today’s guest at the eminent speakers’ forum was mr. antonio “tony” meloto, chairman and founder of Gawad Kalinga (GK). his talk on “Sustainable Prosperity and Peace through Social Entrepreneurship and Rural Development” centered on his experiences and wisdom on GK’s integrated and holistic approach to end poverty by first restoring the dignity of the poor. GK works with over 2,000 communities through an innovative social enterprise approach that harnesses the resources available in GK communities, as well as the vast global GK network.
his talk started with a video clip of GK’s activities and the persons/companies who have supported it – pres. noynoy, pres. cory, SHELL, NESTLE, HYUNDAI, and so on. it was especially heartwarming to see how GK has uplifted the lives of the poorest of the poor, and they have been provided not only houses (which they themselves built with their own hands) but as well as livelihood opportunities with human nature and enchanted farm endeavors. mr. meloto said two things that struck me the most – he advocates that we should treat the underprivileged and less fortunate as family and not merely charity cases, and he believes that poverty is a behavioral problem with economic consequences (and not the other way around). he has gained a believer in me, as i raised my hand when he asked who believes that we can end poverty for millions of poor families by 2024. GK needs all of our help, not only in monetary terms but as volunteers as well.
getting to know mr. meloto (from the info sheet of the forum):
Antonio Meloto was born on January 17, 1950 to a low middle class family in Bacolod City, Philippines.
At a young age, he was exposed to the squalid living conditions of the poor, his home being near a shoreline squatter community where poverty was very pronounced.
Meloto’s natural acumen provided him the opportunity to be an American Field Service scholar, where he took his senior high school year in De Anza High School in Richmond, California. But his big break came when he qualified as a Full Academic Scholar of the Ateneo de Manila University. His college years were dedicated to preparing for a career that would take him and his family out of the poverty of his past. After graduating in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, he was offered a position as the Purchasing Manager of Procter and Gamble. Eventually, he built his own name as an entrepreneur.
The turning point in Meloto’s life came when he joined Couples for Christ (CFC) in 1985. Through his active involvement with the CFC, Meloto began his work with the poor through a youth program in Bagong Silang, Caloocan, Philippines 10 years after. The same program evolved to become Gawad Kalinga (GK), a movement that builds integrated, holistic and sustainable communities in slum areas.
GK is now implemented in 2,000 communities in the Philippines and in other developing countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea. It has become a concrete manifestation of the healing of relationships in the Philippines, bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, the government and the private sector through the uniquely Filipino spirit of ”bayanihan,” the willing sharing of any heavy load for the good of his fellowmen. Driven by a strong commitment to faith, GK is able to bring out the patriotism in every Filipino by making him a hero to his country – a “bayani” (hero) that can contribute to “bagong bahay, bagong buhay, bagong bayan (new home, new life, new country).”
This is Meloto’s passion. A true man for others, he has inspired not just his family but hundreds and thousands of volunteers throughout the country and the world to work towards building model communities where the poor can thrive and attain to their fullest potentials.
Mr. Meloto is a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award (2006), and a 2012 Skoll Awardee for Social Entrepreneurship.