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Tony Meloto at 64: Looking Forward to 2024
[Date Created: January 14, 2014]

Dear Family and Friends,

On January 17 I will turn 64, which I will celebrate on Sunday, January 19, with those of you can make it given this short notice.

By God's grace 2014 is an important year for me as it starts the final decade of an amazing faith journey leading to 2024 - the Big Dream of Gawad Kalinga to help end poverty for 5M families. This period marks the final chapter of a vision driven life, lived for God, humanity, country and family.

>> Read more about Gawad Kalinga's 10-year journey

Its been an awesome adventure since I plunged into the slums of Bagong Silang in 1995 to discover for myself the sad reality that my country is poor because we keep leaving the poor behind.

Since then solidarity with the poor has been the joy of my life and I am deeply grateful to my wife and children for accepting my bigger definition of family that includes the poor, who oftentimes deserve the bigger share of my time because they have less in life.

2013 taught me, more than ever, that in treating the poor as family, we discover their genius to help themselves and one another, unleash their capacity for creativity and productivity, expand market, build an inclusive economy, achieve sustainable peace and prosperity.

I thank our volunteers, many of them former  survivors themselves, for helping us rebuild community after community, calamity after calamity - from Reming to Ondoy, Sendong, Pablo - and the mother of all disasters - Yolanda.

It was this heroic commitment from ordinary volunteers to urgently respond to brothers in need that earned for GK the trust of the global community - opening the floodgates of generosity to an organization that did not foster a funding mentality.

>> Read more about Operation Walang Iwanan: Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)

All this was happening with the daring and untiring leadership of Luis Oquiñena, our GK ED, while I was peacefully planting lemongrass and bamboo at the GK Enchanted Farm in Bulacan with our farmers and volunteers including 8 agriculture interns from VISCA Leyte, who came to learn as much as they could about social agri-business and smart farming that they could bring to their typhoon ravaged province after we build the homes and communities.

It was fascinating for them to see the social impact at the Farm at the end of the year - doubling of average household income, improved health (no reported cases of TB, dengue, maternal and infant mortality), better social behavior (no drug addiction, habitual drunkenness, teen pregnancy, domestic violence and crime) and 124 children in school (including 15 in college). Plus the preparation for the opening of the pilot K12 program for 80 students at the GK Enchanted Farm Entrepreneurs School in partnership with the DepEd and the LGU.

During their leadership camp, Agricoolers (scholars from the GK Enchanted Farm) write messages of hope for the Typhoon Yolanda survivors, urging them to be strong and to keep dreaming. This is the face of the next generation.

Despite Yolanda and Janet, I'm seeing a growing trend which I wish will set a raging current for change in the next 10 years.

More brain gain, less brain drain.
More Filipinos are staying/coming home, more visitors and investors are coming to our shores. Glad to have my daughter Wowie back with her family in our country for good.

More solidarity, less rivalry to end poverty.
Thank you La Salle for making me an honorary Lifetime Platinum Alumnus (with free parking.)

More "daang matuwid," less Napoles.
An honest President and a vigilant social media have made government more transparent.

More pro-poor leadership like Pope Francis.

I also share Luis' wish list for the coming decade:

1. For us to show the world the power of faith in action in rebuilding our communities, doing it faster, better and cheaper than what they have seen in the sorry state of reconstruction and the prolonged suffering of the survivors in Haiti and Aceh.

2. For me to write a sequel to my first book "Builder of Dreams." Hopefully this year.

3. Build more GK Enchanted Farm Village "University" sites this year, especially in calamity prone provinces.
Hope to have more partners like Shell, Hyundai, Lifebank, ODM, Berjaya, Arch Angel, Human Nature, Mang Inasal, Mitsui, Schneider Electric, DENR, DAR, DTI, DOST, the Provincial Government of Bulacan and the town of Angat who contributed to make the prototype in Angat possible.

The site, though still incomplete, is expected to host this year 120,000 visitors, trainees, campers, interns and delegates to various conferences on social enterprise and innovation. I've included in this letter a wish list of 64 items needed by the Farm, for friends and partners who are eager to contribute to this first mentorship hub for social entrepreneurs where rich and poor work together to build a "walang iwanan" economy to end poverty.

I'm blessed to have thousands of families who still need me and wonderful friends like you who will feed me when I'm 64.

Thank you for loving our country and caring for our people.

Tony Meloto



Join Tito Tony and the rest of the GK family as we celebrate his birthday at the GK Enchanted Farm on Sunday, 19 January. Mass is at 9 AM and a simple program follows. Everyone is invited, as long as you're willing to pay for your own lunch, with proceeds of sale going to GK's Yolanda reconstruction efforts. Thinking of getting him a gift? Check out his birthday wishlist HERE.

You may directly give through our online donation portal. Please indicate in the comments what item you're giving.

Contact us for further details/inquiries.


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