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P-Noy at the GK Enchanted Farm

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President Noy Aquino, accompanied by members of the economic cluster of the Cabinet led by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Trade Secretary Greg Domingo, launched the GK CSI Social Entrepreneurship movement at the Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan last June 24. Despite the heavy downpour, he came and was energized by the enthusiasm of an overflow crowd of young social entrepreneurs who were the silver lining in the dark skies and a sign of better days to come. He encouraged everyone to be “part of the solution like Gawad Kalinga rather than be part of the problem.” He expressed full support to our audacious goal  to raise half a million Social Entrepreneurs who will build wealth in the Philippines, create world class products and provide jobs for 5 million Filipinos in agriculture, technology and tourism. He stressed the need for Filipinos to have  big dreams and to support daring initiatives like Gawad Kalinga’s  plan to set up a GK Enchanted Farm/ CSI complex in every major province  as a village university for social education, a countryside  incubator and outlet for social business and a destination for social tourism.( The B&B and dormitory facilities at the Farm in Angat will have 200 beds this year and 1000 by next year to accommodate local and foreign tourists, interns and volunteers. Existing GK sites in 24 provinces have enough land and are open to CSR and social investors to build the CSI complex for the economic phase of our development time line.

His spirit was buoyed by the inspiring presence of foreign interns and volunteers who see in GK an effective solution to poverty. Their presence is evidence of a growing global trust in his leadership that makes the Philippines an attractive travel destination  and investment proposition.

It was awesome for them to hear from the highest leader of the land that nation-building indeed is our core business and all avenues of support will be given to those who will no longer accept poverty as our destiny. Moments like this will have far reaching impact to a remote town like Angat that received for the first time in its history a visit from a sitting President and to the foreign volunteers who will tell the whole world through the magic of social networking  that the Philippines will be the next miracle of Asia because the best among our people are in solidarity with the least to create abundance for everyone, especially those forgotten in the countryside.

PNoy had to leave after nearly two hours in the Farm to inspect the release of water at the overflowing Angat dam despite the great time he was having touring the place and conversing with our patriotic social entrepreneurs who prefer to be wealth creators at home rather than be job seekers abroad. He saw artisan chocolates from Asia laced with exotic flavors like labuyo and green mango, gourmet cheese from goat and carabao’s milk, yellow salted eggs instead of the traditional red and the health drink for nation-builders called Enchantea from lemon grass and other indigenous ingredients. He was fascinated with the bamboo bike and saw the boundless creativity and energy of the Filipino when properly motivated. The Human Nature cottage had an array of over a hundred different health and beauty products exclusively made in the Philippines that can compete with the best in the world. What was fascinating was how these young entrepreneurs could speak confidently to their President about mainstreaming social business and optimizing profit without leaving the poor behind but having their best interest in mind. The new breed of entrepreneurs in our Center For Social Innovation (CSI) will be the middle brother link between big brother social investors and the little brother  micro enterprises and village cooperatives who have limited access to capital, technology and market.

Trade Secretary Greg Domingo stayed behind to discuss with us how his Department can effectively support the President’s commitment to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit and to plan for the Trade Fair at the Farm on October 1 that will mark its official opening. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima also arranged a meeting for Monday to provide store space at the airports for products coming from the Enchanted Farm and Human Nature where profit from sales will go to the support of the campaign to develop a new generation of community builders and job generators.

One thing is clear to me. If our vision is clear and we keep ourselves honest, leaders in government will engage us honestly. We have received big support in our farm to market road building effort from the AFP National Development Support Command working closely with Shell Philippines and also technology and farm facilities from DA, DENR, DAR and the agricultural state schools though the effort of CHED. DOST will also help us bring technology to the countryside to give added value to the lives of our farmers and fisher-folks.

Big business were also on hand – most prominently Shell, Hyundai, Meralco and Mang Inasal – to support this radical initiative to end poverty by creating prosperity from the ground up. Doing good does make good business sense. I’m looking forward to a visit from our West Coast GK partner Seafood City  as they are the  principal outlet of world class products from Asia in the United States. The world is simply waiting for us to wake up and amaze them with what we can produce from the Philippines and what we can do for our country.

It was truly an amazing day and an auspicious beginning for the Social Artistry phase of GK. It is time to harness the genius and creativity of the Filipino for the good of the Philippines.

GK USA Chairman Tony Olaes came with his wife Grace to experience the magic of the place and the moment when Filipinos are one in heart and mind. We can hardly wait for his Bamboo Palace to be finished in time for the October 1 opening.

This truly is our moment.

No wind, no rain can stop those  who love God and country!

I’m on my way now to St Louis for a town hall meeting on our nation-building effort, then to the big convention of UST doctors in Chicago who are eager to help hasten the healing of our broken land. I will fly straight to Singapore as graduation speaker at the NUS School of Architecture on July 7 – an opportunity for me to thank them for designing the Enchanted Farm – after a July 4 stopover in LA to visit my second daughter Wowie who is heavy with my seventh grandchild.

There is obviously no time for me to waste. The next generation deserves redemption from our past mistakes. We have carried our shame for so long and our people have suffered long enough. We simply have to seize the moment in this exciting season of hope.

God bless our President and all our patriots and friends who will help end poverty and corruption in our country.

By Tony Meloto




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