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"Munting Paraiso"- Bayanihan Alumni WN GK Village

The Bayanihan (Philippine National Dance Company) Alumni Association (with membership globally) has been building a Gawad Kalinga (GK) community to help alleviate poverty in the one and a half hectares of fertile land, donated by Jing Warren and Ecky Nolasco families (WN), is about one and a half hours from Metro Manila, with good roads and very accessible. Located in Trece Martires, Cavite, it is called the “Munting Paraiso-Bayanihan Alumni WN GK Village.

Lydia Contreras, auditor of the Philippine Women’s University Alumni Association of Southern California, recently visited the “Munting Paraiso”-Bayanihan Alumni WN GK Village, and reported on its progress. (Bayanihan founder Dr. Helena Z. Benitez originally provided The Philippine National Dance Company with an institutional base in her Philippine Women’s University, the first university for women in Asia founded by an Asian.)

“There are ten finished houses,” Mrs. Contreras said, “eight to be constructed soon, and several more lined up for completion. I met with Tony Meloto,” she continued, “and through him I was in contact while there with Ruben and Phol Talatala, the latter in charge of the Bayanihan project, who also shared photos taken at the village.”

Tony Meloto is the Gawad Kalinga Community Foundation and Executive Director, who received the Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered Asia’s version of the Nobel Peace Prize, in 2006. The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation recognizes Gawad Kalinga’s excellence in Community Leadership, “for harnessing the faith and generosity of Filipinos the world over to confront poverty in the Philippines and provide every family the dignity of a decent home and neighborhood.” This recognition also honors the heroism of thousands of volunteers, partners, and beneficiaries with the same GK vision: a nation free of slums.

Tony Meloto also received the Magsaysay award in Community Leadership for inspiring countless Filipinos in the Philippines and all over the world to love their country and to take pride in their identity.

Touched by her vision of what the Bayanihan “Munting Paraiso” would look like years from now, the former California Senior Assemblywoman has resolved to campaign for more donors for the Bayanihan alumni project, “so more homes could be built. It is gratifying,” she added, “to have projects like ‘Munting Paraiso,’ where one sees the fruition of one’s efforts in helping needy families.”

Chary Lagdameo is the president of the Bayanihan Alumni Association (based in Manila) and the project coordinators in the United States are Joey Omila, president of the Bayanihan USA Alumni Association, from Florida; and project chair Inda Gage, from Stamford, Ct.

“We have a funding gap,” laments Inda, “due to dollar devaluation and increase of construction materials. We are appealing to our kababayans, especially our PWU alumni and Bayanihan alumni, their families and friends, to help us in our project. You may send your checks, payable to ANCOP USA Foundation, to Inda Gage, 10 Eureka Terrace, Stamford, CT 06902.

ANCOP (which means Answering the Cry of the Poor through faith and action) USA Foundation is the network of international organizations that supports the work of Gawad Kalinga in the Philippines and other Third World countries.

“Munting Paraiso”- Bayanihan WN GK Village, with its colorful houses, brightens up one and a half hectares of fertile land in Trece Martires, Cavite.

Gawad Kalinga (to give care) is not just about building decent homes for the poorest of the poor, but it is also about transforming lives of Filipino families and giving them dignity.

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