Keeping “The Myth of GK” Alive

It has recently come to my attention that my article on Gawad Kalinga has been making rounds all over the internet and has found its way into many e-mail inboxes.

I’ve also been approached by a lot of people who either want me to write a follow up piece or to help them expose more about Gawad Kalinga. So far, I have declined to participate in any further moves to discredit GK. And for security reasons, I have also declined any request to reveal my contacts and sources, regardless of your intentions. None the less, I am still very willing to learn more about that side we don’t often see in the press. Give me more information and facts, and perhaps I will write.

So far, my experience with GK is limited to Sitio Target and to the Visayas Ave. community which I also mentioned in my article. I wouldn’t want to trumpet more anti-GK sentiment since I’ve pretty much exhausted everything in that article. The last thing I want to be is a naysayer or a contrarian. And if I continue to speak, I also fear that the spotlight would be focused on Sitio Target and I wouldn’t want that to happen. I am just glad that the GK project there has been stopped.

I do know that this shouldn’t stop me from looking at the other injustices GK caused in other parts of the country. I am certain that the Sitio Target episode is not GK’s only shortcoming, and I would love to know more. However, I am not taking this up as a personal crusade. The beauty of the blogosphere is that I don’t have to do this alone.

Thus, if my article inspired people to take a more critical look at GK, I welcome that very much. I would love to hear from you and I look forward to reading your blog posts if you have any. If you know of any cases similar to Sitio Target, do write about it. And when you write, don’t write because it’s a crusade. Write because it’s the truth. That, above all, is most important in a democracy.

And so in the spirit of democracy, here’s an article that appeared in the Philippine Star (but is now in the GK website) about a successful GK project in an Aeta community. It sounds like it was written as a rebuttal to me and it apparently proves that building concrete houses for Aetas can be done. Still that doesn’t change the fact that it can go wrong and that it did. All I ask is a commitment that a Sitio Target won’t happen again.


16 thoughts on “Keeping “The Myth of GK” Alive

  1. Cool! Sir in Wikipedia!
    I think it’s really sad that GK did this to the Aeta community. And yeah, people shouldnt hesitate exposing things like this if it’s for the truth.

  2. I didn’t put the original reference, but I did fix it up to make it more objective. I thought that since it was there, better that I’m quoted right. Apparently it’s gone now as it qualifies as “original research”. I just read up on the Wiki policies, so now I understand. Thanks.

  3. Actually, I was the one who put the original reference. I thought I was doing it for the sake of objectivity, but then I realized that it can demoralize some GK volunteers.

    There are two things to be understood here.
    1) Because GK has a lot of noble and good intentions tied with nationalism and faith in God, it necessitates a positive publicity campaign. That’s why the website hosts a lot of testimonies and reports on the good that GK does, and that’s why media references to it (PDI, Star, ABSCBN) are aimed at a good light. Almost every organization do that to win over their target audience. (Can you imagine an article about teachers criticizing the PSHS right on their website?)

    2) The work of GK is relatively young; in fact, GK in its current form came about around five years ago. Many of its volunteers are idealistic, because of the noble and good intentions I mentioned earlier. Once they really immerse themselves, they learn things that the positive publicity campaign wasn’t designed to reveal. Then there are the GK Caretaker Teams, the people who spend their entire day in the villages: if anybody knows how difficult it is to approach the beneficiaries, it would be them. GK is still a learning experience, which is why it is prone to commit mistakes including Sitio Target.

    I was actually afraid of deleting the reference I made about you, because of the Wikipedia policy on neutrality, so I lamely put the “original reference” tag.

    If you really intend to compile every single fault that GK has accidentally or deliberately committed in the more than 800 sites throughout the country and around the world, then I can’t stop you. I also offer a challenge to you: join GK and introduce your ideas there. That’s the surest way to prevent Sitio Target from happening again, rather than just a commitment offered beneath your ivory tower.

  4. Athrunatreides,

    You have nothing to worry from me. I don’t plan to compile every single fault GK has accidentally or deliberately committed, but I recognize that my article has raised the consciousness of some who share the same sentiment. I don’t foresee myself writing further on this in the immediate future but I imagine that many can and will.

    I originally wrote the article not to defame GK but to shed light on where they went wrong and how they can do better. And the reasons I had are exactly that same as the two reasons you have stated above: that the GK campaign necessitates good publicity, and that the program is young and is prone to mistakes. As The Buddha once said, “When you see the Buddha, kill it.” I don’t want my students to join GK because it is GK. I want them to join because of their genuine desire to make a difference.

    Thus, it is in the same critical breath that I encouraged my interested students to join Gawad Kalinga. It is in the same stroke that we, in the Social Studies unit, plan to engage with a nearby GK community for outreach activities and even join in builds.

    This may sound hypocritical of me, but it’s not. I, just like the many GK volunteers, am an idealist. Yet unlike most idealists, I deconstruct what I’m fighting for in order to know why I’m really fighting.

    I imparted this story to my students and a lot now intend to join GK. Their reason? To make it work better. I apologize if I can’t commit my time to Gawad Kalinga, but for the meantime I hope my 50 or so students will suffice.

  5. Hi Sir Martin,

    I am a GK volunteer. I have lived outside the philippines for most of my life.. when I came home to the Philippines, it was the work of GK that made me appreciate what it meant to be Filipino.

    Any work that involves people is likely to be imperfect… it doesn’t matter how many historians, sociologists or anthropoligists you get on your team. If they had the answers, we wouldn’t even be talking about this would we?

    I have worked with the poor here in Australia and in the Philippines.. and the root of the issue is still the same, it is about how poverty perpetuates a cycle of hopelessness, and the only way to address it is not by financial means but by restoring human dignity and giving compassion.

    Many of your comments thinking that GK is about proselytising and inhuman needs correction.

    How sad that so many intelligent people must judge what they don’t have 1st hand experience of.

    I wonder how many of them have worked with the poor.

    What have they done to create hope for the hopeless? What have they done for their country?

    I understand your goal in creating dialog and constructive criticism.. for it is surely needed even if only to balance the hype. However, if unbalanced and taken too far, it would become cynicism that will improve nothing.

    A simple challenge to you sir. Go and volunteer for 2 weeks to live in a GK village.. prepare to be open to all experiences and write another article to balance this one out. Game ka na ba?

    Each year youth from all over the world.. of all religious persuasions, nationalities, cultural backgrounds and beliefs go to the Philippines and have a life changing experience… why don’t you join with them?

    Then, write another article. When you do though, try to be objective and try not force your own beliefs on others… The last thing the poor need is more cynicism.

    Thanks for letting me share my view too. I’ve been to many villages… They’re beautiful and full of hope. They’re all imperfect… then again, what or who among us is?


    Let’s stop complaining and be the change that we want in this world.

    I still don’t think you have done enough research to understand what GK is about.. too many misconceptions in your articles. I’m glad for your students who will join GK to make it work better, wouldn’t it be a coincidence if they actually volunteered because they also want to make the world a better place… just like the other volunteers.

    So how bout that challenge? We need more people like you. Put your idealism to good use.

  6. Amazing the difference we can make by the things we say…

    “Cool! Sir in Wikipedia!
    I think it’s really sad that GK did this to the Aeta community. And yeah, people shouldnt hesitate exposing things like this if it’s for the truth.”

    What is the truth but what we percieve things to be.. our own take.. coloured by our own bias no matter how objective we think we can be?

    Where is the objectivity?

    If your article was about truth.. it needs more research… how about showing both sides of the coin? Unfortunately bad news has better appeal and sells so much better. It gets more attention… case in point.

  7. I suggest that Mr. Chino read the GK blog not only once but thrice to completely understand the point and clearly see the intent of the writer.

    Maybe he’ll feel better not to take this so personally….

  8. Chino, none of my statements need any correction because I speak directly about a case I know. And I am making judgments based on the facts I’ve gathered. It may be wrong for you, but only because you are offended. Read my article well and you’ll notice how careful I was not to overstep my boundaries.

    I only speak of Gawad Kalinga in Sitio Target, and this in itself is the other side of the coin you are asking for. If you want to hear a positive spin, listen to yourself.

    By the way, I’ve already worked with GK in the past, and we continue to do so in school. It’s a wonderful experience, and they have done many wonders all over. But too bad they dropped the ball in Sitio Target. It’s unfortunate but it can be fixed. That’s the simple story I’m out to tell.

  9. That’s ok.. I just needed to get it out of my system. Apologies if I took it too personally. Sad to hear about Sitio Target.. any updates on what’s happening there?

  10. You too.

    I watched some of your youtube videos. You’re a charismatic teacher. Keep up the good work.

    I know you are doing your part in forming the hearts and minds of the new generation of Filipinos.

  11. Pagpinasukan na ng malalaking companies ang isang proyekto, alam mo na walang katuturan yan. These big companies like Jollibee, Ayala Corporation, Lopez companies and others can do more for society by paying their rank and file better wages instead of contributing token amounts to GK. We know these companies are after one thing only: bigger and bigger profits yearly! Papogi points lang yang contribution. Tell them to pay their workers well, let us see what happens. Tell them not to cheat their customers, tenants, etc and let us see what happens.
    Yung nagcocooperate naman with them from GK, magduda ka na.

  12. haha. at siyempre dahil gagawa ako ng talumpati sa kom 3 ngayon lang talaga ako nagsaliksik tungkol sa GK kahit matagal ko nang alam ang tungkol dito.

    sa tingin ko sir martin, ang punto lang naman nung mga tao, marahil, na umayaw sa artikulo na sinulat mo ay yung tono nung pagkakagawa. ako kasi kahit alam ko na tama naman yung sinasabi mo at may malaking punto ka talaga na hindi naman dapat basta-bastahin lang, nagawa nitong makakuha ng isang negatibong pakiramdam mula sakin. ewan ko. siguro sa pagkakasulat at sa paggamit ng ilang salita na, marahil, mas negatibo ang dating kesa ibang salita na maaaring mas akmang makapagpapahayag ng saloobin. katulad na lang nung “myth” sa title na ang dating sa mambabasa ay isang kasnungalingan yung buong GK kahit na hindi naman yun yung gustong iparating nung sanaysay.

    sayang kasi mas naging “destructive” yung dating, para sa akin, nung tono nung sanaysay kahit “constructive” yung mga kritisismo na tinataglay nito. katulad nung pahayag na metaporikal na may isinaad na “so is the road to hell” na lalong humuhugot ng nakasisirang kritisismo kahit ang nilalayon ay isang makatutulong na pagpuna. pero siguro nga kasi malapit sa puso mo, sir, ang mga ganitong uri ng paksa – mga komunidad at kultura – kaya mas huhugot ng negatibong nararamdaman ang isang pagkakamali.

    yun lang. at sa tingin ko nga talaga, masyadong marahas yung “myth” dun sa pamagat. 😛

    pero maganda yung layunin na punahin, itama ang pagkakamali at gawing mas mabuti ang kabutihang ibinibigay ng GK. 🙂

  13. From what I understood, I agree with you Ryan.

    tony… hmm…. From your post you seem to suffer from crab mentality bro.

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