When in 1993 I witnessed the inauguration of Couple for Christ with the anointing of its leaders, I said in my homily “There is fire in this chapel, I wish it will become a conflagration.” I have watched the Couples for Christ in the dioceses where I have been. I have officiated in some of their national gatherings. I have seen how the small fire that started in the chapel of the Lay Force in San Carlos Pastoral Center multiplied into small fires in dioceses all over the Philippines. This year 2006, thirteen years after, their major social project of building homes for the poorest of the poor under the name GAWAD KALINGA has picked up the fire that is in the hearts of the leaders and members of Couple for Christ. It has become tonight a GK Bayani Summit. The little fire of 1993 has become an answer to the leaders’ dream and vision, truly a conflagration.
We have here in this gathering a group of people whose spirit refuses to be dampened by what is happening to our beautiful country—morally, politically, socially, ecologically and economically. It has been wisely said “Evil triumphs when good people do nothing.” What GAWAD KALINGA project has done is to inspire many good people to do something to arrest the disillusionment, the dissatisfaction, the apathy and despair—probably not of all, but at least some poor that GAWAD KALINGA can reach out to. In the provinces and cities where GK has been started, there now are groups of people with passion to reach to their poor brothers and sisters giving them some shelters, some hope for their children’s future.
GK1MB stands for Gawad Kalinga 1 Million Bayani. It is an invitation, an appeal to be counted, to become partners in the work of nation building. Fire is destructive. But when this fire is coming from the Holy Spirit of God, ah it becomes constructive… It becomes love, charity, compassion that will be converted to a hundred homes, a thousand homes, a million homes. Only in GAWAD KALINGA do they build homes at 50 thousand pesos. Unbelievable? Believe it! This is the miracle of love. Proof of this are the hundreds of people whose volunteerism and sweat cannot be equaled by money. Proof of this are the generous people who are asking “Tell us what we can do. Tell us what we can give.” When GAWAD KALINGA hears that, there is already an opening of the mind, the heart, the hands, and of course, the pockets.
What are the basic needs of the majority of our countrymen? Food, shelter, education, employment and health benefits. GK has chosen to address the second basic need: shelter. We cannot solve our problems, but we can help our country solve some of them. Together we can, together we will.
May God bless the work of GK has began. May there be more heroes to pick up its challenge.
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
(Note: A message delivered by Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo to the members of Couples for Christ gathered at the Irwin Theater, Ateneo de Manila, on January 16, 2006)