Speak It Out

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Location: Manila, Philippines

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

Friday, August 17, 2007

Good News Update on GK (August 12)

Things to cheer you up!

1. Philippine Star Article highlights Financial Integrity of Gawad Kalinga

Finance experts lend hand to GK
By Patricia Esteves
Sunday, August 12, 2007

Financial management is important even to organizations devoted to charity and the Gawad Kalinga (GK) foundation is no exception. It takes pride in its sound, professional and credible financial system and management.

At the helm of GK's financial system are two of the country's veteran and top-notch managers, Joey Moreno and Mike Goco.

Moreno served as country manager for multinational capital and risk management company, Swiss Reinsurance for 30 years, while Goco spent many years as group vice president for Metro Pacific Corp., the Philippine arm of Hong Kong-based conglomerate First Pacific Co. Ltd.

Together, they lend their expertise and talent to GK in handling and overseeing the foundation as full-time volunteers.

Goco recalls getting into GK in 2004 through advocate Tony Meloto.

"Meloto invited me to join Gawad Kalinga to oversee some systems and procedures in the foundation, particularly the aspect of finance and I said yes. I was newly retired then," said Goco, now the finance head of the GK foundation.

As GK began to expand, Goco invited his friend, Moreno, to help him out. Moreno says it was a job he gladly took.

"I retired end of 2005 and I was looking for something worthwhile to do. I was not interested in pursuing money or entering into another career. I got in touch with Mike and it so happened that GK needed help in one area and one thing led to another. Mike used to handle everything but with GK growing so fast, he needed someone to offload some things and so I said yes," Moreno said.

A credible, professional financial system

Goco and Moreno came to GK at a stage where it was expanding and donors' resources were steadily pouring for the construction of more houses.

Both wanted to make the best use of the donors' funds for GK.

Moreno explains the costing for each home is more than P75,000 if you consider other things added to the village or the house. The P75,000 is only for the materials for the house and does not include the price of the land and labor.

"If you tack on the land, landscaping, the time the caretaker spent there, the value will rise five or six times. These are not monetized but if you put them all together, they could easily rise five or six times," he stressed.

Goco and Moreno put in place a systematic and effective procedure that is in tune with donor's preference. "The partners and donors come to the office and look at our system and procedures and the funds as we are very transparent," said Goco.

The first step of the procedure is the signing of the memorandum of agreement between the donor and partner.

The MOA details the responsibilities of the donor, the time of the funds turnover and GK's commitment to deliver the homes for the poor.

But GK does more after the MOA signing. Goco and Moreno make sure all necessary arrangements will be made like ensuring the site, assigning of caretaker teams and project directors to the site and preparing the beneficiaries for the sweat equity program of GK. The beneficiaries will help in constructing their homes.

"When we started in June, the process is very general in terms of donor and partner. In any partnership, there is a Memorandum of Agreement that details the responsibilities of the donor. At the time of the money turnover, there is a commitment to deliver homes and schools. That starts the entire process, when funds are transferred, official receipts are given," Goco explained.

They set up a ledger for each donor and anyone who would like to see how their funds are used will receive records of those that were disbursed and received.

"The process of disbursement is in conjunction with partnership with the management group. More importantly, all elements are prepared. We see to it that the land is secured and not squatter land that it is donated by an individual or the local government and that there is a caretaker team in charge of the site, including a project director," Goco said.

He also stressed the beneficiaries go through a values formation program and part of their counterpart funding commitment is the sweat equity.

Because the procedure is always in tune with the donors' preference, they ask permission first if they will allow the shifting of funds to other areas.

Isla Lipana and SGV and Co.

In line with GK's commitment to improve the financial aspect and in preparation for its vision of GK 777 ( 700,000 homes in 7,000 sites in seven years, it hired the services of Isla Lipana & Co., an external auditor, to audit GK's financial books.

Isla Lipana and Co., a professional accounting firm, has been auditing GK's financial statements for the last two years.

In its report and assessment for 2004 and 2005, it says all "support, revenues, expenses and its cash flows for the year ended Dec. 31, 2005 and for the period from July 28, 2003 to Dec. 31, 2004 are in accordance with Philippine Financial Reporting Standards.

"Isla Lipana is one of the best audit firms in the country. They check on our funds and ensure that funds go through as intended. We've been audited twice already, for 2004 and 2005," Moreno said.

In line with GK's expansion, they have entered a special arrangement with SGV and Co. called "Business Process Review of Gawad Kalinga (GK)."

The SGV review and assess the financial statement of GK and suggest ways on improving other areas of financial management.

"They spent three months interviewing people, reviewing documentations, not only here but in the province and in the regions. They followed our process. Through this, we're now going to the next stage, how to implement their recommendations to us," Goco said.

And SGV is doing this for free.

Goco admits they are not a perfect organization but they try hard to improve their financial aspect.

"We're not a perfect organization, we are like a sari-sari store that grew overnight. We are trying to catch up. While we got good reports from Isla Filipina, we felt we need to improve, that is why it is timely that SGV and Co. offered their assistance," Goco said.

As further proof of GK's sound and credible financial management is the five-year certification it got from the Philippine Council for NGO certification, a government agency that accredits and appraises all NGOs for donee institutions.

"We're very proud that we are a few of the organizations that received a five-year certification. It's a vote of confidence that what we're doing is right," Moreno said.

Most corporations, local and multinational corporations are very confident of GK's integrity and credibility as a foundation. Even government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and development (DSWD), are confident of GK's credibility and integrity

"We give all our reports to the DSWD and they've been very happy with the partnership. We heard the agency is preparing the next P250 million for GK, a big increase to what initially started as a P50- million investment," Goco said.

An interesting finding from SGV said there was an excess of P170 million in the funds they cannot trace. Moreno and Goco say the money came from the pockets of the volunteers and caretakers' team as padugo.

Goco says they have accounted for all the money that flows through Gawad Kalinga.

"We're proud to say that we've been able to account for all the money that flows through us. We invite the donors to audit us as we are available. The level of partnerships they have with us speaks for itself. These corporations will not partner with us if they don't trust the organization, because they exercise due diligence," Moreno said.

Goco said more people from the business sector will join GK like former Central Bank Gov. Jose Cuisia and Melo Villaroman of Procter and Gamble for Asia, after their retirement.

As GK founder Tony Meloto said: "As we scale up, we want to improve our system, to be able to serve more people in an efficient way. GK is not just building homes but communities, for the love of God and country. It is bringing out the best in Filipinos so we can regain the trust of the world."

Online article here: http://www.philstar.com/index.php?Headlines&p=49&type=2&sec=24&aid=20070811214

Inspiring Interview of a young GK and Singles For Christ member

13 July 2007
GK Concepcion Village, Pasig River, Guadalupe, Metro Manila

Rodrigo nicknamed "Digor" is a 21 year old former out-of-school youth who I interviewed in the second GK site I visited, called Concepcion Village, along the Pasig River. I interviewed him on a lazy Sunday afternoon, by a river once was filled with ugliness, now a symbol of rebirth for this country. - Ryan Cabrera (SFC LA)

"What have been the changes since Gawad Kalinga (GK) and Singles For Christ (SFC) came into your life?"

The bad vices have been removed. Before GK and Singles For Christ, we would stay up to 6AM drinking. Our parents couldn't control us and didn't even pay attention to us anymore.

One day a friend of ours said: "Bro let's join SFC. It's ok there – many things to learn, many changes."

This friend, Kenneth, never wanted to study anymore. When he joined SIGA, we – his friends - told him:
"Wow you've changed a lot!"

Now he's about to finish high school and can't decide between two colleges (La Salle and Don Bosco) because he has scholarships to both! SIGA is paying for half his tuition. Now he's so alive!

Through him we got the idea to join Singles For Christ. We were the first batch to graduate SFC here!

"What programs are there here?"

There's the SIGA program for 11 to 17 year olds. They do worship house to house. They talk about problems with school, family. The program is so beautiful because it removes negative thinking!

There's the SAGIP program for 8 to 11 year olds. They're taught the word of God. They get to travel. Then, they teach each other.

You will really be surprised because they all used to be out of school youth just wasting their lives away. Now they've learned to play the guitar. They play praise music! Now they each play their own guitars, and the singing... It was like magic!

You'll be so delighted because of all the laughter you hear all day, joking around. The change is enormous. Just like magic!

"What do you see in your future?"

I see our kids - and our grandkids - enjoying their own beautiful children. The youth here learn beautiful values.

Nothing GK does and gives will ever be wasted. GK gave everything: energy, talent, financial resources.

Now we want to share that blessing. Now we want to spread that HOPE. When GK entered, it was really MAGIC—no more chaos, no more vandalism on the wall!

Now the youth want to continue this dream of a bright future that is so stunning. What's the use of having a nice house, if the people who live in it are nothing? It's better if you have a beautiful house, AND beautiful people inside it. That's what's ok.

"What do you want to say to Singles For Christ of LA?"

In our lives, the #1 blessing comes from God. Blessings have to be shared…the good values.

Your help for the poor, that's the highest level, because that's who God Himself helps.

"To the runners of the (fundraising) marathon what would you like to say?"

I salute you! I'm speechless!

You are so blessed because, not only me, but 1 million other people you're helping! I see God's presence in all of you – the presence in helping, the love…that is the presence of God!

"For Gawad Kalinga here in Manila, what help is needed?"

More activities for the kids. You're only a kid once. When the kids are happy, the adults are happy. The kids nowadays are so smart, they pick up things so quick.

When you plant kindness early on, their whole lives they will remember that.

In the SAGIP program (3-4 years old) they learn to fear God. That is the most important thing to learn of all."


My one observation during the interview was how many times he mentioned the word "magic." He mentioned it as if it was still ongoing…as if the best is yet to come. I suppose, that's the real magic of GK.

-- Ryan Cabrera (SFC Los Angeles)

3. PARAISO : Tatlong Kwento ng Pag-asa (the GK Movie ) a BIG Hit in Iloilo

PARAISO : Tatlong Kwento ng Pag-asa ( The GK Movie ) was a big hit in SM City Iloilo last August 11, 2007. To accommodate the thousands who wanted to watch, the movie was shown simultaneously in five cinemas, with SM theaters forced to open their gates at 7:30 AM (instead of the usual time of 10:30am), and stay open until 6:30 pm.
The cinema management made this possible, even setting aside the showing of regular foreign films to accommodate PARAISO moviegoers.

The second batch is again scheduled on August 26 with a wider and bigger audience. An estimated ten thousand people are expected to watch the film, most of them students from the different schools and universities that are already supportive of Gawad Kalinga work in Iloilo province.

God shows His power and majesty through the work He has entrusted to us.


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