Speak It Out

Work is my commitment. Learning is my passion. Faith is my strength. Love is my life.

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Location: Manila, Philippines

The name Ardythe:good war (Anglo-saxon); flowering field (Hebrew); spiritual prosperity (Swedish); Norwegian goddess.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Building a Secure Future, Seeking Practical Solutions


This paper has been created to primarily to provide background about the mission and vision of Couples for Christ, a religious sector based in the Philippines yet engaging universally. I focused on the work of this group not just because I am involved in the activities, rather because I believe that all things that we donate tend to be used in a good way. Couples for Christ not only focuses on evangelizing people towards the faith, mostly Roman Catholics, but to help give hope and transform lives. Most of what is written about the goal of Gawad Kalinga (to give care) is based on the website and personal involvement. It also brings to light the two faces of the country as a democratic republic. The Filipinos are proud wherever they may be. They hope for better lives so they settle in other countries yet still keep the traditions and values. Meanwhile the administration still works out the best plan to improve the economic situation, provide academic excellence and quality education. It also speaks about the pros and cons that the country is facing.

The first question was addressed last because I consider my life monotonous until some things happened. Pressure and multitasking might be the word of the world, but sometimes things happen so fast that we cannot absorb them anymore and it ruins our plans.
The solutions to the problems that we face everyday cannot be found in any publication or wealth. It is in each of us.

What are the biggest obstacles you face in your daily life?

I consider my work as the biggest obstacle I face in my daily life. Our company as to broaden the knowledge and skills of their employees has rotated me. I have been here for only more than a month. When I started I did not encounter a lot of difficulties and I was working with someone. Now he is assigned to a different function and I have been encountering a lot more pressure and tasks than we used to, or I used to when I was in another role. I tend to make mistakes. I am criticized. I am exhausted by the end of the day yet when I go home I bring my work with me, since I belong to a team that just turns over duties because of the shifting schedule. Now it seems that my responsibilities have been adding up as I have been assigned to check on things that we never used to do. It seems that I have been the focus. Yet I consider this as one great challenge. I learn from all these things. I have become more careful and meticulous about the details involving my role. If multi-tasking is how we describe it, then definitely I am involved, as I handle a lot of transactions through e-mail, calls, and I even have to check items if they are correct. More than that, daily reports are generated, and they are consolidated, and there is a lot of data gathering. More over, when a person asks me to confirm a certain thing, or even After all, we are living a world run by humans and reliant on technology. We can still live without them but when we have become too dependent, then everything becomes complex that we need things to be done at a quick and precise pace.

Another obstacle is the anxiety, because I have never been engaged in a field wherein what I studies could be of more use. I have tried a lot of times, I have prayed hard. Still, God has not yet given me what I have been asking for. This could either be good or bad. Good in the sense that I have become more flexible at things I did not desire yet I am excelling.

Time is also considered a problem. Before I was transferred I planned to take up French as a foreign language in one of its international schools, yet due to the schedule of my work I have to choose another schedule. However this would mean giving up a social yet spiritual activity. I also want to pursue a higher education in the country’s premier university but time still plays a major factor.

What practical solutions would you propose to build a secure future for yourself and others?

Poverty is the primary problem in our country. More than 70% of the population is living below the accepted standard. This is due to the lack of opportunities, education, and even proper shelter.

As the Philippines is still considered a third-world country, wherein development is not yet much thorough and there are still problems in governance and policy creation and implementation. People need concrete examples and models that they can emulate in their life, wherever this may be, at home, school, workplace, and on the road. The country relies heavily on foreign investors. Basically our credit worthiness is good. If we consider the safety of all the citizens of the world, I can say that they are secure. We have been continuously improving our GDP and GNP, and our products are competitive in the world market. The land has more than enough resources yet to be utilized, in terms of natural resources and talents of the general public. If we are to face facts, Filipinos are scattered globally to be able to provide better lives for those that they have left. Other than that, they consider migration because they believe that this certain foreign land offers better opportunities as their people tends to be more focused in their job, does not apply procrastination, and more disciplined.

However, I believe that each and every individual is designed to follow his own will, that he can make what he wants and he can make them how he wants them.

The World Bank has been catering constantly to our financial need, as they have created program called Country Assistance Strategy, specially designed to meet the conditions of the country as it caters to the funding targets, projects, studies, and other things that the analysts deem important to its infrastructures and development.

There has been many times that private sectors and non-government organizations have worked hand in hand with government agencies to provide adequate facilities and increase the labor sector. In Manila, almost every month, the office of the mayor conducts job fairs. The job fair participated by private companies and they hire different kinds of people based on their education and skills. This can range from a humble messenger or household help up to a manager or company supervisor.

The Philippines has also been recognized by investors because of its democracy and its responses to its fiscal problems. If we can recall that in 2004, the President announced that the country is facing fiscal crisis yet almost two months later, everything is okay. This has been resolved through the empowerment of institutions which has connection in tightening government expenditures as well as mandating private sectors. Everyone cooperated, to the extent that some businessmen donated funds to get through, which the government gladly accepted and utilized well. Small and medium enterprises supplies more than enough income and employment. Treasury bonds have been selling at a good price. The peso, has been stabilized.

Science and technology has also been improving as the government recognizes more Filipino innovations and research has been receiving adequate budget. This is needed to enhance the minds of the scientist to develop more ways to make lives easier, utilized natural resources, improve the status of food production, as well as to facilitate involvement with the people. The presence of technology parks, mostly foreign-owned, imparts not just career, but also the distinction that Filipino workers are quality workers. True, that the labor is more expensive compared to other countries but this is equal to the cost of living in the Philippines. A few years back, the world was threatened with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) yet the Philippines was not affected. This is due to the instruments used for identifying passengers who traveled by land or sea. Employees designated at the ports conducted a thorough examination. People were also cooperative.

Among the things that the country can boast is tourism. The presence of tropical delights pamper both Filipinos and foreigners alike. One not only enjoys the sights, but also engages in the hospitality of the people. We are world famous for festivals, wonders of the ancient world, historical landmarks, and magnificent water and land formations.

Education is at par with the world’s best. Filipinos are considered speakers of the English language. Math and Science rank among the best subjects that students are good with.
However, despite all these good services, reaching out to eighty-eight million Filipinos living in an archipelago is not enough.

Everyday in my life I see people living in hazardous conditions. They thrive under the bridges, they live on the streets, under the shade of trees and other buildings. They either live alone or with company, that is, other people that they are related to, or just someone they met on the same area. It makes my heart break to see them but I cannot do much about it.

Street children have been begging for alms instead of food. They are also in danger of vehicular accidents when they sell their goods. Child exploitation is not new and the social welfare cannot address this as their cases have been increasing.

More and more people are engaging in illegal and illicit practices so that they will be able to live another day. As a matter of fact, there have been cases wherein they do this not just because of poverty, but because they want more even if they already live comfortably.

In this regard, the Couples for Christ launched in 1995 the Work with the Poor. This is consisted of five programs, namely:

Ø Education

§ Sibol (to grow) - for children aged three to six years old. It is a value-based education program;

§ Sagip (save, Sagipin ang Isip at Pangarap Save the intellect and dream) - for seven to thirteen years old. This consists of assisting them with their schoolwork, engaging them in different activities such as sports, workshops in theatres, music and dance. At the same time, catechism is also taught hand in hand with values formation;

§ Siga (to light; Serving in God’s Army) - scholarships are granted to those who want to pursue higher education. Strong youth rehabilitation programs are endowed together with a variety of activities and counseling sessions to lead them towards a better life without enrolling them into institutional rehabilitation centers. Thus, they get the advantage of dealing with the society and get employed eventually.

Ø Shelter and Site Development

§ Tatag (Build) - houses, schools, path walks, drainage systems, livelihood centers, clinics, and multipurpose halls are all established. After these are met, libraries and basketball courts are constructed;

Ø Health

§ Lusog (healthy) – medical practitioners such as medical doctors, nurses, dentists, dietitians and others look after the welfare of the community. The concerns addressed include malnutrition and proper education in hygiene and the whole health profile of the individuals.

Ø Livelihood

§ Gawad Kabuhayan (give livelihood) – entrepreneurial skills are manifested and provision of trainings for the both the skillful and eager ones have their opportunity to contribute to the work force and earn income. GK also lends a hand for their microfinance and micro-enterprise capitals and materials, as well as broadening the market for their products and services. GK also ensures that basic needs are met such as food so they encourage backyard farming, poultry raising and urban agriculture. They also help build each other’s house, as this sustains them towards a more diplomatic relations.

Ø Community Empowerment

§ Kapitbahayan (neighbors, community empowerment) – aims to inculcate stewardship, and ensure accountability, cooperation, and unity among the residents. Guidelines are imposed and the leaders who espouse the values of the association emerge. Peace is attained through mutual adherence and a set of values. This role leads to the self-reliance and sustainability.
Those who serve belong to the Couples for Christ Family Ministries such as Kids for Christ, Youth for Christ, Singles for Christ, Couples for Christ, Servants of the Lord, and Handmaids of the Lord. They are the working hands, and they never get any monetary benefit, just pleasure of being able to serve.

In 2000, the Work With The Poor was changed to Gawad Kalinga (to give care). We still have the same programs. This time, major partners were accepted, provided that they also work, not just make monetary contributions, If that is not possible because they are designated in other parts of the world, then that is the only time that we accept their money. However, it is strongly recommended that they visit the sites. They have to be a part of the mission, to provide catechism, education, livelihood, guidance, inspiration, and a home. They can build a corporate village, named after the company. The GK hour is also encouraged, wherein the salary equivalent to an hour’s pay in a week is diverted for the community.

It was in October 2003 that GK 777 implying 700,000 homes in 70, 000 communities in seven years.

Gawad Kalinga build does not have seasonal plans. Construction is on going throughout the year. People do not want a big house, they just need a suitable place to live in, a place that they can call a home, and it only costs the labor of love.

In this regard, Gawad Kalinga has built almost 300,000 houses in different communities throughout the country. Anyone can participate, whether be a member of the family ministries, even a school, a corporate partner, partners from media or form the government, or individually. Volunteers are most welcome. We have contributors as young as nine years old, and they invent programs to raise money. Laborers, that is, all who help, get a taste of creating a house. We measure, we construct, we mix cement, and we put roofs. We paint the houses with different colors, and lastly we attach the doors and windows. Heat is no match for the hearts that are willing to enslave themselves for the happiness of the others.

There have been instances that the government has already awarded the deeds of the land to these people, and their place is better than just being a slum. Gawad Kalinga not only provides houses to those who need a nicer place to live in, but also restores. Restore in a sense that the victims of calamities do not have to worry or spend more because there are people who are willing to donate their time.

The community is not just houses. It is a community of homeowners wherein they become agents for change in a larger context; caretakers, volunteers that work hand in hand to build their life again; and a community of volunteers and partners giving individuals and groups the opportunity to live out the spirit of bayanihan (http://www.gawadkalinga.org/gk_communities/gk_communities.htm).

Aside from Gawad Kalinga build, I devote some of my time to Sagip. These are children ages 7-13. Every weekend, catechisms are held. This is not confined to catechism alone. We want them to interact with one another and reflect on how the teachings can be applied in their lives. It is cherishing to see these rowdy children behave themselves, and even if their families are not that self-sufficient, they try to appear in their best. We also have educational trips and these are not costly because fare is paid by us. What would a trip be without meals or snacks? It is well known that Filipinos love to eat. They bring their own food and we also have something for them, for one can never be too sure. Aside from these, we also help them with their schoolwork. Tutorials are held every weekend. When the time comes that these children have to create a program, they may be hesitant at first but when you encourage them, or even one of them volunteers, the rest follows. Their parents are more than delighted to see their children perform.
The whole nation then transforms.

In my previous work, there have been a lot of things done which are not satisfactory to the common person. Yet, I stood out. I remained strong in what I believed in. I have been raised to be such a person and I will not fail my parents and myself. I am aware that they are insecure, but this is because I have been right and I was performing according to the morals and norms of the society.

So how does one build a secure future?

One can build a secure future by thinking that he can make a difference, regardless of age, gender, and nationality. We know that no man is an island. He has to work with others to make things happen. Hand in hand, everything is possible. The vastness of our capabilities is indefinite. While barriers may still be present because of differences in religions, origin, and values, each one tries to be better. Primarily, quality education is the key. A good home provides more than one can ask for, as the child is molded here and when he is ready to face the world, he has his foundation and he can defend it or improve it. There are a lot of temptations in the corporate world, yet when one remains strong, it will not collapse and they will get tired of encouraging him to do these wicked things. As a result, he becomes the role model, he is the living sign that this world can be more suitable place to live in.


Blogger pAL said...


actually, for catholics like us, the aim of communities like couples for christ is renewal of their faith... specifically, in cfc ministries, it is family renewal... hinde evangelization, as we, baptized catholics, have really heard the good news, though we are not practicing it...

April 19, 2005 9:43 AM  
Blogger Ardythe said...

How true. You are absolutely correct! Ü. Although I believe the mesage is clear...

April 19, 2005 1:43 PM  

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