 2: Gawad Kalinga had many sources of inspiration and
The events relayed above are a gross simplification of how Gawad Kalinga evolved. To
understand GK, there is a need to appreciate the structure, nature, and role that Couples
for Christ played. After all, CFC-ANCOP conceptualized GK, which was engaged in
community development and building Christian communities in Bagong Silang,
Kalookan City. Verallo (2003) noted that CFC ANCOP Foundation originally fell under
the Social Ministries of CFC. CFC’s Social ministries have specific tasks. The Flame
Ministry for example is responsible for social communication, evangelization of the
media, production and sale of Christian literature and paraphernalia. It also has an
Education Foundation, which is focused on children’s education, especially those in
poorer and special needs communities. The Tekton Guild, is “an association of
workers—CFC members, Christian businessmen, professionals and workers promoting
economic networking and mutual help among its members, assists in the evangelization
work of CFC and the Church, and promotes justice and equity in the global economic
order” (CFC website). The current CFC organizational structure showing its Social
Ministries is in the Appendix section. CFC ANCOP, as discussed above, initially
Tony Meloto and Boy Montelibano of GK both told me that from AT LEAST 10-15% of CFC are
actively supporting and participating in GK communities. There is a need though, they added, to bring in
more CFC members into GK activities.
focused on the work with the poor programs and building Christian communities in
Bagong Silang of Caloocan City.
Second, one key informant told me that because of CFC’s Social Ministries, these
community development activities were implemented and experimented elsewhere. In
1985, CFC started evangelizing to the poor fishing village, west of the airport in Bacolod
City, Province of Negros Occidental. It was filthy and garbage-strewn squatter area built
on reclaimed land. At low tide, it was rocky. It had no proper community facilities and
infrastructure. Bacolod City back then was heavily militarized, because of the pressure
brought to bear by the Maoist New People’s Army. Bacolod City’s police stations had
sandbags and netting with machine guns. The sugar planters decided to stay and fight
and raised their own private armies to protect their farms. To him, it was indeed different
life experiences between the classes marked by violence or the potential for it. In this
environment, CFC sought to establish its presence in the province. The residents initially
rebuffed the CFC members. The residents, all slum dwellers, were suspicious of middle
class, religious folks suddenly appearing and offering to help them. They felt that
politicians, power brokers, and businessmen had used them for their own agendas.
Promises of help, housing, social services, employment, and so on were unfulfilled. They
sold their votes or they were threatened if they voted for someone else other than the
designated politician. Their living conditions were abysmal even by third world
In order to jumpstart the stalled initiative to establish CFC in the province, Meloto
suggested mixing the rich and the poor. He thought that life sharing vis-à-vis
presentation was an effective way of faith in action. How do you get the rich to discuss
with the poor?
The impact was tremendous. At the end of 13-week Christian Life Program (CLP), there
was a marked difference spiritually and emotionally. They would sing, pray, discuss, eat.
The feedback from the “haciendero”-landowners who were CFC members was that they
did not know their “sacadas” or farm workers were living in such dire conditions. They
were third party workers, so they thought that as migrant laborers they were earning
much better than in their home provinces. Seeing, hearing, and getting to know their
sacadas within an environment facilitated by CFC brought them to face the reality of
“Loving God meant loving your neighbor.”
My informant recounted how a CFC recruit, a farmer, and once an NPA Sparrow (the
assassination unit of the NPA) member told a rich CFC member that his role was to shoot
and kill him. He already killed several, he recounted. The farmer said that he also
realized that not all the rich are bad pala. There’s a third way of peace. He also recalled
the efforts in the town of Escalante in the Province of Negros Occidental, where Tony
Meloto and others tried to establish a mission. My informant relayed the experience of
CFC in the municipality of Escalante, Negros Occidental as instrumental in the formation
of GK. In the 1990s, CFC tried to start a mission with the poor in that municipality. The
residents there were New People’s Army (NPA) rebel returnees. The administration of
then President Fidel V. Ramos provided them with a resettlement site.
However, it did not have the infrastructure for a sustainable community. Children had to
travel ten kilometers to go to school. Many of the young girls got married early. CFC
worked in this community for five years before the residents started talking to them
seriously. For two years, they didn’t even welcome CFC. They were suspicious. They
were distrustful of rich and middle class folks offering to help them. They were
distrustful of religious evangelizers.
CFC did not give up. While they could not promise anything, they offered their Christian
Living seminars with food to attract participants. The residents did attend. It was
difficult because the poor have other priorities, mainly economic survival rather than to
focus exclusively on spiritual fulfillment. CFC members could not blame them. During
Christmas, it was a dilemma whether to focus on Jesus Christ versus the commercial
aspects of gift giving. However, after five years, they realized that CFC was serious and
CFC members including Tony Meloto who was part of this group realized that the
residents harbored anger, frustration, and desperation. An entry point for them was to
bring in medical services. A doctor was someone who could be trusted because s/he was
there to heal in the physical sense. It also allowed them to gather baseline data on health,
poverty, nutrition, or in other words, the needs of the community.
A doctor who is also a CFC member can also plug in the CFC message of love, God, and
sharing. Thus, according to Meloto and my other informant, it dawned on them that
relationship building was needed first. Friendships were formed when those with more
shared and cared for those with less in a sincere and loving manner.
GK has entered several other countries in Asia with Africa in accordance with its vision.
In fact, I spent a day with the South African CFC members in Manila as they prepared
and planned their entry activities.
GK has replicated and scaled up through the
collaboration of the CFC core of volunteers and partnerships with the national
government, over 300 mayors, over 400 corporations, over 150 schools and universities,
overseas Filipinos and their foreign friends, the tri-media, and on-line communities. It
has established a decentralized GK Builders Institute (GKBI) nestled in various
universities to tap into their organizational and technical expertise and meld the ‘science
and spirit’ of community development.
GK has ramped up its partnership with towns and town officials. In the process GK
leaders say it is “helping local officials become better stewards of their resources” as they
address poverty and homelessness. The term “better stewards” is of Christian Biblical
orientation and implies governance and the reduction of graft and corruption in the use of
public monies and resources.
Last August 8, 2008, it launched the Taguig Designer City (TDC) initiative, wherein the
City of Taguig, Philippines with the help of GK seeks to un-squat the whole of Taguig
using the GK model. It will provide city-owned land, manpower, and resources to 20,000
informal dweller families and will tap Gawad Kalinga in this endeavor. That means
housing beneficiaries will have to undergo the values transformation program of GK and
will organize themselves along the lines of a GK village community. GK, on the other
hand, will jointly develop these housing projects with the city government of Taguig.
GK will bring in its partners and volunteers in the initiative. The TDC initiative is an
experiment of public-private partnership in public housing. It is also attempting to model
best practices in community development, which will attract the support, if not wholesale
adoption, of a community development model by local officials and power holders.
While GK continues to ramp up its partnerships with the private and public sectors, it
continues to seek ways of engaging individuals, families, groups, and the larger
Philippine society. GK’s vision is to build a new Philippines and world based on love of
God, country, family, and neighbor.
Last October 11, 2008, it launched its most
ambitious program to achieve its goal of GK 777. It launched the Citizens' Act: Walang
Iwanan! Ano Ang Taya Mo Para Sa Bayan? (No One Left Behind! What is Your
Contribution to the Country?).
This will be a year long campaign to inspire the
Philippine Congress to allocate US$10billion for the next ten years for housing,
community development, productivity, and other human development programs for the
country’s five million poorest families.
As counterpart or padugo to this allocation for the poor, GK likewise launched the "Tao
Po!” (Person!) campaign to tap at least five million Filipinos nationwide and all over the
world to promote this Citizen’s Act and to volunteer in ensuring that the funds are
allocated and used wisely. The campaign will also tap colleges and universities, civic
organizations, NGOs, corporations and their employees, and local government units.
This national grassroots campaign is consistent with the view of GK that the problems of
poverty are so massive that neither government nor the private sector can address it in
GK advocates national and international mobilization of people power, resources, and
skills over the long term. In talks with some of the leaders, they say that is is a strategy of
collective action on national and transnational scales that will morally pressure, if not
encourage, the Philippine Congress and government to act. In the Citizen’s Act, they
want to fuse bayani, bayanihan, and bayan.
GK claims that the successes, experiences, and knowledge gained by GK in the past six
years enabled it to replicate and scale up. To them, there are many ways of explaining
this, but the simplest is this. A movement emerges out of a passion for something. It
grows because this passion is shared by many who are willing to sacrifice or in GK’s
case, padugo. Padugo enables initial success, builds character, provides leeway for
experimentation and recoverable failure, and importantly, generates credibility.
Credibility borne out of padugo attracts partners. Once partnerships reach a critical mass
the movement snowballs.
It is then nurtured by creativity and innovation in its
organizational and mobilization aspects. The next sections analyze these explanations
given by GK stalwarts.
Gawad Kalinga- the social movement organization
Two masteral theses have described the organizational structure of Gawad Kalinga. At
the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), Contreras’ (2003) thesis looked at the early
GK corporate strategy. At the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Verallo’s (2003)
thesis assessed GK delving on organizational development, community development, and
volunteerism perspectives. A third helpful document is the 2005 replication guide on
local government unit-GK partnerships borne out of actual partnerships. The document
is a joint effort of GK and members of the Philippines-Canada Local Government
Support Program (LGSP). I supplemented information gathered from these documents
with interviews of GK officers at the national, regional, and local levels that handle the
administrative and operational aspects of GK and other available secondary data.
The Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation Inc., which was organized and
registered with the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a nonstock, non-profit organization on July 28, 2003 implements Gawad Kalinga’s program
activities. The primary purpose is to promote and implement an integrated, holistic,
sustainable, and values-based community development program that will lead to national
Program areas include facilitating land tenure; providing shelter,
productivity, and livelihood; addressing health and educational needs; and instilling
values of community, patriotism, and love of God.
GK implements its activities by mobilizing the “time, talent, and treasures” of
individuals, groups, organizations, institutions, corporations, and the government. Hence,
its model is partnership-based. These include donation of land, construction materials,
and funds; provision of technical services for free; facilitation of the required
documentation and permits, assistance in the promotion, information, education, and
communication campaigns on GK, and volunteer work among others.
GK is a tax-exempt foundation pursuant to Section 30 of the Philippine Tax Reform Act
of 1997. It is also qualified donee institution accredited by the Philippine Council for
NGO Certification Inc. (PCNC) on September 2, 2005. The Bureau of Internal Revenue
likewise issued a certificate of registration to GK as a donee institution on July 23, 2007,
which is valid for five years. GK had 105 regular employees as of 2006 (Isla Lipana and
Co. 2008, GK website).
GK has a sister organization called ANCOP, an acronym for Answering the Cry of the
Poor 30. Originally, a foundation organized to support the establishment of an active
Catholic and CFC-oriented community with development programs (“work with the
poor”) in Bagong Silang, today ANCOP is a network of formal organizations registered
in 25 countries including the Philippines 31. ANCOP is also a non-stock, non-profit
organization that supports the work of Gawad Kalinga. For example, ANCOP USA,
which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established in November 2000, has raised
funds in the United States to fund 318 GK villages. CFC members head ANCOP.
GK has a National Board of Directors composed of 10 directors, seven of which are
members of the CFC International Council. GK, a ministry of CFC, used to be under the
authority of the CFC International Council. This organizational arrangement ensured
consistency between GK and CFC. Under the National Board is the GK Management
Committee headed by the president of GK. Melo Villaroman Jr. was the first president
who took office on February 16, 2009. The President is the chief executive officer of GK
and overall leader of the GK Management Committee and is accountable to the National
Depending on who one asked, ANCOP was an acronym for different names including: A Network of
Communities for the Poor; A Network of the Church of the Poor; Angkop Paglilinkod (“appropriate”,
“serving”), Angkop sa Pangangailangan ng Mahirap (“appropriate to the needs of the poor”).
See http://www.ancop.org for a list of ANCOP offices and websites worldwide.
Last April 30, 2009, however, CFC issued a statement that “it is letting go” of Gawad
Kalinga organizationally. GK will not anymore be a ministry of CFC. Hence, it will not
be under the supervision and governance of CFC anymore.
CFC will not have an
automatic number of slots reserved for their nominees in the National Board of Directors.
Effectively immediately, Mr. Villaroman resigned as GK President. The letter discussing
the organizational separation is in Appendix C. This organizational restructuring and
Villaroman’s resignation point to continuing internal tensions on the ideology and
direction of GK vis-à-vis
Under the President is the GK Executive Director is also a member of the National
Tony Meloto was the first GK Executive Director until his resignation on
February 21, 2007, following open disagreements with the faction of Frank Padilla. Luis
Oquiñena is the current Executive Director.
The Executive Director reports to the
President of GK and is responsible for the Chief Operating Officer duties including
efficient and effective implementation of GK program activities.
Under him is the GK National Coordinator who oversees the National Coordinating
Group (NGC) and manages the day-to-day operations of GK. Jose Mari Oquiñena, Luis’
twin brother, is the current National Coordinator, as well as GK’s Child and Youth
Development Program head and overall Coordinator for the Visayas Region.
National Coordinating Group (NGC) is composed of eight functional groups that include:
(a) Program Management and Implementation, which overseas the regional
coordinators/offices of GK;
(b) Program Development, which is responsible for the core GK programs of shelter,
education, environment, education, health, productivity/livelihood, and community
(c) Administration and Finance, which is GK’s secretariat, maintains its informational
resources, is the custodian of GK equipment, and handles financial matters;
(d) Management and Information Systems, which is responsible for the information and
communication technology needs, resources, and activities of GK;
(e) Special Events, which is responsible for key and special events such as conferences,
summits, fora, training sessions, and other information, education, and
communication (IEC) activities;
(f) Technical Support, which assists the Program Development Group in the IEC and
organizing activities related to the SIBOL, SAGIP, and SIGA programs;
(g) GKOM, which is the IEC, promotion, and social marketing arm of GK; and,
(h) Resource Generation, which is responsible generating resources for GK from internal
(CFC) sources, partnerships with national and local government units and agencies,
corporate and civic partnerships, individual donations and sponsorships, and fund
raising projects.
Verallo (2003) observed, and I agree, that at the “program” level, there are three key
actors in the group sense. The first are the national coordinators who “orchestrate” the
implementation of GK activities nationwide. The second are the ANCOP coordinators
and staff who are focused on resource generation and ensuring that ANCOP-“funded”
GK sites do well. The third actor is the social ministries that work on pastoral, care,
charity, social work, and other activities.
GK uses a highly decentralized form of management with GK Management Boards at the
provincial and community levels. These Management Boards have nine members, five of
which are members of the local CFC Area Council. The Board is composed of the GK
Head/Project Director, Finance Officer, Regional and Provincial Directors, Social
Ministry Head, Resource Generation Head, and ANCOP Coordinator.
oversees work at the provincial level.
The Board
Regional coordinators, present in all of the
country’s administrative regions, oversee provincial management boards in its area of
responsibility. At the provincial level, there is a GK Provincial and Sector Head, who is
the de facto provincial coordinator of the province. A Sector/Provincial Project Director
is appointed to oversee the operations Project Directors under his/her province. The
Sector Project Director also designs and organizes, in consultation and partnership with
participating organizations, individuals, and agencies, the GK seven point programs as
local conditions permit. For each GK community established, a GK Program Manager
handles the roll out of GK programs.
At the community level is a GK Project Team. The Project Team is composed of project
managers for Programs, TATAG (shelter and community infrastructure), SIBOL (preschool education and welfare), SAGIP (7-12 year old education, spiritual and moral
foundation), SIGA (13 – 20 year old in and out-of-school youths, spiritual and moral
foundation), community organizing/ Kapitbahayan, the caretaker team, and project
Figure 17: Gawad Kalinga Organizational Structure
Gawad Kalinga
Community Development Foundation Inc.
National Board of Directors
GK Management Committee
- President
GK Executive Director
GK National Coordinator
National Coordinating Group
(a) Program Management and Implementation, (b) Program Development (c)
Administration and Finance (d) Management and Information Systems (e)
Special Events, (f) Technical Support, (g) GKOM
GK Management Boards (per region)
•GK Head/Project Director,
•CFC Area Council
•Finance Officer
•Regional Director
•Provincial Director
•Social Ministry Head
•Resource Generation head
•ANCOP Coordinator
GK Provincial and Sector Head (per province)
Sector Project Director (per site)
GK Project Team (per community)
Project Management
TATAG, SIBOL, SAGIP, SIGA, Kapitbahayan, Caretaker
Team, Project Documentation
Gawad Kalinga’s village building process
The establishment of a GK community is a unique event. The GK site identified and
made available results from varying causes and circumstances. The GK communities in
Bagong Silang started from the work with the poor program of CFC in the mid-90s. The
PhP30 million grant from President Macapagal-Arroyo enabled it to build a thousand
homes. CFC-GK made the grant more significant with a counterpart, via padugo, of
another thousand homes. Typhoons and disasters provided an opportunity for GK to
relocate the dislocated from hazardous areas. Conflicts in Mindanao 32 challenged GK to
build a “highway of peace” in Muslim areas. These acts among many others have
inspired individuals, groups, organizations, corporations, government agencies, and local
government units to partner with GK. Thus, each of these partnerships provide myriad
ways of the establishing a GK community.
GK beneficiaries, those who will reside in the GK villages, are supposed to be the
“poorest of the poor.” They are unemployed, have no stable livelihood or source of
subsistence, are socially excluded, live in slums, and cannot meet their basic needs on
their own. The poorest of the poor do not have the capability to make choices or the
options that afford them a life of dignity and security (Sen 1981 , Lutz 1999).
For the beneficiaries, a site must be made available that is suitable. The criteria for
suitableness are different for urban and rural areas. The GK site must be large and
contiguous enough to have at the minimum ten to thirty homes along with support
facilities and horizontal infrastructure. In rural areas, the minimum area size is two
hectares. One hectare is for housing and support facilities, the second is for livelihood
and productivity activities.
The site must be outside of ecologically critical and
geologically hazardous areas. Lastly, the land should be free of legal impediments.
The Philippines has three main island groupings namely, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Administratively, the country has 17 regions, 81 provinces, 136 cities, 1,494 municipalities, and 41,995
barangays (the smallest geo-political unit).
Many donate land.
In the case of squatted land, the landowner consents to the
establishment of a GK village or is subject to any of the government socialized housing
programs. Preferably, the GK site must be accessible to public transportation, social
services, and employment centers.
With beneficiaries and a site identified and chosen, GK looks for partners and volunteers.
GK is not the sole actor-agent in this process. Since it seeks to promote nation-building
via conscientious stewardship and loving the poor as one’s own, GK looks for partners
who not only donate the land, but will help in building the homes, providing the
materials, and facilitating the building process. GK signs Memoranda of Agreement
(MOA) with each participating institution or organization. Each home costs $2,300. A
completely built up GK village will cost approximately US$76,000.
development-related programs as estimated by ANCOP in 2008 (US$) were:
Food sufficiency program
Site development including landscaping and pathwalks
Village health fund/ Gawad Kalusugan
One year village organizer(s) allowance
Communal farm (village productivity)
One year Child & Youth development program: SIBOL,
Multipurpose center (per proposal/average)
SIBOL school (per proposal/average)
GK emphasizes however that it is not promoting a fundraising mentality. GK starts a GK
village through “padugo” with the GK team investing their time, talent, and financial
resources. The depth of padugo signifies the dedication and commitment of GK teams to
the village and signals to the potential donors, partners, and even GK National that they
will prudently avail of help offered. This is especially true for funds sourced by ANCOP.
Verallo (2003) noted that Meloto quoted the Bible in rationalizing the distribution of
funding based on padugo: “For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall
have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be
taken away” (Matthew 25:29). GK beneficiaries are supposed to provide their labor or
“sweat equity” similar to what Habitat for Humanity requires of its beneficiaries. 33 This
sweat equity translates initially to 500 hours. Beneficiaries are also required to organize
themselves into a neighborhood association or “Kapitbahayan” (KB), literally “hold each
other’s home” to implement community organizing and development programs. They are
also required to undergo a thirteen-week values and pastoral formation course patterned
after CFC’s Christian Life Program (CLP).
Beneficiaries build one another’s home, not theirs. This ensures that they also build
friendships and cooperation.
GK awards housing units by lottery for those who
completed the sweat equity and community obligations. The KB head is the last person
to receive a housing unit because GK inculcates servant leadership. GK emphasizes
“Una sa serbisyo, huli sa benepisyo” or “First in service, last in benefits” (personal
communication by several GK key informants).
Habitat for Humanity International (www.habitat.org), an ecumenical, Christian housing ministry
founded in 1976, has helped build over 200,000 homes serving nearly one million people in
over 3,000 communities worldwide. They provide no-profit and no-interest mortgage loans to
beneficiaries in order for the latter to build their homes (HFHI website 2005)
Another key activity of padugo, which is a major factor in the expansion of GK, is its
stewardship component. Each GK village has a Caretaker Team, composed mostly of
volunteers from Couples for Christ residing near the GK site. A caretaker team commits
a minimum of two to three years to “take care” of the needs of the GK village they are
assigned. “Taking care” is an open-ended assignment covering community organizing,
conflict resolution, advising, pastoral care, guiding the Kapitbahayan, problem solving,
among others. This is a highly stressful commitment, which Luis Oquiñena noted has led
to “emotional burn out” in a number of caretakers (personal communication, May 2008).
Depending on the availability of resources and caretaker teams, the following programs
constitute a GK village.
Shelter and Site Development is through TATAG, meaning “to build” or “to establish”
in Filipino. GK homes are 20 square meters with a full bathroom. The structure as
currently designed is supposed to withstand typhoon winds of over 270 kph. The outside
walls are colorful. The beneficiary is responsible for internal finishing and detailing.
The TATAG program also includes common facilities that promote a healthy and
environmentally sustainable and interactive lifestyle. Hence, there are common facilities
of pathwalks, green areas, nurseries, ecological solid waste management, sewerage and
drainage, water supply, electrical hookups, a school, a livelihood center, a multi-purpose
hall, clinic, and sports facilities such as basketball courts.
An integral part of a GK village is the Child and Youth Development component.
Values transformation is not only for adults, but importantly for the youth as well. This
is not surprising, since CFC has always prioritized the holistic and moral development of
the child.
GK’s child and youth development component complements nearby
government education facilities and services by providing values- based education for
pre-school children, aged three to six years old through its program called SIBOL or “to
grow” in Filipino. This includes a feeding program, when feasible. This will enable
these children to attend public elementary school or available scholarships from GK
supporters in the future. For street children of elementary age, from seven to 13 years
old, the SAGIP program, which means “to save a life” in the Filipino, provides academic
tutorials, sports and creative workshops, computer training, values formation, and in
some villages a mentoring and “Big Brother” program. Lastly, for the SIGA program,
scholarships are provided to promising youth and there have been a quite a number of
Figure 18: The Gawad Kalinga process
Many triggers:
•Informal dwellers express interest in
seeking help with GK.
Site selection- either onsite
or offsite
economically, and socially
•Landowners who have “squatters”
approach GK fro a win-win situation.
Formal Agreements reached with
beneficiaries and various
•LGU seeks a partnership with GK to provide
housing for informal dwellers.
•An individual, family, organization,
corporation, school or any capable entity
seeks to sponsor a GK community
•GK also helps in major disaster
(environmental, economic, peace and order)
area relocation and rehabilitation.
Options for the future
•Continual improvement of
programs and activities depending
on feedback
•Expansion/ addition of more
housing units
•GK Beneficiaries are encouraged
to become benefactors, i.e. help GK
or other GK communities
•GK villagers work towards become
a center of peace, health,
knowledge, productivity,
environmentally-friendly, etc.
(either from original Village Builder
and/or from other partners):
Village Child & Youth Development …
$ 9,300/ year (or $2,325/quarter)
Village Health Fund (through Gawad
Kalusugan) ………$ 2,700
Village Productivity - Food Sufficiency
Program …………. $2,200
Village Productivity – Communal
Farm ……$4,500
Multipurpose Center .PER PROPOSAL/
average $13,400
Sibol School …PER PROPOSAL/
average $17,000
Other Infrastructures/ PER PROPOSAL
Community organizing (Kapitbahayan),
values transformation, and spiritual
nourishment activities continue
Partner search for logistical
needs and community
organizing and provision of
Home building, community
PHASE 1 (10 homes + Marker + Half
Year Village Organizer/s Allowance)
- - initial remittance
PHASE 2a (Site Dev + next 10
homes + Half Year Village
Organizer/s Allowance) –
PHASE 2b (last 10 homes)
Each phase follows completion of
activities and accomplishment
One university, De La Salle University, or example has a “Tambayani” program in six
GK sites that will “Equip them with skills, knowledge, tools, and techniques to become
an effective, flexible, and confident learner. Make them competent in the school and
workplace basics: reading, writing, speaking (in English) and presentation skills, social
and intrapersonal skills, and computer literacy. Motivate them to achieve. Build up their
self-esteem and personality. Make them more resilient to life’s challenges. Strengthen
their moral integrity, their love for God and their commitment to nation building”
(Tambayani blog 2006, DLSU 2008). The term “Tambayani” comes from two words,
“stand by” and “bayani” or hero.” This is a place heroes hang out. SIGA is “street
toughie” and is an acronym for Serving in God’s Army. Literally, it is Filipino for “to
light.” As noted above, at least 385 villages have some sort of SIBOL, SAGIP, and
SIGA programs.
Gawad Kalinga’s health program is GKalusugan.
LUSOG is the rootword of
KALUSUGAN and translates to “healthy” in Filipino. KALUSUGAN is “healthiness.”
Being healthy is a basic human requirement to living productively and in dignity. The
poor especially in the Philippines, according to then GKalusugan head Dr. Joe
Yammamoto, suffer from malnutrition, hunger, lack access to medical services and
facilities, and cannot afford medical services. Worse, slum residents, including children,
have tuberculosis, which is an indicator of poverty and is obviously a public health
The GKalusugan program seeks to change the slum environment and associated
behaviors that impact health, promote a culture of health, and practice preventive health
care. It calls for health profiling of every family in a GK community, a program of
improving the nutrition of the GK community by increasing onsite healthy food
production, educational programs on proper nutrition and hygiene, establishment of
onsite clinics, and strategically implemented medical missions. One tagline is “GK Heals,
GK Nourishes, GK Safeguards” (ANCOP website).
In addition, GKalusugan has
actively collaborated with the Department of Health (DOH), organizations, and the
private sector in implementing DOH’s seven-point program:
Fight Tuberculosis Program;
Eliminate Water-borne Diseases through Safe Water Supply;
Promote Nutrition;
Complement the Government’s Immunization Program;
Responsible Parenthood – Natural Family Planning;
Universal Health Insurance via the government mandated Philhealth and GK’s
own Gawad Kabuhayan; and,
Dental Care.
Implementing these programs necessitate that GK residents themselves become capable
partners. Thus, workshops to instill skills and perspectives on community-based health
programs are conducted. Further, during medical missions and the establishment of the
onsite health clinic, they are required to be active participants and eventually take
responsibility for operating these facilities. In sum, ANCOP (2008) lists the deliverables
Capacity Building Program for Primary Health Care;
Build a health center/clinic in Gawad Kalinga site;
Provide volunteers as a resource speaker on health topics;
Provide resources for meetings (logistics, snacks, etc.);
Provide information and communication materials on health topics;
Provide training for health workers in GK sites;
Health Service Delivery and Local Health Systems Development;
Devote one half day a month for free consultation in the community;
Provide technical expertise in improving health systems in the community;
Provide resources for TB screening and/or treatment;
Feed one malnourished child one healthy meal per day for one year;
Insure one poor family for one year with Philhealth;
Health Information Systems;
Provide computers and/or printers for the community health center; and,
Provide office supplies and presentation materials such as white boards,
projectors, etc.
GK’s productivity component is GAWAD KABUHAYAN, translated as “to give
livelihood” in Filipino. BUHAY is the rootword and means “LIFE.” GK villages are the
building blocks of community-based economic production activities. To achieve this,
GK provides site and context-specific livelihood and skills training, start up capital and
materials village enterprises, and assists in the marketing of the products emanating from
GK communities. To complement GKalusugan and to promote food security, onsite
vegetable gardening, backyard farming, urban agriculture, poultry rising, and integrated
farming are encouraged with the appropriate technical assistance provided.
Characteristic of GK activities, there are multiple benefits. The sweat equity in building
homes and the community infrastructure, establishing the KAPITBAHAYAN (KB), and
organizing the productivity projects are opportunities to learn new skills such as masonry
and carpentry, organizational management and negotiation, documentation, and
accounting, among others.
These are marketable skills.
In addition, it promotes
community cooperation, friendship, and a culture of peace. As Meloto notes; “how can
you fight your who helped him build your house?”
GK spun off Gawad Kabuhayan into a separate foundation called Bayan-Anihan, a play
on the Filipino term “bayanihan,” which is community solidarity and assistance. It
Bayan-Anihan is, literally, “town harvests.” The foundation is GK’s productivity arm,
which seeks to establish 2,500 community farms by year 2011. It is collaborating up
with the private sector and agricultural schools and experts in this regard.
Values Formation and Community Empowerment are both a means and an end for
GK stalwarts. GK housing beneficiaries organize themselves into a KAPITBAHAYAN
Neighborhood Association (KB), the community-level organization established to
develop stewardship, accountability, cooperation, unity, capability, and empowerment.
The word “kapit” means “to hold on to,” while “bahay” is home or house. Together,
“kapitbahay” means “neighbor.”
The word “kapitbahayan” means, “being a good
The KB along with GK residents jointly develop guidelines for community living with
the end goal of creating a peaceful and cooperative community of peace with shared
values. As issues, policies, and actions are decided upon by the members, new leaders
who espouse the values of the association start to emerge. Peace is achieved not by force,
but by mutual adherence to an agreed set of values. According to GK, this new culture is
the key to the community’s sustainability, and sets the community on the road to selfreliance.
On the part of benefactors, the experience of participating in community development
activities is transformational on their part.
Many say they experience a sense of
satisfaction of being able to help. Interacting with the poor helped them realize the
circumstances of poverty and the need to be better stewards of their “time, talent, and
treasures.” Wealth and privilege, they realize, requires responsible stewardship.
Mabuhay is Filipino for “Live!” or “Live life!” GK communities once fully developed
are supposed to be sustainable communities in the human development, environmental,
spiritual, and material well-being sense. Further, they are supposed to be welcoming to
visitors and partners. Thus, they show case the best of Filipino traits and culture such as
warmth, hospitality, generosity, empathy, helpfulness, industriousness and their creative
and material representations, such as performances, crafts, products, and activities.
As such, they become attractive places to visit and can become by default tourist spots
that are inspirational. GK communities redefine tourist spots by shifting the focus from
the history and material attractions of a place to the people themselves. The tourist
experience is the lived experience of people helping people and communities overcoming
despair and poverty to become sustainable communities. The Mabuhay component of
GK’s program combines all the elements of a fully functioning GK community with
creativity, the arts, culture, and the “human touch.”
Gawad Kalikasan is the environmental program of GK. “Kalikasan” is Filipino for
nature or environment. Gawad Kalinga claims to be pro-poor and pro-environment.
Since poverty at times forces the poor to exploit the environment, GK communities seek
to be more sustainable by developing ecological waste management, revegetation,
cleanliness, and conservation programs.
When possible they collaborate with
government and civil society to implement these programs. I discuss these programs in
the succeeding sections.
Plate 10: Gawad Kalinga’s Seven Point Community Development
Seven point program of sharing of time and resources, massive
mobilization of volunteers and partners, and "padugo"- "bleeding for the
cause" and modeling "patriotism in action".
Photos and logo copyright Gawad Kalinga
GK Program highlights
Gawad Kalinga has, since its official launch in 2003 and as of April 2008, reported
establishing 2,052 villages in varying stages of development and 51,412 homes
constructed or in construction in 362 towns. Further, at least 385 villages have set up
SIBOL, SAGIP, and SIGA facilities of some sort (GK internal documents 2008). Note
that these are low counts as reports from the regions were incomplete, late in submittal,
and lacked details. When I was in Manila in July 2007, GK staffers were extensively
discussing this issue of detailed monitoring and evaluation. Feedback I gathered as
recent as April 2009 still reiterates this organizational difficulty.
Partnerships, according to Meloto, have been forged with at least dozens of governors,
362 mayors, over 400 major corporations, over 150 schools and universities, foreign
governments, and tens of thousands of volunteers in the Philippines, the Filipino
diaspora, and in other countries. GK is an active partner of local government.
In 2007, I helped process document a National Township Summit co-hosted by GK with
the University of The Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University. In that two-day
summit, 100 invited mayors working with or very keen on working with GK attended or
sent representatives to the summit. They discussed, strategized, and networked with one
another, academics, the private sector, and other participants to ramp up GK activities in
their towns and cities. One promising result is the conceptual strategy of developing
designer provinces and cities based on the GK model. Both the Province of Camarines
Sur and the City of Taguig committed to pursue this strategy.
Corporations have joined the GK bandwagon.
Some of the biggest names in
telecommunications, petroleum, energy, media, broadcasting, banking, finance,
transportation, consumer products, among others, have participated in various levels.
These include sponsoring a village, subsidizing programs, donating materials, products,
or technical services, and taking responsibility for some of the GK components. Shell
Philippines Inc/Pilipinas Shell., for example, has been very proactive in four areas. First,
Shell funded four GK villages. Second, in support of GK’s typhoon disaster rehabilitation
program in Luzon, they funded at least ten demonstration integrated farming systems
farms along with the needed training programs. Third, they funded a multi-million trimedia campaign to promote Gawad Kalinga that raised the profile of both GK and Tony
Fourth, to complement further their corporate social responsibility (CSR)
programs, Shell management encourages their staff and employees to volunteer their time
and services to GK (Shell 2008).
Pilipinas Shell is not alone. SMART Telecoms along with parent company Philippine
Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and the PLDT-SMART Foundation, committed
and have been actively building seven PLDT-SMART Amazing GK villages of 100
homes each in different locations.
It has expanded to livelihood projects for these
communities and provided internet connectivity to the 18 GK regional offices via Smart's
Broadbanding GK Communities project (SMART 2008). Its rival GLOBE Telecoms, on
the other hand, is building two villages and hopes to ramp up its partnership with GK
(Esteves 2007). Seven-Eleven, Proctor and Gamble, Philips are among the multinational
corporations helping GK. MERALCO, a Philippine power company, has committed to
build as many SIBOL schools as it can.
Transnationally, GK has established GK villages in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea,
Cambodia, and East Timor. CFC members in South Africa have committed to establish a
GK program in their country and in Kenya. Today, GK-ANCOP has offices in 22
countries, has extensive transnational links, avails of mostly free quad-media coverage,
received more than $20 million in (cash) funding in 2006, excluding time, effort,
consulting/advice given freely. See table below for a summary of GK achievements as of
April 2008.
Table 17: Summary of GK achievements as of April 2008.
Community farms
Community health programs
Resources generated
1,700 plus in various stage of development
Close to 30,000
At least 300
385 villages have one or a combination of the three programs
420. 107farms produced 75 metric tons of vegetables in 2009
for 17,000 families
Established in 384 GK sites
360+ mayors, over 150 schools and universities, over 100
corporations, tens of thousands of volunteers (expatriate and
local). Partnerships with UCLA Public Health, Yale, Harvard,
among others.
Anecdotal estimates is at least PhP6Billion pesos in the first four
Numerous. Ramon Magsaysay Award 2006. The GK founder
has won a number of other awards as well such as Ozanam
Award (Ateneo de Manila University), 2003, Manuel L. Quezon
Award, 2006, f1st ever Gawad Haydee Yorac, 2006, 1st ever
Jose P. Laurel Award 2006; TOFIL 2006, People of the Year,
Philippine Star 2006, Filipino of the Year, Philippine Daily
Inquirer 2006, Mabuhay Awards-American Field Service
Awards 2007, Service Above Self Award, Rotary International
District 3780 Quezon City 2007, Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary
Foundation 2007
Charity Navigator 4-star rating
Villages set up or in organization stage in Papua New Guinea,
E. Timor, India, Cambodia, South Africa, Vietnam. Regional
hub office established in Singapore.
All villages established have some form of community organizing, values transformation,
and foundation work on health, education, and livelihood/ productivity.
In the
environmental sector, GK has implemented its own version of Integrated Area
Development (IAD) composed of “to-code” and green building housing with ecological
solid waste management (EWSM), slum rehabilitation, reverse migration (“balik
probinsiya”), new urbanism, and urban/rural forestry programs in many, not all, of its
villages. Note that each of the GK site seeks to be come a faith community, a peace
zone, a tourist spot, a productivity center, and an environmentally healthy community.
The guiding principle to achieve this is through values transformation. This may take
various forms such as healing relationships, restoring the dignity of the poor (used and
abused), especially that of men, working together, working with volunteers who have
colorful pasts, and tapping into the legacy angst of those who have achieved success in
their careers or business and wish to give back to society. All these lead to capacity
building of GK communities via partnerships, experts, solving national problems from
within, and making GK communities the convergence point of talent and resources.
The initial successes of GK were due in part to the initiative, drive, and sacrifices of
members of Couples for Christ, which is located in 160 countries and has about one
million members.
Adhering to the value of “padugo” or “bleeding for the cause,”
GK/CFC was able to jumpstart the GK model. It won the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay,
Awards in 2006 among many other awards for its community development leadership. In
effect, it is redefining how community organizing and development, government service,
and corporate social responsibility are defined and implemented.
With its global
expansion, it is becoming a significant community development model that is being
tested and refined in different context. If its claims of it being organic and adaptive, it is
culture and faith-based-model that has much potential.
The nearly 30 GK villages I visited had varying degrees of development. Many were
widely successful and progressive.
Others were coping with underfunding, lack of
manpower resources, and general apathy.
One GK village after a very good start
declined by local government units allowed other informal settlers into the area without
the requisite GK social preparation program. It was in bad shape when I visited it in June
2007. GK staffers I spoke to however, say that they will increase their efforts to regain
the community. The table below summarizes the successes and challenges of the GK
sites I visited.
Table 18: Qualitative summary of performance of GK sites visited
1. Assumption
Municipality of
Padre Garcia,
Province of
2. Bagong
Bagong Silang,
Kalookan City,
Metro Manila
Silang sites
• North Cal,
• Globe TM
• Pharmaton
• San
Bernardino ,
• Wyeth
4. Bayawan
foreshore area,
Bayawan City,
70 homes, multi-purpose building, SIBOL, built, 2
Kapitbahayan associations organized. Farming activities
started. Biodigester for hog raising constructed. Fil-Am
support active. Site for many visits of international
students and visitors.
Many villages set up. More needed. Some have
livelihood activities such as a mineral water supply.
Peace and oder considerably improved. Life stories of
many beneficiaries truly inspirational. Some of them
are now active GK workers
Many villages set up. More needed. Community
infrastructure set up such as a Café, flower nursery,
library, SIBOL, stage, community center, etc. Coastal
part to be rehabilitated by national government, after
which private sector will set up small scale businesses
for residents. Peace and order considerably improved.
This is a relocation site cum project of the City of
Negros Oriental
5. Concepcion
6. Dumaguete
• Village 1
• Village 2
Dumaguete City,
Negros Oriental
7. GK
Quezon City
GK Taguig
Fuji – Xerox
9. GK Tarlac
• Burog
• Qatar-Oman
• Singles
• Sta.RosaMAP
10. Hiyas ng
City of Taguig,
Metro Manila
11. Paradise
Smokey Mountain
relocation site,
Tondo, Manila
Bayawan using the GK model. GK is an active partner
in this endeavor. This village is known for its
wastewater recycling facility using reeds.
Located on the banks of the historically and
economically important Pasig River, this is a flagship
GK village of the prominent business family, the
Concepcions. I spent a morning here. This GK Village
had one of the most dramatic, on-site, physical and
social makeovers.
Historically significant as these was the sites of the first
GK challenge build in 2001. Pres. GMArroyo was so
impressed that she committed her administration to
provide PhP30Million to GK. The homes here were
built with light materials and are due for rehabilitation
and/or upgrading.
This is composed of a number of villages. One of the
flagship GK villages by virtue of the tremendous
amount of resources that was directed to this village. It
has a school up to the secondary level. I spent a day
here. It survived floodings from typhoons. Beneficiary
residents, in turn, were able to help others.
GK Taguig is actually composed of several GK villages.
I visited all of them several times. GK Taguig is the
first Designer City of GK. Taguig is working on
“unsquatting” itself using the GK model.
GK Tarlac is composed of several GK villages. I visited
four nearby GK villages in one afternoon. These
villages were occupied by an indigenous cultural
community (ICC), the Aetas.
City of Manila
This is an onsite, slum upgrading program. High-rise
tenement buildings characterize this site. Considered a
challenging site because of community organizing
difficulties. It has a multi-storey community center
with well-equipped classrooms and medical-dental
clinic. I spent a day here.
GK took over the management of this series of high-rise
tenement housing buildings. Homebuilding is not a
major activity here. Rather, it is community
development and organizing as well as building
maintenance and improvement. I spent one afternoon
12. Payatas
• Pusong Ama
• Ateneo Trece
Payatas, Quezon
13. Reunion Vill
Mun. of San Jose,
Province of
14. Rio Tuba
Municipality of Rio
Tuba, Province of
15. Rotary Pasig
Pasig City, Metro
16. Selecta
Province of Rizal
17. Sitio Pajo
• Colgate
• All 85
Quezon City
18. Towerville
• Aguinaldo,
• Capitol,
• Paraiso ,
• Texas ,
GK Payatas is composed of several villages. I visited
Payatas Trece/Blue Eagle briefly and Pusong Ama
where I spent an afternoon and walked through the
whole area.
Occupying at least four hectares, this village has
extensive areas devoted to organic farming, a hotel and
“villas” for guests. Innovative is this site is a retirement
village for Fil-Ams and other balikbayans (Filipinos
who migrated abroad and who have returned to the
Philippines). I visited this village a number of times.
I did a site assessment when there were no GK activities
yet. Today, there are four existing villages for the
indigenous cultural community, the Palaw’an. I spent
close to two weeks in Rio Tuba. The main funder are
two mining and mineral processing firms. They intend
to fund the construction of 1,000 GK homes in ten years
of the IPs in Bataraza. In April 2010. Rio Tuba was the
site of the successful 2010 GK Build Challenge where
volunteers from all over the world congregate and do a
mass build for one week.
I spent an afternoon here as I accompanied a GK team
doing their rounds. That day there were Singaporean
students volunteering.
Sponsored by and named after the ice-cream
brand/company, Selecta GK Village is widely known
for its organic farm. The land was lent by the nearby
Roman Catholic Parish. This is a “pick-and-pay”
organic farm and shows the potential and success of
community-based urban farms as a strategy for
community sustainability.
This is a slum area for which the Quezon City local
government has awarded tenancy to the residents subject
to mortgage payments. GK is helping with the site
improvement and upgrading. Colgate-Palmolive
employees and friends funded the first set of homes.
Another group of funders called GK All 85 is expected
to fund another 15-20 homes.
This is one of the biggest relocations sites of the
national government-National Housing Authority.
Considered problematic because of a lack of resources,
much of the horizontal infrastructure needed for this
public housing cum relocation site was not constructed.
Thus, it quickly deteriorated into “slum” conditions
physically and socially. GK is helping with the site
improvement and upgrading. Dylan Wilk the British
Aldaba, etc.
19. Telus-Pook
Pook Masagana,
Quezon City
20. GK offices
Various, Metro
I’ve visited
millionaire who works fulltime for GK funded the
famous BMW-England Village here. This area is
composed of numerous contiguous and separate GK
villages. Because of the number of homes and
beneficiaries here, GK needs more resources and
manpower for these villages. I spent a day visiting most
of the sites here.
This is a slum area for which the Quezon City local
government has awarded tenancy to the residents subject
to mortgage payments. GK is helping with the site
improvement and upgrading. I spent an afternoon here
I made visits to all these offices to conduct interviews.
GK office
GK Central
GK –Ateneo
Most non-profits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and social movements are
either single or two-issue organizations/movements. This is understandable because most
have neither the resources nor the manpower and skills to address a variety of issues
GK’s tack is different.
It seeks to address comprehensively the
fundamental issues of poverty, inequality, and social exclusion (PIE) by focusing on
healing relationships among actors at different levels.
By addressing PIE GK seeks to address simultaneously other societal problems like
environmental degradation and the worsening public health burden. GK claims that its
development model is holistic and comprehensive. They are the only social movement
that seeks to do two things. One, they implement what development proponents and
academics have long recommended: a community-based, ground- up, comprehensive
development program for the poorest of the poor. Two, they are mobilizing significant
numbers of partners and resources not by an appeal for donations, but through building
relationships, sharing of time and resources, massive mobilization of partners, "padugo"
or "bleeding for the cause", modeling sacrifice, and inspiring proactive action. As
Meloto says, “go for the heart and the wallet will follow.” By getting opposites talking
and re-establishing relationships, GK is able to mobilize the warm bodies and resources
to address the development needs in a comprehensive manner-- one household and then
one community at a time.
GK is working for the model’s success in over 2,000 communities in varying stages of
development. GK’s model is reconceptualizing social movement from its conflict and
tension characteristics to one that creatively explores partnerships. By engaging all
including those that do not share their principles, GK claims that transformations in both
the powerful and powerless become possible. This possibility hinges on creating an
environment conducive for the rich and poor, powerful and powerless to interact in a
non-threatening and trusting manner. Healing relationships is conducive to peace, order,
and development. The next section discusses the literature that guided my analysis of
Gawad Kalinga.
The GK story vis-à-vis social movement theorizing
The discussion below summarizes and comments on the GK story and its relevance to the
study of social movements
Origin. GK emerged because of two general phenomena. The first as discussed in
the previous chapter is that conditions made it favorable for a social movement such
as GK to emerge. An important perspective is that Philippine civil society history
shows that the country has experimented with all sorts of collective action and
mobilization. A movement such as GK is one among many types. Second, at the
social movement organization level, GK evolved over the years. It started out from a
parent social movement, which is faith-based. It had a different set of objectives at
the start. Its organizers had different life stories and motivations for helping the poor
but agreed that they wanted to interact with the poor, first on a spiritual level and then
by necessity, addressing social justice and poverty issues. GK is not an overnight
At its formal founding it had already from 10-15 years of
experimentation and learnings from its work with the poor activities.
Evolution. GK leaders say the movement is evolving because of the following: (a)
They learn as they do.
With new insights, come new perspectives.
By being
engaged, issues, challenges, and, opportunities arise, which enjoins them to pause,
reflect, consider, revise, or continue; (b) They practice adaptive management because
of the fluidity of the situations. When typhoons caused disasters, GK made itself and
its volunteers available, creating greater awareness of the social movement, garnering
support, providing actual learning opportunities for its workers and volunteers, and
pushing its model. When the President gave them money, they used the opportunity
to generate more support.
When the academe became interested, it sought an
arrangement that would leverage their intellectual, social, and logistical resources; (c)
Scaling up is a vision and strategy. The entry point is the family through the healing
of relationships and addressing household livelihood needs. GK then works with
neighboring families to build a more cohesive community.
With functioning
communities, they bring the model to local officials and national agencies. The
private sector is an active partner. The end goal is nation building via the GK Way or
model of community building. At the same time, there are initiatives to export the
model to other countries.
Organizing and mobilizing.
Piven and Cloward (1978) recommended equal
prioritization of both organizing and mobilizing. One without the other results in a
social movement organization without mass base support, a movement without
direction, or a movement using resources and opportunities inefficiently.
organizes and mobilizes by: (a) active engagement with any willing individual and
institution; (b) emphasizing partnerships at the individual levels scaling up to the
national and then transnational levels; (c) turning beneficiaries, however, defined,
into benefactors over time through “bayani, bayanihan, and bayan.”
Framing and communications. Garnering support for a movement, per framing
theory, entails aligning the issues with the views, emotions, and aspirations of
potential supporters. Maintaining this support and expanding it entail consistent
communication of the message, issues, and concerns; and elaborating on events and
challenges related to the movement as they occur.
GK focuses on building
relationships at the personal, group, and institutional levels. These relationships are
nurtured by friendship, public recognition, consolidating activities (mass build, relief
efforts, the annual expo, etc.), and encouraging supporters to “take ownership” of GK
villages and activities. This means taking charge or being responsible for a village or
program activity.
Communications are via information and
technologies, face-to-face formal and social meetings and gatherings, a professionally
staffed media office, and leveraging of personal and professional social networks.
Making sharing and caring easy to do. GK makes it easy for those wanting to help
by the following: (a) introducing a win-win or synergistic arrangement with
contending parties on disputed land, i.e. landowner or government and informal
dwellers via the GK village scheme; (b) promoting the GK village as a convergence
zone for various types of activities that an individual or group can focus on, i.e.
homebuilding to livelihood to medical missions; (c) promoting philanthropy of
whatever scale as a feasible; (d) encouraging the public and volunteers to visit and
spend time in a GK village. To GK establishing friendships is one important
volunteer activity; (d) donations are tax-deductible; (e) work in GK counts as national
service hours or educational credits (for students); and, (f) encouraging applied
research on GK.
I elaborate on these points in the next chapter, which deconstructs the Gawad Kalinga
Proposition 2:
Deconstructing the Gawad Kalinga model
Social movements involved in social change, poverty alleviation,
social justice, and community development may overcome resistance
from opposing and rival elite power holders and the State itself by
engaging these parties through culture and identity work that
demonstrates: (a) it is to the best interest of all parties to work
together to minimize social conflict and competition for scarce
resources, and, (b) addressing issues of contention and wide-scale
social transformation will necessitate alliances across political,
economic, social, and sectoral interests divides.
In this chapter, I explain the emergence of GK using perspectives from the various social
movement theories. In the process, I attempted to differentiate GK from current thinking
on social movements by exploring GK’s engagement and cooperative framework not
only with allies, but also with those considered responsible for the wealth, opportunity,
and hope gaps in the Philippines. The chapter elaborates on the cultural realm of new
social movement theorizing by exploring the positive consequences of community
organizing in the pursuit of service delivery, problem solving, capacity building, and
empowerment. The chapter starts with a discussion of the rationale and the attractiveness
of GK to a variety of supporters. What is its value added to the civil society and social
movement innovation? I follow this up with a discussion on the need, importance, and
potential of addressing poverty and social inequality and its possible transformational
effects on the political economy.
The third aspect discusses GK’s stakeholders.
GK comprises individuals, families,
groups, organizations, institutions, other non-profits, and even the State. I present how
GK brings them together in the cooperative venture of nation building. Lastly, I discuss
how GK frames its message of hope and transformation for nation building and the
communication strategy it uses. At the end of the chapter, I hope to have demonstrated
how social movements engaged in service delivery of basic household livelihood needs,
when scaled up, can be used as a nation building strategy. This is possible if, looking at
Proposition #2, a cooperative and engagement model is utilized.
Figure 19 : Conceptual Framework for Gawad Kalinga
Conceptualizing the Gawad Kalinga social movement
Political Opportunity
Structure (POS)
Many social and environmental
Poverty, angst, violence, etc
e.g. many partners,
funding opportunities,
padugo, etc.
Social Movement
Framing Processes
e.g. high levels of
coordination, etc.
SM Scholars: D. McAdam, S. Tarrow, M. Edelman, A. Touraine, B. Klandemans. M. Castells, G. Davis, M. Zald,J. McCarthy, etc.
In seeking to address the country’s problems, GK organizers have sought to articulate a
vision of what the Philippines, or specifically what Philippine society, should be.
Society, for purposes of this discussion, uses the definition of the sociologist Amitai
Etzioni (2004:5) as “composed of families, communities, national bonds of affection,
identity, and shared values”, which enable human members thereof to discuss and
formulate what the “legitimate” societal good is.
The operative word here is
composition. Human beings live, survive, and flourish as individuals in a social context.
This social context starts with the family, whom Marx emphasized is the source of human
reproduction (Tucker 1978). For the family to flourish, family members have rights,
obligations, and responsibilities to one another. Families are nestled within communities
because the political-economic structure of society necessitates a division of labor and
Social interaction, oiled by reciprocity, mutuality, cooperation, and
collaboration, can accomplish tasks (Etzioni 2004).
Communities, according to Etzioni (2004) have two characteristics.
First, they are
composed of multidimensional relationships among individuals that are “affect-laden”
(roughly emotions). Second, the individuals are committed to a set of “shared values,
norms, meanings,” history, identity, or essentially a shared culture (Etzioni 2004:20). A
community of communities could be a country/state.
For Etzioni and other
communitarians (those that believe that communities are best able to promote social
change), individuals who are true to their “particular” obligations to members of their
community and to “universal” obligations, which are obligations to other communities as
part of a larger community, enable a society to achieve the “common good” (Etzioni
2004, Ackerman 2007).
The common good is the “public interest”- goods, things, activities, actions, and choices
that benefit and serve us all. They are also what we value and cherish that will also
benefit future generations and whose benefits may come in the future. They are what
society considers right and moral in itself (Etzioni 2000, Velasquez et.al. 1992). In a
post-modern world, the common good may be subject to negotiation because of historical
events and the plurality of views on what constitutes the common good in multicultural
societies (Cobb 2003).
For GK, national development is an evolving and experiential process that taps into
shared values of family and community solidarity. By healing the hurts and distrust
caused by poverty, social inequality, and exclusion, GK attempts to create a context
wherein different sectors of society can explore ways of helping and sharing with one
GK emerged from a faith-based movement, which focused on healing
relationships within family members. A focus on the family, what Marxists consider the
basic social and economic unit in society, makes it possible for GK to scale up to the
community level and onwards. Stronger relationships within the community enable a
community to pursue initiatives on health, education, environment, productivity, among
other things.
As stated earlier, Gawad Kalinga started Couples for Christ as one pillar of their Seven
Pillars. To understand GK, I needed to understand the nature of CFC. CFC is a Roman
Catholic charismatic movement borne out of its separation from Ligaya ng Panginoon
(Happiness of the Lord, an older Filipino Roman Catholic charismatic prayer community)
in the early 1980s.
The objective was to strengthen the Filipino family not only
spiritually but also in terms of relationships. To do this, the father had to be enticed to
join the weekly prayer meetings. How did they finally recruit the macho Filipino father?
They tapped into his social nature.
CFC prayer meetings are dinner parties for a
"household" composed of several couples. Look at it as the bourgeoisie version of Karl
Marx's communist cell. CFC's mission is Catholic evangelization. Its first members
were the educated and middle class. It would only be a matter of time before CFC would
target the other but lower socio-economic classes.
What is significant here vis-à-vis GK? Membership in CFC comes after a 12-session,
three module integrated course entitled Christian Life Program (CLP). Each session lasts
about 2.5 hours. The CLP seeks to inculcate in participants “a renewed understanding of
God's call to them as Christian couples” (Eligino 2008).34
CFC focuses on the family because anthropologically, the family is the primary economic
and social unit.
Marriage and the establishment of the family enable one to enter,
maintain, and expand not only one's status relations, but one's economic network as well.
That is why the family is important to nation building and economic development. If one
neglects the family, then serious social problems can occur that require significant
amount of investment in social services, counseling, litigation, crime management,
etc. (Center for Social Justice 2007, Rodell 2002, Cruz et.al 2001, Fagan 1995).
In 2009, my wife and I attended the CLP upon invitation of friends who were active in both CFC and
GK. For me, attending the CLP was not only a spiritual quest as a Catholic, but it extended my attempt
to understand further GK and CFC. I was open and disclosed this other agenda to my CFC hosts and
sponsors. From a researcher’s standpoint, I was quite interested in the communicative and team-building
dynamics of CFC. I suspected that CFC activities revolved around weekly communal spiritual practices,
socialization, communication, and coordination levels were high. GK could easily leverage this for
social action, to support collective identity formation, to access resources.
Two, CFC-GK sees the husband or man as the serious problem. CFC-GK officers
repeated to me that many poor families living in slum areas have lost their capacity to
hope. The men have lost their dignity because they have lost their capacity to provide for
their families. Thus, to regain their manhood, they become aggressive, overly macho,
and engage in deviant behavior. They become predators and their preys are women and
the weak, starting with their wives and children (Lee 2004). This observation resonates
with researchers of poverty and its impact on men such as Oscar Lewis (1959), Kathrine
Newman (1989), Philippe Bourgois (1996), Barbara Ehrenreich (2001), Timothy Nonn
(2001), William Liu (2001), and Eva Fodor (2006), among many others.
In the
Philippine setting, men are experiencing the same difficulties (Astrologo 2009, Schady
2001, Marsella et.al 1979, Jocano 1975, Lacquian 1970).
It is a pity according to Tony Meloto, because once, most of these men did provide for
their families. The participation of fathers in bringing up children is critical to the child’s
development (Harper 2010). Rural poverty, deteriorating peace and order conditions, and
environmental shocks have forced these men and their families to migrate from their
farms or fishing villages to the provincial city then on to Metro Manila or other big cities.
As the following tables show, there are gaps between both genders vis-à-vis the human
development index.
Table 19: GDI and HDI: Philippines, 2000 and 2003 (NCSB 2009)
Gender Development Index (GDI)
Human Development Index (HDI)
Table 20: Gender Development Index by Component: Philippines,
2000 and 2003 (NCSB 2009)
Gender Development Index
Gender Health Index (GHI)
Gender Education Index (GEI)
Gender Income Index (GII)
Table 21: Gender Equality Ratio, Philippines: 2000 and 2003 (NCSB
Early on, GK and Meloto realized that poverty alleviation programs focused on the
women and children who are the victims. However, the causes of the poverty or the
problems were the men. When he worked with gang members, he observed that men
born into poverty are most often deprived of their dignity, because they are deprived of
their productivity, identity, and nobility. They have little education so they have few
opportunities. They have no work and income to provide for their family. They become
desperate, ashamed, and angry. They eventually become predatory, because they live at
the level of survival.
Joey Velasco’s (2006) stories of twelve children, who were the subject of his Hapag ng
Pagasa painting and book, were nearly all victims of domestic violence and deprivation.
Mothers, on the other hand, constantly strive to keep their family together. They focus on
family survival. To Meloto, society has to focus on the cause of the problems not the
victims. Society needed need to change the home and the environment. As Meloto
(2009:43) wrote:
It’s the men who need help. The initial focus of our study was the effect
of poverty on the men and their disruptive behavior. The challenge was
how to break the cycle of gangs in order to usher peace into trouble
communities. If men were the main problem, they should not be
overlooked as part of the solution; otherwise, women and children will
remain victims. While much remained to be done for the suffering, we
should not forget, or be afraid to engage the perpetuators of abuse.
For Meloto, GK focuses on the causes of problem, not on victims. That means working
to transform men, fathers, and boys from predatory beings to become heroes to their
families, communities, and the nation.
violence dominate.
In slum communities, drugs, drinking, and
These activities are not productive and counteracted whatever
community development activities initiated. It became necessary to change the home and
community environment. To GK, development in the developing world has to begin with
healing and rehabilitation. The poor are wounded beings and their transformation needs
to happen one-step at a time, through sports, theater, physical activities, and job
When in a city they do all they can to survive. Most of them are underemployed, have
occasional laborer work, or turn to crime. A number of them are Manila's security guard,
tricycle or taxi driver, police officer, bus driver, conductor, or robber/kidnapper. One GK
officer noted that these jobs' common criteria were a sense of authority and/or
potential for violence. They are what the sociologist Manuel Castells (1984) calls the
cheap reproduction of labor in the city. Nevertheless, they are a resource (labor, skills,
labor power, incubator of entrepreneurs) and potential market (if wages or earnings rise).
Other Filipinos cannot escape them. They will continue to multiply- national population
growth rate of 2.3% and at least 30% below the poverty line. To Gawad Kalinga, there is
no choice but to make them partners in development.
The Meloto story
For Antonio “Tony” Meloto, the public face, first Executive Director, and currently
“Gawad Kalinga Champion,” December 1995 was the beginning of his “journey” in
being one with the poor. Back then, he continually reflected on why his country, the
Philippines, was poor, why corruption was rampant in the government, why many are
squatters, and why many poor are prone to criminal activities. He had many questions
including a multifaceted question: why is the country corrupt? Meloto noticed however
that with his life as with others, once Filipinos are abroad, they become successful. Thus,
his questioning reflected, (a) a search for meaning, and, (b) how to contribute to creating
a sustainable legacy for future generations of Filipinos.
Meloto at that time was relatively comfortable.
Right out college, a multinational
corporation, Proctor and Gamble, hired him as a purchasing manager. It was a dream of
many college graduates then to work for a multinational corporation. Born dirt poor in
Bacolod, Negros Occidental, the sugar bowl of the Philippines, Meloto spent a high
school year in Richmond, California as an American Field Service scholar. He graduated
from a public school. His American experience and coming from a poor family “blew his
mind” and he set on a path of self-discovery, and self-actualization, he says. He went to
the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University for college. He became both career and
money-driven as to him that was the first phase of his life. However, there was only one
basic reality—that of a poor country, that was getting poorer every year. He was in his
late forties when he started asking these questions. He is now in his late 50s.
Poor Filipinos, he observed, were “nurtured, fed, schooled, and trained” by a poor
country like the Philippines. For poor Filipinos who become productive, they opt to
migrate to developed countries such as the United States for lack of opportunities and to
develop their excellence. The developed world benefits from the talents of Filipinos.
The Philippines does not get to use their talents. After many years though of hard work
and success abroad, many feel an angst, a search for meaning, for their country, their
people, and their home.
When he joined CFC, he eventually worked with the poorest of the poor in Metro Manila,
in Bagong Silang. It is the biggest relocation site for squatters in Metro Manila and
hosted half a million people. There was no college, no trade school, and no hospital, with
many living shanties. He worked there for five years and realized that it is the biggest
university for criminals in the country. He worked with gang members. Though faced
with challenges, he realized it was not that difficult to change them.
The transformational process, experimented with in Bagong Silang and involving youth
gang members, started with engaging them in sports, theater, physical activities, and job
generation. The physical activities were essential to get males active, busy, and working
together. Although neighbors in a slum area, these males needed to interact with one
another to get to know each other more, develop cohesion, and raise trust levels. These
activities were consolidating activities.
The emerging strategy was to work on one community, experiment and use it as a
laboratory, build a template, and bring in partners interested. However, the progress
made in community or youth activities falters because these youth still go home to a
shanty, which still defines their identity and influences their outlook and eventually, their
actions. A neighborhood that is a slum breeds slum behavior, Meloto and others noted.
Meloto and his team worked with about 100 families, 127 gang members, including the
15 top gang leaders. They provided the gang leaders with job trainings and subsidized
their stay in dormitories, away from their corrosive surroundings. Others, they enrolled
in schools to get them off the streets. That way they were busy. It also allowed Meloto
to work on them. It was a process of change and transformation. However, it was
bloody. In 1998, two gang members who were no longer carrying weapons were stabled
to death when cornered by rival gangs seeking to retaliate. To date, Meloto has buried
six gang members who have reformed their ways but could not defend themselves
For Meloto and others, it was a long and difficult process of trying to learn to work with
the poor. He realized that they “needed to have a presence in the lives of these people.”
GK tried to provide a vital presence in their lives. Meloto recalled that when they
worked with 100 families, they focused on building homes. In the process, the men use
their energies to build homes and stay away from unproductive activities.
construction is a form of rehabilitation. Participating men sweat, feel good because they
are creating something (homes), work together, and achieve something tangible. They
are also honing or learning new skills such as carpentry, teamwork, and work discipline.
Home building is only the beginning, because it draws the men and allows them to be a
“hero” to their families. Physical activities draw men from unproductive activities. The
first family Meloto met was in 1995. The parents were unemployed. They had five
children. Two were gang members. The mother was a laundrywoman; the father was out
of work. All were out of school. GK got the children into sports and theater to get them
away from their gangs and eventually into school. GK built their house in 1999. In
1995, their original house was only 18 sqm. By 2005, they expanded the house to 64
square meters and two stories. They had computers, a television, and other conveniences.
Two of the children finished college. Two went to computer school. The mother is now
head of the community’s microfinance association. Notably, criminal activities have
significantly lessened in the GK community.
GK brought people in to help and brought people out to be helped.
universities assist by accepting and educating these youth. Couples for Christ were
instrumental and is critical to the success of Gawad Kalinga. Many different sectors in
society were searching for answers and seeking an away to express their faith, Meloto
said. The Philippines, being a religious country, had too much religion and little faith in
action, according to Meloto and others in GK. Thus, it was a search for concrete “faith in
action.” CFC members I interviewed noticed that it was easier to work with people
searching for answers and an expression of their faith. Religion is a cause of division but
there are Christians looking for faith in action.
According to Meloto, Gawad Kalinga is a vehicle and a template for replicating
community and national development. By 1999, GK embarked on building its first home
in Bagong Silang and then targeted 100 homes. Afterwards, it launched a competition to
build communities in twelve other areas in the twelve major regions of the country. The
years since the first home built have been a continuing learning process. He posits that
the blueprint for building sustainable communities is getting better and bigger. There are
now more supporters, more partners, and more volunteers coming in with their expertise.
GK grows through the cooperation of different sectors, rich, and poor, Muslims and
GK works with universities, corporations, media, bring in expertise,
transparency, and accountability. To Tony Meloto, they try to get as many people
involved providing their time, talents, and treasures. They have a very flexible template
that is participatory and transparent and is driven by nobility and heroism, not money.
GK provides a convergence point for different sectors, resources, and talent.
Meloto sees Gawad Kalinga as an amazing vehicle for unity.
To Meloto, it is a
multisectoral effort. Importantly, the beneficiaries of GK villages eventually become
benefactors and pass on the kindness they receive. This is one reason why GK is not
funding dependent. It uses principally the skills and labor of the poor. That is their
counterpart. CFC-GK facilitates the channeling of resources and skills for the poor. In
addition, GK works with local government units. They provide the land, labor, and
heavy equipment for the horizontal infrastructure and facilitate the permitting process,
which often times, as Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto (2000) emphasizes, retards
entrepreneurial initiative. It is a sustainable effort against corruption because doing good
will outlives any politician.
Universities, on the other hand, provide skills and
documentation that are necessary and required.
To Meloto, GK is an antidote to corruption because it is transparent. It is an opportunity
for government to do good by collaborating up with GK. One cannot develop the country
without engaging all sectors, including the government. There are many in government
who are good and who want to do well. They just need a vehicle and opportunity to be
Mayors who work with GK, according to Meloto, live up to the high standards GK
upholds because they cannot afford to be corrupt in front of the media, the GK
beneficiaries, and the partners. In addition, politicians do not handle the money that GK
receives from supporters. In some joint projects, government “counterparts” every dollar
or peso that GK puts in. The poor also provide counterpart sweat equity.
To scale up, GK is campaigning for Filipinos all over the world to unite. Filipinos and
non-Filipinos are adopting their own villages. GK is campaigning to attract FilipinoAmericans (Fil-Ams) who have self-actualized in their lives, their careers, and their
families. Now they are looking for something. They have been there; done that; bought
what they can buy, so what next, since they practically have everything? To Meloto,
there is angst for their homeland, which they have left but have not stopped caring for.
Through self-reliance, Filipinos can rebuild the country. Filipinos did not leave the
country because they stopped loving the Philippines. They left in search of opportunities.
Volunteers help in terms of the resources, work, and skills. Many want to come home
and make a difference. GK expects Fil-Ams to fund 100,000 homes. As shown by the
GK model, if something works, then people want to be part of it. There are at least two
million Filipinos here with a combined consumption of $50 billion. Filipino-Americans
(Fil-Ams) are generous with many in the United States helping GK. Chicago now has at
least 12 villages. In Mindanao, there is Bull Mountain has at least 50 homes with school,
after the Chicago Bulls. Fil-Ams and their friends and families in the United States and
Canada have funded over 320 GK villages.
Another important partner is the private sector. All GK needs is 7,000 corporations or
7,000 individuals to adopt a village.
The corporate sector increasingly has funded
villages named after their companies. Proctor and Gamble has a GK village in Tondo.
Philips Inc. has one as well vested by its Chair. Nestle has a “Good Life GK Village.”
McDonalds has also funded their own village and has adopted GK as an important
component of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. The same is true for
some of the biggest telecommunications, banking, mining, power generation companies,
among others.
Meloto speaks of land for the landless. He says that there is so much land in the
Philippines that owners can share. For landowners with ten hectares, GK asks them to
give three hectares. One hectare goes to housing for 100 families; the two hectare goes to
food production and livelihood. The value of the remaining seven hectares then goes up.
This is grassroots development. GK activities tend to pump in money. It is a win-win
situation for everyone.
GK also is at the forefront of disaster response. In 2004, four destructive typhoons
affected at least 40,000 homes and 250, 000 residents, left landless and homeless. The
response to disaster is relief, but for GK it is an entry point to something more
sustainable. To Meloto, reconstruction efforts require an organization with a template for
rehabilitation and reconstruction, as well as a big army of volunteers. In the disaster
areas, GK would work with the mayor, the residents, and anyone willing to help. The
critically important role that GK played in relief efforts after Typhoon Ondoy (2009) is
dissected in a box below.
GK villages are sustainable by design. In rural areas, a GK village would consist of at
least one hectare for homes and another hectare for food production and livelihood
activities. GK’s goals are “Land for the Landless, Homes for Homeless, Food for the
Hungry”. This is so basic and elemental, according to Meloto, that it is similar to a
kibbutz found in Israel. The question of village sustainability is through food productionfirst. The next is to trust the poor and in their natural capabilities to create and innovate.
After comes a school for education and skills enhancement.
Microfinance is a second phase activity for income augmentation. The principal focus is
the men. Meloto says that the country needs to restore the productivity, nobility, and the
aspirations of men. While microfinance works for women, it cannot be the principal tool
for development if men do not have opportunities to better themselves.
(2009:36) further observed:
It was not surprising to me that most poverty intervention efforts focused
on women and children, who were the victims rather than on men ho were
often the perpetrators. Livelihood initiatives for the poor like microenterprises and microfinance, are mostly women because, given proper
mentoring, they have a greater interest and more discipline and
accountability. Poverty is also perpetuated when society gives up on half
of its human capital- the men. This is the other expression of gender bias
that has often been overlooked. I also observed that Western programs for
poverty reduction focused mostly on livelihood when the basic problem
was behavioral. Economic measures often did not work without healing
the wounded and working with them to change community values and
Meloto’s other views are discussed in the other aspects of Gawad Kalinga in the
succeeding sections. In August 2009, Meloto published a personal memoir of Gawad
Kalinga entitled Builder of Dreams. The book is significant in that it contains his
personal experience and that of others in the emergence and growth of Gawad Kalinga. It
also discusses the principles that govern the movement.
The economist E.F. Schumacher (1973) wrote that the only way for developing countries
to progress and to educate, discipline, organize, and communicate (EDOC) a national
vision and grounds-up development program. To GK, and I agree, making the poor
partners in development translates into resources working in tandem with the market
(resource + market).
social engineering.
It is what Tony Meloto and Boy Montelibano call
Unfortunately, the government has neither the inclination nor
resources to focus on EDOC. Politics, a focus on graft and corruption to the exclusion of
EDOC and entrepreneurship, and over reliance on overseas Filipino worker (OFW)
remittances are the preoccupation of government and many in civil society. These are
not productive activities. There are those who look at GK as charity. That would be
simplistic in light of the above. It is social entrepreneurship, EDOC, and the spiritual
rehabilitation of the family.
Further, GK is organic, meaning it continues to evolve. Because its perspective is that
the problem of “poverty is so massive that neither government nor the private sector can
address it solely, it must trigger a response that is heroic” (Tony Meloto 2006). It must
mobilize massive numbers of people and resources to address poverty, which in the
process lays the foundation for nation building.
In Filipino, that means bayani,
bayanihan, bayan. That is why the goal is 700,000 homes, in 7,000 communities, in
seven years (GK777).
GK777 has now morphed into a 21-year or one-generation
movement to address poverty in the Philippines. GK's seven-point program of home
building (gets the men working, sweating, out of trouble, and supports the
housing industry), community organizing, values transformation, education, health,
livelihood/productivity, and mabuhay program is a holistic economic and EDOC
It is a movement because it is recruiting volunteers and partners and encouraging them to
"take ownership" of the help, they provide to GK. It is tapping to the angst of the
"legacy-retiree,” the yearning of the FilAm youth to do well and seek their identity, for
Filipinos to help, for corporations and their CSR activities, and nations to address poverty
on a global scale, among others. As more individuals, organizations, and resources
converge in GK villages, it creates a critical mass to (a) replicate, (b) improve and evolve,
(c) scale up, (d) force government to do what is right. The communication and outreach
strategies are inherent in the activities listed above.
Replicate, improve, and evolve: There are over 2000 communities in various stages of
development. There are GK sites in Indonesia, Cambodia, and Papua New Guinea.
Preparatory work is being done in E. Timor, Kenya, and South Africa. Successful
replication builds credibility and moral authority/power, while advancing the model. In
2009, GK and the Singaporean government established the GK Hope Initiative Limited
(GH Hi) in Singapore as GK’s Asian regional hub. Incorporated with the Singapore
Economic Development Board as an International Charity Organization last February 27,
2009, GK Hi’s mission is to globalize GK’s strategy through the institutionalization of
the GK development template; adapting it to site specific conditions; forging partnerships
with beneficiary communities and supporters; capacity building of GK teams, and
organizing regular international conferences on GK developments.
GK Hi is targeting 200 GK villages in eight countries outside of the Philippines by 2014.
GKHi aims to have as many as outside of the Philippines. The Tripura Foundation, a
partner organization, will work with GK Hi to establish a GK village in Goa, India in
2010 (Singapore Economic Development Board 2009). The 2010 GK Global Summit
will be held in Singapore in June.
Scale up: In 2008, it established the GK Builders Institute, wherein partner universities
in the Philippines and abroad focus on a particular aspect of GK operations, which can be
“manualized.” Thus, participating universities worldwide will assist in areas where they
have expertise. It also has the GK1MB program, which seeks to recruit one million
volunteers globally to volunteer at least four hours a month. GK is focusing on both
mobilization and organization. It is working with local officials and land donors on land
banking of future GK sites, none of it purchased by GK. GK will become a transnational
social movement.
Working with the State: In 2008, GK launched two significant programs discussed
above that are forcing the hand of government, which is typical of any social movement.
The first is the launch of its Designer City initiative, wherein a participating city would
totally accept the GK development model in addressing their slum problem. One city has
committed to provide GK with at least 200 hectares of non-contiguous land, provide
resources, and importantly require housing beneficiaries to undergo GK’s values
transformation program. The country’s top architects are helping provide innovative
housing and community designs, which will blur the distinction between the elite and
ghetto parts of the city. If successful, then other cities and towns with significant squatter
problems will probably adopt the Designer City model.
GK is attempting to turn the "free-rider" model on its head. Last October 11, 2008, GK
launched the “Walang Iwanan, Ano ang Taya Mo para sa Bayan” movement to recruit
five million people to help five million of the poorest in the Philippines in anyway they
can. Importantly, this five million "capable" and five million poor will now call on
government to do its part and provide PhP50 billion (approximately US$1 billion) a year
for the next 10 years on development and poverty alleviation programs. This is moral
pressure based on numbers and modeling success that will make it difficult for
government to ignore. If successful, how shall we call this a "revolution?"
The government is about to deputize GK as a recipient/ partner of the requirement of real
estate developers to allot 5% of their development projects to socialize housing. GK has
absorbed a few of the government's NHA relocation projects. Some parts of Bagong
Silang, Smokey Mountain, Towerville, the Bacolod sites, Hanjin-Subic, and recently the
railway relocation site in Trece Martirez, among others, have been taken over or are
partly managed by GK.
Government is enthusiastic because it reduces graft and
corruption, speeds up implementation, and there is more “bang for the buck” especially in
the social engineering component.
Despite it successes in the macro sense, GK communities are in varying states of
development. Caretaker teams, volunteers who commit to take care of the community for
a minimum two years (practically community organizers), are emotionally and physically
exhausted. The needs of the GK beneficiaries are also numerous as they are complex and
deep-seated. Thus, more heroes-bayani and resources are needed. The goal of GK is
now “maka-Diyos, maka-bayan, maka-DELIVER!” (Pro-God, pro-country, deliver on
our promises!).
Another goal though is to surface new trends or characteristics in social movements. GK
officers are confident that doing good on a massive scale, a focus on values
transformation of all actors of the development arena, converging resources and talent at
the community level, and “healing of relationships” are drivers of social movement
This is not to say that GK is trouble free. The conflict between Tony Meloto's faction
and that of CFC founder Frank Padilla was a crisis. Padilla accused Meloto/GK of
veering away from the evangelization mission, consorting with other religions, and
working with pharmaceutical firms that market contraceptives. There are most likely
personal reasons involved. In any case, Padilla resigned and took with him 5-10% of
Many were disheartened.
The majority realized though that GK was the
concretization of the Beatitudes. Thus, CFC is more supportive of GK, albeit the recent
and formal separation of the CFC and GK last May 2009. I discuss this in further detail
in the succeeding sections.
Bayani, Bayanihan, Bayan- the attraction to Gawad Kalinga
Employing the political process theory (PPT) and political opportunity structure (POS)
framework to explain the emergence of a social movement enabled me to understand the
potential and value of GK. The political opportunity structure framework was first
articulated in its recent, modern sense by sociologist Charles Tilly (1978) and followed
by others such as McAdam (1982), Tarrow (1983), Kriesi (1989), Kitschelt (1986),
Koopmans (1992), and Duyendak (1992), among many others. The POS framework
posits that the political, economic, social, cultural, and even environmental conditions, at
times, lead to a conflictual situation. This situation becomes fluid because of changes
within the institutional structure, informal power relations, and a given national political
Aggrieved individuals and groups sense this flux in these conditions and
mobilize to challenge those in power, the existing status quo, or dominant cultural codes.
As such, social movements not only include but also extend beyond economic and
political demands. It is a “collective determination to acquire a fundamental resource,
such as knowledge, recognition, a model of morality, and most especially the will to
become a Subject” that is seeks to reconcile contradictions with societal structures and
relations (Touraine 2001:437). Thus, mobilization in social movements requires both
personal and collective actions if these are to succeed.
The dimensions of the PPT/POS framework include the latitude afforded by an
institutionalized political system to mobilization; how power holders or elites are aligned,
which may influence mobilization; who and how elites support mobilization (allies); and
how the State will react, repress, accept, or even encourage this mobilization (McAdam
et.al 1996). In other words, what are the capacities of power holders, elites, social
movement actors, and the State to either mobilize or react to an emerging social
Collective action in social movements typically would cover social demands at the
organizational level, a political demand or crisis at the institutional, societal, or decisionmaking levels, and/or a contestation of shared cultural meanings or discourse or beliefs
and practices in a situation where institutions have become discredited or dysfunctional.
Touraine calls it a “deinstitutionalized society in which common beliefs no longer unify
and where the Self is fractured” (2001:437).
Because change is the underlying discourse, the language is political. Participating actors
seek to understand their situation, become conscious of the contradictions, calculate their
chances of demanding changes or concessions from power holders, and justify their
demands. The power relationships or configurations and cultural codes or practices are
questioned. Fundamental questions are raised on the function of society or how society
reproduces itself; how cultural values are relevant and how to make them continuously
relevant, and how the Subject or the actor plays are role in these contexts (Touraine 2001,
Misztal 2001, Minkoff 2001, Shupe and Misztal 1998, Tarrow 1996, Della Porta 1996).
The PPT/POS framework is relevant to GK because the poor are ubiquitous in the
Philippines. Coupled with rapid urbanization in the country’s major commercial centers,
squatters in urban areas are becoming a significant urban population.
Urban poor
movements, which I discussed earlier, have indeed mobilized politically. However, I am
exploring the potential of self-help and mutual aid as strategies to engender social justice.
Squatters with their heavy burden of social inequality and exclusion need all the help they
can get to help them build capacities and restore their dignity. No one organization,
public or private, is in a position to address the needs of the poor. It will have to be
massive mobilization of people and resources. The elite class cannot hold on to their
wealth and power in a sea of desperation.
The personality-based practice and the
excessive use of the 4Gs (guns, goon, gold, and girls) hampers the use of politics as a tool
for change. The on-going search for working model that will spur development is a
concern and interest of many Filipinos and organizations. GK is one such model that has
garnered not only interest, but tremendous support.
The previous chapters discussed the historical, political-economic, social, and
environmental conditions that the poor and vulnerable with in the Philippines, especially
in urban areas (Racelis 2003, Marcatullo 2001, Chougill 2001, Lee 1995, Gilbert 1994,
Poppelwel 1994, von Einsiedel
The following sub-sections discuss the
motivations for collective action within the GK movement and the context of this
collective action.
The orientations of civil society and external agencies in their
strategies for poverty reduction can be categorized into four groups. The first is a market
orientation by increasing the incomes or assets of the poor to pay for housing,
infrastructure, and services. The second is the welfare provision of providing housing,
infrastructure, and services without full-cost (loan) recovery. The third is claim making
on the state, wherein demands are made on the state for housing, infrastructure, and
services. The poor are usually assisted by civil society organizations to reduce their
voicelessness and powerlessness.
The last is self-determined solution or self-help,
autonomous actions that may make use of community, civil society, and state support in
non-traditional ways. This combines direct and participatory action, the development of
relationships, and seeks to address aspects most, if not all, aspects of urban poverty
(Castells 1983, Mitlin and Satterthwaite 2004)
In reality, some scholars posit that collective action events range from protests activities
to civic events and a hybrid of both activities. All three have a repertoire of specific
Contrary to Putnam’s (2000) suggestion that individual participation in
associations has declined, Sampson et.al.’s (2005) analysis of thousands of Chicago
events show that the locus of civic engagement has changed to encompassing advocacy,
professional associations and their lobbying and framing activities, direct action
including, but not only protest activity, and problem solving. In effect, the change has
been in the organizational locus more than a decline in civic participation.
Figure 20: Theoretical classification and examples of three types of
non-routine collective action events p. 686. (Sampson et.al 2005)
When one looks around or reads the news, there are many individuals, groups,
organizations, institutions, and movements in communities around the world striving to
solve problems, often at the local level. While critical of government’s (in) actions, they
work with them in addressing crime, poverty and social exclusion, public health issues,
urban blight, environmental problems, and other challenges the community may face.
Volunteers implement most of these activities.
Volunteering is the cluster of behaviors covering the “giving of time” and helping “freely
for the benefit” of another person, group, or cause in a proactive rather than reactive or
spontaneous manner (Wilson 2000:215).
It is conscious, planned, and entails
commitment of time and effort. Nearly a third of the population in the United States
(61.8 million people or 26.4 percent of the population) volunteered through or for an
organization with a medium volunteer hours of 52 hours. The figures were relatively
unchanged from the last year’s survey (BLS 2008).
Figure 21 : Collective event trends across decades, by type: Chicago
metropolitan area, 1970–2000 (N p 4,667) p. 689 (Sampson et.al.
The theories for volunteering vary.
Certain motives, values, and beliefs predispose
individuals to volunteer. In others, there is a culture of helping and volunteering that is
transmitted down the generations. Further, human capital of educational attainment,
work, free time, volunteer jobs, and level of income make it possible for individuals to
volunteer. Social resources of networks, dense personal ties, family relations, parents,
among others and a need and motivation to make the environment of their children,
families, and friends better encourages volunteering. Demographic factors then are
important in volunteering. Exchange theory posits that the profit motive at least in the
social sense or the stigma of not volunteering is possible motivation for volunteering.
These contextual factors help volunteering. The consequences of volunteering include
the development of citizenship, physical and mental health, problem solving of antisocial behavior, and socio-economic development (Wilson 2000).
In Europe, volunteering is variable yet significant. Volunteers help through organizations
or individually and can be either programmatic or episodic, i.e. as the need or event arises
(Hustinx 2008). In England, in particular around 18.8 million people volunteered in
2001, which increased to 20.3 million in 2003. Areas of involvement covered sports &
exercise (43%), hobbies, recreation, arts, social clubs (40%), children’s education (37%),
and religion (37%) based on the Home Office Citizenship Survey 2003 (Institute for
Volunteering Research website- http://www.ivr.org.uk/).
Volunteering and social
movements can produce significant social change.
In the Philippines, volunteering has a long and distinguished history35. From a social
movement perspective, civic participation in organizations may transform established
Volunteering was institutionalized as a committee in December 1964 as the Philippine National
Volunteer Committee (PNVC) when it adopted volunteering as a socio-economic development tool as
outlined in the. International Middle Level Manpower Conference in Puerto Rico in 1962. Since it
joined the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) in 1972, the country has been one of the most active
institutions, as these institutions become sites of “emergent contention” (Sampson et.al.
2005: 678). While social and cultural processes may influence the opportunities and sites
of contention, what they noticed is that collective action is highly concentrated
geographically. The appropriate organizations and institutions may not only be a site of
contention, but the vehicle for civic participation, i.e. church, Rotary, political party, etc.
This is so because of the dense personal ties in these “local” organizations. Thus,
resources, voice, and influence are concentrated locally and sometimes with great effect.
The implication of this is the civic reorganization is possible at the local level expanding
upward in scale. Helping and volunteering are values and activities of GK. Without
volunteers and supporters providing their “time, talent, and treasures” establishing and
expanding GK quickly might not be possible.
As noted, an individual or citizen’s worldview, especially that of the present, is
influenced by the current political situation, the impact of globalization, the interaction of
different cultures and societies, and their perception of government and ruling elite vis-àvis their relevance and legitimacy.
Civil society, notably NGOs, help shape this
worldview by engaging in various activities from human rights and social justice to
environmental issues, poverty alleviation, and commentaries on modernization and urban
member-states in various voluntary activities. It 1973 the government reorganized the committee into an
office and into an agency on 12 December 1980 through Executive Order No. 635. Now known as
the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA), it is under the
administrative supervision of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Last April
10, 2007 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act 9418: “Volunteer Act of 2007” which
institutionalizes volunteerism as a strategy for national development. The Implementing Rules and
Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 9418 were signed recently on February 5, 2009 (PNVSCA
alienation. Importantly, they address issues and problems neglected by both the State and
the private sector or market. This includes provision of services or problem solving to
vulnerable in society. Thus, civil society is engaged in various spheres of activities and
functions (Fisher 1997).
The number, scope, magnitude, rate, coverage, and diversity of activities and spheres of
activities of civil society can be characterized as an associational and quiet revolution
with significant impact. Civil society significantly impacts society-state interactions,
international relations, and social movements. The anthropologist William F. Fisher
characterizes NGOs as “idealized as organizations through which people help others for
reasons other than profit or politics” (1997:442). They have complex and innovative
formal and informal linkages not only with one another, but also with a wide and diverse
range of public and private organizations.
The linkages often times extend
transnationally. Their networks are both local and global. Thus, their actions are both
local and global (Mercer 2002).
Many look at NGOs as an alternative to top-down, interventionist development efforts
that have not significantly helped the poor, especially in developing countries. This is
because NGOs are supposed to be apolitical, promote local participation, deliver social,
and welfare services, and help integrate individual and groups to the market. Thus,
NGOs and civil society are seen as one vehicle to making development more democratic,
transparent, and accountable. Implied in this perspective is that NGOs and civil society
adhere to a set of values that is needed and desired. They are less bureaucratic, more
efficient in transferring services and skills, promote participation and democracy, and are
flexible, adaptive, innovative, and more sensitive to their host communities. They are
more attuned to community issues and sentiments.
Their presence reflects on the
capacity of government or the state to deliver on services to its constituents, while
overcoming barriers to development.
Fisher (1997:441) notes that NGOs may play an important role in mediating unequal
relations. He writes that NGOs “can also potentially influence morally and politically
and may seek to transform relationships, especially those that are unequal. They are seen
as important to the transformation of state and society by advocating for alternative
discourses, a reevaluation of existing relationships and practices.” His review of the
NGOs reveals a varied terrain. They vary in terms of formal and informal associations,
organizational function and objective, sophistication of operation, areas of interaction,
cooperation, conflict, and struggle. Their relationships with various actors and groups in
their sector of operations are fluid because of differing agenda, interests, issues, contexts,
circumstances, histories, events, and so.
Nevertheless NGOs are integral to social
movements because they are the “institutional vehicles” (1997:451) that initial, lead, and
sustain social movement activities. SMs, in the Philippines, for example are composed of
NGO coalitions.
Because NGOs operate in a social context, they are interacting with the State. They have
varying levels of relationships with national and local governments that change over
time, over issues, and over events. Governments which has access to the coercive power
of the State can seek to control, influence, or even undermine NGOs, which they may
times sense are challenging State power or that of elite allies. What is significant is the
value of change that NGOs auger. It is as Fisher (1997:452) the “transformational impact
of NGOs on political structures and processes.”
Others though contest this view of NGOs. Former World Bank anthropologist Michael
Cernea supports the aforementioned view noting that development and development
programs may be flawed but are a reality, which can lead to something positive. The role
of NGOs is to mediate the harsher effects of the developmental process. Others such as
Escobar (1995) critique development from a discourse perspective. Those in power
conceptualize, implement, and dictate development parameters.
participatory and inherently flawed.
This makes it non-
Critics add that NGOs working as technical
development proponents have been co-opted by development proponents, which promote
the neoliberal principle of a smaller government.
What are the implications then of proactive programs and volunteering vis-à-vis Gawad
Kalinga and national development?
The country’s history has been politically and
economically brutal. After spurts of good economic performances, dirty politics, graft
and corruption, and roadblocks to economic reform have undermined the modest
economic gains of the economy. Indeed, in the Philippines, the economy and politics
intertwine. Many in the country love discussing politics. A look at the newspapers,
writings of columnists, TV talk shows, and even discussions at family gatherings
ultimately focus on politics.
The alleged shenanigans of the Macapagal-Arroyo
administration and the Arroyo men make for good fodder. Why is this so? In discussing
what ails the country and the search for solutions, do the people agree on the root causes
and the course of action needed?
From listening to these discussions and reading what columnists and “experts” write, the
problems identified are generally: a corrupt government and legislature, peace and order
issues, poor infrastructure, rampant poverty, and overpopulation, among others.
Recommended solutions range from a hard-line, authoritarian leader, to a parliamentary
form of government, to a communist revolution. Why is it that the identified problems
are mainly economic in nature, but the solutions prescribed political? One could easily
answer that this is the reality of political economy; but what if Filipinos try something
else, something based on reality. Why should the national savior be a politician? Two
EDSA People Power revolutions, numerous coup d’états, national worker strikes, a
communist insurgency, Muslim secessionist movement, church activism, among others
have not done much to improve governance by our politicians and bureaucrats.
Politicians and bureaucrats are clearly a problem and a significant part of the solution, but
reforming them is not the only solution unless citizens willing to dispose of them all.
Many Filipinos have done the next best thing. They have voted with their feet. They
have not given up on their country, only their politicians and bureaucrats. The Leftists’
calls for various boycotts look puny by the actions of the overseas Filipino workers
(OFWs). They have gone abroad to become the best that they could be in their fields,
specialization, and careers. For many the costs are high, but their individual actions
collectively state their priorities.
These at least eight million plus OFWs prioritize
personal and professional achievement, family economic security, and a better future for
them and their families 36. For the country, the OFWs have been an economic lifesaver.
They deserve more than just as a new national commodity.
For those who have remained behind, the successful are those who have done it through
legal and honorable means or through criminal and rent-seeking activities. Looking only
at the former, these small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, big businessmen, and
professionals diligently conduct their affairs and seek to minimize their interaction with
I know of successful businessmen who refuse to bid on government
contracts and avoid contact with government.
See http://globalnation.inquirer.net/viewpoints/viewpoints/view/20100207-251763/The-price-ofworking-abroad. Former Philippine Labor Attaché to United Arab Emirates and now newspaper
columnist Roy V. Seneres writes of the hardship that OFWs undergo. These include broken marriages
and families, children left parentless, rape, physical abuse, non-payment of salaries, discrimination, and
so on.
The successful Chinoy 37 business community deals with government on an arms-length
basis and through third party mediators. Their focus is on growing their businesses, not
socializing with the political powers. The Ayala family, who have adopted the motto
“Profit with Honor” have tapped the best and brightest their money can hire to help them
professionalize and expand their businesses. Business leaders and families like PLDT’s
Manny Pangilinan, the Aboitizes, Lorenzos, and so on,
have not only studied the
Philippine business cycle well, but have developed a deep understanding of what
products and services the country needs. These they provide to the immense profit of
their respective companies.
What is common in these individuals and organizations? The focus is excellence, be it
personal or business. It includes an ethics of diligence, skills upgrading, individual and
corporate achievement, providing for the family and the future, personal integrity and
responsibility, continuing education, highly competitive spirit, team effort, corporate
responsibility, innovation, studied risk taking, growth and diversification, among others.
What about government? They see government as a hindrance, a burden, something to
overcome. For the OFWs, government is nearly irrelevant; if not for the permits and
certifications, they need from it. For the companies, they must ensure that they comply
with all laws and regulations. Do they seek to influence government or resist some
corrupt politician or bureaucrats’ attempts to extract money from them? Sure, they do,
Chinoy is the colloquial and shorted term for Chinese-Filipinos. Chinoy businessmen now control the
Philippine economy. On the other hand, the colloquial term for Filipinos is “Pinoy.”
but they do it at arms length. No way will they invite these corrupt politicians and
bureaucrats to dinner in their homes.
Have you noticed how geographically far away the resilient farmers and fishermen are
from bureaucrats? Democracy is not only exercised at the polling booth. Politicians,
their lackeys, armchair intellectuals, and the media have drummed it into the citizenry
that votes, which are easily bought, are the best and only manifestation of a vibrant
Another way though of exercising democracy and good governance is
through each individual’s wallet.
Others argue that each needs to take back control of our individual destinies (Lacson
2007). They recommend not waiting for the government to reform itself and get the
economy to grow. Politicians and bureaucrats are enriching themselves through rentseeking activities because citizens allow them.
They use politics to corner scarce
resources. Individual wealth and community self-help can insulate citizens from the
pervasive influence of corrupt officials.
GK is promoting community economic
empowerment, while at the same time insisting on good governance. With a bigger
middle class, they can pressure government officials to do what is right.
Approximately 9.2 million Americans and 96,000 Hong Kong residents have assets of at
least US$1 million exclusive of primary residence, prior to the economic crisis of 20082010 (Spectrem Group 2009, Scent and Bruce 2009). The Asia-Pacific region has at least
2.3 million millionaires mainly concentrated in China, India, Hong Kong, Australia, and
Singapore (Bloomberg and AFP 2009). Economic growth and market capitalization are
the main drivers. In these countries, even with an inept leader, the economy and market
continue to operate.
Some posit that the more sustainable reform movements are those that are broad based,
cognizant of merit, wealth generating, self-help focused, and enlightened self-interest but
with a sense of community, compassionate, and integrity-driven. These movements try
their best NOT to depend on politicians. Once successful they leverage this success to
help others and seek reforms. That is why initiatives such as Gawad Kalinga, the OFW
initiatives, the community-based environmental programs, voluntary professional
associations like Rotary, European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, and
MABINI.; organizations such as the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism,
Greenpeace, RockEd, WWF, and businesses like Jollibee, Globe, San Miguel, PLDT,
Ayala, Red Ribbon, and the Chinoy business community are efficient, effective, and
successful. These are real people doing real things.
Political reform to effect economic growth is only one way. A violent political reform or
fundamental societal changes are the options with unintended or positive consequences.
Another way is through individual wealth generation that enables citizens and civil
society to pressure government officials to do what is right (Calipotura 2003, ADB xx).
How have the poor, vulnerable, and excluded become agents of their own interests?
Aside from the political mobilization and economic migration, their struggle to survive in
harsh urban conditions is evidence. The proliferation of slums and squatter areas show
their pursuit of better economic opportunities, whether real or imagined. The literature
on self-help and mutual aid provides this perspective. I discussed this in the section of
beneficiaries becoming benefactors. One example of how a social movement addresses
issues of inequality, environmental degradation, and poverty is GK’s mobilization in
relief efforts following the flooding in Metro Manila in 2009. I analyze this in the box
Box 3: Proactive Disaster management by Gawad Kalinga
Philippine military, a critical partner in relief operations
Two typhoons in two weeks have made searching, recovering, and burying the bodies of
over 600 people killed, missing, and presumed dead as well as providing relief goods,
evacuation sites, and services to half of Luzon Island in the Philippines unenviable tasks.
Typhoon Ondoy’s rainfall and the flooding it caused were the worst according to
PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services
Administration). Floods of up to 20 feet damaged public and private property, as well as
crops and incurred lost revenue. All these cost an estimated PhP15 billion.
The government placed Metro Manila and 25 other provinces under a state of calamity.
Typhoon Parma/Pepang followed after interacting with Typhoon Melchor and slammed
into northern Luzon last week causing extensive landslides, mudslides, flooding, and
bridge destruction in many provinces. Hundreds died and extensive areas became
A week after Typhoon Ondoy, Napindan, Tauguig was still flooded
Eighteen years ago in 1991, an estimated 5,000 people died because of mudslides,
landslides, and flashfloods. In the past fifteen years, more than 4,000 been killed, over
7,000, and at least three million people rendered homeless by typhoons. Damage to
private and public property and crops have soared to at least PhP70 Billion.
Of the 11 worst typhoons to hit the Philippines since 1946, seven of them have occurred
in the last 25 years during the period 1984-2009. Disaster rearchers consider the 2009
Pacific Typhoon season one of the worst in decades.
The government says it was nature that caused it- too much rain, consecutive typhoons.
The newsreels and photos show otherwise. In past calamities, legally and illegally cut
logs rampaged down bare mountain slopes demolishing homes, farmland, roads, and even
bridges. Today, mushrooming housing subdivisions have encroached into ecologically
critical wetlands or watershed areas.
The years after Marcos was overthrown was a politically tense with right-wing military
rebels staging failed coup d’états. On the environmental front, debates on environmental
conservation, protection, and rehabilitation (E-CPR) were likewise intense, specifically
whether the Philippines should adopt a total or selective logging ban.
Academics, forestry specialists, environmental activists, politicians, and government
officials all mobilized to support one or the other side of the argument. Nearly two dozen
years later the debate still rages on.
Various logging ban bills, including those filed as long as 20 years ago, have languished
in Congressional committees by design and neglect. In the meantime, the human,
environmental, and property toll rises as 20-25 typhoons visit the Philippines yearly [5] to
exacerbate an already degraded and fragile environment.
Shanty in a wetland
My framework over time for explaining all these was the historical and socio-economicpolitical structure of Philippine society. Development and social justice were difficult to
achieve because of the asymmetrical power distribution within socio-economic and
political classes nationwide. The argument remains valid, but after so many years, the
argument has acquired a taken-for-granted and reductionist perspective. Logging
companies have moved out. There is a partial log ban in some areas. Rebels,
secessionists, and lost commands have entered into unholy alliances with illegal loggers.
Migration has increased not only to urban areas but into the uplands as well. With a
nationwide 2.3% annual population growth rate, population movement into hazardous
areas complicates the search for sustainable environmental and development strategies.
In these days of hazards, man-made or natural, understanding risks in its various
dimensions vis-à-vis a societal context can provide a nuanced understanding of what is
happening. Societal problems have decidedly political origins, but there are also system
issues in organizational and institutional settings. While politics plays a significant part
in these settings, recognizing and then understanding how parts of a system or institution
are coupled and interact with one another in ways that are both expected and unexpected,
as the sociologist Charles Perrow emphasized, is a very important perspective.
Because the concept of risk is pervasive in daily life and public discourse, leaders need to
understand why the present western, industrialized societies, including those in
developing countries, are risk societies. The common perception of risk is potential
threat or harm.
Its etymology is from either the Arabic word risq (good fortune or wealth acquisition) or
the Latin word risco, the term used by sailors entering unchartered, dangerous waters.
Risk pervades everyday life. Awareness of and heightened interest on the concept and
nature of risk are evident in various discourses in many disciplines as well as in the
public and private sectors.
Accounting for a risk society is necessary because the industrialized world of the 20th
century, especially its latter half, has been characterized as a century of significant and
rapid socio-economic change, flux, and uncertainty. Perrow notes that a risk society is a
preoccupation of individuals, groups, and organizations in the private and public sectors
with the various risks posed by daily life within a highly coupled and interactive capitalist
system. Sociologists and anthropologists have observed that transformations of political,
economic, social, and even cultural institutions have had profound impacts on individual,
familial, and societal concerns, i.e. changing employment patterns, gender roles, shake up
of family relations and social identities, redefinition of class boundaries, rise of states,
immigration, environmental issues, and so on.
The effects of globalization have yet to be fully understood as the world entered the 21st
century. Nine years into the new century, geopolitics and security issues have taken
center stage along with environmental degradation. Issues of economic and socialpolitical flux, multiculturalism, explosion of information and communication flows,
environmental hazards, and security/ military concerns recognize no geopolitical, class or
socio-cultural boundaries and are not easily resolved. What is significant and is
especially true in the Philippines is that institutions established to provide safety nets to
citizens, i.e. public policy, economic regulation, industrial relations, insurance and social
security, industry, food and drug oversight agencies, media, etc., have been found
wanting and maladaptive to rapidly changing conditions. As the past two weeks has
shown, the government and politicians’ response have been wanting if not absent. Even
its media attempts of showing government relief efforts are inept and politically
Media, communication and information technologies have made feasible public access to
information and resources on economic, political environmental, public health, and etc.
issues; which have heightened, public interest, concern, and knowledge of contentious
and risk issues. With floods reaching second floor ceiling levels and cars sinking into
floods, it seems that Filipinos are left to their own devices and the heroism of fellow
Filipinos. In this instance, it is media that has been the source of disaster information and
by extension, relief efforts management. As Luis Teodoro wrote, “in these corrupt times,
credibility is everything.”
Coupled with the individuation of information and communication flows is the increasing
intrusion of the market logic in organizational fields that were once not directly
influenced by it.
This is seen in efforts to privatize as much as possible government services such as
military logistics handling, national capacity building, and possibly even social security
services. In the United States, for example, radical tax reform is also being pushed to
support this privatization effort, the creation of an “ownership society,” and
commodification of all possible transactional relations. Non-profit organizations engaged
in various social movements are expected to be even more sophisticated as they
incorporate a market logic to their operations.
On the other hand, the pervasiveness of the market logic has a counterpoint to it. The
development of a moral economy social movement is burgeoning in response to
globalization, workplace anomie, homogenizing pressures, abuses by industry and big
business, environmental degradation, etc. Different sectors of society are engaging in
what the sociologist Ulrich Beck (1992) labels the “third way” of direct politics.
Although the concept of risk has a long historical development, the risk society
perspective is generally attributed to German sociologist Ulrich Beck’s landmark book
Risk and Society. Beck’s theses are: (a) The nature of risk has mutated over time, from
one that was natural hazards-focused, to that of man-made or manufactured risks, some
having catastrophic potential, (b) Industrialized nations have entered a risk society in
which institutions previously established to address risks fail to do so causing systemic
crises of confidence and accountability; and, (c) A risk society amplifies these
uncertainties, with risk-regulating institutions being rendered ineffectual by public
cynicism. Individuals are left to fend for themselves, determining what is risky, how
risky, and how to address these risks. Thus, the phenomenon is individualized and called
risk modernization. In effect, risk becomes even more socially constructed, both on
individual and societal levels.
Many criticize Beck for not providing empirical data, his preoccupation with
environmental risks (the “bads”) to the exclusion of other types of risk, his call to go
beyond Marxist historical materialism and class conflicts, universalizing of risk, negation
of “positive” risks, and absence of cross-cultural comparisons, among others.
Nevertheless, his thesis has engendered public risk consciousness and concern with manmade risks, discussion on the individualization of risk, heightened scrutiny of riskregulating institutions, and mobilized political action.
A risk society is one that has or is becoming conscious of: (a) the need to determine the
extent of interdependence, coupling, and interactiveness of these further evolving
economic, political, social, and cultural systems, (b) the power, legitimacy, and urgency
attributes of these systems, and, (c) whether or not and how relevant stakeholders will
mobilize to address specific risks.
Managers who appreciate the sociocultural dimensions of risk as discussed above are in a
position to better identify, comprehend, and attend to the issues of power, legitimacy,
urgency, and mobilization in relation to stakeholders and within the context of a changing
social, cultural, political, economic and legal landscape.
Understanding risk in its many dimensions inevitably leads to an assessment of power
relationships on individual and systemic levels according to Perrow. Modern
manufactured risks are both visible and non-visible, especially for the physics, chemistry,
and biological-genetic fields, and are primarily based on industrial overproduction.
Economic activities concerned with maximizing profit and resource use tend to take more
production and operations risks. Significantly, these man-made risks are temporally
distributed across society, where in some cases, parties that do not have a direct influence
on the proponent-firm carry the largest risk, i.e. border communities being asked to
recycle industrial wastes or in the Philippine case, residential villages in hazardous areas.
Stakeholders are not static entities doomed to fear, inaction, and extreme skepticism of
risk-regulating institutions. Researchers, in contrast to Beck and Giddens, have noted that
risk management has agency. By agency, individuals and groups seek information and
knowledge about the current situation and risks. They then act on these risks based on
information gathered from family, friends, colleagues, media, the Web, and a multitude
other sources. People and communities display resilience in the face of risks, hazards,
and “normal accidents”, accidents which are inevitable because of the operation’s tight
coupling, high interactiveness, and little room for flexibility. Beck normatively calls for
“subpolitics” or direct, individual action from below to address both global and local (the
“glocal”) issues, by-passing discredited representative and responsible institutions, to
eventually shape society. The struggle against genetically modified (GM) food, the mad
cow (BSE) disease crisis, nuclear and biological weapons, the problems of the nuclear
industry, the war of terrorism, the efforts on global warming and others show agency on
the part of various stakeholders on “glocal” issues, which originate from business and
What does this mean for the Philippines?
The typhoons and the responses of the individuals and institutions were revealing.
Government and politicians, including presidentiables, were exposed as to their
incompetence, ineptness, unpreparedness, and callous politicking in what the PCIJ wrote
as the politics of relief. In contrast, civil society has stepped up and sought to fill in the
gap of government. The exception is the Philippine military. Gawad Kalinga for
example, distributed over 200,000 food packs in 10 days of relief work. Over 6,000
volunteers helped them. GK’s Gawad Kalusugan or health program team also conducted
medical missions. Three important aspects surface from GK’s relief effort. First, GK
had on the ground information from its 400 villages in Metro Manila. Volunteers
transmitted timely and critical information through text messages, phone calls, and even
social networking sites such as Facebook. This enabled GK to organize and tailor-fit
relief efforts.
Second, GK beneficiaries in these villages, because of their social transformation,
community empowerment and solidarity, and relative safety of their homes, were able to
be the first on-the-ground rescue and relief volunteers. GK’s Tony Meloto writes of
numerous and first stories of heroism by GK beneficiaries, now heroes.
Third, GK was able to mass mobilize individual and institutional volunteers effectively.
Six thousand registered volunteers and scores of unregistered ones, dozens of
corporations, and donors from abroad enabled GK to collect and repack the over 200,000
food packs. Andok’s Sandy Javier alone donated 90,000 chicken eggs. He expressed
amazement at the organizational efficiency of GK’s relief efforts. GK’s Tony Meloto
recounted that 50 homes in a plush Ayala village opened their kitchens and commenced
food preparations for typhoon victims. “Walang Iwanan” (No is left behind) became a
rallying cry of GK volunteers and supporters who felt they needed to mobilize when
government help was inadequate or too slow.
The power and potential of GK’s emphasis on community-based development and
organizing has borne fruit amidst some of the crumbling institutions of Philippine
Importantly, GK was able to coordinate and act in unison with the Philippine military.
All branches of the military provided the necessary security and trucks to brave both the
floodwaters and sea of humanity desperate for food, water, medical help, clothing, and
encouragement. GK penetrated areas in Rizal, Pasig, Marikina, and Taguig that were
inaccessible and dangerous because of the Philippine military.
6,000 food bags and 15 military trucks to Taytay, Rizal
I think that the Philippine military’s partnership with civil society, notably Gawad
Kalinga, Red Cross, and ABS-CBN, among others has restored to a significant degree its
credibility and reliability. The soldiers were strong, patient, and disciplined. They not
only lent an air of security to the numerous relief volunteers, but including those who
needed help.
Gawad Kalinga and the military partner up to help Ondoy victims
Concerning the environmental situation in the Philippines, a few weeks prior to the
typhoons, Manila hosted the Asian ministerial meetings on climate change that resulted
in the Manila Declaration. What was clear from that conference attended by over 600
participants was that the effects of climate change do not recognize borders or social
class. Depressingly, while the industrialized world caused much of the global warming,
it is the developing world, including the Philippines, which will reap the consequences.
Box 3: Proactive Disaster Management by Gawad Kalinga (cont’d)
Further, Asia is being forced to leapfrog into a cleaner production AND address the
poverty gap at the same time, which no country has done on a massive scale. It will take
the best brains and the shared resources between rich and poor countries to achieve this.
Third, who will suffer indicates vulnerability. Who is vulnerable in this age of risk and
hazards? While the typhoons affected both rich and poor, the poor are more vulnerable.
They neither have the resources nor network to avoid hazardous areas, access timely and
relevant information, and after the disaster has struck, rebuild and move on. Poverty is
not only the lack of resources; it is the lack of options and choices. They suffer from the
quadruple whammy of poverty, social inequity, poor governance, and the external shocks
of environmental degradation and calamities. They are caught between their flooded
shanty and a rampaging swollen river, with only their wits and determination to survive
guiding them.
Choose your boat
GK Ex.Director Luis Qquiñena personally leads relief efforts
The great ship that is Metro Manila is leaking. The leaks are caused by unsustainable
urbanization patterns of a fast population growth rate, environmental degradation,
unequal power and income, lack of access to suitable and unaffordable housing, lack of
fair wages and employment opportunities. Disasters of a calamitous nature have a social
underbelly. The question is how will you act? Walang Iwanan. Ano ang taya mo?
This section showed that individuals and groups have agency and can act to improve their
situation and that of their community. As part of civil society, they can do this apart from
the State or powerful others. They are motivated to act because of their existential
condition and their realization that they need to act. Opportunities arise, both in context
and in terms of leaders and followers that allow for participation. I discuss this view
further in the next section.
Engaging others in addressing poverty, inequality, and (social)
Societal opportunity structures facilitate the emergence of a social movement. Ruch and
Neidhart (2002) observed that processes of differentiation in society are conducive to
social movements. The forces of change, which lead to the specialization of sectors,
structures, and roles, cause this differentiation. This leads to structural tensions and
functional differentiation.
For example, the family was the primary social and economic unit. Today, the household
and the economy are distinct spheres. The structure of the family and its extended
relations have changed such that family members to seek other groups, organizations, and
even social movements for their unfilled needs.
Mobilizing factors include the
breakdown of family, which leads individuals to join groups. As the family erodes, as
modern societies stumble at integration of its populace, as problems of a societal nature
require a broad base collaboration, social movements will be attractive and viable. Social
movements will probably increase in the future because differentiation, deprivation, and
the emergence of effective mobilizing structures. The future will be a movement society
(Onuf 2005, Rucht and Neidhardt 2002, Giddens 1990).
In addition, the market addresses some common tasks because the costs involved are
These include the environment, common resources, and international
security. This leaves the government or civil society to address these tasks. This requires
more specialization with accompanying organizations and more individualization (Beck
1992). One social movement activity is to act as a relay. Social movements generate
mechanisms for articulating and asserting collective interests that are unmet by
established institutions such as political parties, the bureaucracy, and the market (Cariño
2002). Unlike established institutions, SMs are porous, have high structural flexibility,
are adaptive, broad repertoire of actions including disruptive tactics. It is less bound by
the organizational logic. As Melucci (1984:830) noted, “the movement is the message”.
A movement society’s other contribution is that they pressure, but do not necessarily
substitute established institutions such as political parties and interest groups.
In Gawad Kalinga, briefly, there are too may poor, too many slums and slum dwellers.
Neither the government nor private sector has enough resources and possibly the will to
address the slum and poverty issues in their fundamental ways. As Tony Meloto noted,
Philippine society needs a massive response.
In GK’s case, they are pressuring NGO performance standards. GK has highlighted
poverty and the breakdown it causes in families and Philippine society. GK seeks to
articulate what most Filipinos know, but whose ubiquitousness has led many to take it for
granted. The many street children, beggars, and over 500 slum settlements in Metro
Manila soon became an accepted part of urban Manila living. GK, on the other hand, by
first working with gang youth and then bringing them out into the open via plays, camps,
and other social activities made the impact of poverty nearer, emotional, and therefore
personal. It challenged the public to put its “faith in action” and to become a “true
GK deviated from political activism by assigning blame to no one, but to everyone. “We
have failed to be Christians,” or “We have failed to be like Jesus Christ;” or “We must
treat the poor like our children” are common refrains. GK highlighted the lack of social
justice in the country, but it did not call for an armed revolution or a change in
government. It only calls for a change in the heart backed up by concrete action,
facilitated by helping GK. GK sought to say that Philippine societal problems were
serious and fundamental, but there is redemption and a roadmap to redemption. Gawad
Kalinga wanted to spread hope through faith-in-action community development focused
around healing relationships, both personal and structural. This is the discourse of GK.
Proposition #2 holds under conditions of activities that promote the healing of
relationships, promotion of solidarity, and mechanisms that enable cooperation and
actions on personal, familial, community, and national development. This implies that
the framework is evolving, adaptive, and scalable. Meloto summarized GK‘s message
and its activities during the launch of the GK Builders Institute and a two-day conference
with 100 invited city and town mayors.
Tony Meloto (TM) noted that the 2007 Township Summit is a “marriage of science and
spirit” and an historic event. The participants were the first group of GK Builders
Institute (GKBI) members.
Together with other volunteers, known as GK Builders
Corps, GK is expanding in membership, scope, and scale. GK is now seeking to “scale
up and upscale” the GK way with various partners. TM presented the six volunteers from
the United States, mostly from Chicago and California, who were volunteering full-time
for six months. He also noted that corporations are hiring college graduates to intern on
GK activities. After two years, the corporations can opt to hire them for other work or
continue on with GK work.
For example, Shell Philippines is committing to hire four graduates, Philips four, Globe
and Pfizer a handful. The goal is to build up a corps of mayors and corporations working
on GK. The GKBI is a collaboration of University of the Philippines, the Jesuit run
Ateneo de Manila University, GK, along with other universities. It is “charting new
paths of change anchored by love of God and country.”
GKBI aims to create a network of LGU CEOs that will work on “excellence of all
towns.” It will be networking to “build a country we deserve” and for each mayor to
become the “best mayor your town ever had” and eventually the “best future governor,
senator, etc.” TM was excited to see 20-30 mayors stand up in the audience. He also
recognized the province of Marinduque whose officials commit to make all its towns and
barangays GK towns and barangays.
The new radical is from “Ibagsak!” to “Itayo!” (“Depose!” to “Build!). Meloto said that
the path of anger and conflict must be replaced by a passion for love of God and people,
the path of peace. Both rich and poor are victims of the circumstances of their birth. TM
asked how can he blame the rich when he himself, born poor, worked hard, became rich,
and in the process, forgot the poor? Meloto suggested that instead Filipinos should honor
greatness and move from the “survival environment” of seeing the wrong. Filipinos need
to stop calling the rich selfish, the government corrupt, and the poor lazy and should
focus on spurring change. The best person though that can bring about change is the
Mayor. S/he should become the most inspiring person in town. There is no reason why
s/he cannot.
GK (officers) claims that it is helping pave the way of the highway to first world
standards of development. TM reiterated that GK “needs to capture the potential of
man.” The males constitute 90% of the problem. GK seeks to empower the poor man by
restoring his sense of dignity and nobility. GK aims to promote an emerging culture of
governance of “una sa serbisyo, huli sa benepisyo” (first in service, last to benefit), a
culture of productivity. If Filipinos abroad can have two to three jobs to provide of his
family, why cannot he do it here?
He can be the best both there and here, TM
The GK way is leading to templates of social development that others can replicate
It is difficult but once implemented is a source of pride to the town’s
Local government unit (LGU) officials should join the GKBI to
complement efforts to “put your town in the map” and get on the “global radar.” Meloto
and other GK speakers said that they should create a town that deserves support from all
sectors of society here and abroad. TM exhorted them to make their respective towns a
“first world town.”
For mayors, TM provided a perspective that they should consider and reflect on deeply.
Their term in office and power, especially those on their last term, is a three-year window
to achieve two things, namely; (a) build a “lasting legacy” of their work, and (b) use their
performance with GK as a “springboard to higher office”. For the first time mayors, the
possibility of three terms in office totaling nine (9) years necessitates a well-formulated
and implemented nine-year plan of governance.
TM exhorted the mayors to become the “father of the poor,” to “respect the goal” of
building a nation. He advised them not to pity the poor and oblige “limos” (begging).
“Love the poor like your children,” he said, and “respect their potential for productivity.”
He added, “Do not create a country of beggars” where the IRA (internal revenue
allotment) is used up on salaries and social services.
Individual capacities should
improve to address poverty and squatting.
To TM the root cause of the national problems is 400 years of landlessness and poverty.
Let us “make the poor your heir, like your children.”
Introduce the concept of
productivity. It is shameful for towns with fertile lands to have hunger. It is remorseful
and shameful, according to TM. Twenty percent of the population in a recent survey
claim hunger. Why is that with plentiful and rich natural resources, there is a great
number of poor asked TM. LGU officials need to provide every opportunity to address
poverty, replace the “barong-barong” (make shift) homes with decent ones, and improve
the plight of the “saling lupa”, the poorest of the poor.
The poor are burdened and malnourished.
Malnutrition destroys a person’s natural
intelligence transforming people with potential into liabilities- “the poor have become
liabilities so we need to restore the dignity of the poor,” noted Meloto. Thus, LGU
officials should focus on other things other than “KBL” or “kasal, binyag, libing”
(weddings, baptisms, and burials). As “father of the poor”, TM exhorted them to attract
balikbayan townmates and province mates to invest in your town and help with
rebuilding poor communities and to disabuse them of the notion that “ayaw nila
tumulong kase corrupt” (they do not want to help because of corruption). That notion is
an insult to all of us according to TM.
It is a “convenient excuse not to help.”
Balikbayans (returning Filipinos) are ashamed at the poverty and the poor quality of life
at home. Thus, they go abroad and work hard- “di puwede mamatay” (“cannot die”)
without achieving the American dream.
However, now that they have achieved material and professional success and are now in
the “final phase of life,” they are looking at how they can make a difference. They want
to give back, make a difference, and leave a legacy. They are looking at the future
generation’s welfare. Thus, LGU officials need to “inspire, attract, make nostaligic” so
that their balikbayan townmates will help. LGU officials should become the “architect of
hope” as hope must be “seen, held, and touched.” LGU officials should ensure “visible
and quantifiable deliverables.” Meloto noted that; “hope must not be based on fantasy as
seen in television. We should get out of the fantasy mode, the escapist mode, the Willie
Revillames and Wowowee, the telenovelas.” Everyone must help lift living standards
and one way is through “designer villages.”
GK seeks to become the “Armani of
development” by building first class communities for the poorest of the poor and helping
shape “first world dreams.”
The “Filipino is designed for excellence,” TM emphasized to the LGU officials. In each
town, according to TM, there are public lands that can be land banked for establishing
model communities.
TM reiterated that slums reflect LGU officials’ performance.
Mayors should mobilize their citizens: “Be the builder of dreams.” Who will be the
Mayor who will dream for his people, TM rhetorically asked, as the “poor have lost the
capacity to dream”? For example, a child of a poor family from Negros Occidental
where TM is from aims to go to Manila. The only means possible to do this is to become
a household helper, laborer, or factory worker. As a laborer or factory worker, s/he
cannot afford housing so s/he becomes a squatter. S/he builds a barong-barong (lean-to
made out scrap materials). Multiply this by thousands of squatters and a city of slums
Urban squatting has a 400-year history when the King of Spain claimed all the lands in
the Philippines as his. However, all it takes is 90 hectares in a province of 30,000
hectares to house all squatters. TM advised, “Wag ka na mangarap (“Do not anymore
hope and desire”). Just build it on the ground. If it works, GK will replicate it. He
observed that researchers have written many studies, which are just (“nakatambak”)
stored in universities. The laboratory is on the ground, the classroom is the community.”
Towns are points of convergence for people to help, according to TM. The academic,
businessperson, mayor, governor can get together and help one another be the builders of
dreams and to restore the self worth of the poor. TM said that mayors must work to
restore the confidence of the citizenry in the local official as a leader. Hard work and
self-reliance must be encouraged: “Make every citizen of your town a builder of their
dreams.” Be also a “bridge of peace” and a source of “radical ideas.”
The strength of GK, according to TM, is faith in the Filipino, strong faith, and family ties.
He observed that Filipinos have “forgotten that God was born Filipino.” Filipinos are
now starting to honor their birthright of the Filipino as family, “kapamilya.” Filipinos
must “unleash the greatness of the Filipino spirit” as this is a potent fore of change.
Filipinos must have great ambition in themselves and their towns, he said. He advised
them not be afraid to break conventions. He noted that the Philippines is third world
because citizens accept ways that are not good for them. It is an insult to their honor, TM
said, to accept third world ways. He also noted that in slum areas, when one moves the
boundary marker (muhon) two inches, neighbors would kill each other. However, there
is another way, he said.
In Murcia, Negros Occidental, Mayor Coscouella paid
PhP200,000/hectare for five hectares and help build 150 homes for public sector
employees. He regrets not buying more as the surrounding land has increased in value to
PhP2 million/ hectare.
TM emphasized that GK should be lowest measure of the quality of life and standard in a
town. The strength is in the integrity and respect for greatness of the Filipino spirit. TM
suggested not to “focus on the pocket as you get loose change. Focus on the heart and
the wallet will follow.” For example, TM informed the participants that the Sycip Gorres
and Velayo (SGV) accounting firm has offered to train GK teams nationally on financial
management of GK funds and resources. This is important as GK is expanding and
scaling up rapidly. Along with partner academic institutions, GK wants to develop the
scientific rigor and credibility. The LGUs can also tap GK just as long as GK is invited.
GK is doing all these to unite the Filipino in a common vision and mission.
It has now partnered up with other religious groups who share the same vision such as
Focolare, Life of Jesus, Bukas Loob sa Diyos, etc. The intention is also to form deep
friendships with Filipino Muslim brothers. Thus, GK has opted to work closely with exMayor Totoy Paglas and new mayor Fariz Paglas of the Municipality of Datu Paglas,
LGUs bring strengths, which GK can tap.
city/municipality’s resources.
These include first leveraging the
Second, with partner LGUs, activities scale up.
engaging the other, a PhP1 investment becomes PhP4 and not PhP0.50 because of
corruption. This is a multiplier of four with limited resources maximized. LGUs can
source and provide the skilled labor especially in typhoon-impacted areas. With LGUs,
the absorptive capacity of resources flowing into GK can increase.
LGUs can do
landbanking for the homeless and need only to provide 1% of the town’s lands for
squatters. The Mayor has to be the champion of the poor to leverage scarce resources
and to enable the next generation to dream and perform better, TM emphasized. The key
role of Mayors is to attract and inspire.
GK, according to TM, seeks to bring the Filipino poor from extreme poverty to moderate
poverty and unto the ladder of development. There can be “no prosperity without peace”
and vice versa. As Mayors, TM said, they must change the culture of violence and
become a bridge of peace. “NO Filipino is an enemy.” Likewise he said that there be
“no justice unless there is love”. He asked the mayors whether they can be the “father of
the poor” and to dream for them as one would for one’s child. TM also said that they
should treat the poor like their youngest child, the fifth child, and let the youngest inherit.
Leave them with a legacy of hope. As Meloto asked, “What is the best religion, the
religion that is practiced. What is the best idea, the idea that is implemented.”
Having presented the conditions and parameters for mobilization and action, the next
section discusses how GK acquires resources to implement its GK777 program. Their
strategies encompass self-help, mutual aid, partnerships, and GK sites as convergence of
people, resources, and activities, transnational links and framing strategies. The next
section demonstrates the viability of Proposition #3.
“Less for self, more for others, enough for all"- Resources for change
Proposition 3: Other forms of social movements extend beyond a conflict and
resistance theoretical framework. One such form eschews open and
direct conflict in favor of strategic engagement with subjects
(individuals, groups, or the state) and objects (issues, cultural codes,
resources) of contention with the goal of transforming and aligning the
subjects and objects to the interests of the social movement. This model
has the potential to expand and scale up as long as it maintains an
adaptable, social learning, community-based, and partnership-focused
framework to addressing challenges it confronts. It is a common set of
values that shape and influence collective action, in this case,
cooperative and mutual aid collective action.
Proposition #3 seeks to demonstrate the viability of GK’s engagement and cooperative
model. If GK can access resources to achieve its stated vision, mission, and goals and if
it can sustain itself as it scales up and replicates its GK villages, then the GK model is
viable and indicative of another social movement form that is not conflict-centered. This
chapter explores these assertions from a resource mobilization perspective.
Resources enable social movements and NGOs to both mobilize and organize to meet
missions and goals set. Thus, access to resources of various kinds whether these are
logistical or social capital are important to social movement or NGO viability over the
long term (Tilly et.al. 2001, McAdam 1982, McCarthy and Zald 1977). Accessing
resources can be a straightforward process of seeking external help through direct
requests to philanthropists of various sorts and tapping funding facilities such as
government and private grants.
Gawad Kalinga’s strategy of resource mobilization
though is three-fold and culture based.
First is the Filipino cultural precept of padugo, literally bleeding for the cause, enabling it
to generate resources internally, specifically from Couples for Christ.
Its internal
resources enabled it to start up operations quickly, scale up, and replicate operations to a
point that attracted the attention of external supports, eventually leading to significant
logistical support. Second, the concept of padugo is supported and complemented by
messages and symbols of nation building, the possibility of anyone being able to provide
heroic and servant leadership, the call for community, and the need to share one’s
resources, time, and talents. Third, these symbols and messages are anchored by the need
and rationale for the massive mobilization of volunteers and resources, not only in the
Philippines, but worldwide in implementing GK’s model of poverty eradication and
community development. The box discussion below provides a cultural overview of
Box 4: Anthropology of the Cross- Gawad Kalinga’s Padugo
Padugo is Filipino for bloodletting. Dugo in Filipino means blood. The prefix pa
signifies an action or to cause an action. In Gawad Kalinga, it means, “to bleed for the
Bloodletting, known as venesection, now phlebotomy, has at least a 3,000 year human
history, both as a medical/health and cultural practice. It had healing and sacrificial uses.
Many, if not all, cultures had some form of bloodletting. There is evidence of
bloodletting by Egyptians in the Nile River as early as one thousand years B.C. Romans
and Greeks later on adopted the practice and were widely accepted by the Middle Ages
until the 19th century. The Chinese and Hindus also had a tradition of bloodletting. As a
“pre-modern” medical procedure, bloodletting sought to release the demon suspected of
causing the disease. Peopled believed that a curse caused a person’s illness.
Thus, to cure illness one needed to cast out the demon. Priests developed rituals to
address diseases caused by supernatural causes. People also considered priests as
physician, along with witch doctors and sorcerers. During the Stone Age, priests used
Neolithic flint tools to drill into the skull, where they thought the resided. Bloodletting,
as a common method of demon casting, availed of thorns, sharp sticks and bones, flints,
shells, sharks teeth, miniature bow and arrows found in South America, New Guinea,
Greece, and Malta. The procedure also most likely used leeches as depicted in wall
drawings dating to 1400 B.C. The Arabs also used higama or cupping for bloodletting
(Albinali 2004, Seigworth 1980).
Slowly though bloodletting began to acquire a medical basis. To the Greeks, an illness
was a disease with symptoms. Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) observed that specific
diseases had specific symptoms and contributed to the concept of body humors. The
human body had four fluids of blood, phlegm, yellow and black bile referring to the four
Grecian elements of earth, air, fire, and water.
The vital force and host of the soul was blood. Some drank the blood of a person or
animal in the belief that they could acquire their vital force. Bloodletting thus maintained
the balance of these four fluids, which led to the decline of the demon-causing illness. In
China, acupuncture had the purpose of draining the spiritual vessels or meridian to
manage the energy or ch’i. By the Middle Ages, bloodletting became part of the crude
surgical methods being practiced by the barber-surgeon and the physician. The Council
of Tours banned priests and monks from bloodletting in 1163 A.D. . Bloodletting at one
point during the early 19th century even became a preventive medical procedure and was
as common as going to the market. As medicine and surgery advanced, bloodletting
declined in popularity as a medical procedure, although some ethnic communities still
practice it (Albinali 2004, Cox, 2002, Tandeter et.al 2001, Seigworth 1980).
Apart from its medical aspect, bloodletting complemented ideological and cultural rituals.
In cutting oneself or piercing another’s body, bloodletting legitimated one’s
sociopolitical-economic position or reassured the well-being of the community. Mayans
in Mesoamerican societies developed highly stylized and complex bloodletting rituals,
mainly associated with sacrifice. Sacrifice sought to renew divine energy, and continue
life. Bloodletting’s healing and sacrificial aspects were conducted in conjunction with
calendar, ancestral or ritual practices (Raggio 2000, Joyce et.al 1986).
In the Philippines, bloodletting or padugo is still ritually practiced (Tiu 2007, Bulatao
1992). Indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) such as the Subanons of Zamboanga del
Norte, for example, conduct a padugo wherein an animal is sacrificed and its blood
scattered to ward of evil spirits and honor their diety, Ginoo, during community
ceremonies (Mindanao Examiner 2007). Peasants also practice padugo, sacrificing a
chicken, to ward of evil spirits. A sirujano or espiritista, if present and available, usually
conducts the ceremony (Mindanao Examiner 2008). Likewise, fishermen in the Visayas
practice padugo to ensure a bountiful harvest, safety from sea hazards, including
malevolent sea spirits. Residents employ a ma-aram or babaylan to conduct the
ceremonies (Magos 1997). While urbanites may consider these padugo ceremonies crude
and superstitious, one way to look at it is that the ceremonies show a respect and
wholeness with the environment and surroundings (Magos 1997, Bulatao 1992).
To understand better bloodletting or padugo in the sacrifice, one needs to explore the
nature of sacrifice. Sacrifice is part of ritual, religious ritual. Ritual is the organized,
formalized, or prescribed activities in the practice of religion.
Religion, present in just about all cultures, in the anthropological sense is man’s attempt
to understand and comprehend his existence and the universe, as well as to cope with
one’s inability to predict events, understand them, and deal with events and phenomena
that apparently violate natural law.
Religion enables man to establish a relationship with one’s surroundings as well as a
perceived supernatural power. It reduces fear and anxiety about the unknown and the
unpredictable and enables man to organize his activities amidst this uncertainty. In the
process, religion through ritual and ceremony, also promotes social cohesion, group
solidarity, and builds social and cultural energy (Beals and Hojier 1964, Malinowski
1925, Girard 1972).
Sacrifice is a religious ritual that seeks to comprehend and control life’s uncertainties
such as misfortune, disaster, illness, and death, among other life crises. The term
sacrifice is from a Middle English verb roughly meaning, "to make sacred". The Old
French and Latin terms sacrificium: sacer, "sacred" + facere, "to make" are also referred
to, especially in the context of food, valuable object, animal, or even human offerings to a
god. Humans offer a sacrifice to the gods for worship, to appease, or to seek favor from
them (Hubert and Mauss 1981).
Sacrifice is thought to have two contradictory aspects. It is sacred because the object or
animal/human to be sacrificed is the medium of the sacrificial ritual, which seeks to
mediate between man and the deity. It is set apart from the profane. The sacrifice though
requires violence, which is considered profane. Girard (1972) and other scholars such as
Turner and LIendhardt add that sacrifice is a “deliberate act of collective substitution
performed at the expense of the victim and absorbing all the internal tensions, feuds, and
rivalries pent up within the community” (Girard 1972:7).
Girard’s(1972) analysis of sacrifice provides a deep understanding of the practice as well
as that of religion. A French historian, literary critic, and philosopher of social science,
he introduced the starting point idea that human desire has triangular and mimetic
dimensions. In contrast to Hegelian and Freudian analysis, the triangular dimension of
human desire involves the model or source that stimulates the desire, the recipient, or
respondent of the desire, and the object that is desired. The object of desire is the
mediator of the desire. The mimetic dimension involves imitation, especially of what is
desired. The implications of triangular and mimetic dimensions of human desire are
enormous. First, human desire is “not linear and object-directed itself” in the individual
psychological and autonomous sense (Allison 1996). Neither is it reactive to the desires
of others in the Hegelian dialectic sense. Human desire results from social interaction
and the inevitable imitation (acquisitive mimesis) of the desires of others.
We buy things because we saw someone with it. Marketers know this, hence the
extensive use of models. Because we imitate what others want, this can lead to envy,
murderous desire, rivalries, conflict over objects, and ultimately, resources. The rival can
also be the model or object of desire (Cottet 1995). Conflict can be internal to the group
or external to competitors.
To resolve these conflicts, Girard observed that “surrogate victimage,” more popularly
known as the “scapegoat” is applied, wherein someone or something becomes the object
of fixation of blame and responsibility of all the destructive conflict, rivalries, and group
violence. Participants sacrifice the scapegoat in the literal sense or banished. The
scapegoat therefore endures the worst of the conflict and enables the establishment of a
new social unity or Durkheiman social effervescence (Allison 1996, Tyler 2001).
Scapegoating or “collective fratricide against a victim” is common to most cultures and
their social unity that, according to Girard (1972), taboos, myths, and rituals have been
developed over history.
Scapegoating is prejudice and at the same time purges the community of collective guilt
and violence (Doubt 2004). As Girard (1972:8) writes, “The sacrifice serves to protect
the entire community from its own violence; it prompts the entire community to choose
victims outside itself.” It literally “clears the air” as when the Pharisees said that one
man, Jesus, needed to die for peace to reign, and when erstwhile enemies Pontius Pilate
and Herod became on account of Jesus’ persecution (Heim 2001).
If Girard’s view is to be accepted, religion, especially Christianity gains greater
significance. Girard noted that religion was borne out of violence. Sacrificing the
scapegoat sought to deescalate the communal violence. The rituals and ceremonies
surrounding sacrifice became part of religion. While this may look like an apocalyptic
view of humanity, it is not. In Christ’s crucifixion, the cycle of sacrificial scapegoating
reaches its conclusion. According to Girard, it is the self-sacrifice of God through His
Son’s crucifixion, which presents another way out of the futility of man’s efforts to end
violence brought about by uncontrolled human desires. It also turns on its head the view
that the crucifixion of Christ is a sacrifice to appease the wrath of God on a sinful
humanity (Townsley 2003).
In fact, Girard observed that in the Bible or Jewish texts there is a gradual disassociation
of “the divinity from the participation of violence until, in the New Testament, God is
entirely set free from participation in our violence – the victim is entirely innocent, and
hated without cause – and indeed God is revealed not as the one who expels us, but the
One whom we expel, and who allowed himself to be expelled so as to make of his
expulsion a revelation of what he is really like, and of what we really, typically do to
each other, so that we can begin to learn to get beyond this” (Allison 1996:1).
In other words, scapegoating is desacralized and everyone is culpable in the collective
persecution and abandonment of the ultimate scapegoat, Jesus Christ.
However, the generative power of Girard’s analysis extends further. Jesus’ crucifixion
can be seen as failed scapegoating vis-à-vis Jewish society. The Pharisees and Pilates
failed in established the hoped for social unity. They failed at sufficiently demonizing
the scapegoat, Jesus. Lastly, Jesus’ disciples did not undertake a cycle of revenge in his
name. Christ’s Passion and resurrection broke the cycle of violent scapegoating and
rendered it unnecessary.
The focus shifted from a demonized scapegoat to God’s Son, sacrificed as a victim, and
crucified in place of humanity and humanity’s sins. The scapegoat became the victim
and because of this turned society upside down. Only a God through his son could have
done this, because a human scapegoat would continued the cycle of scapegoating and
violence, since anyone is potentially a scapegoat.
As Heim (2001:20) writes, “Jesus is the victim who will not stay sacrificed, whose
memory is not erased and who forces us to confront the reality of scapegoating.” It is
important to note that Jesus’ resurrection initiated a countermovement of what is today
Christianity. Christianity then should be a religion of peace brought about by sacrifice of
Jesus on behalf of humanity that should have ended all scapegoating and sacrifice (Heim
2001). Most significantly, imitating (mimesis) the examples of Jesus’ love for God and
one another was the way to salvation. Thus, the Passion of Christ should best be
remembered in the context of his resurrection, the abandonment of scapegoating, and the
pursuit of peace and love of neighbor (Heim 2001). It is this insight that enables one to
understand the generative power of Gawad Kalinga’s padugo.
The stakeholders of GK provide a glimpse of GK’s resource mobilization capacity.
Briefly, the major supporters comprise ten major sectors, ranging from the millionmember Couples for Christ, to the 350 supporting corporations representing the private
sector, the Philippine government and select foreign governments, and the quad-media.
All bring with them resources, talent, and a network that can provide resources. All
support GK for various reasons and are willing to participate in GK under GK’s
A major resource source as well is the State. If civil society can reform the Philippine
government then the development process can better utilize state resources. GK engages
the Philippine government in a transparent, ethical, and participatory way and expects the
same from the government. I discuss this in detail below.
Figure 22: Groups that support Gawad Kalinga
GK Phenomenon: Why does it work? (POS, RM, Framing)
National GovÕt
-personal redemption
- Legacy issues
-Squatter problems
-Tax deductible
- retirement activity
- outsourcing housing/ poverty
Couples for Christ
-Army of workers
-Intellectual capital
Filipino diaspora
personal redemption
- Legacy issues
Squatter problems
Tax deductible
retirement activity
outsourcing housing/
Foreign govÕ
Social capital
Private Sector
Church and
Non-profit sector
-skills, resources, network
- experience
new model
personal redemption
- Legacy issues
Squatter problems
Tax deductible
retirement activity
Historically, CFC was the source of time, talent, and treasure during GK’s start. The
secret though to GK’s expansion, according to Meloto, was in the multiplication of
loaves. Bagong Silang, the first GK site, comes to mind. Meloto and members of
Singles for Christ hardly had anything to start their work on the youth program. He
relied on CFC for meager resources. What he had was a passionate and hardworking
team. He even brought his daughter to reach out to her contemporaries in Bagong Silang.
The youth in the area verbally abused her. Nevertheless, her presence, importantly,
signified and symbolized that Meloto intended to open up his life and what he valued the
most to them. It also signified trust. He sought to demonstrate that the residents would
not hurt him, his team, and his family.
Aside from CFC and his family, he had three other main institutional supporters, namely,
the church, ANCOP, and private donors.
For Meloto and others, it was first
demonstrating sincerity, credibility, and transformational leadership. As described in
chapter three, these included a willingness to model hard work, sacrifice, share, care, and
establish a loving friendship with no hidden agenda except to do well. After forging
friendships, GK sought to structure the relationship towards something productive. This
meant, at the individual and family levels, an attempt to heal individuals and families
physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
For the physical hurts, GK sought to address some of the most urgent issues of poverty
and deprivation by modeling padugo (sacrifice) and kalinga (giving care). Meloto would
later on realize three things in the course of his work. One, by setting an example of
transformational leadership and sacrifice, he could attract supporters and volunteers to his
cause. Two, the good work attracted attention from those who wanted to help. Three, by
publicly proclaiming and launching an audacious and ambitious goal of helping the
poorest of the poor, GK attracted those who had resources or who had access to resources
and where in search of a noble project.
leveraging” and the “marketing of nobility.”
Thus, to Meloto it was about “creative
The church and the religious sector, mainly the Roman Catholic Church- the Philippines
being a predominantly Catholic nation- were among the early supporters.
It was
relatively easy for the Catholic Church to support GK, because CFC is a Catholic lay
organization with strong ties to the clergy. The Vatican recognized CFC as a Pontifical
lay organization. CFC always had a number of priest advisors since its founding. The
Archdiocese of Batangas, for example, is an active partner of CFC, since the Bishop is
the brother of one of CFC’s International Council of Elders. The Archdiocese sponsored
a GK village in the province and has extended different types of assistance to GK over
the years. The role of CFC is not surprising if understood in the context of faith-based
social movements.
Plate 11: Meals with Tony Meloto (left, in white), CFC-GK
volunteers, and GK supporters
Faith-based social movements comprise a major part of social movements.
Kalinga has a historical basis in that it joins a long list of faith-based movements, apart
from the Church, involved in institution building worldwide. The statistics on religion
and religious work provide a glimpse of the magnitude and impact of religion-inspired
activities. Using an estimated global population of 6,615,848,000 for 2007, theological
researchers estimate 11,100 distinct organized religions broken down largely into 2.196
billion Christians, 1.36 billion Muslims, 888,300,000 Hindus, 3888,098,000 Chinese
universists, 386,023,000 Buddhists, and 787,236,000 nonreligious, among others. NonChristians number another estimated 4.420 billion. See the two figures below.
With a focus on Christianity, its structural configuration is socially significant. Christian
denominations number an estimated 39,000. These denominations have an estimated
3,826,000 congregations or worship centers, 26,000 service centers, and 4,480 foreignmission sending agencies as of 2007. By year 2025, these numbers will grow to an
estimated 55,000 denominations, five million congregations, 36,000 service agencies, and
6,000 foreign-mission sending agencies, respectively(Center for the Study of Global
Christianity Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary website 2007)..
Figure 23: Major religions of the world
An estimated 11,751,000 Christian workers staff these denominations as of 2007. The
economic potential of Christians is significant. The personal income of church members
is, in US$, an estimated 16,400 Billion in 2007, up from 4,100 Billion in 1970, and
15,230 Billion in mid-2000. These incomes enable Christians to give to Christian causes,
which rose from an estimated 70 Billion Dollars in 1970 to an estimated 870 billion
dollars in 2007 (Center for the Study of Global Christianity Gordon-Conwell Theological
Seminary website 2007).
The United States is a major source of Christian resources. In 1997, according to the
Independent Sector (2000), an estimated 353,000 religious congregations comprised one
fourth of all non-profit organizations in the United States. Most organized during the
period 1931-1970, located within residential neighborhoods of metropolitan areas, and
have an average membership of between 100-400 persons.
Expenditures of the
congregations ranged from $46,000 to $432,000 totaling an estimated $79.1 billion in
Of this expenditure, 12% or an estimated $9.6 billion were donations to
organizations (66% within the denomination, 23% outside of denomination) and
individuals (11%).
Religious congregations are active in eight program activities in 1993. The programs
public/societal benefit, arts and culture, and environment (Independent Sector 1992).
Clearly, the social action aspect of religious congregations is evident not only in their
activities but in the amounts spent.
In the Philippines, there is sparse data on the size and scope of faith-based organizations.
The government National Statistics Office (NSO) though records the religious affiliation
of Filipinos. In the 2000 Census, most Filipinos identified themselves as overwhelming
Roman Catholics (92.6%). See table below.
Figure 24: Worldwide geographical distribution of religions
In the Philippines, the religious sector has been historically, politically influential in
millenarian movements, independence efforts, social justice, and opposition to the
Marcos dictatorship (Ileto 1998, Nadeau 1998). Religion has the dual aspect of being
conservative and resistant to change and efforts at social justice. The other side is its
social movement characteristic of challenging elites, authorities, and prevailing cultural
The black civil rights movement, Poland’s Solidarity movement, the South
African anti-apartheid movement, Gandhian independence movement, among others,
were partly initiated, staffed, powered, funded, and strengthened by religious persons and
organizations (Boris 1996, Nepstad 1996, Osa 1996, Morris 1996, Smith 1996). While
the percentage of Christians remained relatively constant during the 20th century, that of
Catholics, has declined by an estimated 10.5 percentage points according to a year 2000
Pew study. This decrease corresponds to increasing membership in Protestant, Aglipayan
and Iglesia ni Kristo churches. See the figure below.
Table 22: Household Population of Top 8 Religious Affiliations by
Sex: Philippines, 2000
Religious Affiliation
Household Population
Roman Catholic
Iglesia ni Cristo
Seventh Day Adventist
United Church of Christ in the
Jehovah’s Witnesses
Source: NSO, 2000 Census of Population and Housing
Religion, which is the “system of beliefs and practices oriented towards the sacred or
supernatural,” provides the meaning and meaningfulness to the lives of individuals and
communities (Smith 1996:5). Religion facilitates the search for purpose and significance
to living.
Yet individuals and societies need to discover and articulate this faith.
Corollary, this quest for the meaning of sacred transcendence of religion may justify the
events and circumstances of daily life. This is religion’s conservative roots in that
religion “provides life, the world, and history with meaning” or an “objective, earthly
reality above individuals, societies, and history” (Smith 1996:6). Religion, as Marx
noted, legitimizes the status quo and elite authority and encourages submission to the
existing socio-economic order no matter how unjust (Nepstal 1996). However, religion’s
sacred and transcendent nature may also “question, judge, and condemn temporal, earthly
reality” (Smith 1996:6). Thus, it can question the authority of rulers as shown in the
Philippines during the Marcos dictatorship.
Figure 25: Religious trends in the Philippines
The assets that religion or religious movements can mobilize are numerous. First, it is
the source of “transcendent motivation” or the reason to protest or mobilize after
discerning the will of God and the moral/ethical obligation. These moral obligations
include love, social justice, peace, freedom, and equity. Religion is also in a position to
define what the issues are and to articulate it using emotionally and symbolically
powerful icons, symbols, songs, rituals, prayers, writings, preaching, and other media.
Third, religion can not only motivate but also legitimate the strategies and actions of
collaborating organizations and other social movements. Religion’s teachings and texts
provide for this flexibility to both support and question certain actions. Fourth, religious
organizations can provide and mobilize trained and experience leaders and leadership
resources, funding, warm bodies, pre-existing communication and coordination channels,
and organizational enterprise tools and facilities. Lastly, religion provides a strong and
shared identity in a chosen movement or struggle for participating volunteers who are
strangers to one another, at the national and transnational levels, and against outside
threats (Smith 1996, Pagnucco 1996, Nash 1996).
Thus, it is only logical, for example, for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops to
issue a statement in 1996 entitled, “A Catholic Framework For Economic Life (An
Affirmation of Economic Justice For All)”. 38 The statement listed the ethical principles
of Catholics in the economic sphere. They called on Catholics to “work for greater
economic justice in the face of persistent poverty, growing income-gaps, and increasing
discussion of economic issues in the US and around the world.” The ten principles listed
urge the recognition of the sanctity of human life and dignity, the human right to
economic initiative and productive work and to meet basic human needs, the need and
struggle for social justice, and the “moral dimensions and human consequences” of the
global economy. Further, the framework noted that the “ultimate moral measure of any
economy is how the poor and vulnerable are faring” (National Conference of Catholic
Bishops 1996). How does this relate to the Philippines?
A copy is online at http://www.catholiclabor.org/gen-art/nccb-1.htm
The inspiration for this framework and for the renewed efforts of faith-based social
justice movements in the Philippines comes from the Vatican II (1962-1965)
commentaries on social justice, human dignity, and human rights. However, Philippine
history shows that extensive amibilineal descent kinship networks and charismatic
leadership that inspired followers to cooperate in “ritual, agricultural, commercial, and
military matters” supported the precolonial maritime trade economy (Nadeau 1998:5).
Religion became an instrument of conversion, conquest, and trade (Abinales and
Amoroso 2005).
During the Spanish colonization, activist Catholic priests protested the excesses of
colonialization, while Muslims repulsed both conversion and colonialization in much of
Mindanao (dela Costa 1961, Nadeau 1998). With American colonization and further
penetration of capitalism in the Philippine political economy, Nadeau (1998:18) quotes
Mojares (1986:187) in noting that “economic changes have desacralzied labor and we
have come a long way from the time when exchange of goods among men (and women)
was a moral transaction positively animated by economic, religious, political, and
aesthetic notions.” The result is resistance throughout Philippine history of various
forms, duration, and intensity (Abinales and Amoroso 2005). Nadeau (1998), in her
study of basic ecclesial communities (BEC) in the Philippines, suggests that other social
and religious similar to BEC be examined in light of their potential for socioeconomic
The academic, urban planner, and one time Philippine presidential chief of staff, Dr.
Aprodicio Lacquian was 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 (conversation with the journalist Patrick Paez). Indeed, Filipinos are
striving to institutionalize democratic principles and practices in all levels of society. The
next section discusses the religious actors and their footprint on Gawad Kalinga.
Couples for Christ (CFC) faith-based movement
The Couples for Christ Global Mission Foundation, Inc. (CFC) is a Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC)-registered lay ecclesial/ faith-based movement affiliated
with the Roman Catholic Church. Its national and global headquarters is located in
Metro Manila, Philippines, where lay couples founded the faith-based movement. It has
established missions in 160 countries with a claimed membership of over a million lay
Catholics as of 2006. The membership figure has fluctuated over the years.
CFC, as a movement, seeks the “the renewal and strengthening of Christian family life”
and “Total Human Liberation” through the evangelization of Jesus Christ and the power
of the Holy Spirit (CFC website). The growth of CFC follows a decentralized and
localized structure in every possible area but reports to a an International Council. CFC
started in 1981 in Manila, Philippines when a local Christian charismatic community,
Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (LNP), Filipino for Happiness of the Lord, sought new
approach to evangelizing to married couples, especially the recalcitrant husband. This
involved weekly small group prayer and Bible-study gatherings for prospective couples
within the comfortable, private, and secure confines of a host’s home. The social and
intimate setting enabled participating couples to enter into a “living relationship with
Jesus Christ and to a renewal in the power of the Holy Spirit”
(CFC website). CFC
separated from LNP in 1993 over differences concerning its rapid growth and plans for
global expansion. As it gained acceptance, CFC expanded into a Christian family life
renewal program available to parishes.
CFC believes that the family is the basic unit of society that is ordained by God.
However, the family is challenged by numerous and different forces. CFC’s role then is
to defend the family by “bringing God’s strength and light to those who are struggling to
be truly Christian families in the modern world” (CFC website).
Christian family
renewal is achieved through four levels. The first is individual renewal, where the
husband and wife renew their commitment to God and to one another. This renewal of
commitment enables the Holy Spirit to work in and through them.
The second level is family renewal. As couples renew their commitment to God, they
also renew their commitment to one another and to their Christian family life. Gradually,
the new life that they find in the Lord filters down to all their family relationships. The
third level is Church renewal. The renewed couples and families form a network that
support each other and strengthen the church, in this case, the Roman Catholic Church.
As designed, CFC is an equal opportunity movement and does not discriminate as to age,
economic class, ethnicity, religion, educational attainment, and other status indicators.
The fourth level is global expansion and missionary work overseas.
CFC’s global vision is to encourage families to experience the power of the Holy Spirit
and God’s love as the they “renew the face of the earth.” Its global mission is to build the
Church in the family with a special focus on the poor. The concept of Total Christian
Liberation is about building future generations of Christian leaders attuned to social
justice, respect for life, and working with the poor. CFC seeks to evangelize to families
and inculcate a lifestyle based on Catholic values of family renewal and strengthening
and preferential option for the poor. Lastly, it seeks to provide effective and efficient
governance of its support services in fulfilling its vision and mission.
Organizationally, CFC members form Household cell groups. Such a group is composed
of ten to twelve members or five to six couples led by a Household Head. Multiple
households comprise a Unit, while multiple units comprise a Chapter. In Metro Manila
alone, there are at least 350 chapters. Multiple chapters form a Cluster with several
clusters forming a Sector. A National CFC Council provides overall direction, while
overseas missions area governed by an International Council. CFC is present in all the
provinces of the Philippines and in 160 countries.
CFC’s historical growth and development provides an overview of its organizational
evolution. In 1983, it held its first formal planning session where the mission statements
and philosophy were formulated. The next year, CFC established outside of Metro
Manila, in the province of Bukidnon. In 1985, it established its first overseas missionchapter in India. By 1989, CFC realized and adopted the thrust of rapid, massive, and
global evangelization for the decade of the 1990s. In
1991 CFC adopted the mission
theme of "Families in the Holy Spirit Renewing the Face of the Earth.”
Two years after, in 1993, CFC established several Family Ministries, such as; (a) Kids for
Christ (KFC), (b) Youth for Christ (YFC), (c) Singles for Christ (SFC), and (d)
Handmaids of the Lord (HOLD) for widows. In 1994, it established Servants of the Lord
(SOLD) for widowers.
The next year 1995 was a busy year for CFC.
The 1st
International Glory Songwriting Festival was held. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of
the Philippines (CBCP) recognized CFC as a National Private Association of Lay
Faithful. Lastly, CFC established various Social Ministries, especially with work with
the poor initiatives that would evolve into Gawad Kalinga.
On September 8, 1999, the CFC built the first house for the poor in Bagong Silang,
Kalookan City, and Metro Manila. The experiences of the last six years led CFC in year
2000 to amend its mission to “Bringing Glad Tidings to the Poor.” The Holy See
(Vatican) also recognized CFC as a Private International Association of Lay Faithful. By
year 2001, CFC’s various work with the poor programs evolved in to Gawad Kalinga
(GK). In 2002, CFC sent its first missionaries to a long-term mission to southern Africa.
GK expects to enter South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria in the near future. In 2002, CFCGK held its first GK National Build mounted. CFC-GK also took advantage to start up a
GK community abroad, in Cambodia. By 2003, CFC formally launched Gawad Kalinga
and the ambitious GK777.
In 2005, CFC completed its Seven Pillars (evangelization and mission, pastoral support,
family ministries, social ministries, Gawad Kalinga, pro-life, and Special Ministries)
mission with the establishment of the Pro-life and CFC Special Ministries such as
building the Church of the Future; Priests for Family and Life (clergy), Nuns for Christ
(religious women), Missionary Society of St. Francis and St. Paul (lay celibates), and
Jacob's Well (irregular unions). Further, the Holy See made permanent its recognition of
CFC as a Private International Association of Lay Faithful.
In 2006, CFC celebrated its 25th year anniversary, highlighted by the fulfillment of a
prophecy that it would have a presence in 160 countries. CFC actually reached that
number in 2007. On March 3, 2006 CFC’s International Council released the first of a
number of papers on the relationship of CFC and GK. Later that year on August 31, the
Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership was awarded to Gawad Kalinga
and its Executive Director, Antonio Meloto. On November 9, the International Council
releases its second paper on CFC and GK 2 entitled “Working Through the
In 2008, it went through a highly publicized internal conflict concerning the nature and
direction of Gawad Kalinga. Personal issues also surfaced. This led to the resignation of
the protagonists from the International Council, the ruling body. Elections for a new
board were held in June 2008 with a mostly pro-Gawad Kalinga slate winning. The
group that was highly critical of GK protested the elections and eventually led a
breakaway group now called CFC Foundation for Family Life.
Majority of CFC
members remained and reaffirmed GK as a one of CFC’s Seven Pillars.
On April 30, 2009, CFC agreed to spin off GK as an independent entity to enable GK to
focus on poverty alleviation and nation building, upscale and expand globally, enter nonChristian countries, and attract partners of all religious stripes without the organizational
constraints of CFC. At present, there are tensions between officers of CFC (the
International Council) and the leadership of GK. Both parties are trying to settle matters
Plate 12: The CFC conceptual arch which shows its vision, mission,
goals, and platform of action
The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines has access to resources and a wide
network. The Passionist Congregation in Bagong Silang worked with CFC, ANGKOP,
and the A Living for Christ Foundation to establish a national training center and youth
village in the community. This partnership was critical because both resources and a site
were needed to bring in the first cohort of troubled youth. They need a safe, secure, and
welcoming place where they could express themselves, heal, grow, and learn new skills.
The Chapel of the Forgiven built on site was also a place of emotional refuge. Meloto
said that over 10,000 men, women, youth, especially those who needed healing entered
and used the village from 1998 to 2006 (when the facility was returned to the Passionist
The premier Jesuit educational institution in the Philippines, the Ateneo de Manila
University, has adopted GK and the GK model as their socio-civic model. Ateneo’s
President, Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J. and PhD. sits on the board of the Gawad Kalinga
Foundation for Development Inc., the SMO. The Ateneo community of teachers, staff,
students, alumni, and supporters have built numerous GK villages, contributed their
individual services and resources, and extended all kinds of support, including,
importantly, technical support to their GK villages.
The same dynamics of engagement with the Church occurred with other lay religious
groups that shared the same faith-in-action ethic as GK. These groups such as Magis
Deo/Marriage Encounter, Bukas Loob Sa Diyos/Open to God, Ligaya ng Panginoon/
Happiness of God, Kerygma Family, among others, saw an opportunity to evangelize or
extend religious assistance to the poor through GK. GK was open to this and encouraged
this partnership because CFC could not supply all of the critically needed caretaker teams
that would commit to three years of community organizing and spiritual work in the GK
Later on other non-Catholic, groups would seek to work with GK. The Mormons in the
Philippines sought to help GK especially with water systems delivery. GK, on the other
hand, sought out the Muslims in southern Philippines, because they just as well needed
housing and community organizing.
Working with Muslims also had a significant
symbolic power for promoting peace in the Philippines.
One of the mass builds of GK held in the Mindanao (the third island grouping of the
Philippines with a large Muslim population) was entitled “Highway of Peace.” As both
Muslim and GK leaders noted, if people had their own homes and could be economically
productive, then there is a possibility that the peace and order in Mindanao could
However, it was this emerging partnership with other non-Catholic groups that became
one source of conflict between Meloto and the faction of CFC founder and then
Executive Director Frank Padilla. Padilla accused GK officers of working with these
other groups at the expense of Catholic evangelization. Worse, he accused GK officers
of instructing CFC-GK volunteers to become secular vis-à-vis their GK work, which was
against CFC’s mission and goals. I elaborate on this later on.
Nevertheless, the faith-based foundation of GK is one of its greatest strengths from a
resource mobilization perspective. Faith-based organizations, academic institutions, and
individuals were key first supporters and have over time provided the logistical and
intellectual resources needed to build up GK.
The social network that they made
available proved invaluable.
Filipino philanthropy and diaspora philanthropy
As gleaned from above, the Philippines has a long history and tradition of giving and
The Filipino cultural traits of bayanihan (community assistance),
pakikipagkapwa (human empathy and deep relationships), tulong (helping) are sources of
coping, surviving, and adaptation especially in challenging times.
Giving and
volunteering are major activities and practices of the individual, family, kinship group,
and community, reinforced by institutions such as the church and the NPO sector.
The Philippine Nonprofit Sector Project’s (PNSP) survey on giving and volunteering in
1999 of Metro Manila, Benguet, Iloilo, Southern Leyte, Davao del Sur and Zamboanga
del Norte estimated giving at 84% for the previous year indicated and 92% for ‘ever
giving’ (Fernan 2002). Household contribution as a percentage of income was estimated
at 1.8%.
Contributions made to individuals in need, the church, and organizations
focused providing social services, culture and recreation, and education and research.
Motivations to give include compassion for the less fortunate, satisfaction felt in helping,
giving in lieu of volunteering, and religious beliefs. The feeling of compassion for
people in need and the joy felt when able to help other people seem to be the most
important reasons for giving (Venture for Fund Raising 2000).
Updated data on corporate giving in the Philippines is sparse. Records from the early
1990s show that corporate giving in absolute dollar amounts increased 1% a year.
Corporate giving was directed primarily towards education (22%), followed by disaster
response, livelihood and economic development, and civic and community affairs.
Recipients of corporate assistance are trade, civic and professional groups; schools and
educational institutions; church organizations; and foundations, and NGOs.
corporations initiate and operate their own community programs through their
community relations office, which was a unique aspect in the 1990s. Lastly, a survey of
92 company respondents in 1994 noted an increase of total amounts given at PhP
315,431,125 (US$ 13.14 million) from PhP 295,001,759 (US$ 12.35 million) in 1992
with 111 company respondents (Tolentino 2005, Velasco 1996). Nevertheless, corporate
support for GK has been strong as discussed in the later sections.
The John Hopkins Comparative NonProfit Sector Project (2002) estimated the Philippine
“all private philanthropy,” which is the total of giving and volunteering for the period
1995-2002 to be 1.18% of GDP. Of this figure, 0.96% comprised volunteering, while
0.23% comprised giving. The top nation in the 35-nation survey generating “all private
philanthropy” was the Netherlands with 4.95% of GDP.
The Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) phenomenon cannot be ignored.
The literal
physical and phenomenally speaking, emerging movement of the overseas Filipino
worker (OFW), expatriate Filipino, and their local partners is another inspiring
development with significant implications for the country. The estimated eight-million
strong OFWs have the technical and global exposure, as well as the monetary resources,
which they are beginning to mobilize to support the Philippine economy, their families,
and communities, promote Filipino culture and solidarity, and lobby for political and
economic reform.
Victoria P. Garchitorena (2007), President of Ayala Foundation Inc. noted that Bangko
Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP/ Philippine Central Bank) -reported cash remittances for the 15year period 1990-2006 was over US$80 billion. In 2006, remittances reached an all time
high US$12.6 billion, which is about 10% of the GDP 2006 (BSP 2006) and is even more
than official development aid (ODA) and direct foreign investments (Garchitorena 2007,
Institute for Migration and Development Issues 2005). In 2007, the remittance figured
topped $14.4 billion and reached PhP16 billion by 2009.
Nearly eight million Filipinos work and live outside the Philippines (Commission on
Filipinos Overseas 2006).
The BSP also reported in 2000 that about 65% of the
remittances originated from or coursed through the United States. About four million
Filipinos live in the United States and have a median annual income of $65,700 second
only to East Asian Indians (U.S. Dept. of State Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
2007, U.S. Census Bureau 2004). In the U.S. Census Bureau of 2002, Fil-Americans
owned over 125,000 businesses, employed close to 132,000 people, and generated nearly
$14.2 billion in revenue. They have a purchasing power of US$ 50 billion. In the fiveyear span of 1997-2002, Fil-Am businesses grew in number by 48 percent, accompanied
by revenue growth of 28 percent. About 38.6% are health care and social assistance
oriented businesses. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) estimated that at least 57%
of the remittances to the Philippines in the year 2006 came from the United States
amounting to more than $8 billion. Clearly, they are significant economic group in the
United States and potentially in the Philippines.
Garchitorena (2007:2) noted that while this “culture of migration” has several social
impacts on the Philippines, there are two sets of phenomena that have emerged. The first
is the development of an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) middle class with
“aspirations, ambitions, and ideas” for a better future for their children that includes
education and demands for better services and governance. The second is that that
overseas Filipinos are major contributors of “time, talent, treasures.” The reasons for this
philanthropic spirit include, quoting from Garchitorena’s (2007:4-6)paper:
a desire to give back to the country of their birth motivated by a sense of
gratitude for the life they lived while in the Philippines;
compassion for the poor and underprivileged, especially in their
a desire to “pay back” especially among those who were themselves poor
or underprivileged before they left for abroad;
a wish to maintain their ties with the motherland;
a desire to prove that they have succeeded in their adopted country and are
now in a position to be generous and share their blessings;
an expression of their faith which encourages sharing and giving with the
less privileged
The reasons for giving and volunteering in the Philippines and in the Filipino diaspora
sectors coincide with research in the United States for the reasons for volunteering. The
reasons include the economic-rationalistic choice exchange model- helping is in one’s
self-interest, psychologically grounded therapeutic motives, and the perspective that
growth and acknowledged sacrifice may be important to fulfillment (Allahyari 2000).
The BSP reported in 2003 that of the cash remittances to the Philippines US$218 million
comprised donations of Filipinos abroad (Opiniano 2006). This excludes hand-carried,
none-reported donations, and non-monetary donations. About 3,000 Filipino associations
exist in the United States alone. Many of these associations are conduits for donations
and assistance to the Philippines.
These associations are of various types such as
organizations, faith-based groups, student associations, cultural associations, national
associations, and dedicated and public charities. Recipients of their aid include churches
and other faith-based institutions, universities and colleges, hospitals, NGOs and
foundations, government, direct to individuals, and special projects and initiatives
(Garchitorena 2007, Opiniano 2006).
CFC’s foundation in the United States is ANCOP USA, which has reported funds
coursing through them have funded 320 GK Villages of mid-2009. Not only has the
diaspora helped generously, but they have leveraged their network to help GK. Thus,
there are now non-Filipino individuals, groups, organizations, even parishes in the United
States helping GK.
One active parish is St. Francis of Assisi Parish in San Jose,
California. Bishop P. J. McGrath of the diocese of San Jose was the first American
bishop to participate in a GK build when he joined parish members (some of them
Filipino-Americans) who make a trip to the Philippines to do volunteer work in January
2009 (Guevara 2009). In the box below, I process documented one of the annual GK
Builders Summit usually held in the United States, but will be held in Singapore in June
Box 5: Notes on the 2008 GK Summit held in San Diego, California
Hope and expectations are high among supporters of Gawad Kalinga (GK) that GK is the
way to a kinder, gentler, and more loving world. Conflict and violence, even for a good
cause, will not lead to peace and prosperity in the long run. The hurts, suffering, and
pains must be overcome. A new way must be forged, one founded on forgiveness and the
heroic and sacrificial love, service, and leadership of Jesus Christ. This is the model that
Gawad Kalinga espouses and is showing to be viable. The 2008 GK1World activities
were held in San Diego. I wondered how organizers and Gawad Kalinga workers were
able to gather some of the best and brightest to strategize on how to make this vision a
reality. Neither the cold, windy, and unpredictable weather nor the long-hours failed in
dampening the spirits and energy of the participants to the Highway of Hope caravan, the
ONE Celebration at Kimball Park, National City, and the two-day GK Builders Summit
at the Marriot Del Mar. This GK1World celebration is a preview of what Gawad Kalinga
aims to initiate and accomplish in the coming years.
Fil-Am supporters in San Diego, led by businessmen Tony Olaes and Robert Sanchez,
smitten by the Gawad Kalinga bug, organized and help fund the GK1World celebration,
which sought to help ramp up Gawad Kalinga’s capacities. This they did by laying the
groundwork for tapping into the compassion, generosity, skills, talents, and resources- the
padugo- of both the Fil-Am and mainstream American communities.
The ONE caravan, led by NAFFAA officer JoAnn Fields, sought to highlight the
important socio-economic-political presence of Fil-Ams in San Diego with a motorcade
through the Fil-Am Highway along CA-54. The motorcade also capped the epic threemonth, 22,000 plus miles, 80-city Highway of Hope caravan of Dylan Wilk and Nathan
Mari with their families, which raised awareness of Gawad Kalinga in the United States.
The response of Fil-Am communities through out the country has been awesome and
inspiring. According to the dynamic duo, they expect up to 150 new Gawad Kalinga
chapters in the United States committed to supporting Gawad Kalinga in various ways.
Quite a number publicly pledged to do so during the GK Builders Summit.
The day-long ONE celebration at Kimball Park, National City was equally impressive.
Occupying practically the whole park, the literal Fiesta had a gigantic slide for kids,
games, food and vendor booths, as well as a GK model home, informational kiosks, and
products from GK communities. The ONE variety show lasted a marathon seven hours
and featured at least 21 performances and Fil-Am talents, some of whom were quite
Hosted by Apo Hiking Society’s Danny Javier and celebrity KC Montero, notable
performers included Q-York, Passion, Pasacat Folk Dancers, Jessica Sanchez, Soulutions
Band (watch out for this talented group), Samahan Folk Dancers, Honare, Noly,
Mabuhay Rondalla, Freda Simone, Agos (whose CD sales allot a percentage to GK),
Chidren of Mother Earth, Marlone Dane, Rising Star, Kuh Ledesma, and capped by
Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo and apl.de.ap.
Arizona had its star in Jessica Cox, a U. of Arizona psychology graduate, who gave a
short inspirational talk, after being interviewed by Danny Javier on stage. Jessica is the
first person without arms to fly solo. She is also a blackbelt in taekwondo and is a
motivational speaker (see www.rightfooted.com). Her brother Jason Cox will be
organizing the first GK Builders Assembly in Tucson this summer. The ONE
Celebration had extensive private sector support. Seafood City Supermaket is an active
GK supporter and is calling for applications to its one-year, funded-Seafood City/GK
Builders Corps. Kuh Ledesma’s Hacienda Isabela, a complete spa, wellness, and natureresort in Indang, Cavite, will contribute one GK home for each Hacienda Lifetime
membership bought. Tony Olaes has agreed to market/distribute the health drink Mona
Vie with all profits to go to GK. He has also committed to raising $5M by 2009 for GK
to use in its global scale up. Other partners for ONE included the RCBC remit center,
Southwest Airlines, and, Mabuhay Alliance. The next day, ANCOP USA hosted the GK
Builders Summit 2008 at the Marriot Del Mar. At least 300 attended from all over the
United States.
Gawad Kalinga leaders including GK Executive Director Luis Onquiñena, GK Program
Head Mari Oquiñena, GK father figure Tony Meloto, GK finance honcho Mike Goco,
GK intellectual Boy Montelibano and GKom head Maria Montelibano led the Manila
team. Couples for Christ, parent of GK, had its Director and GK Chair Joe Tale (also a
member of the CFC International Council) along with fellow elder Dr. Joe Yamamoto.
ANCOP had all their top guns there from Chairman Ricky Cuenca, Executive Director
Rose Cabrera to its National Management Committee and Regional Coordinators.
The schedule was packed and involved talks, videos showings, updates and reports, and
interactive workshops. The Summit’s goal was to understand, plan, strategize, and
hopefully implement activities that will capture the evolving nature of Gawad Kalinga.
This is especially significant for GK/ANCOP USA because, as GK notes, Fil-Ams in the
United States and Filipinos in the Philippines and all over the world, are becoming an
Army of Builders. Like Jesus’ message of love and sacrifice, “every single person who
hears the message of GK spoken becomes a BUILDER of the GK movement” (Gawad
Kalinga 2008). The evolution is one of a donor to a partner, then a builder. In the United
States, there are from 2.5 to 4.5 million Fil-Ams. Gawad Kalinga aims to reach them and
spread the message of HOPE that, through padugo, the Philippines can overcome
poverty, inequality, and (social) exclusion.
Consider the following developments. Fil-Ams and Fil-Canadians have funded at least
320 GK communities, which are now entering their education, health, environment, and
productivity phases. These communities still need maintenance help and capacity
building in order for them to become more self-reliant and themselves become partners in
developing and helping other GK communities. Ricky Cuenca and Rose Cabrera
reported that Gawad Kalinga is entering the African continent, where generations have
been lost to AIDS, poverty, war, and environmental destruction. Africa needs HOPE and
Gawad Kalinga seeks to provide it. Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria will host the first
GK pilot sites.
Gawad Kalinga seeks to establish 2,000 new GK communities this year to exponentially
ramp up the number of communities. With God’s and everyone’s help, the goal of 7,000
communities by the year 2010 is becoming feasible. In order to achieve this, Gawad
Kalinga needs to recruit a million volunteers worldwide, inspire members of Couples for
Christ to become more active in GK, prepare GK beneficiaries to become GK partners
themselves, and transform supporters from the academic, private, and governmental
sectors into key partners. It is a grounds-up, nation-building model in the works.
Recently, Tony Meloto reported that the Philippine Department of Agriculture offered to
fund the entire 300 demonstration farms that GK was planning on rolling out. The offer
jumpstarts the GK food productivity and abundance program. He also noted that the City
of Taguig aims to supplant Makati as the country’s financial and business center. With
Fort Bonifacio as the anchor and with GK as an active partner, Taguig aims to be squatter
free (10,000-15,000 squatter families), its wet markets lining C5 upgraded, a new
international airport proposed, and the area fronting Laguna de Bay transformed into a
visitor and resident-friendly recreation center. Already, news is out that the Philippine
Stock Exchange will be unified in Taguig.
Alaminos, Pangasinan Mayor Nani Braganza shares the same thinking. In his talk, he
reported that Alaminos is jueteng-free. They’ve been able to reduce malnutrition from
22% to 7%. He is partnering up with GK to assist 1,000 squatter families and build 30
GK villages in his town. The future also thus lies in dynamic and innovative local
leaders. Around 350 mayors are tapping GK in solving their twin problems of squatting
and poverty. The work cut out for GK is massive, hence the call for heroism and padugo
to fellow Filipinos and kindred spirits worldwide.
Help is coming in other unconventional ways. Luis Onquiñena reported that all
campuses of Rizal University covering its 17,000 students are and will do service in GK
sites. About 100 universities in the Philippines have various forms of cooperative
agreements with GK. The retiring heads of Wyeth Philippines and AIG/PhilAm Life will
be working full-time voluntarily for GK. They will bring with them personal resources,
time, talents, and their network. Former Dept. of Agriculture Secretary Cito Lorenzo and
his wife, Malen are using their expertise in business and the social sciences, as well as
their network to tap in to philanthropic sources in the Washington D.C. area.
Tony Meloto emphasized that partnering with GK makes good sense. He said that GK is
becoming the Armani and Gucci of community development. The Philippine Star
reported a 100% positive support in a survey it conducted on GK. The 2009 GK Builders
Summit will be held either in Harvard and MIT as GK seeks to establish its presence in
Philippine and American universities in the hope of melding the “Science, System, and
Spirit” of GK. On October 10, 2010 or 10-10-10, there will be a massive gathering in the
Philippines to celebrate what GK has achieved and what it will be doing in the coming
years. The future is unfolding for GK. GK’s Nathan Mari calls it G(od’s) K(ingdom).
The next section discusses how GK collaborates with the State.
Partnering with the state
In the Philippines, said one of the GK officers, there are two sources of wealth and power
needed by the movement to meet the goals of GK 777. These are the elites and the state.
It is GK’s task to transform both, to inspire both, to convince them to share the resources
and expertise for the benefit of the poor. With the rich, they have offered partnerships
and paths in which they can help. For government, GK presents itself as a sincere partner
to government in addressing (a) poverty, (b) increase in informal settlements or
“squatter” sites, (c) homelessness, (d) social exclusion of the poor, and, (e) governance.
In the earlier sections, data showed that all of the cities in Metro Manila have informal
settlements. Many of these informal settlers are rural migrants who moved to the city for
a variety of reasons. Further, the national government’s mass housing program is not
enough to meet the backlog and demand. The presence of informal settlements indicates
it is a self-help housing strategy and public as well as affordable housing do not meet the
Because GK claims and stresses to national and local government officials that they have
no agenda other than to help the poor, partnerships from the highest to lowest level have
been forged by GK and the state. Remember that the Arroyo administration is a big
supporter of GK and gave the movement one of its earliest significant resources of PhP30
million (US$600,000) to build 1,000 homes. The Vice-President who is the housing czar
has been active and enthusiastic supporter of GK. That has enabled GK to enter and
upgrade some of the relocation and resettlement sites of the government that were
implemented haphazardly and have deteriorated. Examples of these are GK Towerville,
GK Bagong Silang, GK Smokey Mountain, among others.
Thus, while GK maybe criticized for assuming the tasks and responsibilities of
government (public housing), GK responds that the need is great and government cannot
do it alone. Senators have given their pork barrel, officially known as Countryside
Development Fund/ Priority Development Assistance Fund (CDF/ PDAF), with one
senator giving as much as PhP40 million of US$800,000 to GK.
Lastly, soldiers are poorly compensated for serving the country. Many military families,
especially the enlisted families, cannot afford decent housing. Many live in informal
settlements. GK partnered up the with Department of National Defense (DND) in the
Gawad Kawal (Soldier) housing program. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
have been active supporters of GK, providing security and logistical support in mass
builds and in relief efforts. During the relief operations for Typhoon Ondoy victims in
2009, the military was a key partner of GK. I discussed this earlier.
The GK-State partnerships has resulted in several innovative programs.
In Murcia,
Negros Occidental, the mayor initiated a housing program for town employees with GK
help. In Makati City, the richest in the country, the Mayor has partnered with GK to set
up GK villages not in Makati but outside of Metro Manila. This is to declog the city and
provide informal settlers with decent homes and, importantly, livelihood opportunities so
that they do not need to migrate. This is the GK-LGU (local government unit) version of
the Balik Probinsiya (return to the province) program. In Taguig City, the mayor has
extended full support to making the city a “GK Designer City” meaning that all informal
settlers will be provided with GK housing and/or programs that incorporate the GK
model. The Taguig Designer City is significant because this is the pilot program of GK
for township development. Thus, this is a level up scaling of the GK model from the
family to the community and now on to the town level. Second, the local government
and GK are sharing and combining their resources to address informal settlements in its
totality. Third, if the Taguig experiment is successful, other towns and cities will most
likely attempt their own respective designer city program. In Davao City, GK partnered
up with the city jail to build homes for female inmates inside the prison compound. It is a
5,400-square-meter women’s facility called Ray of Hope Village with 10 duplexes (five
have been finished), a multipurpose hall and, nursing room for mothers (Lacorte 2008).
Plate 13: Photo of cottages at GK Ray of Hope Village- Ma-a City Jail
(photo by Nell Macaraeg)
In Bayawan City, Negros Oriental, the mayor saw the need for an alternative road that
would bypass the congested provincial highway. He also wanted a boulevard that would
rival Dumaguete’s famed Rizal Boulevard. The only thing was he had 750 squatter
families on the seashore by the planned boulevard. He partnered up with GK and
relocated all of them to the other side of the road covering 7.4 hectares. He now has a
six-lane boulevard with a nearly white-sand seashore that is four-barangays long like
Roxas Blvd. in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.
Plate 14:
GK Bayawan Fisherman’s Village
He got a GTZ (German Technical Cooperation Agency), loan to pay for a ten million
pesos (PhP10M) wastewater treatment system that uses bamboo reeds (Phragmites) in
approximately 3,000 square meters. The cleaned wastewater goes to an overhead tank
which is also the welcome arch and is used for irrigation and firefighting. Expect this area
to become something like Waikiki Beach in the coming years (which means there are
business opportunities here, right now). This award-winning project is one of the best
pilot projects featuring a Gawad Kalinga-local government unit partnership.
In these few examples, GK cements its partnerships with individuals, families,
corporations, and the state through a non-threatening, non-competitive, non-critical
manner. GK does not seek to overshadow its institutional partners. Rather it takes every
opportunity to honor publicly its partners. I think this is strategic on the part of GK. In
publicly honoring its partners, GK is putting them and itself on a high moral ground,
which makes it difficult for both parties to deviate from without losing credibility.
Second, GK forges partnerships with the intention of solving Philippine society’s
structural problems, which affect all parties. The number of families living in informal
settlers is growing. This indicates growing poverty, wealth, and hope gaps, inequality,
and social exclusion. The living conditions are not ideal. Thus, it is to everyone’s
advantage to support GK’s program which proposes an integrated area development
model. This means homes are built to “to-code” and increasingly with green building
housing techniques and ecological solid and liquid waste management programs. The
colorful homes have a positive, uplifting, and fiesta atmosphere to it. Do remember, that
each GK site is expected to become a faith community, a peace zone, a tourist spot, a
productivity center, and an environmentally healthy community.
If implemented
successfully, then a partnership with GK addresses some of the state’s most embarrassing
Third, partnering with GK is cost effective. Meloto says that every US$1 given to them
is leveraged and actually creates US$4 worth of goods and services. That is because GK
will bring in other partners and volunteers to provide the land, technical services,
construction, community organizing and values transformation, and other administrative,
coordinating, and communication services needed in community infrastructure
The Philippine state working with a social movement, NGO, or SMO is nothing new.
Civil society, most especially after the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship, is an
institutionalized feature of Philippine society. Civil society participation is enshrined in
the 1987 Philippine constitution and many legislation including important laws and
implementing rules and regulations (IRR) such as the 1992 Local Government Code, the
1995 Mining Act, the 1997 Indigenous People’s Rights Act, the environmental impact
assessment (EIA) system, the 1992 Urban Development Housing Act, among others
(ADB 2004, Calaputuro 1998, Cariño 2002).
GK claims that theirs is not a charity project because: (a) transformation occurs in those
who help and those being helped; (b) those being helped provide counterpart activities
and potentially as well as eventually, seek to help others; (c) the task is nation building in
which everyone has a role to play. I discuss the process of beneficiaries becoming
benefactors in the next section.
Beneficiaries as benefactors
The United Nations-Habitat (2006) characterizes shelter deprivation as insufficient
dwelling space, poor durability of dwelling, lack of access to water and sanitation, and
lack of security of tenure. Mitlin (2003) and Moser (1998) emphasized that in providing
housing assistance to alleviate poverty, the focus has to be on building assets of the poor.
These include: (a) financial and investment capital and resources; (b) capacity building
for the development of human capital; (c) investment in public infrastructure or physical
capital, and; (d) community organizing to build community solidarity or development of
social capital.
One way of addressing housing shortages is self-help housing provision.
activities in housing are not novel. Humans have long done it (see Harris 2003 for a
concise summary). Even developed countries have relied on self-help housing provision
as a strategy (Rowe 1993).
For the poor and the informal settlers, building what
constitutes their home on land that is not legally theirs is one strategy for survival (Turner
1972, Abrams 1964). It is also their claim to the urban space (Castells 1983, Lefebvre
1974, Mumford 1961).
Self-help uses the available and minimally acceptable construction skills, labor, time,
resources, management, and organizational talents of family members in building or
improving their homes or dwellings (Lacquian 1983).
The state and international
community at various times has assisted them in this regards (Domicelj 1988, Lacquian
1983, Blunt 1982, Misra and Booshan 1978). Under other political circumstances, it has
moved against informal settlers (Bredenoort and van Lindert 2010, van Naerssen 2001,
Harris 2001, Lacquian 1983, Turner 1972, Abrams 1964). Thus, housing provision has
run the gamut of self-help to state-provided schemes. Between these two strategies and
following the civil society perspectives, Racelis (1986) called for more peoplegovernment cooperation and for the private sector to be more active.
Self-help in housing that is upscaled is mutual self-help. It is participating families and
relatives helping one another build better dwellings (Lacquian 1983).
Research on
mutual aid is fairly developed in both biological and social sciences. Two lines of theory
seek to explain mutual aid or human cooperative behavior. One is egoistic in nature. This
is oppositional to mutual aid, following the evolutionary thought of Darwin (1859) and
T.H. Huxley (1908/1955). The other is mutual aid, which at first competed with the
theory of evolution and first developed in pre-revolutionary Russia through the
pioneering work of sociobiologist Petr Kropotkin. Kropotkin (1902) in his book Mutual
Aid: a factor in evolution surveyed the various ways of cooperation in nature and in
different types of society. He posited that cooperation is an essential strategy for survival
in a hostile environment.
Egoistic behavior, on the other hand, was ultimately
detrimental to the survival and development of both animal and human species. Weaker
species, in fact, have survived, through social, cooperative behavior (Glassman 2000).
Thus, mutual aid or cooperative behavior
is desirable if one assumes that humans
interact with one another in order to survive (Huxley 1908/1955). This implies a
“complex method of meeting individual needs..and to maintain peace and security of the
individual” (Glassman 2000: 394).
The issue of the free-rider can be addressed if the starting point is the interest of the
community. At the community level of analysis evolutionary and mutual aid theory can
be reconciled. Glassman (2000: 405) notes the altruistic trap of the free-rider noting- and
this is key to understanding the GK model- that “in a mutual aid theory of evolution the
more sociable organisms will attempt to engage the less sociable free riders in a more
collectively orientation solution to their dilemma…if..unable..they will eventually break
of thorugh the process of migration and form their own community…” In the social
realm, mutual aid is informed by individual identity as it influences a sense of and
participation in the social construct that is community (Davis 2010, Kameda et.al 2003,
Graeber 2002, Glassman 2000)
Studies have sown that in mutual self-help housing, the bulk of expenses went to
materials and minimally for labor. In the Philippines, labor costs in an informal
settlement accounted for only 3.8% in the early 80s (Lacquian 1983). The benefits of
self-help and mutual aid in housing include the following: affordable costs for building,
cooperative work and cementing of friendships, skills improvement and new learnings,
improved emotional and psychological benefits of better dwellings (“a secure and safe
home”, more space), confidence to shape and control their everyday lives, a sense of
belonging, and opportunities to save and build assets (pay of debts, sub-let, home-based
business) based on their dwelling (Bredenoort et.al. 2010, Harris 2003, Bredenoort and
van Lindert 2010, Burns 1983, Lacquian 1983 and 1971).
Self-help is not without its critics, especially those critiquing capitalism. Some observed
that it has been used by the state and development agencies to exert some form of control
on slum dwellers.
Others, note that neoliberal trend of abdicating state or societal
obligations of social safety nets to the individual. It exploits unpaid labor and suppresses
wage labor in housing. It masks the growing wealth disparity in capitalists societies and
provides urban areas with cheap labor. It ignores fundamental questions of poverty and
inequality (Burns 1983, Castells 1983, Ward 1982).
Self-help is a core value and principle in Gawad Kalinga. At the national level, GK’s
view is that if Filipinos share and care for one another, then the country can develop
without outside assistance. GK has been landbanking for future GK sites and is close to
achieving enough land for the goal of 700,000 homes. The strategy, according to GK, is
to ask the national and local governments to set aside land for their public housing
programs. For landowners with land being occupied and used by informal settlers, a
compromise of providing land for the homeless in exchange for getting back the rest is a
better alternative than the status quo. An added bonus is that GK village may improve
the image of the area and increase land values.
For beneficiaries, they are in different economic states. Some have little or no assets.
Others have and have organized themselves to better bargain for compromises with
landowners or to avail of the government’s housing program. The All 85 GK village
beneficiaries discussed below, for example, own the land under the government’s
Community Mortgage Program (CMP). GK’s (and Habitat for Humanity) sweat equity
program wherein they provide counterpart labor building homes is not new to them. This
harks back to the bayanihan Filipino culture (San Juan 2008).
When I mentioned earlier Meloto’s strategy for the multiplication of the loaves, his active
partner would be the beneficiaries themselves. The gang members who decided to join
Meloto showed the public that change is possible, that given a decent home, a safe
environment, and access to education, they can build their capacities. The more than
2,000 GK homes built in Bagong Silang is the result of partnerships between benefactors
and beneficiaries. The latter worked for it. Their character and the experience working
with them also transformed volunteers and supporters. That was their gift to them, the
social learning experience that Freire (1968) talks about in praxis.
Their successes
created momentum. They inspired the public and potential supporters to come and help.
They inspired their fellow residents to help.
GK is of the position that the poor are partners in development. They keep their end of
any agreement according to Meloto and other GK officers.
In Brazil for example, the Landless Workers Movement or the Movimento dos
Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), is the largest social movement in Latin America.
Its estimated 1.5 million landless members are present in 23 out of the country’s 27
states. The MST’s main activity is people’s land reform. Since 1985, the MST has
entered, occupied, and developed unused land into cooperative farms, housing, schools,
clinics, and other activities and facilities that promote indigenous cultures, an
environmental ethic, and gender equality. The MST has facilitated land titles for more
than 350,000 families in 2,000 settlements. Another 180,000 encamped families are
pressuring government to award them land titles. They are confident as the Brazilian
Constitution states unused and unproductive land is used for the benefit of society. In
Brazil, 1.6% of the landowners own and control nearly half (46.8%) of the land. Another
1.2 % of the population owns the other third arable lands or 3% control two thirds of the
arable land. MST counts 400 agricultural associations, 49 Agricultural and Cattle-raising
Cooperatives (CPA), 32 Service Cooperatives with 11,174 direct partners, two Regional
Commercialization Cooperatives and 3 Credit Cooperatives with 6,521 members (MST
I am reminded the inspiring life story of woman in a GK village relayed to me. Her
husband became a drug dependent. She and her children had to get up very early to
scavenge dumpsters for recyclable materials for sale to junk shops. They had no home
and the informal settlement they were living was demolished.
malnourished, and had barely any assets.
They were starving,
Her family along with others became a
beneficiary of one of the GK sites in Quezon City, Metro Manila.
Despite this
development her husband continued to suffer from drug addiction and his own demons.
She and her young children had to fend for themselves. She told me if not for the support
of her neighbors and the establishment of the GK village the situation would have been
hopeless. Her husband eventually landed in jail, but the love of his wife and children and
community support encouraged him to reform. He was able to overcome his addictions,
got released from jail, and dedicated himself to work in the GK village where they reside.
Today, their situation is one of the more inspiring stories of redemption in a GK
community. The couple are active workers and officers of that particular GK village.
Stories of individual and family redemption are numerous in GK folklore. Meloto’s
(2009) book is replete with them, because many were his personal friends. One example
is Bailinda Eman, a former commander of the Muslim insurgency, who is now an active
GK worker and someone I met and spoke to several times. A mayor, himself a Muslim,
of a town in war-torn Mindanao was wary at first with GK and its Christian background.
After receiving assurances that no Christian evangelization would happen, he partnered
with GK. What he observed was striking. Whereas his town would be a site of military
encounters because of the presence rebels, when GK homes were built and residents
settled down in their new homes, peace ensued and the rebels left. He has said publicly
that GK work enabled him to reconcile with a rival mayor of another town. Thus, the
beneficiaries themselves became proponents of peace (Ortigas 2007).
When homes are built and GK villages become more organized, the other GK program
components are implemented.
GK has formally adopted a holistic approach to
community development. It seeks to improve the physical capital of the beneficiaries, but
in the process re-ignite the Filipino culture of bayanihan (solidarity and cooperation) as a
core strategy. With bayanihan, they can formally organize themselves in neighborhood
associations called Kapitbahayan to pursue community programs and shared values or
social capital.
The physical capital includes beautiful colorful homes, schools,
multipurpose halls, pathways, greenery, ecological waste management, and other
necessary infrastructure. They have become benefactors themselves. GK residents have
helped in disaster relief efforts that GK leads; have donated part of their proceeds of their
community livelihood programs to other GK site (the Banglos sculpture is an example);
and have volunteered in a number of ways including become SIBOL teachers or GK
Plate 15: The colors and sights of GK villages
The next section discusses the all important caretaker team that GK mobilizes for each
GK village established to provide a variety of services and direction.
Community and spiritual organizing: GK Caretaker Team
An important aspect of successful capacity building in GK communities is the Caretaker
Team. Caretaker teams are just that, teams of men and women, at the outset from CFC,
who commit to mentor, care, organize, and shepherd GK communities for a minimum of
three years. A caretaker team is composed of a project director, community organizer,
and assistants.
They attempt to ensure delivery of services and implementation of
programs and activities. They are father, mother, brother, sister, and friend to the GK
beneficiaries. The caretaker teams were the embodiment of padugo. They faced some of
the most daunting challenges and frustrations, but for many it was their concrete
manifestation of faith-in-action.
For example, one caretaker, a former left-wing activist, was threatened and his van stoned
when he started community organizing in one of the GK villages. One neighborhood
toughie did not favor the changes that the presence of GK was effecting. Both politicians
and insurgents who do not want to brook any rival and influential party have harassed
GK caretaker teams. Caretakers have on many occasions spent their own funds to do
work. Community organizing is not novel, but GK has taken it a level up by:
Using a team-based approach;
Using a long-term community presence (minimum three years); and,
A multi-pronged and multi-disciplinary set of program activities.
Good caretaker teams are normally associated with high performing GK sites. Poorly
performing GK sites have absentee caretaker teams, I observed. Absentee caretaker teams
either reflect conflict, lack of resources, lack of commitment, and, as some GK officers
note, burnout.
Recruiting, building up, and expanding caretaker teams is a very
important task of GK.
When beneficiaries become benefactors, what this implies is that the capacity of
beneficiaries are being either built up or tapped. Building and tapping this capacity is a
key caretaker task. Capacity building, while defined differently by various organizations,
refers to the actual or potential ability of an individual, organization, and/or society to
perform, (developmental) objectives.
It is about getting things done.
development, on the other hand, is about the process in which these individuals,
organizations, and/or societies maintain, improve, achieve, and even expand their
capabilities to meet the developmental objectives over time. Both activities, processual,
in nature involves change, continual improvement, growth, creativity, energy,
mobilization, individual and social learning, effective leadership and management, and
sustainable use of resources (FAO, UNDP, OECD, GTZ GmbH, CIDA, World Bank
The operational word, capacity, refers to the ability to perform, receive, contain, yield,
withstand, and/or achieve. It comes from the old English, French, capacité, and from
Latin, capacitatem, from capax "able to hold much," from capere "to take" 39. The
elements common to the various definitions of capacity building and development
Both involve change or transformation. Individuals, organizations, or societies
change and adapt new perspectives, skills, capacity that will enable them to meet their
objectives. Change and transformation need to be managed so that these are
processes are positive and lead to success.
Success requires political will to use incentives, provide resources, and determination;
Capacity development involves the individual, the organization, and the society.
Thus, it occurs at three levels, which require different strategies;
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/capacity (accessed: January 04, 2010).
It is about the participation and activation of the three levels in pursuit of
development goals. This means providing opportunities for participants at the three
levels to perform;
Capacity development involves governance, which is about who decides what. It is
about participation, transparency, accountability, and provision of the resources and
learning that will enable these to happen;
It involves providing resources, equipping people with skills and competencies,
helping increase the self-confidence of participants, promoting responsible planning
and action of target beneficiaries, and increasing the involvement of the target
beneficiaries in improving their community, organization, or society;
It is about developing responsible leadership and human resources;
It is about developing institutional arrangements that facilitate organizational
performance and meeting of objectives;
It is about access to knowledge and continual improvement in a timely manner;
It is about promoting state-society accountability mechanisms that lead to human
Figure 26: Capacity building scope
Building capacities is typically a four step process that involves:
An honest assessment of what the challenges or problems are at the individual (for
those that will be active participants), organizational, and societal levels;
Initiating a process that will plan and strategize how to change or address these
challenges and problems;
Identifying and organizing how and who will carry out these strategies; and,
Monitoring, evaluating, and improving the change process.
This process is continues and should lead to improvement and further human and
organizational development or growth.
Figure 27: The capacity development process
Capacity development is nothing new in non-profit work. In fact, for many non-profits,
capacity development is their core mission.
However, GK has made capacity
development a strategy for community development and nation building. For GK, it is
about building the capacities of the poor to make them active partners in national
development. I think GK is upscaling self-help and mutual aid activities by a conscious
capacity development program at the community level.
At the same time, GK has adopted a continuous improvement ethic in its operations. It
actually has no choice because as the movement grows bigger and expand, it will have
acquire new and appropriate organizational forms. GK sought to address this issue of
organizational competence and capacity building in two ways. The first is to attract the
best and brightest. Thus, its finance head is a retired bank president. Its administrative
director is a retired country manager of an multinational insurance company.
“champion” for environment or the Green Kalinga program is the former secretary of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources. A scion of the entrepreneurial clan
heads its productivity and livelihood foundation. The head of its communication and
media arm was the former media bureau chief of President Cory Aquino. On its board is
a university president and giants of Philippine business. The list is long..
Second, GK partners institutionally. With the help of several universities, it set up the
GK Builders Institute to document and institutionalize social learnings from the GK
work. A university or two that is known for its core competence in the area of any of the
GK program components is the designated lead agency in GKBI.
To maintain its
financial credibility, it has been audited annually since its incorporation in 2003 Isla
Lipana & Co, a Philippine member firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers global network. To
ensure, it is financially literate, in 2007, GK supporter and SGV founder Washington
Sycip facilitated the partnership between Gawad Kalinga and SGV & Co., a Philippine
member company of Ernst & Young. A grant from SGV Foundation, enabled SGV to
review GK’s business processes and suggest improvements.
Lastly, its information
technology systems is being upgraded by partner firms in order to ensure transparency in
financial matters and better delivery of services to the poorest of the poor.
A key supporter of GK’s work is the corporations. Depending on a firm’s corporate
social responsibility vision and resources available, firms can participate in a number of
ways (Wood 1991). The first is direct, in which they fund the establishment of a GK
village of 30-50 families in the firm’s name. Thus, there are GK villages named after
multinationals such as Royal Shell, Unilever, Nestle, Proctor and Gamble, McDonalds,
Philips, Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Western Union, Petron Aramco, Chevron,
Pfizer, Wyeth, Boehringer, Unilab, Glaxo Kline, ABBOTT, Colgate-Palmolive, and so
Telecommunications, Shoemart, RFM Corporation, Selecta, Universal Robina, and so on
are also active. The Lopez family of Manila Electric Co. (MERALCO) has committed to
building SIBOL-daycare centers in as many GK villages as possible.
As part of their CSR activities, company employees are encouraged to help and volunteer
in builds and other supporting programs. It is the experience and interaction with village
residents that are highlighted. Companies are encouraged to “adopt” the villages they
either sponsored or visit.
By adopt, GK means establishing group and individual
friendships, supporting the village programs, and orienting their CSR programs to GK
communities. Aligning help with company’s core competence is one way to deepen the
friendship. For example, Philips Lighting, aside from funding a village helps with the
lighting program.
Pharmaceutical companies such as Unilab, Pfizer, Unilab, Pfizer,
Therapharma, GlaxoSmithKline, Boeringer-Ingelheim, Natrapharm, etc. are involved in
health programs of GK.
Lastly, GK also invites companies to join GK activities such as the annual GK1MB
Bayani Challenge, GK summit, GK Expo to symbolize to the public the private sectorGK partnership. A property company offered a whole floor to GK for its free use as
headquarters. Over 350 corporations, Meloto states, are supporting GK (Gulle 2009).
GK’s corporate partners benefitted from the partnership. For those who participated,
GK’s programs aligned with their CSR vision and program. Pilipinas Shell for example
dismantled their professional basketball team in the Philippines. With funds freed up, it
funded a year long multi-media campaign featuring Shell, GK, and Tony Meloto that
provided a significant boost in public awareness for GK in 2006. Shell also funded two
GK villages near its refining complex in Batangas province and is actively supporting
GK’s Bayan-Anihan food productivity program. In these activities, Pilipinas Shell has
gotten good CSR mileage. It opened up opportunities for its employees to do community
assistance work, which became a team-building activity. Lastly, contributions to GK are
tax deductible. Over 400 big, medium-sized, and multinational corporations support GK
in myriad ways, GK officers state.
They have funded a significant number of GK
villages either solely or in combination with other GK supporters.
One example I studied extensively is Coral Bay Nickel Corporation and Rio Tuba Nickel
Mining Corporation (CBNC/RTNMC) located in Bgy. Rio Tuba, Municipality of
Bataraza, Province of Palawan. I have repeatedly returned to do research in the area as
part of a third party environmental and social impact research team since the mid-90s.
Rio Tuba, Bataraza is the site of the 2010 GK Bayani Challenge in April 2010. CBNC
and RTNMC committed to build 1,000 GK homes in 10 years throughout Bataraza. They
appreciated the GK model. On GK’s part, they stressed to CBNC/RTNMC that it did not
look good to have a very modern mineral processing facilities surrounded by destitute
indigenous peoples and locals. The company was exploring ways to strengthen further its
social development program commitments under the 1995 Philippine Mining Act. GK’s
model provided a program. See box below for the CBNC/RTMC story.
Box 6: Gawad Kalinga and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation/Rio Tuba
Nickel Mining Corporation
GK in Rio Tuba. Upon the invitation of RTNMC’s president, Atty. Manuel Zamora,
GK’s Boy Montelibano and Mari Onquiñena visited Bgy. Rio Tuba last May 18, 2006 to
explore the possibility of establishing a GK site for indigenous peoples (IPs). The state
of the IPs, specifically the Pala’wan, has minimally improved. Originally huntergatherers, in-migration, agriculture, commercial activities, natural resource competition
and use, increasing urbanization, and continuing penetration of the cash economy into
rural, upland, and IP communities have reduced their hunting and foraging areas. Many
Pala’wan have also adopted lowland Christian and Muslim practices. Top CBNC
officials hope that the GK model of community development will assist IPs adapt to an
urbanizing Bataraza/Rio Tuba that is increasingly integrated to the (capitalist) cash
economy. Bataraza has a long history of natural resource use starting with logging
during the American colonial period to mangrove harvesting to nickel mining in the past
30 years. While Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. (RTNMC) has been proactive in
assisting the Pala’wan by providing employment, free health, educational, and
transportation services, and other kinds of assistance, there is still a need to build
Pala’wan capacities.
Environmental regulations as well as the 1997 Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA)
have required both CBNC and RTNMC to institute programs in this regard. The 1995
Mining Act, for example, requires CBNC to allot 1% of its direct mining and milling
costs (DMMC) for its SDMP. CBNC’s SDMP is PhP90M over five-years in the 11
impact barangays. FGDs conducted in 2003 for the SDMP generated issues around (a)
participants’ economic concerns and lack of economic opportunities, (b) community
infrastructure needs, (c) IP exclusion from the community and project operations, (d)
project impacts, and, (f) identification of project benefits. Thus, the agreed upon SDMP
covers basic infrastructure, social services, livelihood, cultural development, and funding
assistance for community projects. Beyond the SDMP, CBNC management tapped
Gawad Kalinga (GK) for a housing cum community development project for IPs in
Bataraza. CBNC has purchased three (3) hectares in one sitio for its first site and
established two other sites as of 2009. It committed at least PhP10M to construct the two
Providing a middle class type, lowland community development program to IPs presents
academic, cultural, and developmental questions as it deviates from the conventional
wisdom that IPs do not desire middle class, lowland types of development. It will also
affect the emerging corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs of CBNC as
embodied in the COMREL and SDMP activities. The summary details for each site are
discussed below.
Sitio Kulantuod, Bgy. Iwahig. This sitio is a direct impact area (DIA) of the Gotok
limestone quarry area, located at Sitio Gotok, Bgy. Igang-Igang. RTNMC has started
limestone quarrying for CBNC’s use in the HPP.
Quarrying necessitates the use of dynamite blasting, clearing of trees and vegetation,
construction of access roads and support facilities in what is considered ancestral
domains and/or IP land. RTNMC has secured a free and prior informed consent (FPIC)
per IPRA requirements and has won over the support of the IP chieftain or panglima,
Dambo Kurob.
SDMP projects include construction of the sitio school and day care buildings, concrete
pavement, motorcycles/tricycles, VHF radios, medical missions and health services, etc.
Monetary support has also been provided by CBNC. The majority of the IPs in this sitio
now support the project. RTNMC purchased the proposed GK site, about three (3)
hectares, from Panglima/Chieftain Kurob, who indicated that he will use the money to
buy an area of equivalent size nearby. Panglima Kurob’s property was chosen because it
is adjacent to SDMP-funded multi-purpose concrete pavement, school, daycare center,
and tribal hall. At least 50 families stand to become GK beneficiaries.
Site conditions. The proposed GK site slopes downward from the concrete pavement
and is rolling. Several houses made out of bamboo and nipa dot the area. The SDMP
funded the construction of one hand-pumped well. The area is devoid of original growth
forests, having been either logged, cut-down for fuel wood, home building, or slash-andburn farming (“kaingin”). There are a few remaining trees, but mostly shrubs and farm
plots. The residents practice subsistence farming of maize (corn), coconut, and (kaingin)
rice. The sitio within the 2-km radius from the Gotok quarry site (see photos). RTNMC
has began paving the access road and topping it off with limestone chunks. The general
area is predominantly inhabited by the Pala’wan. There is no electrical power
connection. However, SDMP-funds enabled them to acquire a genset for community use.
Panglima Kurob also received a VHF radio and has a cellphone for communications.
Not nomadic anymore. Most, if not all, of the Pala’wan here are now permanently
settled in Sitio Kulangtuod or in adjacent areas. The popular belief that the Pala’wan are
still nomadic and move homes after the death of a family member is not anymore
applicable. According to a number of Pala’wan I spoke to, most have settled down and
established permanent homes, villages (sitios), farm plots and a hunting-gathering radius.
They talk of at least three generations of permanent settlement (“mga lolo namin”).
Residents in this sitio also speak good Pilipino, sell their products in barangay and
municipal markets, interact with local officials and businessmen, and are in constant
touch with various officers, staff, and personnel of RTNMC, CBNC, and RTNFI (Rio
Tuba Nickel Foundation Inc.- the CSR arm). Many are adept at home construction,
machine repair typical of an rural society, and even electrical wiring. In other words,
they are acculturated to mainstream Filipino society, but live in homogenous
communities and retain many of their cultural practices.
Sitio Bungkol-Bungkol, Bgy. Rio Tuba is a direct impact area of the project because it
is near the causeway and (coastal) storage facilities for chemicals and other inputs of
CBNC and RTNMC ore stockpiles.
The sitio is evenly distributed among Pala’wan, Muslims, and Christians. The
downstream portion of the Ocayan River bisects their sitio. In the past, the river’s
deteriorating water quality due to nickel mining sedimentation led residents to complain
to the DENR and local officials. RTNMC implemented remedial environmental
measures and compensated those directly affected. The river is an important source of
marine species for the residents.
Significantly, there are river sightings of seawater and freshwater crocodiles endemic to
Bataraza/Rio Tuba and considered endangered. The proposed GK site is owned by three
in-law relatives of Panglima Angelo Lagrada. According to him all three families have
expressed willingness to sell the land to RTNMC. The site is close to five hectares,
gently rolling, and planted mainly to coconut trees, which are at least 60 years old. Like
most of Bataraza, this area was originally a primary forest which was logged over
successively. The Pala’wan were even hired to cut down trees in their own communal
land and paid minimally. After clearing the area of trees, the Pala’wan and migrants
(Muslims and Christians) planted coconut trees. In the 60s, a mangrove concession
awarded by then Dept. of Natural Resources led to widespread mangrove harvesting.
Apart from coconut trees, there are subsistence farm plots planted to corn, vegetables,
and rice. There is a paved, dirt access road to the sitios. The sitio has an electrical
connection from the local electrical cooperative. Many residents have cellphones, while
Panglima --- acquired a VHF radio and cellphone. The sitio is a recipient of SDMPfunded school building, latrines, multi-purpose hall, tricycles, TVs, DVD player, tractors,
water wells, etc.
Physical (site conditions, roads). Both proposed GK sites seem appropriate. Generally
speaking, Palawan is not subject to frequent volcanic or earthquake activities. It doesn’t
have strong monsoon episodes although it receives a heavy dose of rain. In the past few
years, the province suffered from El Niño and La Niña events adversely affecting
farming. Many have abandoned large tracts of corn land. Corn farming also suffered
from the effects of free trade and globalization, which made corn imports cheaper then
locally planted corn. Both sites have been logged over and planted to coconut, rice, or
corn. They are “privately owned” (some not yet titled) by IPs who have lived in these
areas for generations. The Pala’wan thereat have complete control or possession of the
proposed GK sites and their peripheries. Since they will also be the beneficiaries, no land
tenure issues at the community level are evident. Both sites will need some filling. The
Kulantuod site is a rolling depression. Homes can be built on the high side near the
access road. The access road to the site and the SDMP school, health/daycare, and tribal
buildings are on the high side of the area. GK many need to plan out the siting of the
homes. The Bungkol-Bungkol site is rolling and not as depressed as the Kulantuod site.
It is also near the downstream part of the Ocayan River and presents productivity
Panglima Angelo Lagrado has initiated talks on reviving the
abandoned/destroyed crab farming by the mangrove area.
Utilities. Bataraza is sorely lacking in basic infrastructure and services. Poor tax receipts
from an predominantly underperforming agricultural sector cannot fund the
municipality’s needs. While RTNMC has a 30-year presence and has been of significant
help, most of its income tax goes to Manila (Makati is its HQ). CBNC, based on
consultations, located its HQ in Bgy. Rio Tuba, Bataraza, but the national government
insists that its income tax go to the national treasury first. Also CBNC has a five year tax
holiday, since the HPP complex in an economic zone.
The national government has been remiss in developing southern Palawan. RTNMC and
CBNC have provided needed electrical and water services to project host communities at
considerable expense. Both GK sitios have several water wells funded by the companies’
COMREL and SDMP programs. They also provided gensets. The local electric
cooperative is slowly expanding, but the issue is capacity to pay. The per kilowatt hour
charge is at least P16. Bulbs are expensive and maintenance costs are sometimes
unaffordable. CBNC is in serious talks to provide a water system for Bgy. Rio Tuba and
nearby barangays, Bgy. Sapa (bgy of MNLF rebel returnees), and the Bataraza Poblacion
at a cost of probably P20-30M. Timeframe for construction to commence is after the
2007 elections (to avoid election politicking).
While it was hoping for counterpart funding from the national and provincial
governments, CBNC is willing to go about it alone. Planning and feasibility studies and
surveys have begun.
Organizational and cultural capacities. The 15 chieftains I met and the handful I’ve
spoken to, along with other Pala’wan I met speak Pilipino fluently, interact with
Christians and Muslims, and are engaged in the cash economy. They sell, trade, and buy
products during market days in various barangays in Bataraza and travel to other
municipalities of Palawan. Contrary to the popular perception, many Pala’wan,
especially those who live in the lowlands, have permanent settlements of at least 2-3
generations. Their children go to Christian and public schools. Some work as laborers
and have skills in construction, electrical wiring, machine repair, etc. They are integrated
into Philippine rural society both on voluntary (trade, commerce) and involuntary (natural
resource competition, acculturation, debt, etc.) terms. The Pala’wan are attached to their
land and hope to keep them for their future generations. They have lost land to Christian
and Muslim Filipinos thru sale and probably guile (on the part of the buyers). However,
they intend to keep whatever land they have. The Pala’wan appreciate the conveniences
of modernity such as electricity, running water, GOOD ROADS, transportation,
education, health services and medicine, among others. They have been decimated by
malaria, poor water quality, and limited access to health services. In fact, one of the
biggest expenses of RTNMC and CBNC is health services to IPs. The Pala’wan
appreciate the virtue of education and hope that their children can go to school. The issue
again is affordability. As we know, there are costs associated with education such as
transportation, baon, uniforms, books, paper, pens, hidden expenses, etc. Also, going to
school removes a helping hand in the farm plot, taking care of smaller siblings, and other
household chores.
RTNMC and CBNC have recognized these aspects and have initiated programs that: (a)
employ IP in project operations (ore pickers, laborers, COMREL, guards, etc.), (b)
expanded its IP alternative education program (started in the 90s) to now include an
indigenous learning service (ILS) program in partnership with the SVD religious order,
Dept. of Education, and the panglimas, and, (c) implemented various programs under the
While there are issues related to implementation and effectiveness, these initiatives
among other COMREL activities, have done more to help IPs then any NGO-initiated
projects in the area have achieved, in my opinion, because of its scale, magnitude, and
resources expended. The objective then is to improve these initiatives. My impression is
that residents of both sitios have been acculturated enough to mainstream rural Philippine
society, albeit in a frontier setting, that a GK site will help them cope with the natural
resource competition that is going on around them.
Comments. A GK site in Rio Tuba is significant because it will dovetail with the SDMP
activities mandated by environmental laws. Much can be achieved with the funding
RTNMC and CBNC, being fully supportive of the GK sites, will make available their
expertise, equipment, and resources to ensure GK success. They are committed to
provide at least P10M to fund the construction of the homes. It is reported that
RTNMC’s M.B. Zamora is fully committed to ensuring that RTNMC and CBNC’s
COMREL, SDMP, and GK programs succeed and become models for mining companies.
With the Line 2 of the HPP complex being worked on, SDMP funding is expected to
double (PhP40M/year). Thus, CBNC and RTNMC must have a well drafted and
implemented CSR program in place. GK can help here with its holistic approach to
building communities. The timing is propitious as to the SDMP is being evaluated
presently and initial findings suggest that RTNMC, CBNC, and RTNFI will have to
increase its capacities for community development. CBNC has parallel projects that can
be of help to the GK sites. For example the water systems being planned will benefit the
Bungkol-Bungkol site. The cementing of the Macadam access road, a contentious issue
for many years, has also helped. CBNC is currently paving the access road to the
Kulantuod site and has hired IP residents to guard its heavy equipment. CBNC has
launched the ILS program. GK’s Boy Montelibano captured it perfectly when he
observed during his visit to Rio Tuba in May 2006 that the contrast between
RTNMC/CBNC’s operations and townsite versus that of the surrounding barangays is
becoming an embarrassment to RTNMC/CBNC (although technically no fault of theirs).
For the companies to continue to progress and expand, yet the roads and homes of
residents remain dismal, if not pathetic, is a perceptual lowering of both Filipino and
Japanese global standards.
While government is the key to providing basic infrastructure, RTNMC/CBNC must use
their social capital to enable the national government to acquire and commit funding to
upgrade the road from Bataraza to Brooke’s Point, provide electricity and running water,
hire more health and education workers, and so on.
Roads and good housing are critical needs in Bataraza. A successful GK site will provide
a model for the other barangays, ICC (indigenous cultural communities), and active
NGOs to emulate and build on. Bataraza needs an alternative development model
considering its circumstances, i.e. rural, coastal, “last frontier” and intense natural
resource competition, culturally and religiously diverse, absence of government services,
and potential to become models of both sustainable and responsible mining and agroindustrial development.
Bataraza has some inherent advantages because of historical factors. First, being a
predominantly agricultural area, agri products must be developed and promoted first for
the local/domestic market. Our interviews with various stakeholders indicated the
potential for rubber trees, cacao, jatropha, coconut-derived products, rice, vegetables, etc.
Processing or milling along with storage facilities are needed and can serve the
Second, RTNMC/CBNC are laying the groundwork for a dynamic Bgy. Rio Tuba that
may rival the Bataraza Poblacion as the commercial, health, educational, and rest and
recreation center. This will pull in local businessmen. The water and electrical services
may rival the systems of surrounding municipalities. Bataraza can become the gateway
to BMP-EAGA region. An international port being talked about will facilitate this.
RTNMC has paved with gravel is small airfield. With better roads, come more economic
opportunities. Of course, economic opportunities have its downside including rising
inequality and social exclusion. Vices may increase as can be seen in the increasing
number of girlie joints along Macadam Rd. The reactivation of CFC Rio Tuba and the
GK projects should help in addressing future problems associated with increasing vices.
The Muslim community is also trying to rein in temptations of drink, women, gambling
RTNMC and CBNC have actively helping IPs in Bataraza through employment, health,
educational, and transportation services, infrastructure and other kinds of assistance.
CBNC and RTNMC also recognize the need to further build Pala’wan capacities.
Gawad Kalinga to CBNC/RTNMC, is a holistic and comprehensive program to achieve
this goal. Thus, CBNC/RTNMC seek to fund the establishment of at least one GK
village for IPs in each of the 10 impact barangays. A total of 1,000 homes costing an
average of PhP100,000 each is the goal. CBNC/RTNMC will also provide support
infrastructure and services so that the GK programs become sustainable. One significant
implication of adopting GK’s holistic, participatory, transparent, and long-term
community development model for IPs is that it contradicts the conventional wisdom
that IPs do not desire middle class, lowland types of development.
Providing a middle class type, lowland community development program to IPs presents
academic, cultural, and developmental questions that influence emerging corporate social
responsibility (CSR) programs of CBNC as embodied in the COMREL and SDMP
activities as well as the rest of the mining sector in the Philippines. The GK sites also
complement the SDMP activities and provide a parallel model for a SDMP.
Three years hence, there are three GK sites developed with a total of 118 equivalent units
as of June 2009. In addition, neighborhood associations or Kapitbahayans, an indicator
of community organization, have been established in all three established sites with 102
families involved. The SAGIP or Sagipin Ang Galing at Isip nang Batang Pilipino is
GK’s tutorial program for the children of beneficiaries who are already attending formal
school. SAGIP had a total of 84 children attending it. SIBOL, on the other hand, is the
education component of the GK.
Gawad Kalinga sites in Bataraza, Palawan (RTNMC 2009)
It is the pre-school education program catering to children ages three to six years and is
recognized by the Department of Education. Fifty children attended SIBOL programs as
of June 2009. For livelihood, vegetable farming activities have been established in the
three sites with 54 participating families. The GK Ocayan Village is turning out to be a
showcase area. Aside from the homes being built, the livelihood component for the
village includes a farm, fishpond, restaurant, and bread and breakfast. Expansion plans
include a duck farm. All three sites are using the activate bio-reactor system for
processing sewage.
Gawad Kalinga, Bataraza indicators (RTNMC 2009, RTNFI 2009)
Corporations and GK have synergies vis-à-vis their work and help with the poor
Corporations have obligations, legal and relationship-wise, to help poor
communities. However, that is not their core competence. Hence, GK is a good fit
partner. Corporate philanthropy and community development is nothing new in the
Philippines. For example, the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) is one the
largest corporate-led social development foundations in the Philippines with more than
260 large, medium-scale and small businesses comprise and donating millions to PBSP.
PBSP is active in education, health, sustainable livelihood, micro, small, and medium
enterprise development, and the environmental initiatives.
They profess to a
participatory and community-based approach. PBSP claims to have helped 4.5 million
Filipinos in over 6,200 social development projects costing more than PhP 7billion in
grants and development loans since its organization in 1970. it is one of the earliest
corporate-based movements advocating and implementing corporate citizenship and
social responsibility and using business strategies to address poverty (PBSP website).
The next section discusses philanthropy in the form of funding the establishment GK
villages as “legacy” villages or in honor of someone, an organization, or institution. GK
has been able to frame helping, volunteering, and donating funds in honor of someone or
an institution as one good way of establishing a legacy after a successful individual or
corporation is considering “giving back to society.”
Legacy villages
Funding a GK village has become one avenue of philanthropy and charitable works for
individuals, families, groups, and corporations. Meloto and GK have constantly harked
on the new status indicator of the rich giving to the poor, specifically giving to GK.
Philanthropy as a status indicator is not lost on anthropologists who have studied the
dynamics of gift-giving (Sahlins 1972, Mauss 1922). For GK, however, funding a GK
village or its major programs as a form of legacy to ones family, ancestry, or a love one
has helped GK establish many villages. Meloto notes in one interview:
GK has managed to really break through. We are working with 350 major
corporations now, and we have become now a status symbol for the rich.
To have a GK village now is starting to become a trend. It's a very
concrete expression, also the desire, of the rich, the successful, the
privileged and the advantaged to make a meaningful contribution to
society, in a way that is appealing and attractive to them. Our way is not to
niche into charity or dole-outs. This is about stewardship, about human
dignity (Gulle 2009:1).
GK’s start in Bagong Silang would have been more difficult had it not been for the help
of elite supporters. The A Living for Christ Foundation (ALCF), composed of mostly
affluent Filipino-Chinese led then by Dr. Teofilo and Shirley Bangayan helped fund the
youth camps (the second camp had 140 youth participants). Dr. Bangayan, then assistant
director of the Chinese General Hospital was able to get his colleagues and friends to
support the programs. One of Manila society socialite even graced the second play put
up by the Bagong Silang youth in 1999 entitled Kahirup, which was about the conflict
between the sugar landlords and farm workers in the sugar bowl province of Negros
Thus, GK villages have been funded for a variety of reasons. A husband donated because
his wife died in the 9/11 Twin Towers terrorist attack. Another village was funded in
memory of NASA pilot William McCool who died when the space shuttle Columbia
disintegrated upon re-entry. Several clans donated in memory of a patriarch or matriarch
or as the clan’s way of giving back to society. For two businessmen, they were was
distressed to see so many poor Filipinos, while he was doing well. Worse, they said that
while they provided housing for their employees, these were not as nice as the GK
homes. Thus, they both separately approached GK and their friend Meloto to possibly
work with GK. For the youth, there are those who instead of celebrating their debut or
prom night or homecoming, donate the funds to GK villages. In the box below, a
matriarch discusses their journey in establishing a GK village.
Box 7: A GK Builder’s thoughts on establishing a GK Village, March
5, 2006
Gawad Kalinga (GK) is a housing program launched by the Couples for Christ
Movement in the Phil. It is nation-wide and has caught fire in its' mission of building
houses for the homeless, outside of government. We initially thought of donating part of
our back farm in Lipa, but since we had already subdivided the entire property into a
subdivision some years back, the idea was not going to be practical and could probably
cost more since we would have to re-subdivide some of the lots and roadway. The easier
and cheaper way was to look for an alternative site to donate.
Thus the hunt for a property somewhere in Batangas. A cousin of D-------, had this
property available for sale in PG, a town some 15 minutes away from Lipa (12 km away
actually), which is also known as the live-stock auction town of Batangas. It is a
sugarland with a running creek along one side of the boundary. So D------ bought the
two hectare, net of the tenant's domain. It is 1.5 km away from the highway going to San
Jose and .08 km. of that is dirt road to the property, which D------ has secured funding
from a Senator friend. So on a Friday, Feb. 17, 2006, ----- GK VILLAGE was launched!
We did not invite anyone because the first time D------- visited the lot with some GK
officials, they had to walk from the dirt road to the property and had to cut thru some
sugarcanes! And since we had no idea of what improvements to expect from the first
visit, we did not dare ask anyone to come. Well, when one works with God, I guess you
can expect the unexpected. As we turned from the highway, there were tanods pointing
to where we were suppose to go. I guess, even if you were not bound for the property,
they would lead you there!
Box 7: A GK Builder’s thoughts on establishing a GK Village, March 5, 2006
When we turned to the dirt road, it was fully graded and when we reached the property,
lo and behold, the land was cleared so that cars could drive in; there were colorful
bantings, chairs and tent for the visitors, a tripod for the time capsule, a p/a system,
coffee and puto! Then, there was the governor, the mayor, barangay officials, the socalled leading members of the town and of course, the Couples for Christ members! I
didn't know how to react to the presence of the government officials because I didn't want
this project to be "tainted" by any political color. But since the mayor is a member of the
Couples for Christ, I guess that made the first connection. But soon God showed me that
I must learn how to work and accept people no matter what creed, color or motivations
for as long as we are achieving a common goal.
And so with the speeches, I realized that the road and clearing could not have been made
possible without that grader and the backhoe, which the mayor promised, would
continue to work in the property for as long as the fuel lasts. All permits - construction,
electrical, water, plumbing and what have you, were all going to be waived by the
municipio and the housing authorities (HLURB). Where would we all be if these people
were not with us?
Then today, March 4, D----- and I went back to the site to deliver your auntie’s donation
of PhP500,000.00! I expected the clearing to be bigger and as D------- said, construction
of houses had began. So, we expected to see some 4 or 6 foundations up. Just like the
launching date, I took Dory along with Emilio. We were all speechless to see 31, yes, 31
houses up! Even the GK coordinator for Batangas and Bicol who came to receive the
check, was amazed at the pace they were doing. He asked them to prioritize the
livelihood project which is to be located at the easement of the creek. There, they can
plant crops and have free irrigation, which is a peculiar blessing to this village because
of the creek! He says that by getting the livelihood going, even before the village is
occupied, should make this a model GK village worth featuring, to inspire other
sites/developments. They are also able to get sand occasionally, as some neighbors have
been doing for minor construction needs.
The volunteer-workers were all there - the beneficiary-partners, the Couples for Christ,
the Singles for Christ, the Handmaids of the Lord and the Kids for Christ! Some were
hauling sand/water/construction materials, some doing construction work, some cutting
or tying steel bars, some, giving water or merienda. The grader was still there to clear the
entire property this time, the fire trucks delivered water and drenched the inside of the
houses to prepare it for concreting, and a huge truck delivered another load of sand. Their
objective is to break ground for all the houses before the rains sets in.
For as long as the foundations are laid, they will be able to continue working even during
the rainy season.The Village will have 177 homes - all spoken for, since there were more
than 350 qualified applicants. The reason why I feel GK beats Habitat hands down is
because of the holistic approach of GK. As the wife of the coordinator was telling me,
besides the careful selection process of the beneficiaries and the strict man-hour
requirements they enforce to be put in, they have a group who takes care of the livelihood
projects which are monitored carefully; then they have a group who takes care of
teaching them the values of maintaining good relations, awareness of regional
differences, importance of cleanliness inside and outside the homes, love and care for the
environment, etc.
All villages maintain a school for kids, and have programs going on for different interests
and ages all year round. I don't know how the GK is able to conduct this nationwide, but
I am very up-beat and confident about this group handling the Batangas projects. They
now have 6 or 7 sites.
They are fully dedicated, educated and know exactly what they are doing. This is truly
something worth supporting because you will feel the sense of ownership and sense of
pride that all of them feel while they work with the sweat of their brows - very inspiring
to witness!
I hope to follow this report with some pictures which D------- will hopefully send to all.
Note the pictures of the Feb. 17 launching and the developments 2 weeks after! O yes,
since your Tita--- is a prominent business figure in town, (she owns the Rural Bank and is
ninang to so many people there including the mayor), she was of course invited last Feb.
17. We didn't know that and neither did she know beforehand that we donated the land.
But when she learned that it was us, she made time to attend. Naturally, it was such a
surprise to see her there. She was so excited during the launching that last week, she
called us to say she was going to donate part of Mona's land inheritance in --------. So,
we announced this happy news to the GK coordinator this morning. We may have lost
some possible houses from her but GK has gained a new village in ---- - and that is all
that matters!
This is all for now but we shall keep you all posted every now and then to update you of
this exciting project. Of course, if any of you have extra funds, big or small, or have
heard of GK from somewhere and was thinking of donating something, then please
channel it to none other than this project. If the Village gets featured in the papers, be
assured that the issue will be sold out because we shall send copies to all of you!!! But
regardless of what, join us in thanksgiving that there is this GK project that gives hope
and dignity to our homeless fellowmen. As one of them said, some of the beneficiaries
they selected now stay in pig pens that have been rented out.
Another example that I participated in is when my high school cohort got together with
those from 20 other schools to fund one GK village called All 85 GK Village. Their
story is summarized below.
Box 8: Mid-lifers doing good, ALL 85 GK Village
All 85ers from various schools. Photo by Tonette Mendoza
The late U.S. President John F. Kennedy once said that, "One person can make a
difference and every person should try." But why struggle alone when you can achieve
your dreams as a group or as a team? Thus, the eminent anthropologist Margaret Mead’s
famous quote appeals more to me. She said, “Never doubt that a small group of
thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever
has.” Mead was proven correct last Saturday, 23 May 2009, when the All 85 Gawad
Kalinga Village broke ground at Sitio Pajo, Bgy. Baesa, Quezon City. Participating
member schools of high school Batch 85 pledged to fund 26 homes for the residents
thereat. As long-time informal dwellers on land that was not theirs, they organized
themselves and sought the help of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the QC
local government to purchase the land they were squatting on. It took years, but working
together, they finally gained ownership of the land.
Homes at Sitio Pajo, Bgy. Baesa, Quezon City
Sitio Pajo is a high-density slum with narrow streets, poor drainage, lack of access to
basic services, and a high risk fire area. It borders middle class exclusive villages
including the nearby Quezon City General Hospital. Last February 25, 2009, at least 195
families were affected by a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) explosion that ignited a fire.
About 99 families completely lost their homes. It was the second fire that occurred in
Bgy. Baesa within the last 12 months. It looked hopeless to many residents burdened by
poverty and disaster, but their indomitable spirit and Gawad Kalinga provided hope for a
new beginning.
Homes by whatever means and materials
Gawad Kalinga is the faith-based movement on community development and nationbuilding seeking to build 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities in seven years. It has
been helping the residents of Sitio Pajo build not only new, brightly colored and to-code
homes, but also meaningful lives through community solidarity and empowerment.
With dedicated Couples for Christ (CFC) caretaker-volunteers and the generous support
of Colgate-Palmolive Corp. and their employees, both active and retired, they’re
transforming this former slum area into a community filled with “Bright Smiles.” All 85
GK will now follow what Colgate started.
For All 85, it can’t be a more fulfilling moment from that day in July 2008 when a few of
us were toying with the idea of making our 25th anniversary high school homecoming
celebration a more meaningful one. After all, how many parties and dinners can you
have to celebrate one’s homecoming? We wondered how we could align our respective
homecoming celebrations to that of giving back to our communities and to our country in
a way that modeled solidarity or bayanihan.
Bagong bahay, bagong buhay, bagong bayan
Sitio Pajo community leaders
Our inspiration was Gawad Kalinga. Gawad Kalinga enabled us to work as one united
Batch 85. The Gawad Kalinga movement and its activities have always modeled
audacious goals, persistence based on faith, and padugo—bleeding for the cause and
modeling heroic action of loving the poor. GK espoused unity of the family, of the
community, and of the nation.
It took eight months to get to here. Each school representative had to convince their own
batchmates that sponsoring an All 85 GK Village on top of their respective batch’s
commitment to their alma mater, their school's chosen civic project, and their own
homecoming activities and expenses still made sense and were feasible. Each school
sought to commit at least one home, ideally two.
The next hurdle was the time commitment. All had to get to know one another and to
align each other batch’s capacities, capabilities, and constraints in order to get the village
going. Despite work, family, and other responsibilities, the monthly meetings were well
attended. ANCOP-GK’s Rose Cabrera, Batch 85 of St. Therese College and her
husband, Bong, Lourdes 85, were able to get Tony Meloto and Dylan Wilk to meet and
inspire the group.
Rose was also able to arrange for monthly All 85 GK activities in different GK villages
as a way to familiarize All 85ers with the GK work and the “GK Way” of doing
community development and nation building.
GK All 85 groundbreaking. Photo by Cindy Solano Medina
Apparently, the meetings, talks, and activities were transformational. Assumption’s
Emily M.-Y. and Judy C. got things started with Assumption 85’s full commitment to All
85. Emily also got some sizable pledges. A get together of Maryknoll 85ers in the
United States led to enough donations for one home. John-John T. of La Salle Zobel,
according to CSA’s Nilo ., thought it was just a matter of raising funds for the village.
However, visiting the GK villages, talking and meeting with GK residents, and helping in
community builds transformed him. John-John has willingly taken on the leadership role
along for All 85 and his leadership has been inspirational.
All 85 at GK Bagong Silang. Photo by Marivic Poblador-Pineda
The transformational aspect of GK was also not lost on someone who wrote: “I've
always heard about GK but never had the opportunity to visit GK sites or to learn about
the true spirit of GK. As you know, anyone who graduated in high school in 1985 is
about to celebrate their '25th year' and the village we could build would be in tribute to
our 25th year. But this is not all that GK ALL'85 will accomplish. It was an eye opener,
to say the least, to actually visit a GK community. Learning that GK is not just about
donating funds gave me a perspective on what the 'big picture' really is. GK is about
community building. It is about bringing our high school graduating class and other
batch '85 alumni together. We can help build a community by donating not only our
funds but our time and our talent/skills…”
ALL 85 with their kids, mutli-awarded musician Ryan Cayabyab and the RC Singers
It does help that many school representatives knew one another from high school or from
college. A number went to the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Diliman so it was
natural to leverage the U.P. network. In U.P., there was also a corner nook called A.S.
101 where 85ers hung out and friendships were made. Thus, it was easy for those
hanging out there, or in the A.S. lobby, or were part of the various U.P. organizations and
clubs to get together in All 85.
Marriage was also a key network link with many 85er couples. Couple Raul and Celine
P., Ateneo 85 and STC 85 respectively, were not aware of All 85 GK, but met up with
Rose Cabrera to discuss donating a home to GK. This serendipitous moment worked
well for All 85. CFC is another awesome network with Assumption’s Emily M.-Y., Rose
C., Povedan 85er Marivic P.-P. as members and All 85 leaders. They even got a fellow
CFCer and non-85er to contribute to the All 85 GK village! We're also not complaining
that QC Vice-Mayor Herbert Bautista along with his fellow batchmate Ricky H., are both
of San Beda 85. San Beda is coming in with a vegetable gardening program with the QC
government and a home.
All 85 GK nation builders! All 85 GK is composed of the following schools:
Assumption, Ateneo, Colegio San Agustin, Immaculate Conception Academy, La Salle
Zobel, La Salle Greenhills, Lourdes, Philippine Science High School, Poveda Learning
Center, Maryknoll, Xavier, San Beda, School of the Holy Spirit, St. Paul’s Pasig, St.
Therese College, Southridge, and Woodrose. Nation building means building strong and
empowered communities. The residents of Sitio Pajo have shown us that despite all their
adversities they continue to work for a life of dignity. We can reciprocate. Like them we
can work together. We model solidarity and bayanihan by working as a united Batch 85
in improving the lives of our less fortunate brothers and sisters. As the Dalai Lama
noted, “It is not enough to be compassionate – you must act.” All 85 GK is our little
contribution to the GK Way of rediscovering our roots, empowering people, and inspiring
The ALL 85 GK Village is significant for a number of reasons.
Symbolically, it
represented unity and solidarity among different schools but of the same cohort or batch.
The example of this group has inspired those who graduated in 1986 to start organizing
and discussing their own ALL 86 GK Village. Second, it modeled how social activities
can also become socially relevant. Many of the All 85 participants knew of one another
over the course of the years. Working on All 85 renewed these ties, especially for those
who had not seen each other for a long time. The setting of this was the All 85 Village
itself, so in terms of friendships, new ones were made vis-à-vis the beneficiaries and old
(and new) friendships were reestablished in the monthly activities scheduled in the
village site. Third, the ALL85 GK site was government-owned and settled informally by
the poor. They organized themselves and negotiated with the government to formalize
their residence under the Community Mortgage Program (CMP).
Thus, this partnership is one between the government who provided the land (finally)
under subsidized terms; GK who is helping the residents build their homes and support
their community, volunteers and supporters such as ALL 85, and the beneficiaries
themselves who engaged in self-help housing activities for the better part of a decade.
Another specific GK initiative I participated in is that of my own high school. My
thoughts are discussed below.
Box 9: Forty from 25, homecoming celebration benefits Gawad
Dylan and Anna Wilk meet with CSA 85 in July 2008
When I was in Manila last year, I met with my batchmates from Colegio San Agustin
High School Batch 85, who were planning our silver (25th year) homecoming activities.
The concept of celebration is the act of recognizing something either individually or as a
group. This “something” could be an achievement, the passage of time and phases of life
(anniversary), and most importantly, the recognition that one has grown and learned
something. The act of recognition could be spontaneous or highly organized. The point
though should be that the celebration does not signify the end of this “something”, but the
continuation of achievement, aging with grace, and continued learning and growth.
Somehow the talk moved from not only celebrating more than 30 years of friendship and
memories, but how to leverage the celebrations to give back to our community and
country. We began to discuss how to make our homecoming not only social, but socially
relevant. The proposed partner in this endeavor, by default, became Gawad Kalinga.
In July 2008, Dylan and Anna Wilk presented to us the GK model and how our batch
could play a role. Right after Dylan gave his inspirational spiel, four of my batchmates
pledged to fund a home each. Others pledged to build homes in honor of our six
batchmates who had gone ahead. By the end of the week, my batch committed to initiate
two GK projects. The first is to jumpstart the establishment of the Colegio San Agustin
GK Village in a pre-identified site in Taguig City, near the C-6 highway to be completed
by the shores of Laguna de Bay. The second is to encourage Batch 85ers of other high
schools to contribute GK homes in honor of their school in a proposed All 85 GK
Gawad Kalinga (GK- “to give care”) is an ambitious community development movement
scaling up into a nation building movement seeking to address poverty in Philippine
urban and rural slums. In 2003, it initiated “GK777” to build 700,000 homes in 7,000
communities, in seven years through sharing of time and resources, massive mobilization
of volunteers and “padugo”- “bleeding for the cause” and modeling “patriotism in
action”. Since then, it has built over 30,000 homes in over 2,000 communities of varying
stages of development for the poorest the poor and initiated activities in several other
countries, with intentions of going global. Gawad Kalinga was an attractive partner to us
because they say that:
GK is about spirituality;
GK promotes family values;
GK promotes Philippine culture and international cooperation;
GK initiates community organization and development;
GK promotes economic productivity, sufficiency, and a moral economy;
GK inculcates environmental values and environmental programs;
GK seeks to improve/spur education, values transformation, and capacity building;
GK is changing the nature of politics in the Philippines.
GK777 culminates in year 2010, which is our 25th anniversary year. As we can see it,
GK still has a long way to go, in spite of the fact that more than 300 mayors, 150 schools
and universities, over 400 corporations, and tens of thousands of volunteers have
mobilized and acted. We think that as Filipinos (or those in love with the Philippines),
we need to fully support this Philippine creation and initiative. Gawad Kalinga’s model
will eventually become the brand name of the Philippines and it is something to be proud
of as Filipinos, as Christians, and as members of society. This is the most holistic,
comprehensive, and equitable model for solving poverty and inequality in Philippine
society. 2010 is also the Philippines’ national elections. In fact, many other countries
will have their own elections.
The global economic crisis will either improve or worsen by then. Thus, the year is both
critical as it is auspicious. Our task then is to prime the social environment in such a way
that it encourages good citizenship, caring, sharing, and responsible action. We would
like to model these traits collectively.
GK Tony Meloto and Taguig Mayor Freddie Tinga with CSA priests and teachers at the
CSA GK Village groundbreaking. Photo by Monchot Ongsiako
When our school, Colegio San Agustin (CSA), heard about our initiative they got excited
and wanted to participate. Eventually, the project progressed from a CSA85 GK project
to a CSA GK Village endeavor. CSA signed a memorandum of agreement with GK last
February 6, 2009. By 16 February 2009, the CSA GK Village broke ground at the GK
site in Purok 5, Barangay Napindan, Taguig City.
Forty homes will be built complete with community facilities. The beneficiaries are
informal dwellers relocated from the former AFPOVAI site in Fort Bonifacio. Close to
200 families were affected in the relocation. About 176 families agreed to relocate to this
site. Thus, eleven two-storey buildings composed of 16 units each will be constructed.
CSA Batch 85ers both in the Philippines and abroad committed 10 homes/units and
community development support, including two homes to the All 85 GK Village.
GK Tony Meloto with CSA85ers. Photo by Monchot Ongsiako
GK inspired us. We dreamt of a CSA GK Village. We dared to build and hoped that the
CSA community would join us. They did because inspiring hope is contagious. We
yearn to celebrate more than 30 years of friendship by giving back to community and
country. We honor our six batchmates who have died by giving hope and a dignified life
to our less fortunate brothers and sisters.
As St. Agustine said, “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has
the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the
ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
It is this strategy of GK in looking for common ground on how to help that makes GK an
efficient recruiter of supporters. It enables GK to access resources that otherwise would
be difficult to acquire. Leveraging the social network of its supporters; encouraging or
inspiring supporters and the public to reflect on how they can help the poor, and by
making barriers to helping easy to overcome, GK is able to recruit supporters and access
needed resources. Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J., President, Ateneo de Manila University
said; “In the process, our students say to their GK families, “You have given us the
greater gift. You have given meaning and direction to our lives" (GK website). The next
section discusses another key supporter both in the intellectual and logistical areas.
Schools are one of GK’s most important supporters. GK is working with over 150
schools, colleges, and universities in the Philippines and abroad in a variety of ways.
First, they are an easily accessible source of volunteers and helpers. Legislation in the
Philippines mandates national service for tertiary level students under the National
Service Training Program (NSTP). Multiplied per school and the number of students,
GK has a ready army of youth workers who contribute a certain number of hours in the
community. Orienting NSTP towards GK has been widely received and many students
have expressed satisfaction, fulfillment, and a learning experience working in GK sites
according to GK and students I asked.
Educational institutions from the elementary to the university level are supporting GK
because of the values component of helping and volunteering.
Thus, they have
developed co-jointly with GK programs tailored to the institutions needs and purposes.
These programs bring in the entire educational community of staff, faculty, students, and
parents. Thus, for high schools, the NSTP requirement is fulfilled in GK sites. For
international schools in Manila, their immersion programs are in GK sites.
At the university level, nearly all the top universities have a GK program in place.
Ateneo for example set up a formal office to work on the institutional learnings of GK.
GK Builders Institute is nestled in Ateneo. Since 2003, Ateneo has buildt close to 200
homes and established a health program in Payatas Trece GK community near the trash
dumpsite and in the province of Nueva Ecija.
At the University of the Philippines (UP), the National College on Public Administration
and Governance (NCPAG) is a GKBI-affiliate and works on governance and
administrative aspects of GK. The University of Santo Tomas (UST-the oldest university
set in Southeast Asia set up by the Dominican order) and its alumni have funded eight
villages in a cluster and health facilities in GK Towerville, Bulacan Province. The head
of the GK health program in the United States is a graduate of UST’s medical program.
The City of Taguig recently announced that Tony Meloto will become Chair of the cityrun Taguig City University (TCU) with 8,000 students. Taguig Mayor Freddie Tinga
stated that Meloto’s appointment will further hasten the values transformation of the TCU
community along GK’s model (Philippine News Agency 2009).
Internationally, Harvard, Yale, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgetown,
Lone Star College-Kingwood, Brandies, the University of California system are among
the few universities in the United States that send students and faculty to do immersion,
research, and assist in GK sites. Fields of interest cover public health (MOA being
considered- UCLA, Stanford, University of Washington), architecture and engineering
(MIT, Harvard), social research (Yale), environmental engineering (Lonestar).
Other supportive groups
Other groups that have supported the efforts of Gawad Kalinga are the quad-media and
governments and institutions. In the quad-media (radio, television, print, and online), GK
has resonated with journalist and artists and the media companies. Philippine Star, for
example, dedicated one journalist to cover and write about GK events. Two of its more
popular columnists support GK actively. The same is true with the Philippine Daily
Inquirer, which periodically publishes editorials using GK as a model. At least four of its
prominent columnists are active supporters. One is a stalwart of the GK. His wife is part
of the GK communications arm (GKom).
These newspapers and others would
occasionally publish articles written by Meloto or some of his better written speeches.
The media coverage has raised awareness of GK.
Online, they have an active website and are in social media sites such as Facebook and
Multiply. SMART and Globe telecommunications have provided technological support
so they can communicate and coordinate better. Communication activities are
summarized in the framing section.
Other countries have taken notice of GK. The Singaporean government, in aiming to be
a regional center of philanthropic activity and knowledge management, offered to host
the regional hub office of GK. It has also provide logistical support to GK. Canada and
the United States diplomats and officials have visited GK sites and support GK. The
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea supported of establishing a GK village in his
country, which got two warring groups to work together. Civic groups such as Rotary,
Jaycees, Entrepreneurs Organization, among others align their outreach and charity work
with Gawad Kalinga.
Plate 16: CFC South Africa members visit the Philippines to explore
GK possibilities
Plate 17: Numerous students from American universities and business
persons help GK
GK San Diego
4.3.1 Structural sources of resources
When I asked Meloto how this vision known as Gawad Kalinga was to be funded, his
response “When you choose a spouse, choose someone who shares your vision and can
FUND the vision." Seriously, there are ways at looking at the funding issue. In the
economically "developed" world, their post-industrial, high tech, service oriented
economy has generated tremendous wealth and enormous needs. By wealth, there is so
much lying around that a talk I once attended noted that American philanthropy amounts
to 2.6% of GDP and that is for the United States alone. Planned investments in cause
oriented programs/investments are on the rise. How does one tap into the Gates and
Buffet donations of US$80 billion? For Filipino-Americans who have achieved the so
called American Dream, there is the urge to give back and leave a legacy. They are
looking at noteworthy programs from education to health.
Thus, Gawad Kalinga sent Dylan and Anna Wilk to spend six months in the United States
to tap into this reservoir of goodwill and bulging wallets in 2008. According to Tony
Meloto (interview 2006) there are an estimated 300,000 Filipino-Americans who will be
of retirement age in the next few years. Where will they want to retire? What will they
want to do? What kind of legacy do they want to leave behind? In the 2007 GK
Township Development Summit hosted by UP, Ateneo, and GK, a Filipino-American
entrepreneur walked up the stage during lunch and expressed his support for GK. This
fellow is a San Diego techpreneur who recently sold his company for US$50 million. He
now heads another technology company. During that lunch, he told the Mayors in
attendance that if they provide the land for a GK village, facilitate permitting, and
shoulder the horizontal site development, he would pay for the construction of the village
homes (from 50-100 homes per village). He was willing to shoulder up to 100 villages (a
home now costs $2,000).
I think there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people who enjoy making money
and enjoy more giving it away. They are looking for worthwhile projects and partners. In
GK Towerville, Bulacan, expat alumni doctors of Asia’s oldest university, the University
of Santo Tomas, have funded hundreds of homes there that they are now looking at
setting up expanded health facilities for the GK beneficiaries. Another “techpreneur”
(technology entrepreneur) partnered with Gawad Kalinga beneficiaries and Rotary to set
up a for-profit Internet cafe and business center franchise in GK Poveda, Taguig, Metro
Another development concerns social entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is what the
successful business man John Gokongwei recommended in his speech to the youth in
That is what many Chinoys (Chinese-Filipinos) are doing. That is what the
Concepcion family is promoting in their NegosyoPinoy movement and the GK-affiliated
livelihood foundation Bayan-Anihan. That is what Gen. Jose Almonte (Ret.) is saying in
his new book and in his previous articles; let the market be the agent of social revolution.
Li Lu, one of the famous Chinese student dissidents of the Tienanmen Square massacre,
who eventually went on to Columbia University and is now a partner in Himalaya
Capital, once said that it is business that will engender change and reform in China
(Cunningham 1998, Walsh 1996). A burgeoning middle class will start to demand reform
and democracy.
So it is with the Philippines. An “agripreneur” from Negros Occidental speaking at a GK
meeting said that one can earn up to PhP1 million a year from an integrated organic farm
operation using just 3,000 sqm. GK’s first organic urban farm is of that size in GK
Selecta within the town of Cainta, Province of Rizal municipal hall. I asked a Filipino
entrepreneur why he was still optimistic about the Philippine economy. Aside from the
economy, he said that even when there are problems, these problems offer quite a number
of business opportunities. Indeed, there are profitable solutions to any problem. With
business outsourcing many of the work they do, consulting and part-time jobs especially
for business, environment, and training studies and assessments are available in Manila.
Some posit that the middle class Filipino has realized that nation building starts with the
individual with the education, training, resources, commitment, consciousness, and
courage to initiate change and reform. New societal institutions need to be formed
because existing ones such as political parties, media, and church, etc. are at times
considered dysfunctional. Politics is in the process being redefined by GK, RockEd,
OFW, FMA, environmentalists, artists, and activists to one based on meritocracy and
competence, transparency, integrity, and helping the fellow countryman. If one can
initiate something of societal good and do it well, the resources, both material and
human, soon follow.
In reaction to the sensational media and dumbing down entertainment industry, I have
witnessed the explosion of the use of the internet and online communities, alternative
media, information and communication technologies (ICT), grassroots mobilizing,
alternative education strategies, and other innovative forms of information exchange. As
those with ulterior motives go about their nefarious activities, we are witnessing many
notable community-based initiatives. These social movements are developing the new
politics that leftists and libertarians both aspire for but never quite achieved in the
Take Makati City for example; whatever apprehensions people have on a (Mayor) Binay
dynasty, some of the country's best-run barangays can be found in the city. These
programs include the Salcedo weekend market, good public education facilities, the free
Lifeline and subsidized health services, the ecological solid waste management programs,
the landscaping and numerous beautification projects in the residential villages,
household help skills enrichment programs, well maintained and lighted roads, good
security, traffic management, etc.
All employ a holistic perspective of community
solidarity and pride, social learning, skills training, environmental awareness and action,
peace and order, preventive health, transparency and accountability. Many involved in
these activities in Manila are active GK supporters.
Another development is that the business sector continues to discount the antics of
politicians, media, and the Church. I think most Filipinos realize that these institutions
are not working for their welfare.
The services sector continues to attract both
investments and business despite the political squabbles. Microenterprises as well as
business process outsourcing (BPO) projects are sprouting everywhere.
education and health services are expanding. The telecom sector is thriving. The mining
industry and other natural resources projects, as one professor observed, is learning from
the mistakes of the past, including the recent past (Rapu-Rapu controversy), and is
positioning itself to be a major driver of national economic growth, including
industrialization, and a proponent of corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR is a
social movement within the corporate world, which, if successful, will be an
improvement on how Philippine business operates in the 21st century. Two mining
companies are expanding their CSR program by incorporating GK.
In summary, GK has used a multi-pronged strategy to garner resources. First, the current
situation of widespread poverty and social inclusion has had serious impacts on
Philippine society. With institutions having a hard time addressing these problems, GK
is presents itself as a social movement and as a model. GK says that it will take massive
mobilization of resources, manpower, and skills to address poverty and inequality.
Neither the state nor the private sector can do it alone. It will have to be a concerted and
massive effort. Because governance is an issue, GK models sacrifice, caring, sharing,
and avows an apolitical stance. To GK credibility and friendships are key to healing and
cooperative behavior.
The model is community-based and partnership-focused. The beneficiary community is
the recipient and active partner in human and community development. However, other
partners are needed for the seven-point GK program of holistic and comprehensive
community development. GK villages are convergence zones for those willing to help
and bring with them unique skills, resources, or even an abundance of time and energy.
Thus, for supporters and volunteers they have a myriad of activities that they can help in
and nearly two thousand villages to choose. GK labels their partnership strategy as: (a)
relationship building, (b) inclusive and collaborative, (c) leveraging (multiply resources),
(d) co-branding of partners.
Figure 28: GKonomics Framework
For those studying new social movements, this GK model of cooperation, engagement,
problem solving, values transformation, and convergence may yield political and
governance dividends in the long-term while meeting basic household livelihood needs of
the poorest of the poor in the short term. In the next section, I dissect the communicative
and framing aspect of GK’s appeal to its supporters.
Figure 29: GK’s Bayan-Anihan Food Productivity Program
•Goal: 2,500 farms by 2011
•10 sq.m. plot per family
•Environment-friendly farming
•Strong on-the-ground caretake team
•Outside/corporate support, Dept. of
Agri., agricultural state universities,
other NGOs, volunteers
•To date: 420 farms
The GK Framing Process- “We’re building a nation”
This section seeks to describe the social representation of GK’s voluntary action and its
establishment. We attempt this by presenting an outline of how individual and collective
action are mediated by the cultural facts of human liberty, religion, the constitution of the
common good, and social movements. Many have written about these, but there is a need
to synthesize these cultural phenomena in order to provide a complete picture of GK’s
voluntary action at the individual and group levels.
When the late political economy anthropologist William Roseberry (1989) sought to
understand conflict and social phenomena, he emphasized five perspectives. The first is
the need to understand the long-term structure of an event, condition, or situation. The
second is its meanings over time. The third is how individuals act and relate to these
structures and to other individuals. The fourth is delineating the relative social standing
of individuals and power relationships. Lastly, one needs to define and understand the
histories of individuals, institutions, place, and events. Similarly, the critical realist
philosopher Roy Bhaskar noted that “social activities are historically and institutionally
determined” (Kaboub 2001).
GK stalwarts say that they have built a brand, the GK brand. When one supports a GK
site, one knows that housing, health, education, environment, values, and productivity
initiatives are included in the package. GK says their work is about faith, culture,
relationships, community, and capacity building. They are also propagating this brand
via a GK way or model of doing community development, which they want others to use
in their own context.
The Framing Process framework is useful in looking at GK as a collective symbolic
analyst and culture working movement. GK has shown that it understands the dynamics
of the problems of the Philippine nation, borne out of its long years of experience in
healing divisions in the family, working with youth gangs, and other social ministries.
This understanding of the root causes, in their view, has enabled GK to shape a message
of hope that is achievable with concerted action from society. It’s motto of “We’re
building a nation,” along with other slogans resonate with many people and
organizations. By attempting to include individuals, supporters, groups, organizations,
and institutions in their cause, it seeks to become a movement for community
development and nation building. Its goals are ambitious, its strategies comprehensive,
innovative, and adaptive, and its ultimate goal is fundamental reorganization of
Philippine, and eventually, the global society.
Social movements are dynamic form of collective action. Their emergence result from
the intermingling of individual experience and motivation, framing of the issues and
societal structure that give rise to opportunities for mobilization. A complementary
rather than competitive approach incorporates the various strands of social movement
theorizing. Social psychology deprivation theory may provide an early motivation vis-à-
vis dissatisfaction and proclivity to action. The framing process, which are collective and
psychological patterns for defining and interpreting problems, issues, causes, demands,
justifications, value-orientation to be understood and hopefully accepted by participants
and the general public facilitates the social movement activities (Rucht and Neidhardt
The framing process covers the explanation, response to criticism, and legitimation of
claims of the social movement. Thus, framing is integral to social movement survival
and growth.
Framing processes is a field of study in psychology, linguistics, discourse analysis,
communication and media, sociology, and anthropology, among others. Framing
processes (FP) is the “struggle over the production of mobilizing and countermobilization of meanings” in groups, especially in social movements (Benford and Snow
2000:613). Agency and contention characterize FP. Following Goffman (1974), framing
is the construction of meaning or schemata of interpretation of an individual’s social
reality. Frames enable individuals to see, locate, perceive, identify, label, understand,
and interpret their surroundings, events, and their activities and the course of lives
(Gardner 2003). It conditions how they will act, react, speak, and approach issues or
Thus, frames are important in assessing how individuals or groups will respond or act to
conflict or to problematic situations. Human beings are social agents who are actively
engaged in producing and maintaining meaning not only form themselves, but for
constituents, allies, antagonists, bystanders, and observers. When individuals engage in
constructing meaning, it is considered signifying work and is active, processual, and
constructionist. It is the “politics of signification” (Benford and Snow 2000:613).
Frames, according to leading proponents David Snow and Robert Benford (1992:37), are
an “interpretative schemata that simplifies and condenses the ‘world out there’ by
selectively punctuating and encoding objects, situations, events, experiences, and
sequences of action within one’s present or past environment.” Frames are of three types
needed to recruit social movement members. The first is diagnostic framing where the
SM seeks to convince a potential recruit that there is an issue that needs to be resolved.
The second is prognostic framing where there are strategies, tactics, and courses of
action, including a target of these actions, available to resolve the issue. The third is
motivational framing wherein the potential recruit can make a meaningful contribution.
Plate 18: Gawad Kalinga flyer
The main task-goals of framing process in social movements cover three areas. The first
is generating shared understanding of the issue, problem, or goal that individuals and
groups want to address. The second task is to identify the causes of this issue. Others
identify who is to blame for a problem or addressed the “WE” of who can address the
issue. This is task is labeled attribution of causes or blame as well as the formation of an
identity needed to address the issue. The third task is to recommend courses of action
and to urge action and participation. These tasks are known respectively as diagnostic,
prognostic, and action mobilization tasks of FP (Benford and Snow 2000:615). The
social environment influences these tasks. Consider what one priest replied to me when I
asked him why he supported GK and dared to live in a slum by a garbage dump in Metro
Manila; “If we remain passive, we forfeit our right to critique.” This British-Nigerian
Catholic priest working in Manila slums noted this view and explained his active
involvement in Gawad Kalinga this way: “I like the way I am doing things better than the
way you aren’t doing anything at all.”
Framing Process is constrained by frame differentiation. How do antagonists come up
with their own frames? Further, what socio-political and cultural elements may constrain
or facilitate FP?
Lastly, how will the audience react to a particular frame being
Gawad Kalinga has shifted the attribution of the problem from class conflict to the
“breakdown of relationships.” It is strategic because it is much more personal. GK’s
frame development taps the discursive process by moving it from rich versus poor or the
government is corrupt frames to one of padugo, bayani, bayanihan.
The strategic
processes include highly participatory and visible activities such as rallies, expos, a
movie on GK, concerts, dinners, community builds, runs, walks, etc. It was even able to
use conflict to strengthen its base and clarify its stand on fundamental issues. With a
framing process as perspective, the following sections elaborate the marketing and
branding strategy of Gawad Kalinga.
Why different stakeholders support Gawad Kalinga
“What are the possible indicators of values transformation in the Gawad Kalinga
communities?” asked an American volunteer-member of the GK Builders Institute
(GKBI), which is the action research arm or institute of Gawad Kalinga (GK). The
question was relevant to her because, coming from a sociology background; GKBI
leaders tasked her to help draw up values transformation metrics. She knew that I was
doing my dissertation research on GK and wanted to collaborate on answering this
question. While I gave my initial thoughts, it led me to another fundamental question:
what was Gawad Kalinga exactly is trying to achieve?
The Gawad Kalinga (GK) websites, talks by GK representatives, available documents,
and my numerous interviews of GK volunteers, supporters, and beneficiaries are
categorical in the vision of GK and their goals.
In brief, it is nation building by
constructing 700,000 homes and creating and/or reorganizing 7,000 communities in
seven years using a holistic and comprehensive seven-point community development
program. That vision is indeed visionary and inspiring. I am interested however at the
reasons individuals involved in GK state when asked why they support it. The results
show that their motivations vary.
Thus, what makes the establishment and rapid
expansion of the social movement that is Gawad Kalinga possible? GK activities are
representations of how members of this social movement perceive social reality and act
on this social reality.
An American friend said that she was active in Singles for Christ (SFC), the singles-only
arm of Couples for Christ (CFC), which initiated this social ministry known as GK. To
her, it was a logical progression of both her faith and her active involvement in SFC to
explore and participate in GK’s activities. Some participating American-Filipinos said
that they wanted to find out more about their Filipino heritage and were inspired to help
the Philippines through GK. One American-Filipino businessman noted that GK “is a
model that works… It can solve world poverty…” (Olaes interview 2007). Retired
Filipino executives and a few foreign ones said that it was time to give back to Philippine
(and global) society and to leave a legacy of hope and benevolence. Supporting company
officers and staff said that helping in GK made for a good corporate social responsibility
(CSR) initiative and was good way to foster team cohesion. College students had to
comply with the provisions of Republic Act No. 9163 of 2002 or the National Service
Training Program (NSTP) via GK.
The Philippine government is a big supporter and says it is an innovative way to address
the acute lack of housing units and poverty. Local government officials say it is a costeffective way to address the informal settler and slum problem in their towns. Academics
see a good model for governance and for improving the capacities of communities and
local government. A few social justice activists say that conflict and confrontation are
not the only strategies for engendering change. Building something to spur change and
not only destroying (unjust structures) is another alternative. Foreign governments like
what GK is doing and support these kinds of initiatives.
Not a few CFC members I interviewed said that many of the most active CFC-GK
workers had colorful pasts and wanted to make up for it. GK work was their form of
spiritual cleansing, strengthening, and growth. CFC leaders admitted that GK was a
strategy for evangelization to the poor because it addressed the logistical requirements of
evangelization to the poor in an efficient and effective way.
The motivations to help GK listed above are drawn from my interviews and
conversations with various individuals. As shown, there are many reasons for supporting
GK and all can lead to nation building using the multidimensional character of the
concept. CFC members sum it up as “love of God and of neighbor.” While CFC’s
vision of love of God and neighbor is concrete to Christians, Muslims, and other religious
believers, how do we aggregate the various motivations into a coherent vision that
everyone understands or identifies with? This is necessary if GK is to strive to become a
global template for development and if it is to attract more and diverse supporters (it is
now in six countries).
Is there something that ties the motives of Filipino and foreigners supporters, CFC
members, and ex-communist rebels? To the agnostic or atheist, how does “love of God
and neighbor” as a motive for supporting GK make sense? As an anthropologist, I am
interested in the theory underlying GK’s vision/mission/goals. In other words, what is
the metatheory of GK?
My interest in this line of questioning is analogous to a
kindergarten teacher asking her student to divide 12 by 4. The kid answers correctly that
it is three. The teacher though is not only interested in the correct answer, but in how the
kid arrives at the correct answer. Thus, she asks the student to explain how or why the
answer is three.
In this case, exploring the literature on a “good society” as well as the Philippine
historical-socio-economic-political context as done earlier might be helpful.
I am
reminded of the philosopher Mordecai Roshwald’s (2000:2) methodology of discovering
“the meaning and meaningfulness of the concept” or, for that matter, the vision that
connects all the stated motives for supporting GK.
Lived experience and social reality
GK advocates and supporters seem to have started from a position of THEIR perceived
reality (which the public may or may not agree with). Their lived experience (Burch
2002), their observations, and reflections of both their social reality and of society form
the basis of this reality. The spiritual fellowship and social ministries of Couples for
Christ encourage and facilitate this reflexivity in their members. What they have read and
heard from a variety of sources such as the multimedia, WEB, literature, conversations,
and activities supplement these lived experiences, observations, and reflections. For
many of them, they have reached the conclusion that the Philippines needs help. To
them, the national problems are multifaceted.
The problems have historical,
geographical, political-economic, socio-cultural, personal, and spiritual contexts that
should be addressed at multiple levels of the individual, community, and nation. This is
one unifying perspective. Help is needed and help can be provided. As Marx noted,
“philosophers had hitherto attempted to understand the world, the point, however, was to
change it’ (Tucker 1972/1978). GK’s Tony Meloto (2009:17) wrote:
At the age of forty-six, I was responding to a calling to put my faith where
it really mattered. I was a newcomer in this game, a late bloomer in the
world of social action. Perhaps this was also my way of wrestling with the
onset of midlife and issues of accountability and legacy at the endgame
that came with it—by recalling lessons learned in the classroom about
being a person for others and finally putting them into practice. I went to
the community of the poor, late as it was, because I was in search of
answers, not because I already had them. I had no blueprint, no grand
plans, only the intuition to do what was right, the impulse to act, and the
instinct to survive.
The help though that they seek to provide is not an overthrow of government as
communist rebels or right wing military coup plotters attempted over the decades in the
Philippines. Neither is it in public policy or reforming government, although now they
are beginning to see that nation building means engaging the government to do better. It
seems to be deeper than that as GK seeks to address the fundamental sources of our
national problems.
Might it be that in Gawad Kalinga’s stated goal of “healing
relationships” throughout Philippine society, it is laying the foundation for establishing
and/or reforming institutions that can become capable of solving societal problems?
Borrowing a political scientist’s conception of a “good society,” GK seems to be
attempting to create an “array of stable, problem-solving relationships that are fitted to
their purposes” (Elkin 1996:190). The task though of institution building is difficult.
The political scientist Karol Soltan (1996) observed this much when he spoke of social
change in American society. Soltan (1996:2-3) noted that;
…social change through revolution turns out to be predictably disastrous,
social change through individual repentance or therapeutic transformation
turns out to be not much of a social change. Again, institutions are the
most promising avenue for changing the world. This is not to say that it is
only institutions which matter, but it does mean that even if we want to
transform human character, to develop and strengthen civic virtue and
competence (for example), we do so best through institutions, not through
“direct action…..The most important decisions, and the social changes
they introduce, are those whose consequences are pervasive across society
and long term in their effects. They require either revolution or extensive
institutional reform. This large scale of social action, which requires us to
achieve things through institutions or organizations, rather than through
spontaneous action, is also the most difficult…
GK’s Meloto and Montelibano talk and write of GK as intentional communities. Except
that for them, the concept of intentional communities was evolutionary. Thus, GK’s
intentional community was one were people lived in dignity and shared the same values
of social justice and opportunities for all. It was a community where everyone could get
a second chance. Even for those helping out in GK benefitted.
I am reminded of the healing that one woman got from being active in GK. Her doctorfather was shot in front of her by communist rebels for refusing to pay revolutionary
taxes. She had to flee because she was both a survivor and eye-witness to the murder.
Yet, her path to healing was in helping the poor through GK. Her path to healing was in
risking her life again and again, going to the most dangerous of places, and engaging the
most dangerous of people all in the pursuit of social justice. Attaining social justice to
her, though, was building communities of hope, trust, and dignity anchored by homes that
were clean, theirs (beneficiaries), and supported by a holistic community development
program that addressed basic household needs. In the box below, another volunteer
experience some form of transformation in GK.
Box 10: First hand account of a first-timer to a Gawad Kalinga
“build” activity
Last Saturday I attended the Gawad Kalinga All '85 activity. Graduates from
high school batch '85 represented by different schools such as Maryknoll, La
Salle Zobel, San Beda College, St. Theresa's College, St. Paul's
College and Poveda participated. Several people who attended also asked me
about my batchmates they knew and if I was still in touch with any of them. :)The community activity at Barrio Sitio Pajo in Quezon City lasted throughout
the morning. I've always heard about GK but never had the opportunity to visit
GK sites or to learn about the true spirit of GK. As you know, anyone who
graduated in high school in 1985 is about to celebrate their '25th year' and the
village we could build would be in tribute to our 25th year. But this is not all
that GK ALL'85 will accomplish.
It was an eye opener, to say the least, to actually visit a GK community.
Learning that GK is not just about donating funds gave me perspective on what
the 'big picture' really is. GK is about community building. It is about bringing
our high school graduating class and other batch '85 alumni together. We can
help build a community by donating not only our funds but our time and our
talent/skills. The goal is to set up a safe secure clean environment most
especially for the less fortunate youth to grow up in and more importantly to
thrive. This gives way later on to various livelihood programs, which GK also
helps the community implement. We can help build not just a community but
better lives. Ideally each school would try to raise funds to build two GK houses
at P85k/house. Each home is 28 sq. meters. In the pictures, you will see what
the homes look like. Hopefully batch '85 participants will support each other in
raising funds together.
An important aspect of communities making good societies is human liberty. Roshwald
(2000) characterizes the ideal free person, someone with liberty, the Homo liber. This
ideal free person, according to him (2000:186-187), would be free from “deprivation or
fear of deprivation” and free from danger, intimidation, and fear. This foundation of
freedom enables the person to explore ideas, appreciate the beauty “manifested” in one’s
culture, create, innovate, and decide freely, including whether to participate in social
public affairs. That person appreciates the culture s/he lives in, as well as other cultures,
both for their greatness and inadequacies.
Education, lifelong education at that, is essential in maintaining an inquiring and
interested mind. Awareness, reflection, and appreciation of the dignity of one’s own
personhood and that of others are important. Lastly, this freedom is something worth
defending and promoting to all individuals and communities. It is, as a then idealistic
Tony Blair noted about the values he and his Labor Party hold dear, about “community,
opportunity to all, responsibility from all” (Paxman 2002).
Thus, a fundamental implication is that GK is promoting a normative prescription of how
Philippine society should become in the 21st century. GK has defined and interpreted
Philippine social reality and seeks to change it for its concept of “the better.” GK is
articulating what the Philippine common good should be and eventually what the global
common good should be.
Apparently, more than 100 mayors, 400 companies, 150
schools, and thousands of supporters agree with this concept of the common good.
Understanding GK’s conception of faith-in-action and institution building
GK’s normative view of Philippine society, I assume, most GK advocates and workers
know. However, what really is GK’s concept of a “good Philippine society”? GK
workers say it is “Land for the Landless, Home for the Homeless, Food for the Hungry,
Water for the Thirsty, Light for those in Darkness, Health, and Education for All”.
However, what does this mean and what is its meaningfulness? We need to deconstruct
the model of GK so that anyone vaguely interested in GK understands GK’s rationale for
existence. To help me do this, I combined the human liberty aspect with the literature on
how to design, build, or technically speaking, constitute a good society. Amitai Etzioni
(2004:28-29) gives us a clear understanding;
To be full-fledged human beings, we require a certain environment, one
rich in solid but not overbearing communities. These, in turn, are
composed of bonds of affection, which cannot be universalized, and moral
obligations to members. A measure of moral obligation to nurture the
social environment in which people can develop well arises out of this
understanding. That obligation is neither self-serving nor utilitarian nor
consequentialist. The moral ecology of particularistic obligations help
sustain may well be sustained for the duration of our lifetime, or even that
of our children, even if we do no abide by these obligations and draw on
the existing stock of trust and affection and moral commitments as we
draw them down. However, just as we are obligated to sustain the natural
environment as a common good, so are we obligated to sustain the moral
ecology….The same communal environment justifies our moral
commitment not only because it enables people to function fully, but also
because it makes us and others better than we could otherwise be.
Communities provide the conditions under which people can act
autonomously and curb the need for state coercion, provide empathy that
benefits not merely particularistic but also universal obligations, and
contribute to human flourishing…
For most Filipinos, the national problems are caused by bad policies, corrupt,
incompetent bureaucrats, and for others, worse, a damaged culture (Fallows 1987). There
may be some truth to these, but the problems point to a failure of institutions in society
(Lanto and Gonzales 2007).
Jesuit anthropologist Albert Alejo (2000) wrote of
indigenous peoples (IP) in Mindanao claiming surprise at Alejo’s interest in their culture,
when they said they had already lost their culture. The spiritually inclined anthropologist
Melba Maggay (1994) wrote of the Filipinos’ coping and adaptation strategies in the face
of more powerful and violent others, be it Spanish or American colonizers or the
dictatorial Marcos regime. However, foreigners and some Filipinos have interpreted
these coping strategies as culturally dysfunctional (Fallows 1987).
This view is
inconclusive because, if this were so, would not have Philippine society collapsed?
Government is dysfunctional; the country is bereft of visible national leaders; and
communities are not effective in policing the State. What is the common thread of these
sources of our national problems?
Could it be that the underlying issue of state weakness and underdevelopment is a failure
of institutional design?
I conceptualize institutions, in this instance, as “modes of
association” (Elkins 1996:201). It is a systematic set of power relationships that allow
individuals or groups to perform functions assigned to them by society or a community
under a collectively designed set of rules, procedures, and practices
to achieve a
collectively identified and agreed upon vision, goal, or objective (Searle 2005).
Institutions have collective identity and purpose, assigned roles and functions, a logical
structure to the power relationships needed to get things done, and an understanding of
what constitutes an “institution” among its members. For GK, is it not about reforming
only political and
governmental institutions,
religious/spiritual, cultural, economic, and technical institutions?
Dr. Mina Ramirez, President of the Asian Social Institute, has written (2004) on Filipino
worldview and values that may help in Philippine institution building. Ramirez observed
that Philippine institutions, as collectively experienced, have been inadequate to our
The pernicious effects of nearly 400 years of colonialization and
neocolonialization include the imposition of dysfunctional political, bureaucratic, and
economic institutions (Pomeroy 1992). In Alejo’s (2000) research with an indigenous
cultural community (ICC), he would observe that it was in fact cultural regeneration
starting first with the tribal leader’s clan that was critical to their struggle for social
justice in a “contested environment.” Maggay (1994), on the other hand, said that
Filipinos need to look into their culture- pagbabalik loob- to discover what helped them
survive under harsh colonial or dictatorial conditions and to leverage these cultural traits
for community and national development.
To Ramirez (1994), a uniquely Filipino trait is pandama, which is an integrated,
internalized, heartfelt, wholly sensed, and noble aspiration of Filipinos vis-à-vis their
lives, other Filipinos, and their surroundings. A Filipino pandama or set of aspirations is
made up of: (a) kasaganaan or abundance and prosperity; (b) kaayusan or an effective
and efficient way of doing things; (c) pamumuhay or a concern for one’s and another’s
lifestyle or life; (d) ginhawa, literally breath but rather the “smooth flow of life” as in
“kaginhawahan”; (e) loob at damdamin, literally inside and state of feelings, but referring
to consistency and a dignified sense of self and in relation to others and mode of
existence; (f) lakas ng loob at kagandahang loob, perseverance, courage, determination
of the sincere, moral, and ethical Filipino; (g) pananalig sa Diyos at Kapwa, love and
respect for God and for fellow Filipinos leading to an ethic of stewardship to the
community; (h) Kapwa, everyone is a friend and family and should be accorded that
respect and love.
She noted that former President Ramos called EDSA 1 People Power Revolution a
“wellspring of values” (Ramirez 1994:12). These values-based aspirations enable us to
identify the qualities, not only in leaders, but also in individuals engaged in the task of
institution building. These include Maka-Diyos (‘for God”), someone who believes in a
transcendent Being that guides us. This makes one meditative and prayerful. The second
is Maka-Tao (“for the person”), genuine concern and love for one another and for their
well-being, marked by purposive and proactive action. The third is Maka-Bayan (‘for the
country”, which is consciousness of pride in and love of one’s cultural heritage, the
potential for growth and change, the struggle for dignity and independence, and the
imperative to sustain both the moral and natural ecologies. The fourth is KagandahangLoob (“pure or beautiful inner self”), innate qualities of love, brotherhood, friendship,
good tidings to all.
Lastly, Lakas-ng-Loob (“courage”), one’s inner strength,
perseverance, determination, courage to endure, struggle, defend what is the common
good (Ramirez 1994).
GK leaders acknowledge these Filipino cultural traits and use them in their values
transformation program.
The process of setting up the community association of
Kapitbahayan, the children’s values program, the conflict resolution mechanisms
employed extensively use these cultural traits. In fact, GK’s use of “bayani, bayanihan,
bayan” (“hero, community assistance and solidarity, nation”) are explicit and symbolic
uses of these Filipino cultural traits. Ateneo’s Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J. (2009:I).is
explicit on the power of culture when he wrote;
I have been involved with groups engaging poverty on the ground since
the 1970s and what struck me from the start was the foundation of
ANCOP’s engagement in family and faith. The framework of the 1970s
was correcting structural injustice by organizing the poor.
Its great
strength was its focus on the need to transform structures of society. Its
weakness was that it did not engage the needed healing and inner
transformation of individuals, families, and communities. Within the
framework of structural injustice, the dominant emotion was often anger.
Important Filipino values like faith in God and malasakit, or concern for
one another, were not seen as empowering.
Thus, for Tony Meloto, GK was about love of God represented by love for the
vulnerable. Love of country was not only the willingness to die for it, but to work for its
progress. GK, he said, calls for “radical volunteerism and citizenship.” For example, the
Filipino diaspora are patriots by contributing their time, talent, and resources for the
national development. The poor, likewise, is the focus of action, but they are also
integral partners. Without them becoming empowered and actively participating, GK
would not be viable. Working with and for the poor entailed addressing social justice and
“sweating for peace.” It is about sharing and caring.
Social change in the context of GK is about a good society or achieving a common good.
What is a good society? The political scientist Charles Anderson (1996:104) noted that
in a good society, there is a “certain state of mind” and a “common commitment” to a
civic virtue of what the economist Thorstein Veblen (1914) calls the “instinct for
Anderson, rightly or wrongly, chose Costa Rica, Denmark, and
Wisconsin as examples of a good society.
In all three, he observed citizens who
practiced a robust liberal democracy, had a “general sense of responsibility for the fate of
fellow citizens,” would vigorously defend their personal rights, were generally lawabiding but were not excessively deferential towards authorities, and kept a wary eye on
public officials. The rich were not conspicuously ostentatious. All three, to him, are a
“community of individualists” (Anderson 1996:105). That to him is the political aspect
of a good society.
The political economy of a good society, to Anderson, starts from a centrist market
It is free enterprise with a progressive menu of regulatory, welfare, and
environmental policies. That much is obvious, but what intrigued Anderson is again the
state of mind present in these communities that practice Veblen’s “instinct of
It is not about affluence since all three vary in it, but it is about
prioritizing best practices and providing quality at every instance possible. He noted that
all three stand out in the “craftsmanship of their products, the quality of their services, the
skill of their workers, and the general level of well-being of their people” (Anderson
1996:107). Because of these characteristics, “…things work right. Public services are
reliable. Maintenance is good. Things happen on time” (Anderson 1996:106).
The connection between the political aspect and political economy to Anderson is this:
good and best practice is the source of these societies’ civic virtue.
It is the
“scrupulousness in concern of individual rights, of the universalization of basic public
services, for due process of law, and for protection of health, safety, and the
environment...” which are part, parcel, and an extension of their scrupulousness in their
economic activities (Anderson 1996:107). These societies seek to have it both ways. In
essence, it is a “pervasiveness of a certain attitude” to expect and give quality
performance in every endeavor, to expect quality performance in return, to develop and
mobilize certain skills and competences, and to have clarity of motives or even a vision
of personal and public lives.
These are the characteristics needed for reforming
institutions and making good societies (Soltan 1996:14). It is holistic, consistent, and
Thus, we begin to see the outlines of why Gawad Kalinga’s vision is inspiring and
Gawad Kalinga talks about healing relationships in society.
relationships at multiple levels have caused our national problems. To them, poverty is
behavioral not economic.
The rich need to become better stewards of their skills,
resources, and time. The poor need to regain their dignity, confidence, and to build
capacities. The government bureaucracy needs to realize that they should be agents of
change and not a roadblock to national development. GK is saying we need to rejuvenate
our communities and actively situate our communities in a bigger community (the state
or country). Each needs the other if a community of communities is to be progressive.
How does a nation rejuvenate its communities? It is by working for the full human
potential of each member of the community. Each individual though replicates this work
of helping others achieve their potential.
Not only is it a moral obligation, but it
maintains and develops communities as well. “Good society” researchers note that it is a
“community of individuals” and a “community of communities.” The process is that of
individuals and communities in praxis or learning from doing. In Gawad Kalinga, it is by
being a bayani or hero. As heroes, each one works for bayanihan or the common good.
Multiplied geometrically, bayanihan or nation building occurs.
Another question arises though. Why should it be Gawad Kalinga or for that matter
Couples of Christ who should work for the common good? Why should a faith-based
movement concern itself with problems that are best addressed by other institutions? The
answer will not be through a recounting of historical events specific to CFC or to the
replies of GK advocates that addressing basic human needs paves the way for
evangelization to the poor. That much is self-evident already.
To understand better the religious motives of Gawad Kalinga’s work and to situate the
recent internal conflicts within Couples for Christ, I looked at the late Protestant
theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s 1932 Forbes Lecture at the New York School of Social
Work, entitled “The Contribution of Religion to Social Work.” His starting point is that
throughout man’s history, each society had some level of concern for its weaker
members. First, a belief in God the Father fostered a sense of kinship and solidarity for
believers. Second, this concern for the weak was inevitable considering the challenges
that Jesus Christ faced when he proclaimed the Gospel. They eventually crucified him
and martyred most of his apostles. To Neibuhr, the Church was built on, using the cliché,
the sweat, tears, and blood of martyrs. It survived and grew because of a love of God and
neighbor, concretized in cooperation, assistance, and collaboration for each other and for
the weaker members. Like the evolutionary story of humans, the Church evolved, coped,
and strategize in a hostile world.
The monastic movement, for example, was an
institution that had a strong historical tradition of social work.
In fact charity was so “institutionalized”, rightly or wrongly, that almsgiving was a form
of sin waiver and a path to heaven.
Nevertheless, Niebuhr noted that the “vast
institutional charities of the Catholic Church are a direct heritage of the spirit of the
Middle Ages” (Niebuhr 1932:8). What resulted is a religious sense of social and mutual
responsibility for one another not found in Protestantism. This is unique in Catholicism,
Niebuhr observed, because Protestants had that ethic of individualism that obstructed this
sense of philanthropy. Thus, one could look a the Church as an institution that pioneered
social work, pioneered the effort to discern what the common good is, and pioneered
what the obligations of community members are in attaining the common good.
There is a negative side to philanthropy however. The first, mentioned above, is the
buying off of one’s sins through almsgiving and indulgences without a corresponding
change of morals.
The second, Niebuhr observed, is that throughout history, faith-
inspired generosity was impaired by the fact that the Church was sometimes slow to
question the causes of poverty and therefore, social injustice. The doctrine of selfsacrifice, a “natural determinism of religion” that God is omnipotent, and the present
situation is ordained by God hampered the quest for social justice (Neibuhr 1932:22). To
Neibuhr, the Church forgot to emphasize that while Christians can and do accept the will
of God, they can also be agents of God in constructing a heaven on earth. Philanthropy,
thus, was rightfully criticized as supporting unequal relations and an unjust status quo
(Neibuhr 1932:28).
Thus, Neibuhr emphasized the duality of religion vis-à-vis social work.
emphasized that religion was instrumental in recognizing social needs and acting on it.
However, it does sometimes fail to address the causes or sources of these social needs.
As he wrote, religion "unifies individuals, stabilizes societies, creates social imagination
and sanctifies social life; but it also perpetuates ancient evils, increases social inertia,
creates illusions and preserves superstitions." (Neibuhr 1932:49). Religion though is a
fantastic resource for social work, Neibuhr emphasizes. Why? As noted above, religion
brings “order and unity”, a sense of security, and a therapeutic value to the lives of
individuals. It commits individuals to the “highest values conceived as God’s will.” It
promotes a religious imagination to do better, powered by the “moral potency of Christ,”
as well as a “sentiment, a conviction, and an attitude,” a discipline to love, trust, and
sympathize with one another (Niebuhr 1932:35-65). Religion enables one to appreciate
the transcendent worth of another human being and thus encourages many to do social
work. As Neibuhr (1932:73) wrote, religion is “the hope that grows out of despair.”
Neibuhr was apprehensive of modern life noting, like others, that technology, while
linking peoples, may encourage impersonal and alienating relationships. Technology
brings material progress, but the resulting economic power could be used to build
political power to pursue vested interests. He thus cited the “need to bring back lost
neighborliness back to life” and to humanize relationships in society (Niebuhr 1932:79).
He noted that “social injustice is created not only by greed but also by social ignorance”
(Niebuhr 1932:81). Unequal power relations can be hidden under the veil of economic
transactions he added. He concluded that social work needs to balance the contradictions
between the religious ideal of love and the political ideal of social justice. Religion has
much to offer especially when it promotes philanthropy within a context of social justice.
Another scholar noted that Neibuhr’s “test for true religion was social relevance” (Patton
1977). To him, Neibuhr’s writings were able to relate God’s love (agape) to individual
lives and community via social justice. He made theology more relevant by exploring the
dialectics of love and justice, and theology in the context of historic and present human
social problems, and without intellectual blinders. He confronted the grace and evil in
human nature. As Patton writes; “It was his conviction that only a Christian, informed
and empowered by God’s grace, could continue to struggle for a better world without
illusions about human nature and the historic process” (Patton 1977).
Neibuhr’s writings are appropriate to this discussion because he wrote about the duality
of man’s character. He was painfully aware and made it so in his actions, writings,
teachings, and preachings that man was capable of sin in so many levels and of
horrendous scope. It was an awareness of this capacity to sin that enabled man to reach
out to God and then to do what is right. As he wrote, "Man's capacity for justice makes
democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary”
(Schlesinger Jr. 2005). There were those who excoriated him for his moral pessimism,
but I share the view of those who think his realism about human’s sinful nature was in
fact an expression that humans can do good via faithful and loving action (Patton 1977).
A note needs to be made about the concept of agape, which is God’s sacrificial love and
grace or Christian love that seeks to better both self and the other. Neibuhr expounded on
the linkages between agape and social justice. Briefly, Neibuhr asserted that the “The
perfect expression of God’s grace is the sacrificial love demonstrated by Christ on the
Cross. Grace as sacrificial love is the pinnacle of the ethical norm of the Kingdom of
God, the moral ideal of the Kingdom” (Patton 1977). Thus, those who have been saved
from sin by God’s grace need to apply the Cross’ ethic to daily life, including striving
against structural social injustice and inequity. Just as God loves us, we must extend this
love to one another. This includes working for the betterment of one another. Intuitively,
it is also this concept of agape that links Veblen’s “sense of workmanship” to the good
The political scientist Koltan noted that Veblen sought to define this “sense of
workmanship” by comparing it to the “parental bent.” Parental bent is the love of a
parent for one’s own child and the investment in time, effort, resources, and patience in
forming, molding, and teaching the child to become a responsible, loving, and dutiful
son, before becoming an adult and a member of society. As Koltan noted, the Christian
agape or the Gandhian ahimsa is a “generalized form of the morality of care…This
creator’s love is a form of love that celebrates what its object has already become and that
strives to make it the best it can be” (Koltan 1996:18). Like Neibuhr, Koltan calls for
“this kind of loving point of view” in social relationships, in work, in our activities,
especially the creative and innovative activities (Koltan 1996:18).
Koltan concludes that the pervasiveness of love in a society is a definitive marker of a
good society. This agape form of love goes beyond affect, emotions, and feelings. It is,
as noted above, a set “attitudes, skills, and motives” that are applied purposively and
determinedly and is conscious of the realities in society, be it political-economic, socioeconomic, or religious. He calls it a “skilled and motivated imagination” that will enable
the creation of new institutions that builds character and promotes the common good
(Koltan 1996:18). This view finds consonance in GK’s work and pronouncements.
On July 2, 2008, Meloto gave a speech at the Theology Class Public Lecture, Ateneo de
Manila University entitled “I want to be a good Catholic.” 40 It would be the first time
that he would comment categorically and in public at the internal conflict that occurred a
few months back in Couples for Christ. Disagreements over the vision, mission, and
goals of GK and how it impacted CFC led to a public and personal clash that saw the
CFC founder split from CFC and organize his own wing. Meloto himself resigned his
positions in both CFC and GK and became a ‘champion’ or symbolic leader of GK. In
that speech, Meloto laid out the relationship between his faith and social action. He said
that it was in loving the poor and treating them like your children that the country can
develop. The poor have to be active and equal partners of the country’s development.
The two paragraphs below, taken from his speech, provide a succinct description of his, if
not Gawad Kalinga’s, community development and nation building model.
…Central to my being Catholic is Jesus’ love for the poor. He saw the world
through their eyes. His world-view was from the bottom up. His value
system was always skewed in their favor — the last shall be first, the lowest
shall be raised to the highest. The challenge for me is to care for them in a
manner that will help them rise to their highest potential. My piety and pity
alone will not save them; the squatters need land, not alms… justice, not
dole-out. Without land, they cannot build homes or produce food. Without
decent homes, they have no dreams. Without dreams, they have no desire to
study or work. It is terribly unchristian for Filipinos to be squatters in a
country where there is so much land in the possession of a few.
A copy of the speech can be read at http://facebook.com/note.php?note_id=302908014484
One interesting issue raised about me was that I was talking too much about
nation-building when I should be preaching about Kingdom-building. For
me, there is no dualism: nation-building is Kingdom-building. We need to
make every Filipino passionate nation builders. Our country needs more
builders, not just more preachers. The Jesus of history that I know, before he
became the transcendent Christ to us, was a carpenter and the builder of
both a physical and a spiritual kingdom. His disciples followed his example
and built the early Christian communities where believers shared their
resources with one another and no one was in need. This was the inspiration
to start the first Gawad Kalinga village in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.
Building sustainable GK communities is about values as well as economics.
It is also about politics. It is our antidote to corruption by promoting servant
leadership. Our slogan for leaders is “Una sa serbisyo, huli sa benepisyo”
(First to serve, last to benefit! )…
“If we remain passive, we forfeit our right to critique.” A British-Nigerian Catholic
priest working in Manila slums noted this view and explained his active involvement in
Gawad Kalinga this way: “I like the way I am doing things better than the way you aren’t
doing anything at all.” Thus, GK is capturing the undercurrent of the Filipino culture to
help and to be progressive. The next section discusses this undercurrent in terms of
Filipino culture and values vis-à-vis Gawad Kalinga.
Regeneration through Filipino culture and values
A cursory look at GK’s informational and marketing materials or talks with GK staff
show the use of Filipino and English words such as: bayani (hero), bayanihan
(community assistance), bayan (town), padugo (bleed for the cause), or even slogans such
as “Land for the Landless, Homes for the Homeless, Food for the Hungry, and Justice for
all…” among others. These words and phrases carry meaning, in particular, a message
that GK wants to communicate to benefactors and beneficiaries. GK has articulated for
itself a model for community development and nation building that, it says, is rooted in
universal and Filipino values.
To GK, these encompass an individual engaging in heroic sacrifice through voluntary
actions of helping, caring, and sharing. The individual’s actions are replicated and/or
initiated at the group level, be it in a corporation, a school, an organization, a group, or
importantly, a community, especially that of a beneficiary community. The level of
participation is “scaled up” until it reaches the town level (“township development”), and
on to the regional, national, and hopefully to GK stalwarts, international levels. In the
terms heroic sacrifice, helping, sharing, and caring, GK claims that is a value-based
social movement on community development and nation building.
Plate 19: Religious welcome sign and church in GK Brookside
For purposes of assessing the GK model, values are defined as deep-seated beliefs, ideals,
philosophies, even a vision, which individuals, families, and a society share. It guides
personal conduct, social interaction, and involvement in society. It is a moral compass
for every situation encountered. It is a wellspring for finding meaning in one’s life or in
achieving a “meaningful life” (Kluckhohn 1951, Firth 1953, Belshaw 1959, Graeber
2001). It encompasses the seven basic social relationships of self–other, man–nature,
individual–community, community–society, people–government, people–(state) nation,
and (state) nation–world system (Pei 2009). As such it is a social construct borne out of
the dominant discourse and those in power that have influenced the ruling ideology
(Masters 2005). Lambek (2008) explored the nuance of value and virtue and suggested
situating value with respect to choice and judgment vis-à-vis economic and ethical
Values, though socially constructed, attain an intrinsic worth and provides a glimpse to
society’s assumptions on ethics, relations, standards, conduct that indicate consistency
and permanency. I am not looking at values from an economic or linguistic Sausserian
sense (Kluckhohn 1951, Firth 1953,
Belshaw 1959, Graeber 2001).
Values are a
synthesis of emotions (affective) and thought processes (cognitive) that provide a way for
individuals to evaluate, understand, and comprehend the society they are a part of (Moss
and Susman 1980; Alwin 1994). It influences the behavior of the individual, group,
organization, and society as well as conceptions of the other.
Values are
multidimensional; hence, there are values that are personal, cultural, social, and workrelated, among many other classifications. Personal values are self-defined, individual
values that governed how you would act. Cultural values encompass cultural aspects
such religion and faith, customs, traditions, mores that link you with your
ethnolinguistic/cultural group. Social values refer to the modes of social interaction,
while work values govern how you act in a professional setting. The table below shows a
sampling of values, some of which may be considered universal.
Filipino values have long been a topic of research (Arce 2003, Dy 1994, Andres 1981,
Gorospe 1984, Hollsteiner 1973, Lynch 1968, Bulatao 1966, dela Costa 1965). Filipinos
values are shaped by culture and history.
To scholars, Filipino values encompass
universal human values, a hierarchical set of values that are unique to the Filipino culture,
and possess distinctive Filipino meanings. Filipino values are borne out of distinct
experiences, contexts, and circumstance.
Two threads come out of the research on
Filipino values. The first is that Filipino values are a wellspring for what is good and
admirable in the Filipino. The second is that Filipino values extending to culture have
been a significant barrier to economic human development. James Fallows’ (1987)
article implicating a “damaged culture” is the oft-cited piece by pundits. Gorospe (1984)
noted that Filipino values can be used for good or evil, emphasizing the motivations,
especially of those in power. Thus, pakikisama and utang na loob, normally assistance,
going along, and reciprocity becomes nepotism (palakasan), graft and corruption (lagay,
kickback, sipsipan).
Table 23: A sample listing of components of Values
Personal Values
Cultural Values
Ethnic roots
Social Values
Work Values
Linguistic ties
National ties
Regional ties
Family closeness
Remunerative worth
Team player
Source: www.ilearn.senecac.on.ca/careers/goals/values.html
Nevertheless, scholars such as Fr. Bulatao (1973:93-118) and Gorospe (1984) identify the
core Filipino values as: (1) familial, group, and emotional closeness, security, and
solidarity (pagpapahalaga sa pamilya); (2) Social acceptance, either from an authority
figure or from society, including honor that becomes shame if obligations are not fulfilled
(hiya), politeness (use of po or ho), hospitality, gratitude, and reciprocity(utang na loob);
(3) economic and social development of the individual, family, and group; (4) strength of
character (lakas loob), patience, suffering, endurance (tigaya) in the face of adversity
such as war, poverty, illness, and injustice, and historically , stronger forces such as
colonizers, authoritarian regimes, warlords, (5) trust in God (paniniwala sa Diyos,
bathala or Maykapal), (6) love of country, and, (7) to do good always.
The question now is, what values should one be aware of vis-à-vis Gawad Kalinga? To
answer this, I looked at three visions available, namely: (a) the Preamble of the Philippine
constitution, which provided a common framework, according to the Good Citizen
Movement, (b) the Commission on Higher Education, and (c) the University of the
Philippine National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG)
Center for Leadership, Citizenship, and Democracy, which provided a definition of the
organizational and institutional values. The values include:
Faith in the Almighty God
Respect for life
Hard work
Concern for the Family and Future Generations
Respect for Law and Government
Promotion of the Common Good
Concern for the Environment
On the other hand, the CFC-Gawad Kalinga vision-mission includes:
Land for the Landless
Home for the Homeless
Food for the Hungry
Water for the Thirsty
Light for those in Darkness
Health and Education for All
Gawad Kalinga claims that it is anchored on Faith- the Roman Catholic faith, the sanctity
and potential of the “Family,” and the power of Filipino cultural values to engender hope,
change, and progress. Some of these Filipino values were discussed above, but GK
repeatedly emphasizes the values of (a) love of God, (b) love of neighbor, (c) love of
country, (d) hope, (e) honor in the work being done and in honoring heroes, (f) heroism
via radical volunteerism and patriotic development, (g) a focus on social justice without
getting into conflict, (h) engaging all without judgment, and (i) sharing and caring.
These values, to them, then enable GK communities and its partners to be united, which
in scaling up and replicating builds solidarity horizontally and vertically across Philippine
society. Servant leadership and padugo, similar to heroism, anchor the values, which are
discussed in succeeding sections. Lastly, there is a need to merge the value systems of
the spirit (harnessing faith in the pursuit of social action), organizational management
(systems management), and science (using the best technology, knowledge, and
expertise). Thus, the GK value system and that of the country would intersect in GK’s
seven point program of:
Shelter & Site Development
Child & Youth Development
Values Formation/Community Empowerment
GK’s vision-mission dovetails with the Philippine constitution and is based on Filipino
culture. GK’s seven-point program also addresses Maslow’s (1943) hierarchy of needs
shown below, but in a simultaneous way.
GK also coincides with the Household
Livelihood Security Model (Frankenberger & McCaston 1998).
Figure 30 : Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
(Firgure from http://activerain.com/blogsview/1108766/maslow-s-hierarchy-of-needs-is-it-stillrelevant-in-2009)
I add one more perspective on values, which recalls highlights the Jesuit educational
perspective. This is the heroic leadership that Jesuits train for, inculcate, and hope to
diffuse to the rest of society. Ex-Jesuit seminarian Chris Lowney wrote an amazing book
on Jesuits and their best practices entitled Heroic Leadership (2003). In it, he notes that
the Society of Jesus is more than 450 years old and is a leader in higher education and
knowledge production. Jesuits have made their mark on politics, theology, sciences, and
innovation. All these are based on four core pillars of values, namely:
Self-awareness- a keen understanding of yourself and your SWOT (strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities, threats), values, worldview that makes you
“indifferent” to attachments;
Ingenuity- how to innovate and adapt to change;
Love- how to engage others such that they grow and meet their potential; and,
Heroism- BHAG (big hairy audacious goals), ambition, passion, and a passion for
In effect, according to Lowney, Jesuits seek to develop leaders not of the Machiavellian
type. In Lowney’s (2003:294) words:
You appreciate your own dignity and rich potential.
You recognize weaknesses and attachments that block that potential
Your articulate the values you stand for.
You establish personal goals.
Your form a point of view on the world- where you stand, what you want,
and how you will relate to others.
You see the wisdom and value in the examen and commit to it-the daily,
self-reflective habit of refocusing on priorities and extracting lessons from
successes and failures.
Taking the above into account, assessing GK should revolve around:
Are the basic needs of GK beneficiaries being addressed?
Are GK villages becoming the hoped for communities that GK-CFC espouses?
Are heroic leaders being developed at ALL levels of the beneficiaries and
Are the goals and vision of the Preamble of the Philippine constitution being met?
From here, we can devise a matrix similar to the values matrix above that is specific to
GK. It is the same and consistent at all levels to national and Philippine articulated
Table 24: Philippine national values in the GK context
Faith in the
Almighty God
GK Personal
GK Social
GK Work
GK Cultural
CFC members,
some are
Muslim, most
practice a faith
encouraged to
self-reflect and
be sensitive
Recognition of
an Almighty
Dedicated to
Peer review and
Working with
what one has
Working with
what one has
Monitoring and
systems in
placed, being
Working with
what one has
Seek to be a role
Model faith and
heroism in
Hard work
Directed to the
cause of GK
Needed in
healing and
Concern for the
Family and
GK work must
volunteer’s own
family. Increase
Family must be
taken care of.
Healing and
rehabilitation of
the GK
beneficiary is a
the family level.
Love of self and
Love of self and
(Love God,
Love Country,
Deliver on your
Work hard as a
volunteer. As a
work is
necessary for
It is better if
family is
incorporated in
the GK
Emphasis on the
family as the
basic social unit.
Love of self and
Respect for life
Working with
what one has.
Bawat Pilipno
Bayani! Every
Filipino a hero!
Healing and
Work is
dignified. Work
must be collegial
Strong, healthy
families make
for strong
communities and
GK Personal
GK Social
GK Work
other/ Faith-inaction
With freedom
“The more we
bleed for peace,
the less we
bleed in war”
“Lubusin mo
nalang nang
Fill them up
with love’
Live simply
other/ Faith-inaction
With freedom
“The more we
bleed for peace,
the less we bleed
in war”
“Lubusin mo
nalang nang
Fill them up
with love’
Treat the poor
like your own
other/ Faith
Respect for Law
Be an example.
How do I give
Promotion of
the Common
Concern for the
Help, padugo
With freedom
“The more we
bleed for peace,
the less we bleed
in war”
Kalinga Politics/
“Politics of
GK Cultural
With freedom
“The more we
bleed for peace,
the less we bleed
in war”
“Lubusin mo
nalang nang
Fill them up with
Treat the poor
like your own
Treat the poor
like your own
Una sa serbisyo,
huli sa
benepisyo. First
in service, last in
Bayani, Padugo
communities to
end poverty
Green Kalinga
Green Kalinga
Gawad Kalinga defines poverty as relational. In its website, GK states that;
Gawad Kalinga believes that poverty is not an economic problem but
rather, a behavioral one. The root cause of poverty is not a scarcity of
resources but a deep and painful lack of caring and sharing in our society.
We have focused on ourselves and our loved ones, forgetting that we are
all connected to each other. In reality, we are one global family. If we
succeed and yet many of our people are suffering, we really have not
succeeded at all. By leaving the poor behind and forgetting to be our
brother’s keeper, we have not built a better world for the generations after
Their vision is Gawad Kalinga Building communities to end poverty and build hope.
We have a dream. The dream to rebuild nations debilitated by poverty.
We dream of people working together to help themselves,
empowered by a powerful spirit of faith and patriotism.
We dream of nations made up of caring and sharing communities dedicated to
eradicating poverty on earth.
We dream of a world where everyone lives in dignity where no one is left behind.
If you share this dream, join us in making it happen.
Help us end poverty for 5 million poor families by 2024:
Land for the Landless. Homes for the Homeless. Food for the Hungry.
A future full of hope.
These values are used to mobilize people for social change. Earlier, I discussed the
growth of the non-profit sector or civil society in the country. This sector is considered
one of the largest and most dynamic in the world.
Their varied activities, reach,
influence, and impact on Philippine politics and as an economic sector are significant.
Civil society today is an indispensable part of the Philippine political, economic, and
social landscape. Civic consciousness is evident everywhere. A great many Manileños
are neither greedy individualists nor alienated urbanites. One example of a movement is
RockEd Philippines, which strives to promote Filipino culture and the bayanihan spirit
through alternative education strategies for the general public, the youth, and teachers
("train the trainors"). Like GK, RockEd does not seek funding support for its initiatives.
Educators, artists, athletes, business leaders, and professionals have provided expertise,
time, effort, and resources to numerous teach-ins, trainings, concerts, educational video
clips, etc. that generate individual, community, and institutional resource bases for the
more productive yet civic- conscious Filipino.
Because politics and government are dysfunctional at so many levels; because many of
our government officials and politicians do not have transformational leadership skills;
because they have not articulated a national vision; there is a yawning opportunity for
those outside of government and politics to articulate and implement a national vision.
As the Gawad Kalinga, RockEd Philippines, GILAS, etc. social movement organizations
are trying to show, nation building starts with a sense of community. Filipinos are also
active in the international internet based volunteer group called NABUUR and Kiva.org.
It could be in housing, the youth, the educational sector, the environment, artists, etc.
A relatively flat organization, open source type of communication and knowledge type,
national focus, creative, energized, multi-media, and mass based seems to reviving civil
society in the country. Without waiting for anyone, they are addressing the needs of
specific sectors of society. They are providing opportunities for Filipinos who want to
help- and there are many- in direct ways. They have national scope with transnational
links. They are collectively challenging the status quo not with anger and pessimism, but
by modeling change and edifying daily heroic actions to one another (GK’s “bayani sa
isa’t isa”). They bring to the table skills, resources, imagination, persistence, and a will
to succeed. See what happens when all these groups support and get together on a
national scale.
Manila remains the arena of debilitating politics, graft and corruption, and poverty versus
innovative community-based initiatives and social movements in human rights,
environment, housing, livelihood, health, education, and social responsibility.
It is
Manila's human resources that shape the present conditions and will influence how
Manila will develop in the near future. I am guardedly optimistic.
GK appeals to Filipino culture as a way of solving problems. Earlier, I discussed the
conception of a good society and values GK's slum eradication, housing provision,
human dignity, spiritual upliftment, and social healing programs, as well as community
development activities are supposed to contribute to urban revival. In the process is GK
transforming informal/squatter communities, supporting the building and materials
industry, providing education, training, skills, and livelihood opportunities, assisting
preventive health initiatives, and promoting a culture of integrity, transparency and
honest, hard work in all levels of society? All these, they claim, can lead to a sense of
nationhood. GK addresses micro to macro issues via bayani, bayanihan, bayan
Figure 31: GKBI slide on mission, vision, and values
Mission & Vision: To Build a World Free of Poverty
To bleed for the cause: SACRIFICE
The lifestyle we live is in solidarity and in honor of them: simple living
It is a redistribution of wealth. The Best for the Least
By adopting this principle, and by purchasing through need, instead of want,
we realize that we have more to give and share.
Our Padugo is to build these communities through where we place our time,
how we use our talents, and especially, how we share our treasure.
The more we Bleed in peace, the less we bleed in war
Slide made by Gawad Kalinga
Using a cultural values approach, GK espouses servant leadership of heroic quality. I
discuss this in the next section.
Servant leadership
The term servant-leadership often came up during my interviews of Gawad Kalinga
officers, when I watched videos, or read articles about GK for my dissertation research.
Other terms were also used, but servant-leadership seemed to be an integral and guiding
concept of GK’s activities. What exactly is servant leadership and how does it fit in
GK’s community development model?
To help me understand this term, I looked up Robert K. Greenleaf’s (1904-1990) 1977
seminal essay entitled The Servant as Leader, where he first coined and defined it for a
western audience. Greenleaf, a 40-year management research director at AT &T,
organized the Center for Applied Ethics in 1964, later renamed The Robert K.
Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership in 1985. He founded the Greenleaf Center to
promote the virtues of service to others, a holistic approach to work which emphasizes
community, and the sharing of power in decision-making to leaders and institutions.
Greenleaf’s inspiration for the essay came from reading Herman Hesse’s 1932 novella,
Journey to the East, a story about a group of religious men who go on a pilgrimage to the
East to learn the ultimate truth. Leo, the central figure of the story, joins the group as a
servant and sustains the party through his presence, song, spirit, character, and rapport
with both men and animals. Despite the difficult journey, the group proceeds until Leo
disappears. The group disintegrates eventually due to conflict, dissension, and bickering.
The journey is abandoned and the group disbands, disillusioned and unhappy. The
narrator, autobiographically named H.H., finally finds Leo after years of desperate
searching. He discovers that the servant Leo was actually the head of the religious sect,
“its guiding spirit, a great and noble leader” (Greenleaf 1997[1977]:429).
The story of Leo is of the great leader who was first a servant. Greenleaf realized that
being a servant to others is the key to greatness as a leader. “Deep down inside”,
authentic, transformational leaders are by nature servants to others.
He defined a
servant-leader as someone who wants to serve first, and then through “conscious choice
brings one to aspire to lead” (Greenleaf 1977[1997]:434. This perspective inverts the
common notion of leadership- I lead in order to serve-- by prioritizing the needs of others
first. A servant leader is deemed effective if those being served “become healthier, wiser,
freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?” (Greenleaf 1997
Deciding to serve reveals the initiative of an individual. Greenleaf notes that when a
servant decides to become a leader, he/she says “come join me in this…” The initiative
of an individual is matched by the response of a group of individuals or the community.
The link that keeps the leader and the followers together is that the leader manages to
articulate the way for others in a compelling manner.
The story of Leo and how Greenleaf first described servant-leadership parallels Gawad
Kalinga’s use of the term. The parallels become clearer when I looked at the 10 essential
characteristics of a servant-leader.
Larry Spears, retired President and CEO of the
Greenleaf Center listed these as: (1) a deep commitment to listening to others and
clarifying the will of the group, (2) empathy towards and understanding others, (3)
healing of self and others of “broken spirits” and emotional hurts, (4) awareness- a
disturbing, awakening, self awareness, especially on issues of ethics and values, (5)
persuasion- the ability to build consensus within the group or team, (6) conceptualizationthe broader-based conceptual thinking of a group or institution’s vision, mission, and
goals, (7) foresight- the ability to relate the lessons of the past to the present situation, and
the implications of the future in decisions or actions to be made, (8) stewardship- holding
institutions in trust for the betterment of society, (9) commitment to the growth of people,
especially their personal, professional, and spiritual growth, and, (10) building
community- in response to the disintegration of communities in the face of the hegemony
of institutions in shaping contemporary society (Spears 2002:5-8).
As a movement, servant-leadership seeks to gain ground in the United States with such
companies as Southwest Airlines, Synovus Financial Corp., The Men’s Wearhouse,
among others, adopting servant-leadership as a guiding philosophy for their respective
company mission statements. It is also applicable in education and training of NGO
trustees, community leadership programs, service-learning programs, leadership
education, personal transformation, and in multiculturalism. The last point is significant.
Latina leadership consultant Juan Bordas noted, women, minorities, and eastern cultures
have long traditions of servant-leadership that are holistic, communal, spiritual, and
intuitive (Spears 2002:13).
Thus, it looks to me that GK is community-driven, taps disparate social networks,
addresses household livelihood security issues, and heals social divisions, through
“celebratory and non-confrontational” interaction.
All these are anchored by the
inculcation of servant-leadership at all levels and in “padugo”, which are basically
Filipino culture traits.
The Philippines actually has a culture of servant-leadership.
Katrin de Guia, Ph.D. in her book Kapwa: The Self in the Other (2005) describes her
journey of enlightenment, similar to that of Greenleaf’s, on the life-enhancing potentials
of involvement, through caring and sharing, with others. The Pilipino word kapwa has
more impact than the English word other, which only refers to someone else. It maybe
due to the positioning of the vowels, but to de Guia, kapwa embodies Filipino
personhood in that the self is bound up and shared with the other. It is a combination of
the Self and the Other.
De Guia, a protégé of the late founder of Sikolohiyang Pilipino, Dr. Virgilio Enriquez,
emphasized Enriquez’s postulation that kapwa made up the core of Filipino personhood.
Inherent in kapwa then is caring, sharing, a sense of community and family, “an
expanded sense of shared humanity” or kagandahang loob, katwiran (straightness),
kalayaan (freedom, independence, and free will), talinhaga (imagery and vision), and
lakaran (pilgrimage, sometimes for a cause). The Filipino value system in Sikolohiyang
Pilipino is composed of the core values of kapwa- a shared identity, pakiramdam, and
kagandahang loob. The core values are supplemented with surface values that “are
ideals, standards, beliefs and rules that determine a people’s behavior in obvious ways”
(de Guia 2005:30). Sometimes prone to biased interpretation because of a western-centric
analytical lens, surface values are made up of confrontative surface values of bahala na
(actually determination), lakas ng loob (guts),
pakikibaka (resistance), and
colonial/accommodative surface values of hiya (actually propriety/dignity), utang na loob
(gratitude/solidarity) and pakikisama (companionships/esteem).
The final associated
values are societal in nature and reveal the “convictions deeply rooted in the ancestral
heritage of Filipino people” (de Guia 2005:37). These include karangalan (dignity),
katarungan (justice), and kalayaan (freedom).
Gawad Kalinga, as others have observed, is very much in consonance with servantleadership, which is a truly Filipino cultural trait. While Leo may be a literary fictional
character, the authentic servant leader to the majority Roman Catholic Filipinos is Jesus
Christ. Jesus is the spiritual model and the most influential and effective leader in history
especially with his work with 12 ordinary, inexperienced men (Blanchard 2002:xi).
Gawad Kalinga has a keen understanding of what Stephen Covey (2002:32-33) notes are
the four needs of people. The first need is to live in order to survive. The second need is
to love and to relate to other people. The third need is to grow, develop, and use the
available talents, meaning, to learn. The fourth need is create value, to make a difference,
to leave a legacy. Work in Gawad Kalinga addresses the need to live, love, learn, and
leave a legacy. In the process, it builds healthy, functional communities.
Gawad Kalinga attracts people of all classes and talents who have discerned that they are
willing to serve others, to be a kapwa to fellow Filipinos, especially the poorest of the
poor. It has also attracted foreigners and expatriate Filipinos who, want to actualize these
four fundamental human needs.
Tony Meloto has a lifetime of stories of struggle
including physical problems that inspired him to organize GK.
Briton Dylan Wilk, for example, talks of being so unhappy while being rich that he
questioned the moral value of his wealth. He has never been happier in life until he
discovered Gawad Kalinga, where he eventually met his wife and the mother of his
daughter. Issa Santos-Cuevas experienced tragedy in her life, but transformed her sorrow
and became a servant-leader. Together with Luis Oquiñena and others, they are the core
of youth servant-leaders who gave GK founder Tony Meloto the manpower to do their
first mass home build.
Boy Montelibano underwent years of talinhaga and a
philosophical, analytical lakaran to find out what would be the best development model.
Because he, like Churchill, realized that socialism equalized misery while capitalism bred
unequal sharing of blessings, his lakaran eventually led him to Gawad Kalinga. Raul
Dizon, former president of an information technology company, realized that urban
violence, which victimized his son, needed to be addressed. To him, Gawad Kalinga
provided a way to address this. He first worked in GK BASECO in what was once one
of the biggest slums in Metro Manila before taking on additional responsibilities in GK.
Eleanor Chiochioco-Bahoy, a New Yorker who graduated from Rutgers, wanted to
rediscover her Filipino roots. She ran a marathon in the name of Gawad Kalinga. She
then moved to the Philippines to do full-time GK work as ANCOP-USA’s Philippine
representative. She eventually fell in love and married a fellow GK worker.
Gawad Kalinga positions itself as the embodiment of servant-leadership as defined by
Greenleaf. It is about kapwa. When a fellow anthropologist asked what it would take for
the rich, industrialized citizens of the west to give up their privileges so that poverty,
inequality, and environmental impacts could be addressed, Gawad Kalinga came to mind.
In the Philippines, I responded, many social engineering experiments have been initiated.
Still the country's intractable problems linger. However, there is tacit agreement that
Filipinos are averse to a civil war, right wing military junta, or communism. Thus, many
sectors of society are betting (and committing resources) that the Gawad Kalinga model
can be used for "nation building". When the rich work with the poor, the rich are actually
the ones benefiting. When the rich, powerful, or educated help the poor, it somehow
transforms them, and meets some emotional, psychological, legacy, or moral need or
yearning. This transformation is supposed to be the praxis of rich-poor interaction.
So back to the question of what will it take for the haves to give up their privileges? It
may have to include individual spiritual and moral conversion, or serendipity, or
transformation moving up to the community level, infecting business and institutions, and
forcing the hand of government to do what is just. As Tony Meloto and Boy Montelibano
note, it’s an exciting time to be a Filipino.
The next section briefly discusses mutual aid and self-help as a framing message of GK
to recruit supporters.
Mutual aid and self-help are integral to social movements
Research on self-help/mutual aid organizations revolve mostly in two areas, namely,
welfare and medical issues and housing (Archibald 208 and 2007, Katz 1981). The
research is extensive having been a focus of study over several decades. Studying GK as
a social movement with a self-help and mutual aid components seek to extend the
discussion to whether these two are important elements to re-structuring society in terms
of power and social relations. A number of studies on mutual aid organizations, lodges
for example, raise issues of longevity, governance, and a dearth of political perspectives
on a national level (Laursen 2004). A close one would be medical self-groups seeking
societal acceptance.
The Philippines has a strong tradition of NGOs and civil society borne out the struggle
against the abuses of the Marcos regime. Earlier though were issues of agrarian reform
and the peasant revolts dating back to the Spanish colonial period. Social movements in
the country include those on indigenous peoples, women, children, youth, teachers,
Church, anti-U.S. bases (before 1992), anti-nuclear arms and energy.
movements include anti-Marcos Dictatorship, anti-ERAP, and now anti-Arroyo
administrations, human rights cases, electoral politics, international solidarities, agrarian
reform, migrants, transport, Mindanao crises, and communist insurgency of the
CPP/NDF/NPA. Thus, there has been a continuous struggle for land and resources by the
poor in the Philippines. The State and the elite have made concessions as an expedient
strategy. Urban upgrading necessitates either relocating informal settlers or providing
them with better habitation onsite. Poor people’s movements attract embarrassing media
attention and at times violent dispersals.
While avowedly political, poor people’s movements in the Philippines use self-help and
mutual aid to address members’ basic needs, build solidarity, and strengthen individual
and collective identity for further mobilization and collective action.
As Filipino
philosopher Rainer Ibaña (1997:195) observed:
The skewed Philippine social structure compels civil society to focus its
discourse on the basic needs of the majority. Food, housing, peace, a sense
of community and the kind of shared goods being pursued by NGOs and
cooperatives must remain prominent in the agenda of civil society. It
might become possible also that instead of merely asserting the autonomy
of civil society from the state and from the economy, it may
diplomatically have to complement the social reform pro-grams of the
state and of the economy. Civil society, nevertheless, has the privileged
dual function of criticizing the state and the economy when they fail to
address the needs of the population, and of alleviating the social
conditions of the poor so that the latter may also share the privilege of
participating in civil society.
GK seeks to engender revolutionary and disruptive change through culture work that is
creative, positive, optimistic, and charismatic. Its foundation is health relationships and
an active community engaging in concrete acts of love and agape through “Bayani,
Bayanihan, Bayan Padugo…Love the Poor.” It stresses values transformation on the part
of the…RICH and the poor. It seeks to diffuse power. It models action and sacrifice,
transformational faith and social action. It seeks to institutionalize heroic and servant
leadership at all levels.
It is modeling constructive change, transparency, and
accountability. All these are being done to bring about hope, dignity, and confidence
with capability building (identity formation) in the poorest of the poor. In the next
section, GK tries to show all these through its strategy of convergence and creative
leveraging of resources.
Convergence zone and creative leveraging
Gawad Kalinga’s goal is to address poverty in a comprehensive way through
partnerships, creative leveraging of resources, co-branding with partners, padugo, among
others. From the original GK777 goal, it has morphed into a one generation-21 year
program during the June 2009 GK Summit in Boston. Their roadmap to achieve this is
presented below and is taken from their website.
OUR ROADMAP to 2024:
The road to a First World Philippines by 2024 is guided by a development
roadmap composed of three stages:
Social Justice: 2003 to 2010
We begin to challenge and inspire everyone to go beyond charity and become
their brother’s keeper in order to heal the wounds of injustice in our country.
This has opened the door to major streams of generosity through donations of
land and resources to build homes for the homeless, a dream realized through
the heroic response of volunteers from all sectors of society.
Social Artistry: 2011 to 2017
We move forward to the designer phase we call “Social Artistry” where we
invite greater expertise, science and technology to grow our holistic model for
development. Through stronger collaboration with credible and distinguished
institutions and individuals and by engaging them to use our GK communities
as convergence points and social laboratories, we hope to pursue major
innovations that will concretely and permanently improve the quality of life
for the poorest of the poor, allowing them to attain their fullest potentials.
Social Progress: 2018 to 2024
We envision a new standard of living to take a permanent foothold in the life
of a nation. This will only be achieved by working on scale and sustainability
of what have been established earlier – the spirit, the science and the structure.
By this time, a new generation of empowered, productive citizens would have
emerged, who lived through an exciting time of change -- moving from
poverty to prosperity, from shame to honor, from third-world to first-world
and from second-class to first-class citizen of the world.
The implications of this roadmap vis-à-vis movement studies are many. First, GK is
attempting a holistic and comprehensive approach to addressing poverty and social
inequality. Second, the Social Justice component seeks to address poverty directly by a
redistribution of wealth and opportunities in favor of the poor. GK seeks to achieve this
not by politics but by moral, ethical, and spiritual transformation of both benefactor and
beneficiary. While politics and conflict is purposely being subsumed, the goal is a radical
restructuring of society improve the situation of the poor and decrease the gap between
them and the elites. GK is calling for sacrifice, sharing, and caring, which it labels
Kalinga Politics or the Politics of Caring. Fourth, it is seeks to engage the state and its
instrumentalities for two objectives namely to access state resources and services for the
poor and to transform the state and make them more responsive and accountable to the
citizenry. It is a reform-of-institutions movement.
Fifth, the second phase of the roadmap specifies the movement’s strategy for attracting
and mobilizing resources. Aside from sharing and caring, it is inviting the best and
brightest with a passion for caring to help technically and creatively in developing and
sustaining GK communities. It is the applied multidisciplinary approach to community
and human development. GK is offering GK sites as convergence point for individuals,
institutions, and even other NGOs to implement their programs. Lastly, the roadmap as
conceived in 2009 is an example of GK’s ability to evolve and adapt based on new
learnings, new partners, and experiences. The vision and mission has evolved form its
early experimental initiatives in Bagong Silang in 1995.
Thus, GK is an open source, collaborative movement. It is open to those who care and
are passionate in helping the poor. It is open to new ideas and innovation. It facilitates
helping and volunteering. Each has something to offer and offers of help are accepted
within ethical boundaries. Because it is holistic in its community development approach,
there is something for everyone. It provide other groups the opportunity to align their
programs with GK. Thus, for example, Rotary became an active partner. Their service
model fit well with GK.
Plate 20: Gawad Kalinga sites are convergence zones for many
Gawad Kalinga photoset
GK spurs….
1. Integrated Area Development
2. Values Transformation
3. Capacity Building
4. Convergence point of talent, resources
5. Environment-focused
6. Productivity not capital accumulation
Bebet Gozun photo
EWB Australia
CFC and GK, internally, have impressive levels of communication and coordination. At
present, they are coordinating tens of thousands of volunteers, hundreds of local
government officials, businessmen and managers, school administrators, and civic
groups. There is the over 2,000 villages that are monitored. Weekly, if not daily, there
are activities in every GK site, whether it is from home building to medical missions to
classes at the SIBOL school or updating the various supporters of GK. I have observed
though, and have experienced, breakdowns in communication and coordination at time,
which is understandable considering the scale and scope of activities. These may range
from unanswered emails or texts, unreturned calls, and delayed and/or non-transmittal of
information. Supporters from abroad have raised this issue.
Communication is the process of relaying information from a sender to a receiver via
verbal, non-verbal, text, and auditory (recorded) means. This can cover talking and
hearing, reading and writing, body language and environmental scanning. Thus, both
sender and receiver of this information must agree on the means of communication, the
process of communication, and the meaning embedded in the information transmitted.
This also implies that both parties have the ability, skills including social skills to
participate meaningfully in the communication process. While this much is obvious,
there are difficulties associated with the communication process.
The first is the two concepts of knowledge data banking among social beings. There is
the shared mental model and the distributed knowledge model. The first simply is that
members of a team understand the same critical issues and have the skills at a minimum
level that enable them to participate effectively as a team member. A firefighting team is
an example. The second is that knowledge about a task or project is distributed between
team members. The team members know who to go to for particular information or a
needed skill. The basic example is the division of labor between a husband and wife on
what they remember, know, and proficient. This is one reason why when a spouse dies,
the surviving spouse seems lost and has difficulty coping.
The implication is that in Gawad Kalinga and CFC, both models seem to be at work. The
core of GK I assume are CFC. They are the well-oiled firefighting team. They have
spent years working, praying, and sharing together. They have countless meaningful
experiences and have learned and grown together. On GK, their knowledge and
experiences are numerous as they are internalized. This knowledge is expressed usually
when they need to or are requested. This implies proximity. While there is GKom to
process document things, these are still raw materials that need to be analyzed. The point
is, among GK-CFC members and officers, the communication process is, I would hazard,
seamless. There is a meeting of minds and many avenues for daily communication at
various levels and settings. They know who knows what and who the contact is for
something needed.
For others outside of this loop, the key is to find out who is the holder of the information,
contact, or resource that one needs to be able to do your one’s well. In other words, one
needs to build one’s network of GK relationships from ANCOP to GK in Manila to the
GK village one is helping.
The second implication is that the communication process takes up resources, whether it
is time, money, or effort. In the Philippines, broadband Internet connection costs on the
average $100/month. Yet, it is not as fast as in the United States, which only costs
$50/month. In effect, only the well off GK supporters and volunteers aside from those
working in GK offices have access to internet on a regular and “fast” basis.
Thus, the preferred mode of communication is via mobile phone and text. There are cost
implications here as well, but this is prepaid, on-demand, and can be controlled by the
budget-conscious. Personally, mobile/cellphone communication is quick and responsive.
The other point is that communication is easier if one is in the field for obvious reasons.
One can catch the needed person in the GK office, the GK site, while traveling together,
or working onsite, or during CFC events. Many of my interviews and information data
gathering have been “opportunistic” in this sense. This means that for many currently
abroad, they have the disadvantage of distance and time. Proximity is a prioritizing
factor. The discussion below on cultural resources also highlights the communication
effectiveness of GK.
Cultural resources
A direct consequence or probably a cause of civil society activities is a conscious focus
on cultural resources. One can observe it everywhere. Indigenous Philippine psychology
(Sikolohiyang Pilipino), as discussed above, is gaining ground. The arts sector is
booming, as well as the music scene (RockED seems to be the premier concert promoter
these days). Because of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), indigenous peoples
(IP) groups are now more active and confident, especially in their negotiations with
resource companies operating in their ancestral domains. The youth is active in design,
outdoors, environmental, adventure travel, ICT, etc. that blend global standards with
native innovations. Retirees and expatriates are enriching local initiatives. Activities
such as Futkal (football sa Kalye) in slums, Pinoy podcasts, adventure racing in the Rice
Terraces, the annual Tour of the Fireflies (cycling around Metro Manila), the Philippine
Hobie sailing challenge, Filipino science and research, among others, are generating a lot
of interest. Promote culture and people run away with it with so many innovations.
OFW groups are engaged in a vast array of initiatives from free health clinics to
livelihood cooperatives. A specific example is the advocacy and partnership among
practitioners of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA, which covers kali, arnis, pikita tirsia, yawyan, etc). Like the famed Bayanihan 41 dancers, FMA practioners, whether they are
Filipino or of other nationalities, have been advocating Filipino culture through FMA.
FMA incorporates and documents (via books, online newsletters, websites, conferences,
tournaments, seminars, etc.) Filipino history, language (martial arts terms), Filipino
cultural values of integrity, courage, and righteousness, an aspiration and commitment to
make a cultural pilgrimage to the Philippines (supports the tourism and martial arts crafts
sector), and global Filipino solidarity. FMA in their own quiet, unique, and self-effacing
ways are promoting the best of the Filipino.
Sidel and Hedman observe a “veritable renaissance in the creative arts and of a vibrant
nationalist consciousness today in the Philippines” (2003:158). Indeed, indigenous but
The Bayanihan dancers or the Philippine National Folk Dance Company is the premier folk dance
company of the Philippines, founded in 1956. It is world renowned for the skill, artistry, and grace of its
performances (http://www.bayanihannationaldanceco.ph)
highly adaptive and adoptive, works on literature, komiks, movies, radio, tabloids,
magazines, books, paintings, sculpture, public art, music, clothing and style are apparent
all over the country. However, they note that “this nationalist consciousness has proven
decidedly ambivalent about idealized (or self-abnegatory) myths of Filipino origins,
irreverent towards the Great men of Philippine History, non-essentialist in its treatment of
Filipino identify, an artfully critical (and slyly self-critical) in its appropriation of foreign
influences.” Lastly, they note that it is expressed in humor. It is funny, for laughter, is,
as they quote Bakhtin, overcomes fear, for “it knows inhibitions, no limitations. Its idiom
is never used by violence and authority.”
Plate 21: GK’s internet connectivity program
GK-B2BPricenow-Rotary Internet
Café Project, GK Taguig
I am a firm believer of the potentialities of the virtual world in addressing corruption in
the Philippines. Information and communication technologies are very effective and
efficient in exposing and shaming the corrupt and pressuring authorities to act. If online
communities come together, support and protect one another in this pursuit, then the
movement for transparency and accountability becomes even stronger.
The events of the recent years bear this out. Further, the Filipino is an online force to
reckon with. Advertising firm Universal McCann's Wave 4 and InternetWorldStats
research on the digital Filipino indicate that there 24 million Filipinos who go online,
with 84 to 86% that are part of a social network group such as Friendster, Mulitply, or
Facebook. The numbers are staggering. Internet penetration in the Philippines is 21%.
For Friendster, 12 million of the over 50 million subscribers are Filipino and within the
15-29 age group. Thus, over 40% of their daily traffic originates from the Philippines.
For Facebook, 8.3 million users are Filipinos. For Multiply, nearly three million of the
12 million members are Filipinos accounting for 30% of its daily traffic. Interestingly,
half of the two million photos uploaded are from Filipinos. Further, 90% of Filipinos
online read a blog, while 98% watch YouTube videos. A 2008 Yahoo-Nielsen internet
survey research revealed that Filipino internet users blogged, were opinion makers, trend
setters and/or conscious, and used social networking sites. Lastly, lower income groups
were accessing the internet.
Apart from the internet, Filipinos connect through the ubiquitous cellphone. In the
Philippines, there were 63 million cellphones in use with 2 billion text messages sent
daily as of August 2009.
What does all this mean vis-à-vis Gawad Kalinga? I have told others that as I look at
other movements worldwide including the Obama election movement in 2008 through
the lens of the Gawad Kalinga social movement, the parallels are uncannily similar. Both
share a message of hope, change, and healing of relationships. Both subsume conflict in
favor of looking for common ground to work out problems. Thus, both are inclusive.
Both prioritize the health of families, of communities, of the environment. Both seek to
remake society in fundamental ways.
It is about revolution, but a revolution not of the fighting kind that the others espouse.
Gawad Kalinga’s revolution, they claim, is about healing relationships between rich and
poor, powerful and powerless, among a family members and neighbors.
revolution is supposedly built on opportunities for all. Both have tapped into the energy
and resources of civil society. They have the support of the youth who are color blind,
the feminists, the laborers, the environmentalists, the scientists, and even (genuine)
Lastly, both have leveraged Web 2.0 and the creativity of all. Both have been skillful and
artful in tapping into the political opportunities that presented itself, strategically accessed
and utilized resources, and framed their message and platform in ways that attracted
supporters and kept them for the long haul. Future elections will be run on a framework
of social movements. I hope it will be of the genuine kind.
The Obama and Gawad Kalinga movements reflect changes in society in general.
Because of persistent widespread inequality and poverty, as well as the environmental
challenges, movements of poverty alleviation, health, sustainability, and social inclusion
are present worldwide.
The need for creativity and innovation in addressing these
challenges has attracted some of the best and brightest to these movements. It will come
as no surprise why social entrepreneurs are supporters of Obama and of Gawad Kalinga.
Obama’s landslide win proved that that there is a body out there that resonates with his
vision of authentic change and progressive politics. Whether his administration will
deliver on his rhetoric or not, major segments of the boomer, X, and most especially the
millennial generations have been mobilized over the last 18 months on his plans for the
environment, social justice, health care, peace, business reform, and human rights. It will
be difficult to return the genie of “new politics” and social movements to her bottle.
I expect these generations and individuals to be more proactive in extending the social
energy generated to push forth their change agenda. Who will be able to best organize
and mobilize the most? Which sector/movement will be able to articulate best their
agenda and interest? It will be noisy as it will combative, but participation is essential if
power is to be redistributed and social justice implemented.
Because of his decisive electoral victory, Obama has set the tone and standard in two
specific areas. The first is how he waged his campaign. By 2010, there will be many
countries, including the Philippines, which will have national elections or political
transitions. Expect politicians of every stripe from the national down to the local level
and in democratic countries to study closely, adopt, and implement his strategy of
movement style mobilization with a well-oiled and efficient organization. Look at more
costly but more sophisticated mobilizations and campaigns in the Web 2.0/online and real
What will the contribution of anthropologists be? If anthropologists are grappling with
the issue of relevance, our vastly changing world and the Gawad Kalinga and Barack
Obama show us a way forward. Our work and research must then have scientific rigor,
practical application, and global insight. We must take our work and research outside of
the classroom, laboratory, and academic journals and into the public knowledge-making
spheres, be it mass media, the WEB, or local community settings. Appropriating the
medical research cliché, we must move on “from the lab to the bedside to the curbside.”
It is possible. If not, we surrender our voice to others with ulterior motives. To illustrate
how GK has leveraged information and communication technologies creativity, here are
some numbers and facts as of March 11, 2010:
A Google search of “Gawad Kalinga” would result in 171,000 links with the first 25
pages directly related to the term;A Google search of “Tony Meloto” would result in
53,000 links with the first 25 pages directly related to the name;
A Google search of “Couple for Christ” would result in 680,000 links with the first
25 pages directly related to the term;
On YouTube, there 1,600 film clips on Gawad Kalinga. GK has its own YouTube
channel with 35 official GK Komunikasyon (GKom) videos uploaded, 7,661 channel
views, 53,508 upload views, and 62 subscribers. Nearly all of GK’s major events are
In the social media site Facebook, there are over 100 GK groups. Hundreds, if not
thousands, of GK workers and volunteers are registered in Facebook. In Multiply,
another social media website popular with Filipinos, “Gawad Kalinga” will return
10,400 links on various topics related to GK. No count has been made of the
bloggers, columnists, reporters, and researchers writing on Gawad Kalinga;
GK has a professionally made movie on it with name stars. This movie was a
produced by volunteer artists and funded by GK supporters. GK “Paraiso: Tatllong
Kwento in Pag-Asa.” (Paradise: Three Stories of Hope). The GK trilogy is composed
of (a) Umiyak Man Ang Langit (Even If Heaven Cries) is about the tragedy of the
2006 mudslides of St. Bernard, S. Leyte and the role GK played afterwards. The
second story is Ang Kapatid Kong Si Elvis (My Brother Elvis) about a boy who ate
pebbles because of his hunger and poverty. A GK volunteer’s family adopted him.
This story reflects on the inspiring yet challenging experience of working with GK.
The third story is about Marie Rose Abad’s death in the Twin Tower tragedy of 9/11.
Her husband Rudy Abad honors her by funding a GK village in her name as her a
living legacy;
It has produced countless plays starting from The Bagong Silang Musiale to Kahirup
and the many plays and skits originally produced by several GK villages. Dance
groups, sports teams, musical groups have also formed in many GK site/ GK
homegrown artists have gone abroad presenting GK in song, dance, and the arts;
GK has many artists supporting it. Multi-awarded musician Ryan Cayabyab and his
RC Singers, for example, have been doing concerts to promote GK in the Philippines
and abroad. They also do immersion and community builds. They are active
supporters of ALL 85 GK and did a fund raising concert for the group last October
2009. Other name artists are Billy Crawford, the Black Eyed Peas’ Apl.d.ap and
Taboo, Apo Hiking Society, Joey Albert, Stephanie Reese, etc.
In 2008, a GKom staffer told me that they had at 3,000 hours of video footage;
Plate 22: GKom staffer documenting a GK build
A GK Expo is held annually in October to gather and celebrate, fiesta style, and
honor the work done in GK and GK’s supporters. GK Expo are attended by
upwards of 100,000 people;
A GK Summit is held in May or June of every year and is more of a technical and
coordinating conference of GK volunteers and workers in the Philippines and
abroad. GK Summits have traditionally been held in the United States (San
Diego, Boston). For 2010, Singapore will be the site of the GK Summit. Between
300-500 participate in the GK Summit. Major announcements are made during
the GK Expo and GK Summit;
Plate 23: GK Expo 2007
Numerous trainings, meetings, and mini-conferences are held as the need arises;
GK Builders Institute is the knowledge management arm of GK, which is
backstopped by participating universities;
There is an annual GK Bayani Challenge wherein volunteers from all over the
world descend on a particular place and do a mass build for one week. The areas
chosen for the Bayani Challenge have strategic and symbolic value. In 2009, it
was held in Sulu, which is has its share of peace and order challenges. This year
it will be held in Palawan, the country’s ecological frontier and site of a
controversial mining operations that has engaged GK;
At least two other books have been written about GK aside from Meloto’s Builder
of Dreams. Artist, painter, and author has created masterpiece paintings on GK
and its message of hope and love. He has also written about the experiences of
eleven streetchildren who were given homes in GK villages. He finds beauty,
hope, strength, and happiness in the most vulnerable in society: the homeless
child. Deep in his heart, he knows God loves these perfect beings. What is bleak
in his paintings is actually God working through us. Take a look and experience
its transformative power. Behind the photograph of this painting are his words:
Box 11: Joey Velasco painting for Gawad Kalinga
Poor Kids In My Pocket
I carry this picture in my pocket,
A simple reminder to me that
No matter where I am,
Jesus and the poor kids are always in my midst.
This simple card is not a claim stub
To withdraw some blessings in return.
It is not a ticket to free me from guilt
Nor a good luck charm to protect me from harm.
It’s not even to tag me as a man of charity
For all the world to see.
It’s simply an understanding
Between Jesus and me.
When I put my hand in my pocket
To bring out my wallet,
It is NOT for alms-giving.
This picture just makes me remember
that I must have a heart to share
that a part of me has to be offered in simple service and deeds
to the countless little children
whose future is obscure.
who suffer and shiver in the dark;
whose voices are unheard;
whose nightmares come at daytime,
and whose monsters are real.
t’s a symbol of my nearness to God.
So, I carry this little piece in my pocket,
Reminding no one but me,
That I can give hope
If only I care.
-Joey Velasco
Beneficiaries express their thanks in a multitude of ways. They prepare food and
host GK volunteers. They prepare a cultural program for visitors. They help in
other GK sites. They even say thank you through poetry. This is just of several
thank you note given by GK beneficiaries.
Plate 24: Joey Velasco at GK BASECO
Joey Velasco and his Hapag ng
Pagasa in GK BASECO
GK is strategic in the deployment of emotion-laden words and slogans that are
value-filled. Examples include: Best for the least; Love of God, Love of country,
love of man; Faith in action; Una sa sebisyo, huli sa benepisyo; We’re building a
nation; The Filipino is worthy living for; Gawad Kalinga is People Power (said by
Pres. Cory Aquino); Less for self, more for others, enough for all; Land for the
landless Home for the homeless, Food for the Hungry; Bayani, Bayan, Bayanihan;
Bawat Pilipino Bayani, the nobility of the poor; radical volunteerism, intentional
communities, padugo, creative leveraging, WHAT IS THE COST OF LOVING?
Box 12: Thank you poem by a GK beneficiary
by Ramon B Austria
GKALL85 Village Resident
Aming ihahandog maikling tulain
Sa All85 na aming giliw.
Sa puso't diwa aming damdamin
Nagpapasalamat sa pagkalinga sa amin
Maraming salamat sa mga pagtulong
Sa inyong dalisay na puso't pagsinta,
Sa pagkalinga sa amin lunsod maralita
Laging gunitain dakilang pagpapala.
Aming dalangin sa poong Maykapal
mga pag iingat sa All85 ibigay.
mga pagpapala'y sa kanila'y pakamtan
at pagkalooban pa ng mahabang buhay.
When collective action is discussed, emotions play an important role should be included.
Emotions are discussed in the following section.
Emotional, passionate, inspiring
A number of researchers suggest bringing back emotions to the study of social
movements. Emotions such as anger, indignation, fear, disgust, love, joy, among others,
play a critical role in the politics of protest and mobilization (Goodwin et.al 2001).
Emotions play an important role in the emergence, expansion, and maintenance of social
movements despite intense opposition.
Successful social movements are “crescive,
emergent phenomena” and they have “critical mass, emotional dynamics, and social
attention space” (Collins 2001: 27-28).
Further, Allahyari (2001:
312) notes that
“emotions animate a movement.” Emotions come out, produced, and organized in social
and interpersonal relations. It also affects how individuals relate to groups, organizations,
civil society, market, and the state (Calhoun 2001).
Durkheim (1995[1912]) conceptualized collective effervescence, which involved
awareness of the physical other in a group and a shared focus on the object of attention.
Collective effervescence according to Durkheim creates a conscience collective, which
combines cognition and morality. The conscience collective results in feelings of group
solidarity, emotional energy (confidence and enthusiasm, action), and group symbols that
preserve group memory and institutional knowledge; sustain solidarity; recruit new
members; address and adapt to change and challenges; and feelings for morality, which
are internal standards of right and wrong.
influences collective mobilization.
To Durkheim, transforming emotions
Emotional transformation is of two types, the
initiating emotion and the sustaining or mutating type (Collins 2001:29).
On the other hand, the eminent social scientist, Max Weber (1904 [1930]), thought that
rational action should not be emotional. Prior to the 1960s, emotions were considered
integral to understanding most if not all political activity. Crowd and mob dynamics
were frequently cited and observed. Herbert Blumer (1939) wrote that “crowds shortcircuited symbolic communication, with participants responding directly to each other’s
physical actions” (2001:2). Others looked at psychological make up and predilection to
recruitment, brainwashing, predispositions, and search for identity, among others.
With the advent of “new” social movement, scholars in the 1960s looked at emotions in
a negative way using terms such a as Neil Smelser’s (1968) “Oedipal rebellion”, Orrin
Klapp’s (1969) “identity trouble” and crisis, or Reisman’s “other-directedness” (Goodwin
et.al. 2001:3). On the other hand, others looking at emotions through a neo-Marxian lens,
sought to understand the causes of rebellion, revolution, and anger. Gramsci though
wondered at the lack of revolutionary consciousness and fervor of the proletariat. The
community organizer Saul Alinsky noted that protesters and activists were both
emotional and rational. Emotions to him are a useful and strategic factor. Emotion
management at critical moments and settings were vital to civil rights and liberation
movements worldwide and in the United States after World War II. Dobbin (2001:75-79)
sees is at both passion and rational choice. When someone is incentivized over an issue,
it becomes a legitimate reason of acting, bringing to mind Weber’s verstehan or emphatic
understanding of a phenomenon.
Humans all have identities of self and other, subject and other. Identity is a given in
social life. As Berezin (2001:84) noted, identity “suggests first and foremost similarity
and it demands acknowledgement of what Charles Taylor terms a defining
community…a web of social relations or communities that envelop the self and through
which individuals feel themselves as identical with others…” At the national level, the
state is the vehicle of political emotion calling to mind Anderson's (1983) imagined
community. Emotions and collective action have to do with “communities of feeling”
(Mable 2001:87).
Barker (2001:175) brings in the Marxian and dialogical school of Bakhtin, Volosinov and
Vygottsky with its dialectical approach to human thought, speech, and action, and the
interaction between these and social structure. He wrote that there are “….no such things
as emotions…they are not nouns, but adjectives or adverbs, denoting qualities of action,
speech, and thought…Every act has its emotional-volitional tone, every utterance has an
evaluative accent…this is variously emotional, moral, aesthetic…Cognitive and the
affectual are not distinct and especially not opposed, spheres, but are rather inseparable
aspects of each other…”
Emotions cannot exist without ideas and ideas cannot exist without emotions. Hence,
emotion is not independent of or antagonistic to rationality. He suggests that it is better
to explore the dynamics of human action in action, speech, and thought as these posses
“emotional-volitional tones, or colors, and gestural qualities” and are creative processes
in their contexts (Barker 2001:187). He quotes Trotsky in saying the “revolutions are
‘very wordy affairs’”(Barker 2001:193).
Thus, emotion scholars need to articulate the role of emotions in theories of social
movements and collective action. This includes describing in detail the interaction of
emotions at the personal level to that of the environment or context and to group
dynamics. Individual and group level emotional dynamics as well as the context cannot
be mutually exclusive research areas. Neither can the analysis solely be “structural,
rationalistic, and organizational” (Goodwin et.al. 20012001:5).
Mobilization models
look at the social movement’s context and environment, the cultural lens by which social
movement members interpreted this context; how SM organizers articulated or “framed”
the context, issue, and situation to recruit members and grow the SM; and how they
engender group solidarity. Emotions and culture are beginning to supplement the strictly
resource mobilization perspective to social movements.
Emotions can be structurally studied as they result from “real, anticipated, recollected or
imagined outcomes of social relationships” with power and status influencing emotions
in many ways (Kemper 2001:59-60). Kemper (2001) laid out the structural terrain by
writing that power transforms to authority if legitimacy is accorded to it. Status, on the
other hand, is a relational dimension, makes an individual comply to the actual or
supposed interests or agenda of the other. Power and status are behaviors that structure
social relations and generate emotions.
It may demand or request compliance or
cooperation. However, humans have agency. Thus, emotions are not unidirectional visà-vis status and power. Actors are conscious of not only their own power and status and
their outcomes in social relations, but of others as well. When someone is discontented,
emotions are the observable symptom.
The management of emotions in social movements is captured in frame theory processes
of bridging, amplification- clarification, extension, and transformation, discussed earlier.
Social movement leaders should be aware that emotions and emotional space are not
unidimensional. Emotions internal to the social movement are important and should be
management especially if emotions are mixed. In addition, environmental scanning is
important in understanding the emotions of various stakeholders in relation to the social
movement. Thus, researchers need to find out what is the dominant emotional tone,
length, degree, and direction of emotions. Long-term, object-oriented objects may lead to
social movement activity (Allahyari 2001: 312).
The political process model helps situate emotions in collective action.
transformations occur in society, state, economy, politics, and different institutions that
influence emotions on an individual and group level and motivate collective action
(Allahyari 2001: 310)? For example, a changing legal environment may upset others
such that the they react collectively. Is anger and indignation sufficient to mobilize and
protest? What happens after? McAdam’s (1982) cognitive liberation perspective posits
that people arrive at the decision to act collectively to protest and mobilize because they
believe it is an effective action. In a contentious local environment, social movements
engage in strategically constructing a context of what is good and moral vis-à-vis the
issue at hand, for example state policy. It is an effort at creating constituencies of
conscience (Allahyari 2001). Moral norms and values have a force that influences human
thought and action. Collins (2001:50) writes; “we come to know the higher goods that
define us as persons and bring order to our moral judgments by reflecting on our
strongest responses.”
“Moral Shocks” as defined by James Jasper (1977) motivate an individual to act with or
without personal networks (Polleta and Amenta 2001: 314). That is because they identity
with it on emotional and cognitive levels Joining a movement enables individuals to meet
a psychological or emotional need that the social movement participation offers.
Emotions influence the decision. The decision is influenced by an optimistic action. At
the personal level, “seeking dignity of self and of one’s group is an emotional motivator
to collective action” (Polleta and Amenta 2001:305). Emotions speak to power as it
seeks power to transform.
Power is of different forms. The most obvious are the coercive ones based on the threat
of violence or the use of money to be able to threaten reprisals. However, there are five
other forms of power including: (1) the power to reward for complying a.k.a incentive,
(2) the power of legitimacy, which enables one to make a request or order, (3) the power
of expertise or knowledge that enables one to get something done especially during a
crisis situation, (4) "referent" power, which attracts would-be followers to a perceived
leader, and lastly, (5) informational power, which is unique and desired information that
is held by someone (French and Raven 1959, Raven 1965, Yukl and Falbe 1991).
In countries of high inequality such as the Philippines, the elite control these varied forms
of power stemming from early access to material resources such as land and other natural
resources and the largesse from holding public office for generations. Today, the elite,
organized around family and extended through clans that share the same thinking and
culture are in business, in politics, and control the flow of information, the means of
communication, and the construction of social and political meaning. This hegemonic
power may look impregnable, but as they say social theory must conform to social reality
(Balicasan and Hill 2003).
The reality is that the powerless may not really be powerless at all. They have options,
they have agency, meaning they can think, reflect on their situation, and act. Banding
together or accessing resources or groups willing to help can provide them with even
more latitude to change their situation and gain more independence from the powerful. It
is a struggle, maybe even a long and painful one, but the powerless can enter the realm of
the possible.
A political scientist and ethnographer, James C. Scott (1985) wrote
Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance, wherein he documents the
relations between the rich and powerful and the poor and seemingly powerless peasants
in a Malaysian town. He notes how the rich continually seek to control and manipulate
the poor, including trying to escape from their moral and economic obligations to the
It reminds me of his student, Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet’s(1991) book, entitled Everyday
Politics in the Philippines. Both authors illustrate how the poor resist and struggle for
equality with tactics ranging from appeals, negotiation, protest, sabotage, or even
violence. Some of these may be open, but often secretive, "furtive, and below the
surface" (Yee 1992). It is a two way street, this contesting relationship of rich and poor; it
is busy, in flux, and dynamic.
Keep this in mind as one look’s at what's happening on-line vis-à-vis the Philippines'
powerful. Marshalling the millions to demand the ouster of President ERAP Estrada in
2001 was mostly done digitally through text messaging. In 2007, a society columnist
wrote about her unease flying and interacting with OFWs in the cities she visited.
Unfortunately for her, she forgot there are now more than eighth (8) million Filipinos
abroad, working hard, earning decently, growing and learning from travel, exposure to
other cultures, and ways of doing things. Because of personal growth and more earning
power, they are becoming more assertive. They are online.
Thus, immediately, Filipino bloggers and OFWs worldwide bombarded her and her
newspaper with scorching remarks, which led to the newspaper suspending her. Today
she is more circumspect in her comments.
Unfortunately, again for her, her tacky
remarks will exist forever online. The virtual storm that Teri Hatcher's line in Desperate
Housewives generated forced ABC officers to apologize and commit to be more sensitive
and proactive on Filipino-American issues. The attempted power grab by Senator
Trillanes and General Lim in November 2007 was followed on-line and supported by a
website posting information on their political platform. The NBN-ZTE scandal and other
charges of corruption by officials and family members of the GMA administration were
exposed online and morphed from reporting to commentary and even YouTube videos.
Not only are these effective, these forms of “information” are also embarrassing to the
personalities involved. Their effectiveness will only and eventually be undermined if
opportunistic politicians with no credibility, vested interests, and incompetent civil
society folks usurp the movement for accountability.
There is conflict, seething conflict, albeit under the surface, between the classes and
sectors of Philippine society. Inequality is significant and the benefits of economic
progress are skewed to a minority elite class. This cannot go on forever. These online
sagas reflect these conflicts. The powerful should heed the signs of the times. Note too
that the separatist threat by Muslim Filipinos and the reenergized communist insurgency
threaten the government, while at the same time pressures the state to promote more
countryside development
Social movements can articulate and emphasize moral commitment through action and
sacrifice. This is similar to GK’s padugo. It is linking sacrifice or martyrdom with moral
power; something like “God is on our side.” Collins (2001:41) notes that “religious
movements are so illuminating because they are so obviously and centrally emotional."
In religious or faith-based movements, the participating organizations may be
simultaneously dedicated addressing the physical, social, emotional, psychological needs
of their constituents and seeking to change the social structural conditions that cause
these conditions. Religion and protest, as I discussed earlier, can occur. Collins (2001)
conceptualizes it as ritualized practices in the pursuit of moral expression. Religious
values shape communities or movements striving to be moral. Moral rhetoric is ideology
in action and must be felt spiritually and physically (Allahyari 2001)..
Gawad Kalinga, by the nature, of its vision, mission, and activities is an emotion-fueled
social movement. Without it, GK would not be able to inspire volunteers and supporters.
It would not be able to get beneficiaries to trust in the GK way. It will not transform
beneficiaries into benefactors. In all aspects of GK, emotions are involved. The start of
GK in Bagong Silang is awash with emotions of fear, distrust, anger, and desperation.
Meloto’s band of faith workers was intent on weaving hope and inspiration, because hope
energized people to act. For GK, it was about love of God, love of neighbor, and love of
country. Bayani or heroic action entailed emotional love. Faith-in-action is about love.
The healing relationships frame of GK sought to turn conflict into hope and action. If
relationships are broken among family members, between neighbors, between social
classes, these are emotions at work brought about by a number of causes, including
structural causes.
Many have suggested structural solutions, but for GK, it is about making friends and
mending relations so that individuals and groups can work together. How do you create
the environment of trust and cooperation? How do you get rival gang members to work
together? How do you get the rich to share and care? How do you get the poor to hope
Charitable action and social movement activism need to be understood more because of
the implied power and status relations render both incongruent and contradictory.
However, as individuals strive to become moral, virtuous, and spiritual (“moral selving”),
it is both a deeply emotional and cognitive as in goal oriented (Allahyari 2001: 195). In
faith-based movements, politics is what we feel or are emotionally relate to as right or
wrong. It also shapes the commitment of the individual to others and to collective action
groups. Allahyari (2001:196) indentifies these three mutually constitutive horizons of
moral selving of individuals, emotion cultures of the organizations, and the local politics
of charity and social change. See the reflection of a GK volunteer below and her call to
be stewards of the poor.
The box below shows how one GK volunteer seeks to
encourage others to help by painting an emotional picture of the experience of being poor
and of helping.
Box 13: Reflection of Stefanie Soriano, STC 85
If you were named Edgar Allan Pe, that would have had instant recall, wouldn't it? What
if it's a small business? JUMARC for Juvenal, Maru, Aurora, Romeo and Cromwell.
Wouls you remember the place? This is a small carinderia along East Capitol Drive,
Kapitolyo, Pasig which sells affordable, tasty, home-cooked meals. The owner/cook,
Aling Aurora always has a ready smile and story. No time to cook? Simply take out
something for yourself or for the whole family. Action speaks louder than words. "Mga
Gawa," the NGO of a reputable Neurologist/Psychiatrist, Dr. Tan Cho Chiong is more
than lip-service. He has achieved a level of success already and is teaching indigent
Filipinos possible cures to common ailments from his native land, China. From "tuina"
(Chinese acuppresure) to herbal medicines, through organizing communities and medical
Who would have known that "ulasimang bato" is good for lowering uric acid? Dr. Tan
Cho Chiong also has ready anecdotes about anything under the sun? Gawad Kalinga.
That grabbed my attention right away. I was still active with Singles for Christ back then.
Care is not just a medical term afterall. People who are helpless need to experience care
from the segment of society which is receiving the most care.
If you are without a house, you would be exposed to violence everyday in the streets.
Nature could be violent. A homeless person would not only brave the forces of man but
also the forces of nature. Would anyone see your plight? If your name is Arnulfo Tirado,
would someone look you in the eye and ask you how you are? Helplessness could turn
into hopelessness. Gawad Kalinga seeks to address this helplessness, no matter what your
name is. As volunteers, we ask their names to be friendly. We talk to them about their
dreams beyond having a house. Most often than not, they have big hopes for their
families--their children. Giving shelter to a deserving family will benefit society also
because productive people will be valuable. This is not dole-out.
People just need to feel that they are worth the attention being bestowed on them by the
volunteers and the organization. That they merit being helped. They wouldn't feel like
2nd class citizens anymore. They would feel like citizens of the Philippines, with an
address they can call home. Volunteers sometimes eat their meals with them. You would
be surprised how giving the needy are. Their generosity must come from a sense of spirit
that refuses to give up. What's a name of action? Gawad Kalinga means to give care to
the marginalized who are unseen. Putting a roof over their heads and building
communities makes them feel heard also. Volunteerism touches them in ways that we
cannot imagine. It gives them dignity. Let us be "kagawads" of care and end the violence
of helplessness of the poorest of the poor, in the name of peace.
GK workers, especially those that come from a CFC background, are not unfamiliar with
the dynamics of emotions. CFC works to strengthen relationships between individuals
and their God and between family members.
CFC through GK has leveraged this
emotionally and relationally healing model to communities and now, into nation building.
How far can they scale this and under what circumstances will they fail? So far, GK has
been able to establish GK sites in areas suffering from insurgency and banditry. Their
slogan is “the more we bleed for peace, the less we bleed in war.” The GK777 goal was
suppose to inspire. It was ambitious and audacious. GK needs everyone’s help and that
was GK’s intention. GK intended to mobilize resources and manpower in a massive way.
GK tries to and continues to sell the idea that nation building is everyone’s business and
that helping the poor is how it is achieved.
Proposition #3: Convergence point of talent, treasures, time
The GK model of community development is programmatic, comprehensive, and multidisciplinary.
GK says its model uses a total approach to human development.
leverages its resources by partnerships. It encourages “ownership” or stewardship of GK
communities by those willing to take care of a community. It is attempting to recruit one
million volunteers who will commit to at least four hours a month of volunteering to GK
activities. It calls for “radical volunteerism” in GK sites. What it points to goes beyond
collaboration to convergence. An important contribution of Gawad Kalinga to social
movements engaged in community development is the concept of convergence. While
many know that massive mobilization of resources is needed to address poverty globally,
how to do this effectively and efficiently has been problematic. GK’s model of the
numerous communities as convergence points for resources provides for the organized
utilization of resources.
Convergence though demands high level, good quality
communication, collaboration, community organization, which has the intended benefit
of institution building, adaptive management, among others. All these point to creative,
cultural engagement.
It is also attempting to go beyond convergence. Because GK works on the collective
emotion, identity, and action levels, it is seeking to create a template of the “GK way,”
which is being touted as a model of community development. GK reflects the collective
experience of the Filipino people. It wants other groups, the state, even other countries
seeking to address poverty and inequality to explore the GK way. Convergence works if
partnerships work.
This requires high level, good quality communication, and support of one another.
Organized communities facilitate institution building. When communities are organized,
sustainability is addressed. GK seeks to focus on productivity not capital accumulation.
Communities become economic production units seeking to be food sufficient. GK seeks
to establish intentional communities. It is in these contexts that Propositions 2 and 3 are
Gawad Kalinga’s challenges
"Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually
degenerates into a racket." - Eric Hoffer (The True Believer: Thoughts on the
Nature of Mass Movements, 1951)
Like other social movements, Gawad Kalinga has its share of weaknesses, challenges,
and organizational threats.
Since 2006, when Meloto and GK won the Ramon
Magsaysay Awards, internal wrangling based on ideological and personal issues has
wracked the movement, specifically its parent organization, Couples for Christ. Now on
its seventh year, it did not reach its goal of 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities. Yet, it
has evolved and its goals have changed and become even more ambitious. Among the
issues that GK faces include sustainability of GK and its sites, replicability, credibility,
the evolution of the social movement, possible donor fatigue, management of failed GK
sites, cooptation, possible corruption, and issues of power and conflict. I summarize
these briefly below.
Modern society has an organizational base to it (Bode 1998). In order for organizations
to survive, it needs to be effective. Organizational effectiveness means accomplishing
two objectives, namely, continued access to resources and meeting the needs and
demands of multiple constituents (Pfeffer and Salancik 1978). Over the course of its
evolution, organizations will experience periods of opportunities and crises wherein it
will need to act to maintain continued access to resources; while at the same time address
the needs of its constituents or stakeholders affected by either positive (opportunities) or
negative (crises) contingencies (Hirsch 1975). According to institutional theory, the
capacity to accomplish both rests with an organization’s legitimacy (Dimaggio and
Powell 1983). Legitimacy is the generalized perception that both its members and the
public perceive an organization’s actions, activities, and structure as desirable and
appropriate (Human and Provan 2000).
In many cases though, a crisis confronting an organization also presents an opportunity to
innovate, enhance its legitimacy, and improve its access to resources. When an event
occurs that threatens an organization’s legitimacy and at times viability, what factors
motivate an organization to respond to the threat in a specific way? If organizations
respond to the crisis in ways unexpected, why do they do so? Simply put, organizations
operate in an environment shaped by factors not of their making or of their direct control
(Eisenhardt and Bourgeois 1988). Their response to a crisis event is based on how the
response affects their continued access to needed resources. The implication of this is
that while organizations make this kind of strategic decision, once the level of analysis is
extended to the organizational field and beyond, the strategic response has an institutional
perspective to it.
Specifically, in an age of late modernity characterized by globalization, economic
growth, increased flows of information, and communications, structural transformation of
sex roles, gender, family, and workplace relations, migration, and the rise
multiculturalism, etc. institutional factors are shaping how organizations will respond to
events of crisis and opportunity (Beck 1992, Rustin 1994). Relevant organizations need
to respond in ways that are adaptive to the present intrusion of the market logic in
transactions involving it. At the same time, it needs to be responsive to its constituents
even though it may not have market logic at the outset, simply because responsiveness
increases the organization’s legitimacy (Kraatz and Zajac 1996).
Organizations today operate in an environment that is both uncertain and changing. One
significant factor is globalization, which is the intensification of worldwide economic and
social relations of near and distant localities as observed in the internationalization of
corporations, trade, and finance, technological innovation, a world security system,
growing environmental impacts, and social movements (Kearney 1995; Bello 1996,
Baltodano 1999). This means that various aspects of how organizations are organized
and operated have to be constantly reviewed. Organizations are now more permeable and
the relationship employee-organization relationship is in flux (Shore et al. 2004). As
Cohen and Bailey (1997) note, assessing effectiveness in a group setting is a heuristic
process that accounts for task design, group composition, organizational context,
environmental factors, internal and external process, group psychosocial traits, and
aspects of effectiveness. This is a departure from the “input-process-output” approach, as
the heuristic process looks at how other factors have either a direct and indirect impact on
outcomes. The section below discusses GK’s biggest challenge, the internal conflict that
erupted following the Ramon Magsaysay awards.
God is in the Beatitudes: The CFC conflict and the role of faith in
social action
In 2008, the internal conflict within the million-member Couples for Christ erupted all
over the quad-media (radio, TV, print, and WEB). This conflict has been costly on both
sides, affecting the integrity of not only CFC as an organization and global charismatic
movement (it is in 160 countries), but also the integrity of the personalities involved. The
hurts are deep and personal and it will take a long time to heal. Forgiveness is the first
step, but it is also the ultimate step that will bridge the gulf of enmity.
The sources and reasons for the conflict are manifold. Based on publicly available data,
there are three main sources. The first is spiritual. The breakaway group led by resigned
CFC head, Frank Padilla, posits that CFC has veered away from its mission and charism
of evangelizing to families. According to him, the focus now is overwhelmingly on
social work as evidenced by the time, effort, and resources expended on Gawad Kalinga,
which is just one of several of CFC’s ministries.
The second is ideological. Padilla, who now heads the breakaway group called CFC
Foundation for Family and Life (CFCFFL), accuses Gawad Kalinga officers of
consorting with anti-life pharmaceutical firms life Pfizer, which produces and markets
contraceptives. Padilla’s group also accuses Gawad Kalinga of allowing groups from
other religions to evangelize in GK sites.
Lastly, the issues are personal. These include charges and countercharges, hints, and
documentary leakages of disrespect, adultery, financial anomalies, mismanagement,
among others by certain CFC officers and members. No legal suits have been filed, but
the damage to reputations is significant.
I am not about to take sides and dwell on certain CFC issues and events. Rather, I want
to elaborate on the nature of religion and social action as gleaned from the
anthropological and sociological literature. We seek to apply the perspectives therein to
clarify the CFC controversy.
5.1.1 Nature of Conflict
First, conflict is an unpleasant fact. Conflict is so ubiquitous that it needs to be managed
within the group setting, i.e. organizations and social movements.
behaviorist Thomas Keen (1974) noted studies showing that managers reported spending
20% of their time/work addressing conflicts. The general conflict model, according to
him, consists of a “triggering event” that makes danger/damage salient and influences the
three elemental forms of conflict: (a) goals, (b) judgments, and, (c) normative standards.
Goals diverge. There is a difference over empirical or factual issues. Lastly, one, the
other, or both parties may judge each other’s behavior against expected behavior or
ethics. Thus, conflict consists of awareness, thoughts and emotions, intentions, behavior,
and outcomes, which relate to one another in the conflict process. Conflict is a process.
Since conflict is inevitable and frequent, it may serve some goals if managed properly.
The late anthropologist R. Firth noted that these include helping members of an
organization meet their goals, promotes flexibility in action, provides an opportunity to
develop the group’s social and moral virtues, mobilizes opinion and action, and offers
alternatives to open and all-out social and political conflict. That said, CFC’s conflict has
enabled the organization and the personalities involved to define themselves as to the
nature of their faith and how their faith influences their actions.
5.1.2 Faith/Religion’s Duality
It is good to note though what theologians and social scientists recognize as the dual
nature of religion. Religion has the dual aspect of being conservative, resistant to change,
and hesitant in the promotion social justice. The other side is its social movement nature
of challenging elites, authorities, and prevailing cultural codes. Social scientists note that
the black civil rights movement, Poland’s Solidarity movement, the South African antiapartheid movement, Gandhian independence movement, and even the Philippine EDSA
I and II People Power were partly initiated, staffed, powered, funded, and strengthened
by religious persons and organizations.
Religion, according to the sociologist Christian Smith (1996:5) is the “system of beliefs
and practices oriented towards the sacred or supernatural”, provides the meaning and
meaningfulness to the lives of individuals and communities. Religion facilitates the
search for purpose and significance to living. Yet religion needs to be discovered and
articulated by individuals and societies.
This quest for the meaning of sacred
transcendence of religion may justify the events and circumstances of daily life. Smith
recognizes in this religion’s conservative roots. He notes that religion “provides life, the
world, and history with meaning” or an “objective, earthly reality above individuals,
societies, and history.” Religion, as Marx noted, legitimizes the status quo and elite
authority, and encourages submission to the existing socio-economic order no matter how
However, Smith adds, religion’s sacred and transcendent nature may also
“question, judge, and condemn temporal, earthly reality.” Thus, religion can question the
authority of rulers as shown in the Philippines during the Marcos dictatorship.
The assets that religion or religious movements can mobilize are numerous. First, it is
the source of “transcendent motivation” or to mobilize after discerning the will of God
and the moral/ethical obligation. These moral obligations include love, social justice,
peace, freedom, and equity. Religion is also in a position to define what the issues are
and to articulate it using emotionally and symbolically powerful icons, symbols, songs,
rituals, prayers, writings, preaching, and other media. Filipino scholars Reynaldo Ileto
and Vicente Rafael (1993) have excellently documented poor peoples and peasant-based
movements in the Philippines that struggled against Spanish and American
colonialization as well as the injustices of the elite. Their folk faith was a wellspring of
motivation to mobilize.
Religion can not only motivate but also legitimate the strategies and actions of
collaborating organizations and other social movements. Religion’s teachings and texts
provide for this flexibility to both support and question certain actions.
organizations can also provide and mobilize trained and experience leaders and
funding, warm bodies, pre-existing communication and
coordination channels, and organizational enterprise tools and facilities. The Jesuits in
the Philippines were instrumental in organizing labor in the late 1940s to the 1970s and
providing intellectual and skilled support. Lastly, religion provides a strong and shared
identity in a chosen movement or struggle for participating volunteers who are strangers
to one another, at the national and transnational levels, and against outside threats.
5.1.3 Roman Catholic Church and social justice
Thus, it is only logical, for example, for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops to
issue a statement in 1996 entitled, “A Catholic Framework for Economic Life (An
Affirmation of Economic Justice for All)”. The statement listed the ethical principles of
Catholics in the economic sphere.
They called on Catholics to “work for greater
economic justice in the face of persistent poverty, growing income-gaps, and increasing
discussion of economic issues in the US and around the world.” The ten principles listed
urge the recognition of the sanctity of human life and dignity, the human right to
economic initiative and productive work and to meet basic human needs, the need and
struggle for social justice, and the “moral dimensions and human consequences” of the
global economy. Further, the framework noted that the “ultimate moral measure of any
economy is how the poor and vulnerable are faring.”
The inspiration for this framework and for the renewed efforts of faith-based social
justice movements in the Philippines come from the Vatican II (1962-1965)
commentaries on social justice, human dignity, and human rights. Philippine history,
according to the anthropologist Kathleen Nadeau, (2002) also showed that the precolonial
maritime trade economy was supported by extensive ambilineal descent kinship networks
and charismatic leadership that inspired followers to cooperate in “ritual, agricultural,
commercial, and military matters.” Religion was an instrument of conversion, conquest,
and trade according to Filipinists Patricio Abinales and Donna Amoroso (1995).
During the Spanish colonization, activist Catholic priests protested the excesses of
colonialization, while Muslims repulsed both conversion and colonialization in much of
Mindanao. With American colonization and further penetration of capitalism in the
Philippine political economy, Nadeau quotes Resil Mojares in noting that “economic
changes have desacralzied labor and we have come a long way from the time when
exchange of goods among men (and women) was a moral transaction positively animated
by economic, religious, political, and aesthetic notions.”
The result is resistance
throughout Philippine history of various forms, duration, and intensity. Nadaeau’s (2002)
dissertation on liberation theology in the Philippines analyzed the potential and pitfalls of
Basic Ecclessial Communities (BEC) as community-based movement promoting
liberation, liturgy, empowerment, sustainable development, social justice, and solidarity
within a Catholic perspective.
5.1.4 Popular Catholicism
The doctoral dissertation of anthropologist Katherine Wiegele focused on the
transformative power of the El Shaddai movement. Trained well as an anthropologist,
her book, Investing in Miracles: El Shaddai and the Transformation of Popular
Catholicism in the Philippines (2005), is non-judgmental and sought to find out the
strengths of El Shaddai. Afterall, she noted that El Shaddai’s growth and successes pose
a challenge to religious institutions in the Philippines, particularly the Roman Catholic
Church. She observed that El Shaddai’s “unorthodox ways threaten the status quo,
religious boundaries of practice, while at the same time helps stop the massive flow of
Catholics to Protestant and evangelical groups in the Philippines.”
El Shaddai is successful because, according to her, it espouses a “more spiritual, social,
and materially relevant form of religion” that captures the “complexity and sophistication
of the contemporary Filipino.”
Wiegele concludes that El Shaddai has correctly
discerned the fears, hopes, and aspirations of Filipinos in a period of intense social,
political, and economic flux.
El Shaddai promotes a prosperity theology based on
healing, the inherent goodness of prosperity, health and wealth, and faith. It reverses the
debt relationship between God and man, wherein Filipinos are in constant debt to God,
which can only be paid at death. To El Shaddai, God wants humans to be healthy and
wealthy. God disdains suffering. The events in the personal life of the founder of El
Shaddai are a testament to the linear trajectory of this prosperity theology.
How can the followers achieve this? One is to follow God’s commandments strictly.
One is to practice a faithful work and self-help ethic. One is to focus on restoring health,
healing relationships, working at career success, improving one’s lifestyles, and, of
course, helping in the El Shaddai movement. It is one’s Christian duty to overcome
suffering and to follow God’s plan for one’s life.
To Wiegele, El Shaddai resonates with a broad swath of the Filipino populace because its
prosperity theology reflects their rejection of the Roman Catholic Church’s perceived
acceptance of poverty and the never ending carrying of the Cross. El Shaddai’s strength
is in the power of individual faith and action. It promotes a change in self-perception, in
a desire for a better life, and the transformative power of the realization that God’s
intention for each one is to be healthy, wealthy, and happy. This can be achieved through
active involvement in El Shaddai, i.e. prayer requests, tithes, personal testimony, and
self-help. To Wiegele, El Shaddai promotes hope and provides an “emotional outlet and
a catharsis for people burdened by heavy financial problems.”
While Wiegele recognizes the transformative power of a positive change in self-identity,
she critiques El Shaddai for its silence on the “structural, societal, or historical
understandings of inequality.”
She also notes that El Shaddai has been slow or
ineffectual in its avowed social services and poverty alleviation programs. It accepted
donations and investments in its housing, investment, and food distribution initiatives.
However, there are no tangible outcomes, nor has there been a proper accounting of
My reading of Wiegele’s book is that El Shaddai has been overwhelmingly successful in
promoting HOPE to the poor and needy and inculcating an ethic of self-help in them. I
do not know if the latter is relevant, since the poor are survivors. They struggle against
all odds. El Shaddai will soon reach a point wherein it has to address the implications of
a membership base that has been inspired to strive for health and wealth. Expectations
have been raised. How will El Shaddai address unmet expectations and unanswered
prayers? How will El Shaddai react to other religious movements that combine faith with
initiatives on social action and social justice?
In 2006, when Tony Meloto and Gawad Kalinga each received the Ramon Magsaysay
Awards for community leadership as an individual and organization respectively, I
attended a talk by then GK Chair Frank Padilla at one of the Manila universities.
Entitled, “Harnessing the Power of Volunteerism”, Padilla was very inspirational. He
spoke of the vision of Gawad Kalinga and the call to heroism in every Filipino. He noted
that the “Filipino is called to greatness” and that the “cause is greater than ourselves.”
These causes are God, the nation, and the poor. Representing Gawad Kalinga, he said
that the collective mission is to change society by helping the poor. In the process, “we
are building a nation.”
According to Padilla, CFC, which started Gawad Kalinga, has a history of activism
starting with the electoral vigilance and reforms initiatives during the Marcos regime
culminating in the critical role in EDSA Dos. He emphasized that God intended us to be
caring, generous, and just. We are the “bayani para sa bayan.” Righteousness and
justice, in its basic form, is the preferential, compassionate, and loving option for the poor
and the outcast.
At the time of this writing, GK and CFC are grappling with how GK and the GK work
are to evolve.
Top level and community level realities have a bearing on these
discussions. The internal discussions will continue to be heated, personal, and hurtful.
The process is painful, but I think the end result will be a clearer vision of GK.
Organizational Issues
The conflict has impacted the GK movement in a number of ways. First, CFC member
participation in GK activities vary per individual and CFC household and chapter.
Remember, GK was then only one of several ministries of CFC. Only later did it grown
and occupy a more prominent position in the public and internally in GK. Thus, when I
asked GK officers, how many CFC members are active in GK, the estimate ranged from
one percent to ten percent and at most fifteen percent. At a peak membership of nearly
one million, a 10% active rate amounted to about 100,000 volunteers, enough to be a
critical mass as events have shown.
Tensions between the Meloto and Padilla camps were brewing as early as 2006 and
Meloto would sort of hint that this affected recruitment to the all important caretaker
teams. As one GK staffer noted; “caretaker teams are not growing or increasing. How
could they when there is paranoia from inside CFC…The leaders made ordinary
members paranoid about being active in GK…”
Meloto, on the other hand, was always of the opinion that CFC was plateauing in
membership because CFC was not responding the realities of life in the Philippines. The
wealth gap was widening and there was social injustice all around. To remain passive
and to turn a blind eye was to abdicate the faith-in-action perspective of spirituality.
From a practical perspective, he also said that GK’s success would lead to more members
to CFC. GK, to him, was the best recruitment tool as it showed that faith practiced could
help address poverty and social injustice. GK was like the BEC with its liberational,
liturgical, and developmental model (Nadeau 2002).
Thus, GK as a social movement trying to restructure Philippine society, was also an
internal social movement in CFC. Internally, heated debates centered on the visionmission-charism of CFC vis-à-vis GK. The debate and conflict continues even with the
departure of Padilla and his faction. In 2009, conflict broke out again between the CFC
International Council and GK officers closely associated with Meloto. This resulted in
the resignation of the president of GK, Melo Villaroman, who was an elder of CFC. CFC
also formally separated GK, which is now an independent foundation.
The top
management though of GK are still CFC members, albeit associated with Meloto.
While it seemed that the formal independence of GK from CFC would finally settle
things, it did not. Apparently, CFC wanted to establish its own version of GK. One
province with a sizeable number of GK sites, for example, had its CFC provincial leaders
deciding to cast their lot with CFC. The confusion, miscommunication, and erratic
presence of caretaker teams in one province, for example, delayed for one over a year the
establishment of hog operation with biodigester system in one GK village. A carbon
credit company agreed to sponsor building a biodigester to collect the methane from
organic wastes. This will enable the community to put in at least 100 grower hogs. Thus,
they will have food, income, and a green project all in one. Will this be replicable in
other GK sites? I hope so. The establishment of another village was significantly
delayed as well because of the conflict. I personally witnessed Meloto being snubbed by
local leaders of CFC not aligned with him. They also strongly discouraged CFC and GK
members in this province from attending GK activities such as the 2009 GK Expo and the
birthday celebration of Meloto. This has been embarrassing and discouraging to all
Note however, that, as is the practice within CFC, there are intensive efforts to resolve
the conflict with CFC elders and Meloto’s camp. The next few months of 2010 will see
how this is resolved.
GK’s operational challenges concern those with building a movement. My focus will be
not on what is “normal” (Davis and Zald 2005, Clemens 2005) such as competition for
resources and environmental challenges, but rather what is specific to GK and to the
study of social movements. The first has to with identity. The conflict internal to GK is
a debate on what GK stands for and where it is headed. Meloto’s camp is pushing for a
vigorous faith-in-action perspective on the part of CFC members.
GK is literally
attempting to build “a nation of the poor.” Meloto wants a grounds up approach to
development. For him and the likes of Boy Montelibano, the present number of CFC
members comprising the GK caretaker teams is not enough. It is not growing. The
conflict and the paranoia it caused has stymied participation and action from CFC
members. Still, the 10% participation rate amounts to nearly 100,000 CFC volunteers.
The shortfall of CFC caretaker teams is being filled partly by outside groups and
individuals. These include retired professionals who want to volunteer and civic (i.e.
Rotary) and religious lay groups. GK is also trying to mainstream the caretaker team
model by working local government units and the Department of Social Work and
Development (DSWD). The Taguig Designer City program is an example. Another is
the resettlement and relocation programs of the national government. In some of these
projects, GK has been asked to come in and help.
Meloto says that, ultimately, the path of growth of CFC is with the poor. CFC through
GK can show the poor that God is not only spiritual, but inspires fellow human beings to
love them and help them. There are many stories of individuals experiencing this and
have joined CFC because of this. Thus, as some GK staffers have noted, CFC as an
institution needs to move to service and mission. Every CFC member should have a
mission. No mission means no personal growth. It is spiritually slothful fellowship said
one. Lastly, CFC’s charter was mission-oriented thus, GK. CFC must push the mission
aspect more, they said.
By identity, I use the symbolic interaction perspective, which “is the internalized set of
meanings attached to a role played in a network of social relationships with a person’s
self views as in important an organization of the various identifies held by the person.”
In addition, the collective identity is the group or movement members’ “emergent shared
beliefs about membership, boundaries, and activities” (Stryker et.al. 2000:3) and covers
the shared definition of the group vis-à-vis common interests, experiences, and solidarity
(“we-feeling”) that is constructed, activated and sustained through participation and
interaction in some sort of community or group (Taylor 1989).
It is collective belief, which grew out of Tajfel (1981) in-group-out-group categorizations
of social identity theory. Social identity is the belief system of the individual. Collective
action is an identity management strategy of groups. In the social psychology of protest,
a sense of identity, injustice (over an issue), and agency (free will and capacity to act) are
the three crucial and needed concepts (2000 Klandermans and de Weerd). For social
movements such as GK, the collective search for identity is a fundamental activity of
such a movement. Collective identity to Melucci (1985) enabled collective action and
defined membership, boundaries, and activities of the grouping. Collective identities
reflect group culture.
Understanding identities is important in understanding social
movement dynamics (Snow and McAdam 2000).
Participants in a social movement may be in search of or seeking to verify their social
On the other hand, the social movement may modify and transform the
participant’s identity (Snow and McAdam 2000).
With GK, the constructionist
perspective of constructing and maintaining through joint actions, negotiation and
interpretative work the building up or strengthening of a what is a GK volunteer or the
essence of GK is intimately tied to social and collective work. GK is very much into the
identity work as it is into building homes.
Second, being part of a caretaker team is indeed heroic. Many of those I spoke to about
their experiences, relate how difficult it is. The needs of the community are great, while
the needs of the individual and their families are even greater. Caretakers grapple with
all kinds of issues at every stage of establishing a GK site. Obviously, there is the safety
issue. Some have been harassed by local toughies, others by power brokers and officials
that have seen their influence wane with the entry of GK. Many families have financial
burdens, health issues, or just need to heal physically and emotionally after many years of
Caretaker team members are simultaneously community organizers, spiritual leaders,
mentors, counselors, conflict resolution specialist, and so on. Many, themselves, have
financial burdens, yet they persevere and continue to donate their own resources to
families in need. As GK says they are the lifeblood of GK. The question is how long can
caretaker teams last without burning out or becoming emotionally (even financially)
In some sites I visited, some have resigned and others re-assigned. Note that caretakers
work as a team, a great improvement from the solo community organizer model. Even as
a team, it is very taxing. As Luis Oquiñena, the Executive Director of GK noted, burn
out of caretaker teams is always on his mind. Without the caretaker team, access to
resources to maintain the village and to organize the community are compromised. See
example below.
Box 14: Notes on one GK site visited, August 2007
GK1 is deteriorating because of lack of support from the local community. Homes are
falling apart. The fibercement boards used for walling is expensive to replace and cannot
be replaced easily. It is est to upgrade to a more durable material such as concrete hollow
blocks. AT GK2, the issue is coconut lumber used for trusses. Steel may be
needed…Most beneficiaries are too poor still to maintain homes. They work as laborers,
‘trisikad’ (bicycle with a sidecar) drivers, and construction workers. Either the pay is too
low or work opportunities are erratic. Are they experiencing hunger? NO, they look
healthy but there is not much going on in terms of livelihood or productivity.
What I like are the flowers and plants, which beautify both GK villages. They are
everywhere, are colorful, and use indigenous landscaping techniques. Homeowers have
their own potted plants and mini-gradens. At one of the village, trees planted during the
groundbreaking six years ago are now fully grown. What a difference six years make.
Six years hence, GK1 residents should have improved their lot economically. However,
there is a risk that the area might slip into slum conditions. They need help for livelihood
activities or higher paying jobs so they can progress or moderate poverty. What are the
problems or challenges?
First, the GK programs are not in place yet. The homes have been built and turned over,
bu the other GK components have not been implemented. The poverty issue is very
challenging in this area. Looking inside some of the homes, there is material
accumulation such as televisions, refrigerators, sound systems, among others, This
indicated some form of purchasing power and pent up demand for consumer items. How
do you shift spending to home maintenance when, when consumer items are desired and
needed as well? GK may need to rehabilitate the sites using more durable materials and
initiate a continuing rehabilitation and maintenance program. Outside partners ar needed
to help this rehabilitation effort.
Apart from the deteriorating homes there are reports of drinking and gambling. Clothes
are hung anywhere and everywhere. Fighting cocks are being grown. Fights are reported
during drinking sprees among neighbors and between spouses. GK volunteers and the
mayor of a city actively partnering up with GK lament the challenges of the community
organizer, conducting values transformation, and working with the poor. They cite the
lack of education, literacy, acculturation, hygiene, socialization, and so on. The poor
they work with, they say, have a lot of catching up to do. I wonder why GK partners are
not active in this village. New partners with specific area interest should be identified.
Maybe friends in the construction sector can help defray material costs. Also, GK needs
to activate the kapitbahayan.
These two GK villages need to be prioritized because they have historical significance in
the evolution of GK. They must be sustained as showcases of GK. The project and
caretaker teams have to ensure this.
I spoke to their head and he admitted that unlike in Manila, where CFC members have
more resources and access to resources, the CFC chapter here is resource-deficient.
Many CFC members themselves are poor. They need to reach out some more especially
to those who can help materially. Because of these and other challenges, some of his
caretaker and project team members have burnt out emotionally. He is hamstrung by the
turnover of volunteers. GK will have to look at this. If needed, GK national will have to
subsidize a full-time GK worker and get national partners. Again the youth seem to be
the hope. They are in school. They have the SIGA, YFC, and SFC.
observations were relayed to GK officers. Since then, new partners have been identified,
but there are still challenges.
When I asked a key GK informant what percentage of the GK communities had
problems, he honestly said if not all, about 98%. He asked me to think about the
situation. GK works with poorest of the poor. These are those who will never in their
lifetime own their own home and own their own land. Many GK beneficiaries have been
living in slums for decades with some never having used or owned a decent toilet or
bathroom. Many politicians, officials, even NGO workers have promised to help them,
but nothing much has sustained them. Many of them are broken physically, emotionally,
and spiritually.
A slum environment, added Meloto, breeds a slum culture, where the dominant prey on
the weak. In the family, it is the impoverished, unemployed, angry, frustrated, drinking,
gambling husband who preys on his wife and children. Outside of the home, there are
gangs, drugs, and crime to contend. GK seeks to change this. A home is the entry point.
Letting them build the home as a form of sweat equity provides an opportunity for the
men to do something active, to create something, to work together, to cement friendships,
and start the process of community formation. There are many challenges and it will take
time, but GK is a start. He said; “remember, yesterday they were squatters, today, they’re
not. That in itself is significant.” It will take many years to stabilize a GK community.
Conclusion: Gawad Kalinga and Anthropology
This dissertation is a grounded theory, inductive study of the social movement that is
Gawad Kalinga (GK). I sought to explain the GK phenomenon from a social movement
perspective. What makes it different? Can it be globalized? What is its potential? GK
intended to build 700,000 homes, in 7,000 communities in seven years in the Philippines.
Now on its seventh year, it has built tens of thousands of homes in over 2,000
communities all over the country. While it did not achieve its lofty goal, GK has evolved
such that it is now in six other countries and its program is now a 21-year effort to
transform the Philippines into a developed country. GK continues to adhere to its seven
livelihood/productivity, environment, values transformation/community organizing, and
promotion of Filipino culture/hospitality. GK continues to mobilize manpower and
resources to achieve these audacious goals.
This dissertation sought to introduce an aspect of social movement theorizing not actively
pursued. The dominant theories on the emergence of social movements are political
process theory, resource mobilization theory, and new social movement theories, which
contain many aspects of frame theory. I described these theories in Chapter 2. Most
social movement researchers privilege one or a combination of two and for a minority, all
three theoretical strands. Social movement researcher Bert Klandermans (1995) noted
that this practice is inadequate and calls for more theorizing using all three theories. This
is what I tried to accomplish in explaining what kind of social movement Gawad Kalinga
is. Using one or two of theories, I felt, would not introduce anything new to social
movement theory.
Using all three, however, made the explanatory process more
powerful especially as GK was branding itself as a social movement that was not
interested in confronting the State or powerful social forces. While it was working for
change, it was not going to achieve it through resistance, protest, or contestation, all of
which have long been in used in the Philippines. Rather, it was using an engagement and
cooperative framework not only with allies, but also with those that are partly and/or
significantly responsible for the wealth, opportunity, and hope gaps in the Philippines.
This cooperative and engagement model of social movements seeking fundamental social
change has not been fully explored.
The literature on engendering change and
community development, from anthropology to sociology to positive psychology, and
social economics, among others, call for a values-based paradigm that is creative,
transparent, engaging, and participatory. In other words, revolutionary/ disruptive change
is really through culture work that is creative, positive, optimistic, and charismatic. The
search is for a transformational social movement. In the GK model, we can discern this
“culture work.”
Thus, this dissertation sought to add to social movement theories in the following ways:
1. I assessed a social movement that seeks to foster broad social change using a
cooperative and engagement model. This is different from the contentious politics of
Tilly and McAdam, the collective consumption conflict of Castells, the legitimating
issues of Habermas, or the contingent politics of Laclau and Mouffe, or the cultural
conflicts of Melucci.
It builds on the cultural realm of new social movement
theorizing by exploring the positive consequences of community organizing in the
pursuit of service delivery, problem solving, capacity building, and empowerment.
2. A social movement using this partnership and engagement model does this by social
service delivery of basic household and livelihood needs of shelter, water, power,
education, health, productivity, livelihood, as well as community organizing and
values transformation.
This is for beneficiaries.
However, benefactors are also
transformed in terms of their values, experience, and outlook in working with,
sharing, and caring for the poorest of the poor.
To explain how this social movement is meeting with some level of success, I sought
to investigate why such a social movement emerged in a particular form and
operational framework. In other words, I wanted to understand the context of its
emergence and expansion from global-local nexus, historical, and political-socioeconomic perspectives.
I discovered that global and local geopolitical-economic
structures and conditions over a long period created an impoverished mass of people
who needed both social justice and ways to meet basic household needs. The second
area of investigation was how this social movement was able to organize and
mobilize tens of thousands of volunteers and institutional supporters who adhere to
this particular operating model.
Lastly, I wanted to understand what were the
underlying ethics, values, and discourse that this social movement was trying to
inculcate in its stakeholders. I wanted to identify and understand the who, what, why
and how of this social movement;
3. The literature on social movement often explores its political and cultural nature.
Each theory and its variation sought to explain ‘societal totality’; power; variation in
analysis, social movement form, orientation, and activity; and the bases of social
movements (Tilly 1999, Melucci 1996, Buechler 1995 and 1993, Piven and Cloward
1991). Using this perspective, my goal was to study Gawad Kalinga, describe, and
learn new perspectives from a social movement seeking change beyond the Marxian
view of class struggle or Post-Marxist cultural conflict. I wanted to explore the
potential of Gawad Kalinga’s engagement model as it expands nationwide and as it
enters new countries;
4. The third goal was to bring in the literature from areas related to social movement
research such as non-profit research, mutual aid and self-help in housing, the impact
of globalization and urbanization, and the influence of faith-in-action. These areas of
research and the perspectives are important because they provide support to a social
movement engaged in cooperation rather than resistance. While social movements
engaged in protest and contestation seek to change policy or actions, social
movements such as Gawad Kalinga engaged in service delivery and community
assistance seek to change policy or dominant cultural codes by modeling and
demonstrating how to achieve these policy or cultural change.
To further articulate this new social movement as embodied by Gawad Kalinga, I
proposed three hypotheses for the emergence of a social movement such as Gawad
Kalinga. These are presented below with the bases for their hypothetical soundness.
Proposition 1: Under a neoliberal political-economic, historical, and geographic regime,
the poverty, social inequality, exclusion gaps have widened to such an
extent that neither the state nor the market are in a position to address
these issues, necessitating; (a) a massive mobilization of people and
resources at the societal level; (b) comprehensive program of action. This
context enables the emergence and expansion of a social movement with a
strategic engagement model that can address poverty, social inequality
and exclusion, as well as conflicts over collective consumption and
collective identity. This is the confluence of the effects of neoliberalism
and social mobilization.
I analyzed GK from three perspectives. The first explored political process theory, which
is that opportunities or openings arise for mobilization. Movement leaders and followers
recognize this opportunity or “cognitive liberation.” For the Philippines, the research
literature on the impacts of globalization and neoliberalism on the political economy of
the country, the form and rate of urbanization, the urbanization of poverty is robust. The
Philippines has long been a laboratory of free trade and economic liberalization,
neoliberal thought, and structural adjustment programs imposed by multilateral financing
institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the Asian
Development Bank under the direction of the developed countries. Thus, the Philippines
and Mexico, the first two countries subjected to SAP, suffered deep economic
depressions in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. It did not help that a brutal and corrupt
dictatorial regime propped up by the American government ruled the Philippines and left
the country bankrupt by 1986. Following Wallesterian perspectives on core-periphery
relations, the Philippines fared poorly in a neoliberal regime of globalization.
consequences were multifaceted.
Poverty, social and economic inequality, and exclusion are the definitive consequences of
the confluence of external factors and Philippine political society. In the Philippines, a
minority controls the majority of the land, wealth, resources, and opportunities. This
minority also dominates the bureaucracy from the local to national levels. Thus, elites
access both power and resources to their advantage. They have also monopolized both.
For the rest of the Filipinos, the struggle for land, resources, and opportunities to survive
and provide for their families can take many forms. Many resist and are repressed.
Others exploit natural resources, i.e. logging, rapid rates of slash-and-burn farming or
illegal fishing methods. Others compete in the economic arena. Many vote with their
feet, first from rural to urban, and then from city to abroad.
Thus, close to half of the Philippine population lives in urban areas. One in eight work
abroad. The global and local political economies influence urbanization. Urbanization,
if not managed, has environmental and social impacts.
In the Philippines, the
environmental and social quality indicators have deteriorated over time.
The most
graphic reminders of unsustainable urbanization are the proliferation of over 500 slums in
Metro Manila, alongside over 1,500-gated communities. In the Philippines, immense
wealth floats in a sea of deprivation and misery. The traffic nightmare itself is indicative
of urban challenges, which can lead to a literal breakdown. Social inequality and its
poverty in the Philippines are urbanized.
The point is, with widespread deprivation and inequality, there are two avenues for
action. The first is to resist and/or conduct claims making for economic and social
concessions from the State or the powerful. The second is to, by necessity, act to ensure
economic survival. These acts take many forms from the individual and family levels to
collective levels of social movements, for example. When groups get together to solve
problems and help the vulnerable they are tapping into self-help and mutual aid
perspectives and strategies. These may inspire and encourage the powerful to make
concessions especially if many parties benefit from the arrangement. This is what people
call “expanding the pie” or for GK, an “abundance mentality.”
Proposition 2: Social movements involved in social change, poverty alleviation, social
justice, and community development may overcome resistance from
opposing and rival elite power holders and the State itself by engaging
these parties through culture and identity work that demonstrates: (a) it is
to the best interest of all parties to work together to minimize social
conflict and competition for scarce resources, and, (b) addressing issues
of contention and wide-scale social transformation will necessitate
alliances across political, economic, social, and sectoral interests.
To understand further the causes and dynamics of the consequences of unequal politicaleconomic structures, I summarized Philippine historiography vis-à-vis social forces, the
Marcos dictatorship, People Power, and the lingering social malaise of poverty,
economics and social inequality, and social exclusion. The over three hundred years of
brutal Spanish, American, and Japanese colonization and/or occupation has inculcated in
Philippine society notions of power and wealth. Throughout these three centuries of
foreign rule, a nurtured and coddled elite class emerged to protect their own interests and
that of their foreign patrons.
This resulted in an unequal distribution of property,
resources, and opportunities. With formal independence in 1946, elites continued their
hold on political power by dominating the bureaucracy and Congress. They, afterall,
were the most educated, exposed, and experienced in both politics and business. This
monopolization of power and resources reached its zenith during the Marcos dictatorship.
Marcos defanged his elite rivals, enriched himself, his family, and his cronies, and
consequently impoverished the Philippines.
After the ouster of the Marcos regime in the peaceful People Power revolution of 1986,
the Philippines regained its democracy. Philippine democracy is a survivor. During the
presidency of Cory Aquino, military mutineers launched as many as seven coup d’état
attempts. Aquino fended these off successfully and transferred political power to former
military man Fidel V. Ramos, a People Power hero, who brought some amount of
economic and political stability before the advent of 1997 Asian financial crisis. On the
other hand, the stigma of corruption allegations and charges of transactional politics have
burdened two presidents that followed him. Former Joseph ERAP Estrada suffered the
ignominy of being ousted in People Power II in 2001 and was subsequently convicted of
If all these factors are operating, what is the realm of the possible for civil society and
social movement in the Philippines, the country being a regional, if not global center of
civil society activism? In the Philippines today, two ‘political’ trends are occurring. The
first concerns the elite, those in power, with wealth and contacts, or those with access to
these three resources. The second concerns civil society. Civil society encompasses, you
and me, us, and those not part of the State or government. It includes those working to
change conditions in the country.
Therefore, volunteers, activists, priests, teachers,
NGOs, people’s organizations, feminists, environmentalists, artists, community
organizers, scientists, media, and so on are part of civil society. When they band together
and struggle for something be it housing, environment, human rights, or employment,
they become a social movement of some sort.
As I discussed earlier and as the public construes the Philippines, the elite control the
resources of the country. They shape the laws of the land because they are in Congress
and in government.
They can influence policies and have access to government
incentives, subsidies, and assistance to business, their business. Their ownership of land
is significant. Importantly, they can influence, if not access, the coercive power of the
State, which are the police and military.
Hence, one observes the “wangwang”
phenomenon and the private armies who use military-owned equipment and ammunition
or use government-organized civilian militia. The elite, who constitute 10% of the
population, control at least one third of the economy. While the elite share the same
The onomatopoeia of sirens from police or private armed escorts of politicians
elements of power, wealth, education, and culture, they are not a united sector. They
actually compete with one another for power and its spoils. Thus, the elections of 2010
are a competition for power of those who can afford to run for political office. Elites
continually reshape alliances. It is not surprising that candidates for President all the way
down to Mayor are from the elite.
Elite competition, widespread deprivation, and environmental deterioration are both
crises and opportunities.
Civil society, on the other hand, has a long track record in the country. Their earliest
manifestations were in the anti-colonial struggle. Agrarian unrest and poverty resulted in
social movements emerging in these arenas of contestation. During the Marcos regime,
NGOs defending human rights and civil liberties, addressing the debilitating effects of
poverty and displacement, grew in number, scope, and magnitude. After Marcos, NGOs
continued to proliferate and active in many different activities. Thus, the Philippines
became a regional center of NGO activity. The proliferation of NGOs results from; (a)
societal issues or problems that are being contested and/or tackled by various groups or
sectors in society, and, (b) the withdrawal or lack of services and assistance by the
government (State) because it doesn’t have the resources, skills, manpower, and political
will to provide these. Hence, there are NGOs working on homelessness, urban poverty,
agrarian reform, environmental issues, overseas workers’ plight, and so on.
The non-profit sector and social movements in the Philippines are thus engaged in two
broad activities, namely: (a) defending rights and claims making versus the State,
powerful others, or dominant cultural codes, and (b) providing assistance and service to
their vulnerable constituencies of they are to maintain support and build capacities. This
is the context, the political-economic-social-historical context that makes it possible for a
Gawad Kalinga to emerge. In brief:
When there is widespread deprivation and unequal access to resources, opportunities,
and social interaction; discontent arises with the possibility of unrest;
The global and local socio-political-economic context resulted in a prosperous
minority and a poor majority especially in developing countries such as the
The State or government may become unwilling, inadequate, or incapable of meeting
the demands of a poor majority for welfare, social services, and concessions;
Civil society and social movements emerge seeking to address this gap between
demand and delivery. Many focus on protest and resistance, but others prioritize
service and product delivery to vulnerable sectors of society. They may access
resources from a variety of sources including, starting in the 1980s, from developed
countries and multilateral institutions who made them funding partners in
development assistance
Ruch and Neidhart (2002) posit that social movements will probably increase in the
future because of differentiation in society and unfulfilled need.
deprivation, and effective mobilizing structures will be the determining factors. If the
family erodes, as modern societies stumble at integration of its populace, as problems of a
societal nature require a broad base collaboration, social he predicted that movements
will be attractive and viable. A movement’s other contribution is that they pressure, but
do not necessarily substitute established institutions such as political parties and interest
groups. In GK’s case, they are pressuring NGO performance standards.
The significant characteristic of social movements, NGOs, and civil society is that in
their activities, they are pursuing a vision, a mission, a goal, and value system. Think
Gawad Kalinga with it’s; "No more slums, no more violence, no more poverty" motto.
Because of these two social forces of society and the political-economic-social situation,
the Philippines is currently in what the social scientist Mary Racelis calls a vibrant
democracy and amidst widespread poverty and inequality. Democracy will be hard to
maintain if there is too much poverty and inequality. For the Philippines, it will have to
make painful choices on how to address poverty and inequality. Gawad Kalinga is
attempting to work with social forces, including the elite class, by transforming them into
partners willing to care, share, and reduce their “power” for the benefit of the poor, the
weak, and vulnerable.
The second perspective on social movements is via Resource Mobilization Theory.
Actors or agents who are competent enough to organize and mobilize groups of people,
in this case, a social movement, may then be able to access resources spurred by
conditions described above. While the public considers Tony Meloto is the founder of
GK, he had behind him the Couples for Christ organization, which itself is an evangelical
movement. Thus, he had the support of some intelligent, passionate, persevering, and for
many CFC members the resources to launch GK.
Second, these social movement entrepreneurs have some sort of understanding that the
conditions or context are ripe for mobilization, which, for GK, is through its community
development program. Many of the CFC members lived through the tribulations of the
Marcos regime. Many participated in People Power I and II where CFC played a major
Significantly, many CFC members came from the elite class and where thus
businesspersons, top government officials, corporate managers, and professionals. Thus,
while they were faith-based, they were also politically and socially active.
Plate 25: Gawad Kalinga slogans
• Home for the
• Land for the Landless
• Food for the Hungry
• Water for the Thirsty
• Light for those in
Third, they sensed that there is a public out there willing to support them. GK, indeed,
figured this out because it has partnered up with a variety of social forces including over
400 corporations, 200 universities and schools, 150 mayors, the national government,
over 100,000 volunteers (it is recruiting 1M volunteers), the Filipino diaspora, civic
groups, and other NGOs/non-profits. They were able achieve this through the following
They framed the movement in two distinct ways. First, they presented the movement
as one that intends to solve societal problems in a fundamental, comprehensive,
participatory, and importantly, peaceful way.
Wide-ranging social change is
disruptive and can easily engender resistance. GK has sought to be more inclusive,
less threatening, and accommodating of as many groups and individuals as possible.
Second, they aligned the movement with the aspirations, goals, and culture of the
Filipino people. This is discussed in the framing section below;
GK presented a model and demonstrated that it works. This model evolved over many
years, first in response to the evangelical work with the poor of Couples for Christ
(CFC). Addressing structural social inequalities became an requisite if evangelizing
to the poor was to succeed. Thus, CFC members modeled faith-in-action, the heroic
act of loving, caring, and sharing with the poorest of the poor and personal sacrifice
in doing good. CFC members built the first homes and villages with their own time,
talent, and treasures. This “doing good” attracted the notice of potential supporters.
It inspired the wider public and other stakeholders such as the private sector,
government, academe, and volunteers. GK calls this modeling of action padugo or
bleeding for the cause, which formed the stirring GK slogan of “the more we bleed
for peace, the less we bleed in war.” Modeling sacrifice in work that helps others
inspires and attracts supporters. This is how GK got their first PhP30 million
assistance from the State. This is how it got the Filipino diaspora in North America
to fund over 320 GK villages. Of course, it did help that the CFC members were
from the middle to elite class. Thus, they had access to others with resources or to
government officials;
GK villages became points of convergence. GK leaders were quite insightful on this.
First, they launched the ambitious goal of GK777. This ambitious goal necessitated
the massive mobilization of volunteers, supporters, and resources.
GK framed
GK777 as nothing a “us versus them” but a “we” an “all of us” working together.
That is why they leveraged the Filipino cultural terms of bayani or hero engaged in
helping one another or bayanihan for the good to the nation or bayan. Thus, bayani,
bayanihan, and bayan were to be implemented in the hoped for 7,000 villages in the
Second, GK adopted its comprehensive seven-point community development
program that sought to address basic household and livelihood needs. GK’s programs
focused on shelter, food independence, productivity, health, education, environmental
awareness, values transformation, community organizing, and fostering Filipino
culture and hospital or the MABUHAY program. Because (a) GK has a seven-point
program, (b) it has an ambitious goal in GK777, (c) it needed to mobilize massive
manpower and resources; GK was open to any and to all willing to help. It was also
an open source form of community development, meaning, if an individual or group
had a program compatible with GK’s values and vision, they GK was open to the
individual or group implementing the program. If successful, GK was also open to
replicating it in other GK villages. GK is, thus, an open invitation to those sharing a
caring and sharing ethic. As such, barriers to entry are vastly reduced and it enables a
more comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to capacity building for
communities and their residents.
Third, GK sites, organized at a community level with a strong community, work, and
moral ethic, present other groups such as the academe, corporations, and NGOs
specializing in niche services the opportunity to work at the community level. For the
academe, GK has organized the GK Builders Institute so that different participating
universities or academic units can do research on GK and advise GK on best
Partnerships have been forged not only with Philippine educational
institutions but with those abroad too, notably in the United States. At the high
school level, partner schools allow their students to complete their required national
or community service to be completed in GK villages. Thus, students are a big
source of volunteers.
The same is true for corporations doing corporate social
responsibility (CSR) initiatives in partnership with GK. Do note that donations to GK
are tax creditable to individuals or corporations.
The sources of resources for the GK social movement are as broad as its constituency.
Because of padugo, GK and CFC members were themselves the first, foremost, and
continuing source of time, talent, and treasures, the labels GK uses for the resources it
needs. Many of them had one, two, or three of these resources to offer to GK.
Second, GK engaged the two sectors of society that control the nation’s wealth and
resources. These are the elite class and the State. For both, GK sought common
ground and a common agenda with a win-win perspective. How? Both the elite and
the State owned huge landholdings, which, in many cases were squatted on. It was
too expensive and troublesome to evict or relocated the informal dwellers. The
squatted land deteriorated along with the land values. Tensions were high between
the informal dwellers and the landowners, exploited by other opportunistic politicians
or squatter syndicates. GK presented a win-win model as both a mediator and a
facilitator wherein the landowner donates enough land for the informal settlers to
reside in. In exchange, GK jumpstarts a GK village complete with the seven-point
community program. The slum is now transformed into a proper housing community.
Surrounding land values appreciate. The landowner gets back part of the land, which
can be utilized. Thus, slums are transformed and a cooperative model is forged
among many sectors.
Note though that other individuals and groups had other reasons for supporting GK’s
programs. Some other rich wanted to give back to society and honor a loved one,
hence the GK “legacy” village. Corporations, as stated, wanted to align their CSR
programs with that of GK because corporate leaders were impressed and believed in
the GK model. Four hundred companies supporting GK is impressive. They have
provided free services as well such as accounting, legal, information technology,
human resources, communications, and so on to GK. Foreign governments such as
the United States, Singapore, Canada, Australia, among others, were also impressed
with GK and provided or facilitated support. Singapore’s hosting of the GK regional
office is an example.
The academe is a strong and critical supporter of GK.
Universities and their
respective constituencies provided the funding, manpower, and tools to build GK
villages. Jesuit private university Ateneo, for example, has made GK its official
socio-civic program. Ateneo has built at least 13 villages. High schools, as stated,
have made GK their service program recipient and have built villages as a
consolidating activity. Thus, there are GK villages named after several schools. The
academe is also providing the intellectual support, research, documentation, and
strategizing for GK. The University of the Philippines and Ateneo have provided
office space and equipment, as well as staff to GK. They are active co-organizers in
the GK Builders Institute, a coalition of universities supporting GK in establishing
best practices.
The same type of arrangement has been made with universities
Religious groups and the church are likewise supporting GK in many
capacities. Media has provided generous coverage of GK.
The Filipino diaspora is a key supporter. Filipino-Americans and Filipino-Canadians
and their friends and relatives have funded over 320 GK villages. They raise funds,
organize events, facilitate meetings, and promote GK in the countries they reside.
Thus, these are just a few of the many supporters of GK. However, one of the most
critical partners of GK are the beneficiaries themselves. They are the ones who
ensure that the GK village set up is sustainable. Their responsibilities are significant.
They have to contribute their “sweat equity” in terms of labor hours to build homes
and the common facilities. They have to attend a values transformation program.
They need to organize themselves into a community association (thereby reinforcing
the community organizing efforts). They need to maintain their homes and the
community. They need to establish the food productivity and livelihood program
with help from supporters. They need to maintain the SIBOL school established.
Meloto summarized it when he said that’ “we need to make the poor our partners in
Plate 26: GK marches to build solidarity
A key innovation of GK is the caretaker team. A caretaker team composed of a
minimum of one CFC couple, usually several commit to at least one to three years of
community organizing in the GK site. They handle as much as possible, but their
mandate is to instill the GK values, build up a sense of community and solidarity, and
ensure that the values transformation program is implemented. Being a caretaker
team is physically and emotionally challenging. Thus, during the early years, CFC
members who volunteered were making a deep commitment to GK and they still do.
There were several who burnt out emotionally, but they are some of the true heroes of
GK posits a perspective of abundance and creativity creating new possibilities. GK
officials make public statements that resources given to them go a long way. Meloto
claims that $1 given to them results in $4 of outcomes. GK home building illustrates
this. The $2,000 donation for one home goes primarily to the materials needed to
build the house. For a 20 square meter home that built to withstand at least 175
kilometers per hour typhoons, on formalized, occupied land, with utility hook ups and
a functioning toilet and bathroom, the $2,000 price tag is very cheap. This is possible
because of GK’s model that incorporates the following: (a) construction labor if
provided “free” by beneficiaries who have to put in from 500-1,000 hours of labor
building someone else’s home as well as by GK volunteers; (b) design services are
provided by volunteer architects and engineers; (c) local government waive or
facilitate the permits; (d) the land is either donated, lent, or sold cheaply by a private
entity or the government; and (e) GK periodically organizes mass builds in targeted
GK sites. To scale up home building, GK initiated the following:
(a) GK continuously conducts social marketing of the GK model through its social
networks and that of its supporters, both in the Philippines and abroad;
(b) GK actively engages with State, both at the local and national levels. At the
national level it garnered the support of the President who was its first major
supporter donating PhP30million in government funds to build a thousand homes.
GK provided counterpart 1,000 homes to jumpstart the GK model in a significant
way. It also partnered with the Department of Defense to provide GK homes to
poor soldiers under the GKawal program. The military in turn, supports GK by
providing logistics and security to GK’s activities in less than ideal conditions
and during relief efforts. Another partner is the Vice-President who also heads
the national housing agencies. GK has helped in the relocation sites of the
government that are struggling with site services, community organizing, and
common facilities. GK has also been deputized as recipient or partner for private
real estate development companies required by law to provide socialized housing
onsite or offsite for its real estate projects. Developers can now meet this
requirement in GK sites. At the local level, many cities and towns are struggling
with the proliferation of slums. GK has partnered with over 100 mayors to
develop housing programs with them.
(c) GK is working at the institutional level in three significant ways. The first is its
Designer City model discussed earlier where a city or town uses the GK model to
address the proliferation of slums. The local government unit (LGU) provides
most of the logistics for onsite slum upgrading or offsite relocation following the
GK model. GK provides further manpower, technical, and community organizing
resources. The city of Taguig is the first Designer GK city. At the provincial
level, governors of two provinces, Camarines Sur and Bukidnon, are actively
implementing GK villages.
The second is by drafting legislation that will institutionalize the GK model.
Congress has already passed a resolution supporting and encouraging the adoption
of the GK model. In 2009, Meloto told me that they had draft legislation that they
will ask GK supporters in Congress to file and hopefully pass. One component is
to allot a budget for the GK model in home building. This will not be radical as
the constitution of the country provides for the active participation of civil
(d) GK is landbanking future GK sites. GK claims that it has nearly enough land
allotted for the targeted 7,000 GK communities. Using simple math of two
hectares per GK site (rural), only 14,000 hectares are needed nationwide. It is
less for urban sites.
(e) GK is building a knowledge community by instituting the GK Builders Institute
nestled in universities. This is one strategy to tap the intellectual and social
resources of those in the academe to benefit GK.
GK is not only actively
partnering with local universities but with those abroad as well.
For the
GKalusugan or health program, it is actively working on memoranda of
agreement with universities such as Stanford and University of Washington. In
2010, GK signed a MOA with UCLA Public Health to explore public health
cooperative ventures.
(f) GK works with the “creative” class. Artists, musicians, architects, journalists,
and others in the creative and information sectors have lent their talents and time
in promoting GK. They have produced concerts, a movie, short video clips,
plays, songs, articles, and informational materials. The net impact is a higher
awareness and positive public acceptance of GK. The numerous awards both GK
and Tony Meloto won over the years are testament to this. One such award is the
Asian version of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Ramon Magsaysay Awards. In 2006,
both GK and Tony Meloto won this award, a first time that a non-profit and its
leader were given separate awards in the same year.
(g) Sustainability is a key issue in GK not only because the task of poverty
alleviation will take long, require massive resources, and perseverance; but GK
residents need to become empowered and economically independent. Thus, one
of the seven program components of GK is productivity and livelihood. In rural
GK sites, the ideal set up is to have two hectares of land. One hectare is for home
building of at least 30 homes/families and common facilities. The other hectare is
for family gardens and community livelihood projects. GK set up two suborganizations to pursue this. The first is Bayan-Anihan, a play on the Filipino
term bayanihan or helping one another and “town harvest.” Bayan-Anihan is the
food productivity initiative of GK, which is working towards the establishment of
2,500 GK community farms by year 2011. Affordable, healthy food, preferably
organically grown vegetables is the main proposition of GK’s Bayan-Anihan.
The second is GKonomics, the livelihood arm of GK. GKonomics seeks to tap
the entrepreneurial spirit of GK beneficiaries.
GK and GK residents have
organized several community businesses already, including drinking water
stations, garments, printing, handicrafts, and critically acclaimed recycled wood
among others. A pilot biodigester using manure wastes from a hog pens is being
pilot tested in one GK site. I, myself, am in discussions on subcontracting the
manufacture of bamboo bike frames to GK villages. Thus, with 2,000 villages
already established, GK villages have the potential to become the basic economic
production units of the community type.
The potential for a grounds up,
community based social economy should be further explored in future research.
The take away from this is that the activities of GK in relation to RMT seek to create a
positive public awareness of GK as a model to address poverty and stimulate national
development using civil society. Individuals, groups, and institutions are encouraged to
join and collaborate with GK.
By converging all these manpower, expertise, and
resources in GK sites, GK seeks to maximize these resources. Meloto calls this massive
mobilization of manpower and resources in pursuit of a better Philippines as the
“multiplication of the loaves” of Jesus Christ.
RMT becomes more powerful if,
following Cloward and Piven (1983), social movements focus on mobilizing and
organizing simultaneously.
Proposition 3: Other forms of social movements extend beyond a conflict and resistance
theoretical framework. One such form eschews open and direct conflict in
favor of strategic engagement with subjects (individuals, groups, or the
state) and objects (issues, cultural codes, resources) of contention with the
goal of transforming and aligning the subjects and objects to the interests
of the social movement. This model has the potential to expand and scale
up as long as it maintains an adaptable, social learning, communitybased, and partnership-focused framework to addressing challenges it
confronts. It is a common set of values that shape and influence collective
action, in this case, cooperative and mutual aid collective action.
Thus far, the first two theoretical perspectives provide the context for the emergence of a
social movement such as GK. RMT explains why GK has been able to grow with
significant operational success, despite challenges.
The third theoretical perspective
rounds up my deconstruction of the GK model. Framing theory provides an insight on
the motivations of benefactors and beneficiaries in GK. It also helped me understand
why individuals and groups were attracted to GK. Lastly, it helped me understand what
was new and innovative with GK.
Social movements (SM) and new social movements (NSM) theories looked at the
research field from a conflict and contestation lens. However, as GK illustrates, what if
conflict is subsumed, even if only on the surface or verbally? GK says it is apolitical and
will engage anyone even if corrupt or immoral. They cannot and do not want to judge.
What does this mean? In understanding this perspective, I explored the literature on
faith-based movements, the power of values and emotions, especially that of servant
leadership and the ethics of sacrifice. Through this, I was able to grasp why GK is
confident that it can transform people and institutions via engagement. GK’s frame is
that it is a values-oriented social movement seeking to transform Filipino society based
on sharing, caring, and loving 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 (1959) spoke of a culture of poverty, while
James Fallows (1987) spoke of the Philippine’s damaged culture. However, a clearer
understanding and appreciation of the potentialities of the poor, their resilience, their
inner strength, despite what Dominican priest and anthropologist Miguel Rolland said
was the “absurdity and impossibility of their situation and existence” holds many lessons
for us. It is also a window to the resilience of the poor and our own culture. It is also the
basis for nation building. There social movements, I feel, which are pointing to emerging
patterns for a global model of human development and nation building that is a synthesis
of moral values, family and faith-based human development complemented by capacity
building and attention to the needs and aspirations of the household.
Gawad Kalinga attracts people of all classes and talents who have discerned that they are
willing to serve others, to be a kapwa to fellow Filipinos, especially the poorest of the
poor. It has also attracted foreigners and expatriate Filipinos who, want to actualize these
existence by being of service to another. Gawad Kalinga is the embodiment of servantleadership as defined by Robert Greenleaf (1977). Greenleaf (1977:62) wrote:
This is my thesis: caring for persons, the more able and the less able
serving each other, is the rock upon which a good society is built.
Whereas, recently, caring was largely person to person, now most of it is
mediated through institutions—often large, complex, powerful,
impersonal; not always competent; sometimes corrupt. If a better society
is to be built, one that is more just and more loving, one that provides
greater creative opportunity for its people, then the most open course is to
raise both capacity to serve and the very performance as servant of
existing major institutions by new regenerative forces operating within
It is about kapwa. When a fellow anthropologist asked what it would take for the rich,
industrialized citizens of the west to give up their privileges to address poverty,
inequality, and environmental impacts, Gawad Kalinga came to mind. In the Philippines,
I responded, others have initiated many social engineering experiments.
Still the
country's intractable problems linger. However, there is tacit agreement that Filipinos are
averse to a civil war, right wing military junta, or communism. Thus, many sectors of
society are betting (and committing resources) that the Gawad Kalinga model can be used
for "nation building.” When the rich work with the poor, the rich are actually the ones
benefiting. When the rich, powerful, or educated help the poor, it somehow transforms
them, and meets some emotional, psychological, legacy, or moral need or yearning. The
many testimonials made by middle class supporters attest to this observation. This
transformation is supposed to be the praxis of rich-poor interaction.
I have attempted to outline why motivations to help in Gawad Kalinga vary. A sense or
longing for a good society link these motivations. A good society has shared traits that
promote the common good.
Human liberty, at its core, is about freedom and
responsibility. Responsibility implies social interaction and community. Community
development denotes collective desire, want, and action to change a political-economic
and social situation deemed unjust and unsatisfactory. Collective longing for a better
society transforms into action by a heavy dose religious beliefs, faith-in-action, and
collective awareness and decision to change unsatisfactory societal conditions.
Neibuhr (1932) emphasized, social work and action have long genealogies in the Roman
Catholic faith. Thus, it should not be surprising for a faith-based movement such as
Couples for Christ to initiate Gawad Kalinga. The history of Philippine faith-based
movements bears this out.
In understanding GK’s emphasis on healing relationships as a path to nation building, I
looked at relationships between unequal partners. Cannell (1999) asked what kind of
reciprocity relationship can exist between unequal partners. How does culture sustain or
mediate these structures of inequality? To answer this question, in the Bicol region,
Philippines she studied marriage stories, healing, spirit mediums, kinship, reciprocity, life
phases and cycles, and beauty contests involving transvestites; which she considers as
“idioms and processes of personal relationships” (Bowen 2000).
To her, these social phenomena are worthy of providing anthropological insights on
intimacy, empathy, power, and a dynamic form of inequality. She also recast lowland
Filipino society and culture as distinct from those of the uplands, which earlier foreign,
mostly American, anthropologists studied. She complemented earlier scholarship that
analyzed Philippine culture and society from historical and class relations perspectives.
This gives power, her focus, a more dynamic quality. The dynamism covers power
relations at the household level, between spouses, between parents and children, upwards
to the patron-client relationship, and reciprocity among spirit medium, the person, and the
spirit, among others. Power has many forms and can be accumulated, preserved, and
This brings in nuance and historicity to power analysis.
Proximity, level of
interaction, hierarchies, obligations, reciprocity, time, and events mediate these
interpersonal relationships.
Thus, these relationships can change because of circumstance. Importantly, parties to
these relationships are not static, passive individuals. The powerful seek to preserve their
power and influence.
The less powerful seek to even out the unequal relationship
through varied means.
Change in interpersonal relationships within the family and
extending upwards to society can characterize society’s progress or difficulties.
To Cannell, the Bicolano view of society is “neither a self-justifying and self-legitimating
hierarchy, in which every kind of person occupies her or his rightful place, nor is it a
radically egalitarian view, in which hierarchical and rank principles are resisted and
inverted” (1999:228). The point is that the Bicolano people are more concerned about
the transformational process of unequal relations, from that of tension and conflict to
harmony, balance, lessening of the gap, and improved relations. Cannell also observes
that Bicolanos do not consider the wealthy and powerful as being such because of any
“internal essence” of bloodline, spiritual lineage, or reincarnation (1999:229). Wealth,
power, and status to them are acquired by hard work, luck, fate, appeal to the spirits,
God’s will, and machinations of both the rich and the poor. Thus, wealth, power, and
status are not part of a “transcendent order” (1999:229). The powerless may have to
appease, recognize, cajole, inspire empathy from the powerful, but they are in the process
of constantly transforming the relationship.
This transformation of the relationship has several implications, which Cannell and others
explored. Power relationships viewed from an exchange perspective goes beyond the
giving and receiving of material things at a socially appropriate time and place as
described by Mauss (1990). Cannell (1999:231) observed that these objects of exchange
have decreased in frequency and number significantly because unequal power
relationships may result in either predatory or dependency relations. Further, Cannell
(1999) along with others like Ileto (1979), Rafael (1988), and Kerklivet (1990) focus on
the emotional aspects of these relationships. They all noticed that the powerless and
those seeking to engender change and/or transform society talk about emotions,
personhood, dignity, duty and obligations as motivating factors for action.
The actors may feel helpless, ashamed of their situation, and seek sympathy. They may
invoke their right to be helped through Filipino cultural traits of bayanihan (community
assistance) or kapwa (helping a fellow human being). Kerklivet’s (1990) study of his
wife’s agricultural home province revealed that while the penetration of capitalist
agriculture has reorganized relations, power structures, and capital thereat, farmers and
peasants are conscious of their rights not only to survive, but to a life of dignity. This is
based not only to the traditions of a paternalistic relationship between landlord and
tenant, but also because as human beings, they have a right to life and to be respected. In
many of these studies, Filipinos, especially those less powerful are acutely aware of their
status, whether it is power relations or socio-economic class. Both the powerful and
powerless make claims on each other, negotiating favors, tributes, and economic
production activities.
In Pinches’ (1992) study of a slum community in Metro Manila, he echoes these findings.
The “squatters” articulate not only their poverty, but the lack of respect accorded to them.
Their identity is one of that is not accepted socially. Second, coping strategies in the
slum follow two trajectories. The first is the community solidarity and the sharing and
caring of the poor, which urban scholars have observed the world over. The second is the
highly individualized, survivalist, and at times predatory quest for power, riches, and
respectability. Thus, in GK’s view, the husband-father preys on his wife and children.
Gangs breed in slums and victimize the urban society. The “kanya-kanya” (each one to
his own) syndrome is prevalent in slums, both GK and slum residents I interviewed say.
Identity formation is a strong motivating factor in the constant renegotiation of power
relations in Philippine society. Thus, from an anthropological point of view, these micro
characterizations of relationships should complement and supplement analysis of society
from a historical materialist perspective. This frame includes several sub-frames based
on my interviews, participant-observation, and review of available materials.
GK actually articulated what I discussed in the political process theory discussions.
To reiterate, there are many in GK and CFC who experienced hardship under the
Marcos regime. Many were activists. Many participated in People Power I and II. I
perceived this in the many interviews I conducted.
GK leaders and volunteers
articulated the economic and political structures of Philippine underdevelopment to
Meloto, himself, in many speeches to business groups, the academe, and
volunteers would
cite the historical and
political context
of Philippine
underdevelopment are too widespread that fundamental social change is needed.
Thus, the message was that change is needed and that the poor and vulnerable need to
progress economically if the country is to develop. Everyone needed to care and
share. Everyone needed to become bayani engaged in bayanihan for the bayan.
This sharing and caring ethic is not based on some romantic notion of society. GK
actually calls for social justice in that the poor need to live decent lives. The poor, as
GK slogans would say, are equal partners in development. As such they must be
treated on an equal footing. Meloto uses a parent-child frame, similar to Koltan
(1995) in explaining the concept of agape. Meloto says that the rich must adopt the
poor as their own child. The rich must love the poor. In fact, he modeled this by
adopting a child from one of the GK village. GK also launched the Walang Iwanan ,
Ano Tayo Mo, wherein five million better off commit to take care in whatever way
five million poor.
Filipino and universal values of solidarity and community
assistance (bayanihan), heroic (bayani) sacrifice and leadership, friendship (kapwa),
"radical volunteerism," etc. are cultural resources and work that are being used by
A third frame is normative in that faith must be practiced. Addressing CFC members,
Meloto and his wing would say that faith-in-action is the best way of evangelizing to
the poor. Love must be modeled. Heroism must be modeled. Padugo must be
modeled. Coming from a Catholic evangelical community, GK is faith-based even as
it expands and partners up with other faiths. Filipinos appreciate the centrality of
religion and faith. Their collective experience is that of both conservative religion
and liberation theology, especially during the Marcos regime. GK used to be a
ministry of the 1M member Couples for Christ, a Filipino lay Catholic organization
present in all 73 provinces in the Philippines and in 160 countries.
Gawad Kalinga seeks to transform values on the part of the rich and the poor, diffuse
power, redistribute wealth and opportunities, not be force but by modeling altruism,
servant leadership, and sacrifice. In doing so, new identities are formed and shaped
by hope, dignity, and confidence anchored by building capacities. Importantly, this
emphasis on values seeks to mobilize manpower and resources in massive way to
tackle poverty.
The poor can transform the rich (ethics wise) and the rich can
transform the poor (economic productivity, "middle class values"). It was about
relationship building and healing of hurts and distrust according to GK.
Gawad Kalinga emphasizes faith and servant leadership. Earlier I wrote that Gawad
Kalinga is very much in consonance with servant-leadership, which is one Filipino
cultural trait. It is not coincidental that the authentic servant leader to the majority
Roman Catholic Filipinos is Jesus Christ, who is the son of a carpenter. GK’s entry
point is home building.
Roman Catholics, of which majority of Filipinos are,
consider Jesus the spiritual model and the most influential and effective leader in
history especially with his work with 12 ordinary, inexperienced men (Blanchard
2002:xi). Gawad Kalinga’s activities reflect a keen understanding of what Stephen
Covey (2002:32-33) notes are the four needs of people. The first need is to live in
order to survive. The second need is to love and to relate to other people. The third
need is to grow, develop, and use the available talents, meaning, to learn. The fourth
need is create value, to make a difference, to leave a legacy. Work in Gawad Kalinga
addresses the need to live, love, learn, and leave a legacy. In the process, it builds
healthy, functional communities.
Mauss ([1938] 1985) partly attributed Christianity to the Western conception of the
SELF; while Durkheim saw Judeo-Christian religions as an evolutionary ladder to the
development of humanistic, collective conscience. Weber ([1930] 1992) noted the
organizational creativity and innovativeness inherent in world religions vis-à-vis
social change, capitalism and Christianity, and Western modernity.
Thus, I included religion in assessing GK; afterall it is a faith-based social movement.
anthropologically real, at the very least to those who experience it.
preoccupation of some sectors in anthropology to religion as ephemeral, Cannell
notes, should be balanced by the fact that the “secular as a domain had to be instituted
or imagined…” (Milbank (1990:2) in Cannell 2006:3).
Christianity is complex,
historical, and paradoxical.
GK is highlighting community-based, grounds up approach to development. Every
program component seeks to address not only the physical needs, but the
psychosocial and spiritual needs of residents as well. This is an important component
of social and development work. 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 according to GK. Thus, GK highlights
healing of relationships and forging friendships.
During home construction, GK prioritizes men so that they become active and build
confidence that they are creating something. They do not build their own homes, but
others, because, as GK said, how can you quarrel with someone who built your house.
A values transformation program running 14 weekly sessions patterned after the CFC
Christian Life Program is a requisite to home ownership in a GK village. The City of
Taguig has required its home beneficiaries to attend and complete this program.
Nearly all activities have to be planned, agreed upon, and implemented by GK
partners and the community members. Thus the process is participatory as designed.
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 pierce the battle hardened
shield of power brokers in the country. Power is of several dimensions and goes
beyond the 4Gs of guns, goons, gold, and now girls. The power civil society is
generating is based on a higher moral ground and legitimacy. Knowledge, capacity
building, equitable and trusting relationships, and increasing social commitment to
one another are among some factors that support civil society efforts.
GK seems to have high level, thick and deep, good quality communication. Costly,
inefficient, ineffective communication among project partners, stakeholders, and
beneficiaries hamper development initiatives.
The retention and transmission of
institutional knowledge or the shared mental model are, 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) for GK beneficiaries are
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.
Further, GK’s use of information and communication technologies (ICT), online
communities, multimedia, and partnership with e-commerce firms show ICT can and
is an important element of community development. As a Filipino infopreneur noted
to me, either you are in the digital world and progressing or you are not. 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 has an e-commerce component to it. It has collaborated up with the
private sector through Rotary to set up an internet café and business center in GK
Taguig (and hopefully in other communities) that will facilitate e-commerce, logistics
services, and trade among GK communities.
Capitalism with a conscience or
conscious capitalism can do tremendous good.
Implications on social movement research
The combination of context, moral entrepreneurship, and framing of the issues, message,
and program of action are what define the emergence of a social movement such as GK.
The Philippines has a long experience with protest and resistance starting with the
colonial period and throughout class and economic struggle. Thus, social movements
here have had to grapple with issues and the basic household livelihood needs of its
constituents. It is not surprising that politicians also do grapple with both. However,
they often address these two issues in a transactional and self-interested manner.
A scholar of environmental NGOs in the Philippines observed that these NGOs were
entrepreneurs in the NGO sense and they were sensitive and proactive in managing
public perception of their NGOs. With GK, not only are they sensitive about the GK
model or brand- protect the brand Meloto would say- they are actively promoting a vision
of what the Philippines should aspire for and how to achieve it. This is the GK Way.
The Gawad Kalinga model is an example of the burgeoning anthropological study of
“successful outcomes of civically engaged communities” (Stoll 2002). While not fully
articulated in the research literature, many communities engaging in civic behavior
coupled with claims making are increasingly evident in the political and social landscape
worldwide. The sheer number of civil society organizations involved in a myriad service
delivery in both the Philippines and the United States hints at this. Is there value in the
anthropological study of creative community engagement of societal problems and
issues? Gawad Kalinga shows the inherent value of convergence, of not only individuals,
organizations, and communities, but that of the art, science, system, and faith of
community development and nation building. The faith-based movement that is Gawad
Kalinga is attempting to do that and the early and continuing successes point to some its
GK is not the only “civically” engaged social movement.
What were the other
examples? The literature I would realize later on is everywhere. The literature on selfhelp housing and urban social movements on housing, however, provided some good
insights. To explain all these things happening at the same time is very difficult and
ambitious. But there is a current or counter-current that I sense on working for social
justice by claims making and problem solving. GK, MST, the Zapatistas, MoveOn are
the physical representations of what I am trying to articulate. The landless movement in
Brazil and the colonias in Mexico, for example, show:
(a) They occupied private or State land (conflict implied) by as peaceful means as
possible although there were eruptions of violence;
(b) The state tolerated it or mediated because the problems of poverty, landlessness, and
homelessness were becoming widespread.
I call this a release valve similar to
elections. This is also low intensity class conflict to me with some elite help; and,
(c) These movements were doing self-help and mutual aid, which, I realized, are not
being privileged in theorizing new social movements.
By this, I mean that researchers did not highlight the social dynamics in self-help housing
and mutual aid activities in terms of sustaining and strengthening the movement.
Massive numbers of poor migrate from rural into urban areas in search of employment
and livelihood opportunities. When in urban areas, the very impoverished can only
afford to reside in slums, which expand in numbers. Slums are visible reminders of the
wealth and opportunity gap, the lack of social services, poor infrastructure, and blight; yet
many residents are economically productive, albeit low wage earners. The presence then
of slums symbolizes both economic hardship and the struggle of the poor to survive and
develop. It is a critique of the imbalance power and wealth. The impoverished may not
(yet) be revolting, but they are acting on their own self-interests within the bounds of
their capacities.
The poor have allies in civil society, social movements, and segments of the enlightened
middle and elite classes. Thus, there are other forms of social movements that are not
Wolford in explaining the landless MST calls it participatory
democratic activities of the “perverse confluence of neoliberalism and social
mobilization” (Dagnino 2003: 15 in Wolford 2010:92).
This was the same nagging thought I had wondering what can happen when a social
movement whose officers came from the corporate world used their capitalist skills to
reduce poverty and social inequality. One corporate supporter of GK told me he "grew a
conscience" and is playing the capitalist game against capitalism to build what to me is
Marc Lutz's moral economy or the anarchists' "participatory economy." It seemed that
instead of civil society being at the margin of the state and society, GK seems to be
attempting to "enter" the state to influence and transform it over a long period.
Civic participation in organizations may transform established institutions, as these
institutions become sites of “emergent contention” (Sampson et.al. 2005: 678). While
social and cultural processes may influence the opportunities and sites of contention, the
Chicago study on civic behavior revealed that collective action is highly concentrated
geographically. The appropriate organizations and institutions may not only be a site of
contention, but also a vehicle for civic participation, i.e. church, Rotary, political party,
etc. This is so because of the dense personal ties in these “local” organizations. Thus,
resources, voice, and influence are concentrated locally and sometimes with great effect.
The implication of this is the civic reorganization is possible at the local level expanding
upward in scale.
GK, on the other hand seeks to engender wide ranging social change through its
ambitious goal of building 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities in the Philippines and
then expanding globally. As a social movement, it is using partnership-based, valuesdriven, grounds up community development paradigm to engender social and political
change. By building up, it seeks to tear down social injustice, poverty, and exclusion.
Similar to other social movements, weaknesses, external issues, and organizational
threats challenge Gawad Kalinga. Since 2006, when Meloto and GK won the Ramon
Magsaysay Awards, internal wrangling based on ideological and personal issues has
wracked the movement, specifically its parent organization, Couples for Christ. Now on
its seventh year, it did not reach its goal of 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities. Yet, it
has evolved and its goals have changed and become even more ambitious. Among the
issues that GK faces include sustainability of GK and its sites, replicability, credibility,
the evolution of the social movement, possible donor fatigue, management of failed GK
sites, cooptation, possible corruption, and issues of power and conflict.
These are
summarized briefly below.
Plate 27: GK challenges
1. Sustainability
2. Replicability
3. Credibility
4. Systems- evolution of organization
5. Donor fatigue
6. What to do with failures
7. Cooptation
8. Corruption
9. Power, conflict inevitable?
Sustainability. How long will GK last and will it remain relevant a few years from now?
Meloto and others in GK have heard this question repeatedly and their stock answer is;
“We want to become irrelevant.” The better GK performs means that it can wind down
its operations. In the Philippines, the growth of civil society reflects the inadequacies of
the State in providing social services and social safety nets. Thus, sustainability in this
sense is not the issue. The issue is whether it can sustain its operations over the period
when its goals have yet to be reached. The GK777 goal will not be reached on GK’s
seventh year, but it has expanded its goal to include become a twenty one year program
in the Philippines coupled with global expansion. Does this imply a loss of focus? I do
not think so. Based on the pronouncements of GK officers and events, GK is seizing
opportunities worldwide related to other individuals and groups accepting and willing to
adopt and adapt the GK model in their respective areas. In terms of sustainability, GK
will have to continuously focus on manpower and resources, two aspects it needs to
mobilize in a massive scale if it is to achieve its goals.
GK intellectual Jose Montelibano said that 98% of GK sites have some form of
operational problems. GK Executive Director Luis Oquineña told me that his biggest
challenge is the burn out of caretaker teams. GK needs volunteers willing to do the
emotionally and physically demanding tasks involved in being a caretaker. While CFC
members would be the logical source for caretaker teams, CFC members are involved in
other ministries, other aspects of GK work, or would rather focus on evangelization and
spiritual work. Thus, GK needs to look for other sources of caretaker teams.
In terms of resources, GK, like other social movements and non-profit organizations,
constantly struggle to access resources to continue working. The economic hardship in
the United States starting in 2007 has affected donations to GK from the Filipino
Diaspora in the country. This has caused a ripple effect on the global economy. The
continuing economic difficulties in the Philippines mean that while people can volunteer
their time and talent, material and funding donations are limited especially for
individuals. I interviewed CFC-GK workers stressed out by the many poor people in GK
villages asking them for monetary help for the seemingly endless crises. Participating
companies affected by the economic climate, changes in leadership, and changing
priorities sometimes reduce or suspend their support to GK.
Some of the early
supporting firms moved on to other charities, advocacies, or launched their own and
independent community development programs. The same is true with local officials
especially when supportive officials lose political power
Second, GK’s donations are area or item specific. Hence, GK has little flexibility to use
donated funds to build up a professional and paid full-time working staff. It also needs
this unrestricted funding to build and support caretaker teams, especially with their
emotional needs.
While there are over 2,000 GK sites established, these are in various
stages and quality of development. For example, the earliest GK sites in Bagong Silang
number over a thousand, but are still surrounded by over 5,000 slum homes. The race is
on to transform the remaining homes to GK homes lest the debilitating effects of slum
life encroach back to the GK sites. This was evident in one GK village in the Province of
Negros Occidental. One GK village was doing well, when the Mayor, under political
pressure, allowed other slum dwellers to occupy areas reserved for the GK and to set up
homes without direction from GK. These slum dwellers then, during my visit in 2008,
where yet to be convinced to join the GK program. The existing GK residents were
struggling to follow the program without adequate support. The GK provincial director I
spoke to acknowledged these challenges and admitted that more support is needed. He
said that more residents, corporations, activists, and other groups need to band together
and support GK and GK-like efforts in the province.
Urban GK sites are easy to access for volunteers and provide high visibility for corporate
sponsors. Local officials struggling with burgeoning slums in their cities seek out GK for
assistance. Hence, urban GK sites have an easier time accessing resources. GK sought to
balance out the resource distribution by adopting in 2008 a decentralized form of
organization, with more presence at the provincial level. Another strategy was to work
with city mayors to help establish and support GK sites in rural areas and encourage the
impoverished in Metro Manila, for example, to return to their own province but to a GK
Thus, there are GK sites that are have serious challenges. I mentioned one of the early
sites in the Visayas region that lacks logistical and manpower support. Emblematic of
the economic situation of the province, GK will have to be more creative to generate or
redistribute resources to GK sites that need these resources the most.
Organizational evolution. GK officials have repeatedly told me that they do not have a
blueprint or a manual for moving GK forward. They do not know how many volunteers
or staff they need to achieve GK777 although they launched the GK1MB or one million
builders recruitment and the Walang Iwanan, Ano ang Tayo Mo initiatives. They do it by
working on the vision and goals of GK as embodied in the seven point program. They
bring to movement their experience and learnings from CFC, their work and corporate
experience, and the assistance and advice of expert volunteers. They are partnering up
with expert institutions and with them are building up the GK Builders Institute. Since
GK is open to partnerships and to better methods, they make adjustments to their
activities and organizational set up as the need arises.
Nevertheless, to meet their goals of GK777, their new twenty-one year program, and their
global program; they need to keep the balance of organizing and mobilizing.
organizing, I mean the bureaucratic form needed to ensure that GK, as a social movement
organization is effective and efficient. By mobilizing, GK as a social movement needs to
continue recruiting volunteers and allies while maintaining and strengthening existing
relationships. As the vision enlarges, GK will have to adapt and meet the logistical and
organizational requirements of this growth.
Issues that GK will have to grapple with are governance, accountability, and
transparency. GK grew rapidly and expanded at a pace that the organization is hard
pressed to keep up. Thus, I have heard of complaints of slow accounting and liquidation
of funds used from the local to the national level. This is a point of contention between
GK and ANCOP-USA. Some monitoring reports are also delayed. Basic community
data have to be completed.
GK is responding to these criticisms by seeking the help of management expert
volunteers. It is also being assisted one of the top accounting firms in the country as well
as by information technology firms to establish enterprise systems. It is audited annually
by an accounting firm in compliance with national laws. GK’s head acknowledged these
issues when he said that GK should not only be Maka-Diyos and Maka-Bayan (For God,
For Country), but also Maka-Deliver! GK is attractive to supporters because of its
message that it is corruption free and dependable. This is not to say that there are no
instances of corruption in GK sites. In fact there are and when I interviewed one GK
officer, he pointed to a stack of documents that detailed cases of malversion of funds.
The charge of cooptation by vested interests or unethical politicians has yet to be made,
but this could become an issue if GK is not alert or sensitive to attempts to influence it.
Remember that GK is willing to engage with anyone who is in turn supportive of GK’s
vision, mission, goals, and program. However, issues of cooptation may rise as GK
expands, gains more influence, captures more resources, and considers future areas of
action. As it seeks to social re-engineer Philippine society, it would be interesting to
observe how vested interests will look at a more influential and powerful GK.
The most serious challenge that GK faces at present is the internal conflict that erupted
twice in Couples for Christ. Couples for Christ, itself a splinter group from the Roman
Catholic charismatic group Ligaya ng Panginoon, founded GK for which it won the 2006
Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Development. CFC is the main source of
caretaker teams, the faith-based community organizing resource of GK. The first conflict
erupted in public in 2008 because of three publicly stated issues. The first is ideological
with the breakaway group of by resigned CFC head, Frank Padilla, accusing CFC of
veering away from CFC’s mission and charism of evangelizing to families. GK’s social
work, according Padilla is being conducted at the expense of CFC’s charism.
The second deals with the moral issue of working with pharmaceutical firms producing
and marketing birth contraceptive products. Since CFC is a faith-based movement, they
are officially opposed to birth control methods. The last accusation is that GK leaders
allow other religious groups to work and possibly evangelize in GK sites. Lastly, the
issues included personal charges of documentary leakages, disrespect, even an allegation
of adultery, financial anomalies, mismanagement, among others by certain CFC officers
and members.
No legal suits have been filed, but the conflict has been highly
embarrassing to both parties.
A second conflict broke out between GK and CFC leaders in 2009. The conflict was
more about organization issues, which then became personal.
Lines of authority,
reporting protocols, and direct management of GK sites between GK full-time workers
and CFC volunteers became irresolvable from an organizational perspective.
parties agreed to formally separate. However, key GK positions were still held by active
CFC members. Tensions emerged when the CFC leadership still wanted direct control
over GK sites being handled by CFC members. Online exchanges showed a breakdown
of relations of once upon a time allies.
Efforts to mediate, discuss, and resolve
organizational issues continue to the present.
While conflict may set boundaries, expose real positions on issues, and reveal character
and alliances, the GK conflict has detracted and consumed the time, energies, efforts, and
patience of both CFC and GK members. It has caused confusion and demoralization and
personal arguments between members of both groups. Do note that there are many CFC
members actively supporting GK so the conflict puts them in an awkward position. It
also creates tension for GK volunteers still active in CFC, especially during the weekly
household meetings. How this conflict is managed also indicates how the GK and CFC
leadership address challenges especially as to its collective identity vis-à-vis faith-inaction. For a movement that eschews conflict, models caring and sharing, and professes
to a culture of peace, this puts GK in awkward position of having to prove that what they
espouse applies to them as well.
Lastly, GK will have to ensure that GK, as it expands, becomes more inclusive. The
present leadership is closely identified with Meloto, which is understandable. However,
it needs to accommodate servant leaders from as wide as a field as possible. It is doing
so, but as one Meloto protégé revealingly joked in the last GK Expo, many key GK
officers come from the province of Meloto. This “Illonggo” block of middle class and
educated GK officers should be expanded to reflect the diversity of the movement and of
the country.
To conclude, this ethnographic case study of GK illustrates the power, potential, and need
to conduct more research on social movements that go beyond the conflict frame of
mobilization, organization, and protest action. GK seems to be only one of many social
movements worldwide that focus on the relationship healing and building in pursuit of
community solidarity. Relationship healing and building imply that personal relations
among individuals need to be addressed. In GK, the fundamental unit of intervention is
the family (however defined), the social and economic unit of society.
GK, taking its model from CFC, works with families in the poorest of poor communities
to heal divisions in the family and then work on meeting household and livelihood needs.
Homebuilding, the entry point activity of GK, not only seeks to provide the basic need of
housing to poor families, but also provides an avenue for fathers, husbands, and sons to
become productive (if unemployed) and build confidence. Importantly, it provides a
setting for these men to work together as a team, as neighbors, become friends and build
community solidarity.
This institution and community building endeavor of social movements such as Gawad
Kalinga seeks to leverage two aspects. The first is a moral ethic of love, agape, action
and sacrifice. The second is that while these have moral and religious undertones, these
are also values embedded in the culture, in this case, Filipino cultural values.
Thus, for GK, they are leveraging cultural values of “Bayani, Bayanihan, Bayan Padugo”
and of “Loving the Poor as our own children.”
GK believes in the power of
transformation of values. The rich rediscover how to share, care, and love the vulnerable
in society. The poor rebuild their capacities, restore their confidence and dignity, and
learn to trust again.
This is possible in a setting of friendship, sharing, and power
diffused through participatory activities and transparency in these activities.
Because GK is a child of CFC, their activities are faith-in-action.
As such, GK
volunteers seek to model heroic and servant leadership at all levels coupled with a
willingness to learn and adapt. Afterall, the beneficiaries are partners in this endeavor and
thus, have something, a significant part, to contribute.
As families heal and build
capacities and as families forge closer friendships with other families in a GK
community, the GK community becomes a convergence point of activity.
partners willing to help now have a receptive community they can work with to uplift the
poor. The seven point GK program provides a venue and setting for potential partners to
engage in a variety of activities. Poor community residents then, hopefully, become
empowered. As they become empowered, they can become agents of values-based social
This transformational engagement model is generative. It has the potential to expand in
scale and complexity. It seems to be adaptable as GK is committed to best practices, at
least in principle. Meloto and others have said that if there are better methods, they will
adopt them if feasible.
GK has its share of challenges. These revolved around the quality, rate, and quantity of
its operations, expansion, and evolving nature. It also revolves around the conflict as to
its identity, vision, mission, and goals vis-à-vis its detractors. Future research should
focus on these issues as well as on the suggested question list below as this study was
exploratory and base setting at its most ambitious.
How will GK reconcile its identity, vision, mission, and goals vis-à-vis its evolving
While there is a seven-point program of development, what are the dynamics and
factors that enable the establishment of a successful GK community versus an
underperforming one based on a survey of the existing GK sites?
What is the most feasible process of roll-out for the seven point program?
What should be the key performance indicators?
What is the life cycle of social movements such as GK that blend civic engagement,
problem solving, service delivery, and culture work?
What are the commonalities and differences among established GK sites that can be
used to understand the GK model?
What are the necessary variables for GK to scale up and to replicate especially in
other countries?
If these variables are cultural in nature, what dynamics come into play vis-à-vis these
cultural values?
How do you measure the “empowerment” of GK beneficiaries and their
transformation into benefactors? What is the process involved?
What is the research potential of faith-in-action vis-à-vis social movement research?
What will be the demonstrated potential of this kind of social movement?
In promoting caring, sharing, and loving one’s neighbor and being a hero to him or her,
GK is working at individual spiritual and moral conversion, or serendipity, or
transformation moving up to the community level, infecting business and institutions, and
encouraging the State and elites to do what is just. The late Jesuit historian and visionary,
Horacio dela Costa (2002) once wrote that for the Philippine nation to develop to the best
of its abilities and potential, the Filipino people must do three things, namely: (a) build
and strengthen communities; (b) link the communities with common goals-ideally
national goals; and, (c) recapture the bureaucracy.
Culture trumps all and Gawad Kalinga’s model may be one cultural model for nation
Thus, two research strands may eventually be for new social movement
theorizing. The first continues and expands on the conflict and contestation lens, which
is currently dominant. The second could be the further articulation of social movements
leveraging engagement, partnerships, and cooperation to foster fundamental social
Appendix A: Methodology
The mixed-methods employed in this study are based on grounded theory, which is a set
of research activities, mostly qualitative, but which can include quantitative data,
conducted to gather data needed to understand a particular situation or phenomena
(Borgatti n.d., Glaser and Strauss 1967). It is inductive in that the researcher is not
attempting to test a hypothesis or theory. Rather, the goal is to understand what is
happening and then seek to explain the causal variables and processes. The ideal result
should be a theory informs the phenomena. The starting point is a situation, in this case
the Gawad Kalinga phenomenon. The data gathered, observed, and consequently
evaluated, hopefully, lead to the emergence of theory. This research situation calls for
understanding phenomena based on ethnographic field methods of participantobservation in project activities, intensive interviewing, and informal conversation. Data
is subjected to note taking, categorization, comparison, memo preparation, theoretical
sampling (if needed, not applied in this study), literature review, content analysis (Dick
2000). A good grounded theory incorporates the following: (a) theory formation is
inductive, (2) has theoretical elaboration, and (3) is consistent with identified assessment
criteria (Pandit 1996, Haig 1995).
The research methodology was qualitative in nature. I conducted field research in the
Philippines over three summers from 2006 to 2009. In 2006 I was there from June to
October. In 2007, I conducted data gathering from June to September. In 2008, I was
there for two months from June to July. A personal trip home enabled me to conduct a
foruth tour of research from June 2009 to January 2010. This extent of fieldwork
complements my familiarity with most the country and of Metro Manila, having lived
and worked there until my entry into the doctorate program. I also have friends who are
members or who have worked with them. I know many of their private sector supporters.
I worked for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines
(DENR) for two years before joining an environmental consulting company organized by
the former DENR Secretary. I stayed with this firm for10 years before entering the PhD
program. I participated in at least 100 of over 200 studies the firm conducted all over the
Philippines. I still occasionally provide consulting work for them. In addition, I am
active in several environmental/outdoor organizations.
In between, I conducted secondary data gathering and further data gathering through
electronic (internet, phone, text) means. I also maintained contact electronicially and
face-to-face with U.S.-based GK volunteers and GK staff and officers visiting the United
States. I used literature review, content analysis, participant-observation, note taking,
data comparison, and theoretical sampling. Field visits were intended for: (a) scoping
and ocular site inspection, (b) field data gathering, and, (c) follow up research in project
sites (validation/additional research).
Data gathering
I used a participatory and community based approach to data gathering. I conducted data
collection in consultation and/or with the assistance of GK principals, their local partners,
volunteers, and beneficiaries themselves. I coordinated all fieldwork with GK, their local
staff, community leaders or beneficiaries, and other relevant persons and organizations.
As noted, GK has over 1,700 communities in various stages of development in the
Philippines. It is present in three other countries. It has offices in 20 countries, while
Couples for Christ has chapters in 160 countries. GK works with at least 362 town/city
mayors, 350 corporations, and over 150 highschools, universities, and colleges. I have
spoken to, listened to, and documented proceedings / activities, and conducted focus
group discussions (informal) with over 150 persons working for, with, or in partnership
with GK. I interacted with individuals and organizations representing the following: (a)
beneficiaries, (b) benefactors, (c) CFC members, (d) GK officers, (e) GK volunteers, (f)
GK full-time workers, (h) private sector partners, (i) LGU officials/partners, (j) critics,
(k) religious persons, (l) academics, (m) media, and (n) potential partners or supporters.
I spent time of varying degrees in communities that may represent various aspects of GK,
i.e. its Metro Manila urban showcase, some problematic areas, and those in rural areas.
There were many sites where I only spent a day. In these cases, it was ‘opportunistic’
research. First, I wanted to visit as many sites a possible and then select those I wanted to
study more intensively. Second, I was taking advantage of the opportunities that that
arose to visit them. As many of these sites were located in slum areas, access was
difficult and dangerous especially for an outsider.
However, there were many
opportunities to visit a site.
During the research, I visited, interviewed, did focus group discussions, and did
participant-observation in at least 15 GK urban communities and another 15 GK rural
communities (total of at least 30 GK sites with many near each other). See Table 1 for
list of GK sites visited.
Table 1: List of Gawad Kalinga village/communities visited43
1. Assumption
2. Bagong Silang
This is an “offsite” GK village, meaning GK beneficiaries
were brought in from many, different areas of the
province. I visited this village a number of times.
GK Bagong Silang is composed of several GK Villages
depending on funder/funding source. Bagong Silang is
North Cal,
Globe TM
Bernardino ,
Metro Manila
historically significant because the first GK home (of the
Addurro family) is located here. This is also the biggest
relocation site in the Philippines. Most of the steep
learning curve of GK advocates occurred here. Notable
also is that six gang members who became active in GK
were killed by rival gang members making them GK
martyrs. They literally “bled for the cause.” The present
barangay captain is a GK stalwart.
4. Bayawan
Negros Oriental
This is a relocation site cum project of the City of
Bayawan using the GK model. GK is an active partner in
this endeavor. This village is known for its wastewater
recycling facility using reeds. I spent the day here.
5. Concepcion
Mandaluyong City,
Metro Manila
Located on the banks of the historically and economically
important Pasig River, this is a flagship GK village
sponsored by a prominent business clan, the Concepcions.
I spent a morning here. This GK Village had one of the
most dramatic, on-site, physical and social makeovers.
6. Dumaguete
• Village 1
• Village 2
Dumaguete City,
Negros Oriental
Historically significant as these were sites of the first GK
challenge build in 2001. Pres. GMArroyo was so
impressed that she committed her administration to
provide PhP20Million to GK. The homes here were built
with light materials and are due for rehabilitation and/or
7. GK Brookside
• Rotary
• Brookside
Quezon City
This is composed of a number of villages. One of the
flagship GK villages by virtue of the tremendous amount
of resources that was directed to this village. It has a
school up to the secondary level. I spent a day here.
8. GK Taguig
• Fuji – Xerox
• Poveda,
• Gokongwei
• Fil-Am
City of Taguig,
Metro Manila
GK Taguig is actually composed of several GK villages. I
visited all of them several times.
Tondo GK Baseco is composed of several villages depending on
area, the funding source/sponsor. Each village has its own
neighborhood association or kapitbahayan. I visited
numerous times (at least six).
9. GK Tarlac
• Burog
• Qatar-Oman
• Singles
• Sta.Rosa-
Province of Tarlac
GK Tarlac is composed of several GK villages. I visited
four nearby GK villages in one afternoon. These villages
were occupied by an indigenous cultural community
(ICC), the Aetas.
10. Hiyas ng Maynila
City of Manila
This is an onsite, slum upgrading program. High-rise
tenement buildings characterize this site. Considered a
challenging site because of community organizing
difficulties. It has a multi-storey community center with
well-equipped classrooms and medical-dental clinic. I
spent a day here.
11. Paradise Heights-
Smokey Mountain
Tondo, Manila
12. Payatas
• Pusong Ama
• Ateneo Trece
13. Reunion Village
GK took over the management of this series of high-rise
tenement housing buildings. Homebuilding is not a major
activity here. Rather, it is community development and
organizing as well as building maintenance and
improvement. I spent one afternoon here.
GK Payatas is composed of several villages. I visited
Payatas Trece/Blue Eagle briefly and Pusong Ama where I
spent an afternoon and walked through the whole area.
Mun. of San Jose,
Occupying at least four hectares, this village has extensive
areas devoted to organic farming, a hotel and “villas” for
guests. Innovative is this site is a retirement village for
Fil-Ams and other balikbayans (Filipinos who migrated
abroad and who have returned to the Philippines). I
visited this village a number of times.
14. Rio Tuba
Municipality of Rio
Tuba, Province of
I did a site assessment when there were no GK activities
yet. Today, there is an existing village for the indigenous
cultural community, the Palaw’an. I spent close to two
weeks in Rio Tuba. In 2009, I returned and did an ocular
inspection of three sites that were established by then.
The 2010 GK Bayani Challenge, a one week build, will be
held here.
15. Rotary Pasig
Pasig City, Metro I spent an afternoon here as I accompanied a GK team
doing their rounds. That day there were Singaporean
students volunteering.
16. Selecta
Province of Rizal
Sponsored by and named after the ice-cream
brand/company, Selecta GK Village is widely known for
its organic farm. The land was lent by the nearby Roman
Catholic Parish. This is a “pick-and-pay” organic farm
and shows the potential and success of community-based
17. Sitio Pajo
• Colgate
• All 85
Quezon City
18. Towerville
• Aguinaldo,
• Capitol,
• Paraiso ,
• Texas ,
• Aldaba
• etc.
urban farms as a strategy for community sustainability.
This is a slum area for which the Quezon City local
government has awarded tenancy to the residents subject
to mortgage payments. GK is helping with the site
improvement and upgrading.
employees and friends funded the first set of homes.
Another group of funders called GK All 85 is expected to
fund another 15-20 homes.
This is one of the biggest relocations sites of the national
government-National Housing Authority. Considered
problematic because of a lack of resources, much of the
horizontal infrastructure needed for this public housing
cum relocation site was not constructed. Thus, it quickly
deteriorated into “slum” conditions physically and
socially. GK is helping with the site improvement and
upgrading. Dylan Wilk the British millionaire who works
fulltime for GK funded the famous BMW-England
Village here. This area is composed of numerous
contiguous and separate GK villages. Because of the
number of homes and beneficiaries here, GK needs more
resources and manpower for these villages. I spent a day
visiting most of the sites here.
19. Telus-Pook
Masagana, This is a slum area for which the Quezon City local
Quezon City
government has awarded tenancy to the residents subject
to mortgage payments. GK is helping with the site
improvement and upgrading. I spent an afternoon here
20. GK offices I’ve
visited include:
Metro I made visits to all these offices to conduct interviews.
GK office
GK Central A
GK –Ateneo
(NOTE: In GK, there is a on organizational difficulty in defining a GK village. Ideally, a
GK village must have a minimum of 30 homes/families. Many sites have more than this
number. When supporters donate funds, it may be for a village named after them. Thus,
in GK BASECO, where there are 1,500 homes, this one site has many “GK villages”
depending on the village sponsor-funder)
Since GK implements a seven point program, there were many activities that I was able
to participate, observe, and document. GK also holds many meetings at different levels
and locations, symposia, periodic mass home building activities, expos, trainings, rallies,
summits, and social gatherings.
Thus, data gathering included ethnographic field
methods of participant-observation in various project activities, focus group discussions
(FGD), interviewing and informal conversation for partners and stakeholders, and email
communication. Units of investigation include GK central and project site offices, GK
officers/staff, beneficiaries in GK sites, and other stakeholders such as supporters and
critics. The research also looked at the transnational links of GK especially in the United
Some examples of GK activities that I participated in are presented in Table 2 below.
Table 2: Select Gawad Kalinga activities
Assistance to GK Padre
Exploratory talks with UP
Mountaineers ENCOM on
possible tie-up with GK on
IPO Dam informal settlers
Review/comment of GK
Tony Meloto and Dylan
Wilk talks
5. Presentations
GK Assumption,
On-line, face-toface
On-going. Various
Various: Manila,
San Diego,
Two of the most
public faces of
Gawad Kalinga.
They made and
continue to make
speeches ant talks
all over the world.
2007- 2009
6th International
Conference on the
Social Sciences (
Honolulu ,
Social Justice
University of
I presented my
initial findings
of Gawad Kalinga
and got feedback.
These are
incorporated into
the dissertation.
I’ve also
6. Visiting Research Fellow at 2007-2008
concentration on GK
7. GK
Southern 2008-present
Arizona coordinator
8. GK-RockEd
9. Various Ramon Magsaysay
Awards 2006 activities
11. GK 2007 Rally
distributed copies
of my presentation
or relevant points
to GK and others
Research on GK
Various activities
promoting GK in
meetings and
Attended several
talks, speeches,
exhibits, even
formal dinner
related to GK
when Tony Meloto
and GK were
simultaneously the
Ramon Magsaysay
Enabled me to
conduct on the
sport formal and
presented me on
stage in front of
thousands as one
of U.S.-based
August 2006
August 2006
10. GK meeting at GK HQ with June
LGU officials
Arizona State
Museum, U. of
Society for
Conferences in
2008 and 2009
University of the
2006-July Various
June 2007
Araneta Center,
Quezon City
12. GK dinner and lunches for June 2007
Numerous sites in
Manila, other
parts of the
13. GK Summit 2008
May 2008
San Diego
14. GK Global Expo 2006
October 2006
Mall of Asia,
Metro Manila
15. GK All 85 Village
Sitio Pajo, Quezon
Fil-Ams and GK supporters
16. GK Assumption biodigester- On-going
carbon credit project
17. GK CSA Village
18. GK-bamboo bike proposed On-going
September 2006
19. GK Baseco assistance
20. Rio
Bataraza, September 2006
Palawan site assessment
21. The
Channel September 2006
coverage of GK Concepcion
22. 1st Township Development September 2007
students working
on GK
Enabled me to
conduct on the
sport formal and
Participant in
various activities
Participated in
various activities,
many symposia
and workshops,
informal talks,
formal speeches
GK Assumption
Taguig City
GK Assumption
GK Baseco
Municiaplity of
Rio Tuba,
Province of
GK Concepcion
Guitar provision
Significant project
as it involved an
indigenous cultural
Funding source
was a mining
company. I did a
site assessment for
GK and provided
consulting (social
assessement) for
the mining
Facilitated this.
University of the
Philippines and
Help process
document the two-
Ateneo de Manila
23. Channel 5 interview of T. September 2007
GK Taguig
24. Multisectoral prayer rally at September 2007
ULTRA, Pasig
25. Pick and Pay at GK Selecta
GK Selecta
September 2007
day conference for
over 100 mayors
and other GK
Participated in a
focus group
discussion of at
least 30 local
Facilitated this.
Participantobservation. GK
teams up with a
number of
religious groups
supporting GK.
Very significant
This is one of
GK’s first urban,
organic, pick-andpay
Data gathering for the study took into account varied sources, thus necessitating the
adoption of a multi-pronged approach to data gathering. While there are many schools of
thought of how to analyze cultural data such as the emic-etic, "new ethnography”, LeviStrauss' deep-structure and Clifford Geertz's interpretative approach, William's (1990),
conceptual approach, which involves seven kinds of cultural data, helped me also focus
on what data were needed and how these data gathered would be analyzed.
The first kind of cultural data is the descriptions of the ways people in a culture think,
feel about and understand their culture (ideal descriptions). The second is the
descriptions of the events an anthropologist witnesses on field (real descriptions). The
third consists of the material or tangible culture of the subject. The fourth kind of
cultural data consists of permanent records such as films, field works, recorded tapes,
demographic data recorded and such. The fifth kind is obtained by anthropologists in
literate cultures which corollary have written/drawn records (glyphs, paintings, and
The sixth kind is taken from the contrasts between what is the ideal and real culture, the
difference between the way people think, feel and understand and the kind of things the
observer sees in a culture. These data include descriptions of the ways people rationalize,
evade, formulate and even ignore the knowledge that at times they do not practice what
they say.
The seventh kind of cultural data consists of the recorded data of the
fieldworker using their scientific knowledge and understanding in making statements
about a culture which usually would not make sense to the community being studied.
I have over 300 pages of notes that I had to organize and analyze and an equal number of
photos to go over. Secondary data are voluminous as well. Online, there were many
articles, blogs, news reports, press coverings, interviews, podcasts, and speeches that I
accesssed and reviewed. GK has program manuals, baseline surveys, tri-media
documentation, monitoring reports, among sources of data. It has a professionally-run
communications office that has generated a vast array of information. A GK staffer gave
an offhand quote of 3,000 hours of film alone. I looked at the extensive literature on civil
society, social movements, framing process and symbolic interaction, and the literature
on the 'disruptive' nature of religion.
The analysis of data included contextualizing the local and global historical-sociocultural, spatial, and political economy factors. Specifically, how do historical factors
and the present global economic and social order influence the current state of the
Philippines and lead to the birth of GK? This important because the country’s current
socio-political-economic state is reflective of the historical legacies of colonialism, war,
neocolonialism, the Marcos dictatorship, and elite capture of the political-economy
(Abinales and Amoroso 2005, Sidel and Hedman 2000. Sidel 1999).
As noted many have attempted to resist this state of affairs. In fact, the Philippines has
one of the longest running communist and Muslim rebellions in the world. GK’s model
emerges out of the trial and error of numerous initiatives by numerous actors to remake
the Philippines. I will not reinvent the proverbial wheel though on the historical
trajectory of Philippine development, which many others have done with better results.
My discussion focuses only on the conditions that make it possible for GK to emerge and
Vicente Rafael provides a good view of the psychology of social movements in the
Philippines. The Jesuit historian H.V dela Costa is good source. Abinales (1993)
discusses the ideological battles of the Philippine left.
In assessing GK, I started from the individual level and work towards the organizational
level. This means that evaluation indicators will include actors’ roles, identities, and
select activist histories, organizational structure and processes undertaken in GK’s
various activities, organizational socio-cultural-political contexts, information flows,
social learning, monitoring and improvement mechanisms, strategizing, resource
gathering and allocation, and the notions of community (Smith 2001) as it relates to GK.
I sought to define who is a beneficiary of the GK’s activities and articulate the
transformations that occur when one volunteers and/or assists GK and when one is a
recipient of GK’s assistance. I also investigated whether all these indicators are consistent
with the symbolic, ethical, and moral discourses that GK uses.
My goal is to tell the story of GK by describing the contexts it operates in, deconstructing
the philosophical, religious, and moral foundation of GK’s “ministry”, analyzing GK’s
use of servant leadership, its mobilization of an organization’s (Couples for Christ)
manpower and resources, and its utilization of the discourse on community development,
partnership, and nation building strategies, including their “celebratory and nonconfrontational, but heroic stance” of action. In understanding GK’s housing movement I
sought to generate an inductive theory that has theoretical elaboration and consistency
with identified assessment criteria (Haig 1995, Bernard 2002).
The social metrics for the GK model include: (a) the GK 777 target; (b) sustainability of
the GK communities developed; (c) improvement in poverty indicators, specifically
household livelihood security indicators; (d) quality of the replication and scale up, i.e.
how many towns are implementing the GK model, national government’s commitment to
the GK model, adoption by communities in other countries; (e) recruitment of GK
volunteers and partner organizations in the Philippines and worldwide; and, importantly,
(f) acceptance of innovations being introduced by GK to the world of community and
Thus, the unit of study is the social movement constituted as Gawad Kalinga. GK as the
social movement is composed of many actors located in many different geographical
areas. They are also virtual in that GK has actively tapped the WEB 2.0. Web 2.0, coined
by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle, generally refers to how we think of and use the
worldwide web and the internet as a platform of activities such as communications,
information generation and dissemination, education, social networking, social media,
and marketing, among others. Web 2.0 harnesses community and collective intelligence
and enables a “richer user-experience.” It encourages the user to innovate. It is
powerfully egalitarian because diversity and uniqueness are appreciated and valued
(Villanueva 2007).
The criteria for groups or social movements’ continuing performance according to
scholars such as Rebecca Anne Allahyari, (2000), Doug McAdam (1999), and R. Bryant
(2005) include – (1) concrete goals achieved, (2) growth, (3) stability of group
membership with new recruits, (4) favorable and extensive media coverage, (5) social
acceptability of SM or its activities and support from various sectors, (6) favorable
perception of group, (7) positive self-evaluation, (8) good morale, (9) varied support
sustain the morale - in short in-depth moral capital.
Appendix B: Philippine Housing Program
Government housing framework, policies, and programs
In the Philippines, it is the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council
(HUDCC), which is the main policy formation government body tasked to coordinate,
implement, and monitor the accomplishment of the National Housing Program. The
HUDCC is immediately controlled and supervised by the Office of the President. The
HUDCC’s mandate was defined by former President Corazon C. Aquino through
Executive Order No. 90, which dissolved the Marcos-era Ministry of Human Settlements.
The Chairman of the HUDCC serves as the ex-officio Chairman of the Board of the key
shelter agencies listed below with their respective mandates. The HUDCC Chairman
also supervises a government funding corporation, the Home Development Mutual Fund
(HDMF), popularly known as the Pag-Ibig Fund, and its subsidiary the Social Housing
Finance Corporation (SHFC). The SHFC was authorized under E. O. 272 issued on Jan.
20, 2004, and subsequently made operational on Oct. 18, 2005.
Institutional Framework for Urban Development (figure from MDG Mid-Term Report)
Quoting directly from the HUDCC website, the Council has the following powers and
1. To formulate national objectives for housing and urban development and to
design broad strategies for accomplishment of these objectives;
2. To determine the participation and coordinate the activities of the key government
housing agencies in the national housing program;
3. To monitor, review and evaluate the effective exercise by these agencies of their
assigned functions;
4. To assist in the maximum participation of the private sector in all aspects of
housing and urban development;
5. To recommend new legislation and amendments to existing laws as may be
necessary for the attainment of government's objectives in housing;
6. To formulate the basic policies, guidelines and implementing mechanisms for the
disposal or development of acquired or existing assets of the key housing agencies
which are not required for the accomplishment of their basic mandates;
7. To exercise or perform such other powers and functions as may be deemed
necessary, proper or incidental to the attainment of its purpose and objectives
(HUDCC website).
Key Shelter Agencies of the Government of the Philippines (from Bongolan 2007)
HUDCC fulfills its mandate through the following attached government agencies,
1. Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB)– a regulatory body on housing
2. and land use development;
3. National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation – a government owned and controlled
corporation (GOCC) engaged in primary home mortgage financing as well as in
developing a secondary mortgage market;
4. Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC) – another GOCC that is the financial guaranty
arm of the government. It is tasked to develop and sustain the secondary mortgage
market for housing so as to encourage private sector participation in housing finance;
5. National Housing Authority (NHA) – the agency tasked to provide shelter, relocation,
and resettlement for the poorest 30 percent of the income population; and,
6. Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), popularly known as the Pag-Ibig Fund,
and its subsidiary the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC).
The HUDCC is composed of the following:
1. The Heads of four (4) Key Shelter Agencies (KSAs), namely: the National Housing
Authority (NHA), the Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC), the National Home
Mortgage Finance Corporation (HGC), and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory
Board (HLURB);
2. The Heads of three (3) government social security and or funding agencies, namely:
the Social Security System (SSS) for privately employed citizens,, the Government
Service Insurance System (GSIS) for public employees, and the Home Development
Mutual Fund (HDMF);
3. The Heads of seven (7) government support agencies, which include the Presidential
Management Staff (PMS), the Department of Finance (DOF), the Department of
Budget and Management (DBM), the National Economic and Development Authority
(NEDA), the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), the Metropolitan Manila
Development Authority (MMDA); and
4. Two (2) private sector representatives from Non-Government Organizations (NGOs)
and private developers (HUDCC website)
Its key programs and projects include ensuring security of land tenure, financing housing
especially for the poor, capability building, housing regulation and policy making,
homeowner protection, and special projects (HUDCC website, Gonzales 2002).
Shelter financing is multi-pronged using a multi-window delivery system of government
financing and encouraging private sector participation in developmental an end-user
financing. The HUDCC adopted the MWLS on 13 March 2000. MWLS program
components include participation of commercial banks and other financial institutions in
socialized and low-cost housing; efficiency improvement in services and loan collection
via partnership with the private sector, foundation laying for the operationalization of the
secondary mortgage market, and funding and guarantee loan windows thorugh the HGC
There are various loan packages under the under the Philippines’ National Shelter
Program. For individuals, they can get loans of up to PhP300,000 with an interest of 6%
per annum (p.a.), over PhP300,000 to PhP750,000 at 7% p.a., and over PhP750,000 up to
PhP2 million at 10.5% p.a.
The Community Mortgage Program (CMP), as discussed earlier, is a financing program
for community ownership of land squatted on. The CMP is implemented by the Social
Housing Finance Corporation, thorugh a three-stage loan program of land purchase, site
development, and house construction/improvement. The maximum amount of loans per
family-beneficiary is PhP120,000 for those located in Metro Manila and other highly
urbanized areas and up to P100,000 per family in other areas. The loan is payable up to
25 years at 6% interest per annum. The CMP was implemented starting 1989. Since
then, a total of PhP6.4 billion in loans have been disbursed allowing 182,800 informal
settler families nationwide secure housing tenure (HUDCC website).
The Development of Poor Urban Communities Sector Project (DPUCSP) is an Asian
Development Bank (ADB) loan program to the Development Bank of the Philippines
(DBP) for the purposed of providing different stakeholders with financing for securing
land tenure, affordable shelter, basic municipal infrastructure services, and community
facilities; microenterprise development, home improvements, housing; and policy reform,
specifically the decentralization and strengthening of shelter sector activities at the local
government unit level. Reported accomplishments include site development and secure
tenure involving 1294 families in five sites nationwide. As of July 2007, a total of
PhP870 million, of which PhP85.19 allocated to six microfinance institutions (MFIs)
targeting 10,547 families for land purchase, housing improvements, new home
construction, and microenterprise development (HUDCC website).
Republic Act (R.A.) 6846 or the Social Housing Support Fund Act mandated the AbotKaya Pabahay (“reach is capable/possible for housing”) Fund to enhance the affordability
of low-cost housing. Administered by the Socialized Housing Finance Corporation
(SHFC), the three program include amortization support, developmental financing (up to
80%), and cash flow guarantee via the Home Guarantee Corporation (HGC) to managed
credit risk for funders of socialized housing loans.
The Home Guaranty Corporation guarantees include risk cover on the outstanding
principal and interest yield up to 11%. HGC guaranteed loans and investments are also
tax exempt up to 11%. HGC guarantees run the gamut of retail and developmental loan
guarantees as well as a guarantee to cover securities or financial instruments or on the
receivables backing-up the securities. The amended charter of HGC increased its
capitalization from PhP2.5 Billion to PhP 50.0 Billion. It also required the prioritization
of guarantees to socialized and low cost housing. The guaranty (40%), low-cost (30%),
and 30% for middle and high-end housing.
Lastly, Section 18 of RA 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992
requires a developer of subdivision or residential projects to likewise develop an area for
socialized housing equivalent to at least twenty percent (20%) of the total subdivision
area within the same city or municipality. Compliance t this requirement can be achieved
by developing a new settlement, upgrading a slum or areas of priority development,
initiating a socially acceptable resettlement program; entering into joint venture projects
with either the local government units or any of the housing agencies (Memorandum
Circular No.25); participating in the Community Mortgage Program (CMP); purchasing
housing bonds; and assisting housing projects engaged and developed by nongovernmental and non-profit organizations and foundations for the poor and / or
homeless. Accomplishment data available is for year 2006. Then, HLURB issued
licenses to sell to a total of 2,346 projects or 187,001 units. Of this number, 48 projects
generated 25,579 units and PhP53.256 million of Pag-Ibig Bonds.
Major accomplishments according to the government of July 2007 include 100
proclamations and Executive Orders providing security of tenure to 195,475 households;
77,964 households availing of the Community Mortgage Program; 30,940 households
relocated from Northrail and 8,003 households from Southrail project areas (in Metro
Manila); 125,603 households availing of various housing provision programs; 323,303
housing units funded by HDMF, SSS, GSIS, DBP and LBP; lower housing loan interest
rates and longer repayment periods; retail and development guaranties for loans covering
170,757 housing units; and 869,132 licenses to sell issued to property developers.
Government Housing Programs
For year 2005, 94,393 total housing units were provided. This is an improvement, albeit
slight, over the 2004 figure of 86,407 housing units. Of this figure, 35% were for social
housing, 16% for low-cost housing with remainder for medium-cost housing,
condominiums and open market housing. The average annual production of all types of
housing units for the 17-year period 1990–2007 was 156,813 units. In the last last 10
years, the average increased to 216,216 housing units. Government still provided the bulk
of the funding for housing (80%), while the private sector provided 20%, indicating their
reticence at enteringn the low and socialized housing market (Bongolan 2007). The
tables below show the housing accomplishments of the past four administrations.
National Shelter Program Performance (Source: HUDCC)
In Number of households
Direct Housing Provisions
Indirect Housing Provisions
Units of Assistance
Individual Mortgages
Development Financing
Community Programs
Aquino Administration
Ramos Administration
Community Mortgage Program
The Philippines has continually experimented with housing policies depending on the
political-economic environment and resource capability. The record though for the state
and the market has been fragmented, ineffectual, and miniscule compared to the housing
demand and growth. Marcos-era housing programs were expensive, had program design
flaws, targeted the wrong income groups, prone to bureaucratic inefficiencies and
corruption, and included the unsustainable demolish-evict-relocate to far away areas.
During Marcos’ reign, credit subsidies were used and were funded by foreign loans and
pension funds. The governments subsidy program covered mortgage financing, lowincome home building, development loans, and community development. Under the
United Home lending Programme (UHLP), private developer and contractors packaged
or “originated” housing loans from eligible borrowers. These loans were then submitted
to the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation for reimbursement or conversion to
cash. The program was rife with conflicts on interest and corruption because the private
sectors were both the loan originators and housing developers. The program went
bankrupt because of the huge subsidies; low or no repayment or housing loans; housing
programs targeted higher income groups, rather than the poorest of the poor; and, the
subsidies inefficient and corrupt implementation distorted the credit market and
discouraged private sector participation. Despite the huge subsidies, the rising housing
need was unmet (Llanto 2007, Llanto and Orbeta 2001).
Post-Marcos, the Aquino and Ramos Administrations shifted away from this paradigm
and more towards a policy of enabling government in a more equitable, rational, and
participatory form or urban land use. The Community Mortgage Program (CMP) and
the 1992 Urban Development Housing Act (UDHA) were among the early significant
policy actions. When Corazon Aquino became president in 1986, the housing program
was expanded to include financial assistance to formalizing some of the informal
settlements. Afterall, the Aquino government, borne out of People Power, had a number
of NGO leaders in her administration. In 1987, the Community Mortgage Program
(CMP) was established as a financial and tenure strategy. The CMP presented a road map
for the urban poor to formalize their use of the land they were occupying.
The Philippine Community Mortgage Program (CMP) allowed slum and squatter
dwellers to buy the land they occupy or other land as a community group without a
requirement to upgrade to building standards. Financing is contingent on the informal
settlers organizing themselves into a legal association, which the title to the land passes
to. The government provides financing payable in 25 years. Landow