LOUD WHISPER| Gawad Kalinga: A model community empowerment

“IT WAS a wonderful and amazing trip!” said one of the students who joined us during a weekend visit to a remote place in Bulacan. One of the students is a Japanese and another one is from Afghanistan.

     We reached Encanto Farm in Angat Bulacan after a 3-hour trip from Tanay, Rizal province. The president of our college, Dr. Venus Agustin told us that we will visit Mr. Tony Meloto’s farm, to just see what he has to show and offer to us.

     It was an insconspicuous area that we almost lost our way. At the entrance gate I already noticed a number of expensive cars that are parked so I asked the guard if there was a conference, but there’s none. That day was just an ordinary day in that “Enchanted Farm.” The first building where we were led was the “pasalubong” shop where a display of branded t-shirt, wine, books, flyers, brochures, delicacies, drinks, processed food in jars, and others were found. There was a big marker which says: Welcome to the hub of social entrepreneurs.

     Then we were led to the resto built with native motif full of guests (Filipinos and foreigners) enjoying the meals in buffet. After a while, we were greeted by the owner, Tony Meloto who introduced us to a Chinese lady, Erika, the marketing director of the farm. While we were eating our lunch, Tony (as he is fondly called) briefed us on the food saying that what we were eating were products of the 35-ha. farm.

     Later, he introduced us to some of the consultants and lecturers in their school. There is a Filipino, an Italian, an American, an Indian, a Chinese and a Japanese. He said their school is not yet accredited by CHED so, meanwhile, they are offering two-year course in Social Entrepreneurship which is accredited by TESDA.

   It is amazing to learn too, that most of the facilities in this Enchanted Farm are donations from big and globally well-known companies who were just motivated to invest in this farm because of the objectives, the mission-vision of owner and because of the global and national concept of this farm-business, i.e., the GK aims to end poverty by first restoring the dignity of the poor. This foundation, espouses Filipino bayanihan.

     After the tete-a-tete, we were toured around the farm. I noticed a small building with tanks and faucets. There’s something boiling in there, I asked. Yes, they also process a therapeutic drink exclusively distributed by GK. It’s made out of the products again of the farm: tea leaves, “pandan” and “Kamote leaves.” Erika said these grow anywhere and they are good source of food, condiments and medicine.

     Fronting this processing facility is the toy house where I saw women sewing in about six (only) machines. The women (who are residents and wives of farmers in the barangay earn their living out of making and designing non-toxic toys) for children. Their market, Erika said, is some stores in Metro Manila. They are just starting with this business and hopefully, the production will be voluminous.

     Turning right, we were led to their world-class IASIS, the Foundation’s health and wholeness center. IASIS is a Greek word which means “healing and synonymous with “wholeness.”

     Package deals in this center range from P5,500 to P85,000 depending on the type, the class, or services that one needs, and of course, on the duration of the stay.

     The wellness program include the following: aircon rooms, meals, calamansi or oil pulling, personalized wellness coaching, resting, reflecting and meditation exercises, health and wholeness presentations, food, pysical activities: yoga, zumba, farming, biking, mat exercises, action-planning, and others.

     The wholeness program’s concept is: for healthier and more productive life, take charge of your health, and wellbeing with self-empowering healthcare.

     As we continued to tour around the farm, I noticed that almost everything was found in the farm. There is the beauty of nature, the presence ofl birds and animals that make life so invigorating. There’s a place for the hogs alone that provide meat for their kitchen, there’s the place for the ducks that lay eggs which they sell at their souvenir shop and the golden egg that is manufactured into a salty yellow egg by the dozens, there is a place for the milking goats and cows that produced milk for their processed cream which they are starting to process and market, they have places for turkey and hens and many more.     Then I noticed that they have makers and signages that says: A project in coordination with DENR and DA. This means then that some of the seedlings or animals are provided by these agencies for better results because their products are quality and high-breed.

     Oh, what a place! I exclaimed. If only all barangays and sitios or farms have sort of these kinds in their own area, no Filipino will be living in poverty.

   This reminds me now of the concept of “FAITH” which I learned before from a Baptist Church missionary who demonstrated to us this kind of gardening. The process is simple and very easy to make. It just means Food Always in the Home.

     This is a concept which teaches everybody to have small plots in their backyards or even in the front yards to be planted with vegetables which will become source of food for everyday living like onions, tomatoes, okra, saluyot, talong, camote, kangkong. For bigger yards, one can plant squash, ampalaya, and other crops.

   So, I guess, with this concept and the concept of Gawad Kalinga, no Filipino will ever starve. We will grow healthy, strong and happy and the country with these kinds of people will stay peaceful, in good spirit and in good condition. Di ba? (FVS)

Posted in Opinion