About 80 mayors from Quezon, Camarines Norte, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, and Oriental Mindoro gathered at the Ateneo de Manila Social Sciences Building Audio Visual Room on April 19 to discuss their participation and contribution to Kalinga Luzon (KL). Representatives from most of the KL partners came in full force. These intsitutions include the Ateneo de Manila University, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), ABS-CBN, Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation, SMART Communications, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and Couples For Christ (CFC). During the forum, Gawad Kalinga (GK) Executive Director Tony Meloto urged the mayors to participate in the campaign, and the mayors shared the needs and concerns of their municipalities.
Meloto encouraged the mayors to present proposals for the construction of KL villages in their respective localities in order to attract foreign investors and sponsors to fund these projects. He said that KL attracts support because “we are giving them a picture of the Philippines that the whole world can build together,” and this drives economic growth.
Cito Lorenzo, former Agriculture Secretary and now GK’s Adviser on Productivity, said that each town should focus on developing the livelihood programs most appropriate for them. He asked the mayors to do research in order to identify which programs best their municipality and to develop a microfinance project to support these. He also stressed a “focus on specifics,” and urged them to go beyond doling out relief goods by instituting sustanable means of livelihood. To this, Meloto added that livelihood programs help form productive people who generate income for their families and stimulate economic activity in their town.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has also been an active KL partner. DSWD director Che Cabrera announced that the department has earmarked 40 million pesos for mayors whose towns have ready land and are ready to begin the project. In addition, DSWD will be providing seminars on disaster preparedness in the affected communities.
ABS-CBN’s Tina Monzon-Palma announced that ABS-CBN has committed to building 500 houses at an estimated cost of 88 million pesos. And the Ateneo de Manila continues to take responsibility for documenting and evaluating the activities in KL rehabilitation areas. The University has also been rallying its alumni and friends to support KL not only in the Ateneo adopted site in Gabaldon, but across Luzon.
Filipinos in different countries have also offered their support to KL. On October 14, a race will be held in Long Beach, California where 1,000 Filipinos are expected to participate. They will help raise P1,000 dollars each, all of which will go to KL. Meloto also revealed that a GK Heroes’ Club, composed of members who would adopt 50 houses in KL, will be organized in the United States. [JEN PANALIGAN/GIA DUMO]