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Miracles of Solidarity Bring New Homes and Renewed Hope to 80 Families in Palo, Leyte
[Date Created: October 8, 2015]

by Vangie Sesma

November 8, 2013 is a date that will never be forgotten by Filipinos. When Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck, the massive destruction it brought was really terrifying. However, the good thing about Filipinos is that we do not easily give up and lose hope, rather, we stand fast and continue to fight for life, especially if we know that there are people willing to help and give hope for a new tomorrow.

Last August 14, 2015, almost two years after Haiyan, under the sizzling heat of the sun, we held the turnover ceremony of the GK Pedrosa Village in Brgy. Libertad, Palo, Leyte, for 80 families. These are the families who survived Haiyan and who used to live in danger zones, with no permanent shelter to live in. With the leadership of GK advocate Ms. Tess Rodrigo, 80 new homes now stand because of the generosity of partners like Feed the Hungry (FTH), Catholic Women’s Club (CWC), Inner Wheel Clubs of the Philippines, Friends of Cultural Concern of the Phils. (FCCP) and Kellogg HKUST Batch 16.

“I call this village “The Miracle Village” because I didn’t force anybody to donate. It was my friends who reached out to be part of the rebuilding program of Gawad Kalinga for Haiyan survivors by providing them decent and typhoon-resilient homes. They were aware that me and my husband Bobby are actively supporting GK projects. We do this because we all love you. We want to show you that we’re happy in sharing in your happiness. Thank you for opening the door for giving us the opportunity to serve.”

– Tess Rodrigo, GK Advocate

Ms. Tess Rodrigo (who also represents FTH and Kellogg HKUST Batch 16) together with CWC, Inner Wheel & FTH led the giving of the symbolic keys. During the event, you can see in the faces of our Kapitbahayans (GK residents) the joy that they feel, because now they have a home that they can call their own. In one of the sharings, they expressed how happy and grateful they are that their dream turned into a reality and that it was not impossible for dreams to come true as long as you trust and have faith in God. Even our partners were extremely joyful seeing the happiness from the beneficiaries every time they handed-over the symbolic keys.

The awarding of ceremonial keys. Upper left: FTH beneficiaries, CWC beneficiaries.
Upper right:  Inner Wheel beneficiaries, FCCP beneficiaries and Kellogg HKUST Batch 16 beneficiaries.

Blessing of the markers and the houses

“Today is a Miracle of Solidarity and this is the gateway to get the ticket to heaven. By caring for the people that Jesus loves. Jesus came into this world as a squatter. Our mission here is to un-squat the squatters, because the country of squatters cannot be globally competitive. People have no dignity when we have lost our greatest wealth which is our human capital, and what Gawad Kalinga does is to recover our soul as a nation. Our work is to be with the lost and be with the forgotten.”

– Tony Meloto, GK Father and Founder


GK Father & Founder:  Tony Meloto

The groups together with GK Father and Founder Tony Meloto and GK Executive Director Luis Oquinena also had a courtesy meeting with the Palo Mayor Remedios Petilla. The ever-welcoming and ever-supportive mother of the said town sincerely thanked Gawad Kalinga and our partners for the help and support that they provided to her constituents. She also prepared a sumptuous breakfast for everyone.


Mayor Remedios Petilla (in the middle) with GK partners: CWC (in blue), Inner Wheel Clubs of the Phils. (in yellow),
FCCP (in green)

The event ended with some presentations from the community and a boodle lunch. It was truly a day full of hope: Hope that tomorrow there will be a new beginning. A new community full of love and compassion. Because that is what Gawad Kalinga is all about. We are not about building houses, we’re about building a country, we’re about restoring the dignity of our people, because they are the new people who will end poverty in the country.

Gawad Kalinga is not a charity, rather, it's an organization that aims to end poverty by building empowered and productive communities. This would not be possible without the partners who have journeyed with us in changing the lives of others. Like the various stakeholders who made this village possible, you too can be a hero to the poorest of the poor and partner with us in making sure that no one is left behind. Find out how you can help #endpoverty today. Walang Iwanan!

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