18/01/2016 – 20/01/2016
After spending our first few days at the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm (GKEF), it is obvious to see why they call it the ‘enchanted’ farm, as it is indeed, enchanting. It is also obvious to see how so many foreigners before us have fallen in love with the farm and end up never going home. We met a young French student by the name of Louis (you have to say it with a French accent, Loo-ey), he was only supposed to stay at the farm 6 months as an intern, and then return home to complete his studies. He is currently coming up to the completion of his second year at the farm, and now runs the Chicken Farm.
The Farm is crawling with young students (mostly young French students) who are here to study and learn and most importantly, immerse themselves in the Filipino culture and simple way of life.
Before I arrived in the Philippines I had no clue as to what Social Business, the business of doing good was, and especially no idea who Social Entrepreneurs, those who pioneer businesses that make a difference, were.
We have listened and been exposed to so many young people who are driven, focused and passionate about making a difference to the lives of Filipino communities. It is impossible not to feel inspired. It is also impossible not to ask yourself questions, such as: Am I doing enough? How can I help? How can I make a difference in Australia?
Sometimes there’s so many people here that are doing so much good, and they know exactly what they need to do and where they need to be, it can be overwhelming and make you questions yourself.
The highlight from our first few days at the GKEF was talking to Tony Meloto, the father and Founder of Gawad Kalinga, or ‘Tito Tony’ as everyone calls him. Tito Tony talked about wanting to expose GKEF to young Australian students, such as ourselves. He told us that he actually got the inspiration for Gawad Kalinga while he spent 5 year in Melbourne (he also mentions eating pasta on Lygon Street).
Tony is a man who, at first, seems quite intimidating due to the fact he is regarded so highly among so many – but as soon as he opens his mouth you are instantly captivated by his words.
Here are some of my favourite snippets directly from our conversation:
– Tito Tony believes that the Philippines can become the gateway to Asia, because of the fact they speak English and are rich in natural and human resources.
– Tito Tony wishes to create an environment that brings out the best in the Filipino.
– He believes in Q.B.E.C (quality, beauty, excellence and class) for poor and rich alike.
– “Poor steal out of need, rich steal our of greed”
– Tito Tony said that many negative things come from ‘complication of colour, ethnicity, religion … combined with hunger and anger”
– “Sustainability, prosperity and peace”
After the conversation with Tito Tony, I had time to reflect and I has some thoughts; I believe that young Australians are quite obsessive with wealth, in the sense that one of our goals is to become wealthy. I was talking with a few of the others in the group and one mentioned that they didn’t care what they did as a living, as long as they were rich. I also believe that young Australians can be quite superficial travellers, go places, see the sights, but not leave anything positive behind them. Always ‘taking away’ and never ‘giving back’.