Monday, June 11, 2007

Fil-Ams raise funds for GK

by Patricia Esteves
From the Philippine Star
April 8, 2007

On weekends, a group of Filipino-Americans in California build homes for the poor in the Philippines "the Santa Clarita way".

Santa Clarita, California residents and Gawad Kalinga (GK) advocates Tony and Marietta Pascua, Nerwin and Cherry Du, Cynthia and Noel Barrios, Danny and Marilou Manalastas, Federico Vale and others, repaid and remodel the homes of their friends during Saturdays and donate the proceeds to GK to help build more homes for the poor.

Nerwin Du and Noel Barrios conceptualized the fund-raising project called the Gawad Kalinga Bayanihan Builders (GKBB) sometimes in 2006.

D said they thought of the project while they were painting a portion of a friend's house. They eventually suggested fixing other friends' homes on weekends as a fund-raising project for GK. They've heard friends' experiences as GK volunteers in the Philippines and were thinking of how they could also help raise $75,000 to build a new village in Bukindon, to be named Santa Clarita 2.

"I suggested this to our household leaders and one of the members needed to paint their guest room that same weekend. We started painting houses and in one day we raised $300", said Du.

Du, a contractor, said that since they started the GKBB project in Santa Clarita, they have already raised almost $55,000 in pledges to build another GK village in Bukidnon.

Noel and Cynthia Barrios said they simply painted one bedroom for a client friend but word got around that they were good and soon they were receiving requests to remodel more homes.

"We ask them to buy the materials and the cost of labor is paid through check payable to ANCOP USA (Answer the cry of the Poor), the foundation of Gawad Kalinga. Through this, our clients get a good contractor-quality job and at the same time make donations for our less fortunate countrymen, not to mention it's a tax write-off at the end of the year," Barrios said.

Another GK Bayanihan Builder, Tony pascua said that this is their way of showing their fellow Filipinos of their concern even if they are far away. It also brings volunteers closer to each other. Husbands in the community help Du in changing the flooring, putting crown moldings, replacing the windows and doors, installing recessed lights, changing kitchen cabinets, while the wives help in painting the homes. "The Bayanihan Build in the US does not only help the poor but has also strengthened the relationships among the volunteers." Other members of the GK Bayanihan Build said they have not stopped loving their motherland and would always work or donate their time, energy to help the poor in the Philippines.
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