Tourism in Christ’s Village

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By Ver Pacete

As I See It

Saturday, August 31, 2013


WHILE the nation is talking about the pork, I am talking to my lady mentor about economics and spirituality in the community of the poorest of the poor established for Christ through Christ. I am referring to the Gawad Kalinga (GK) community in Fiat, Silay. The lady coordinator for the program is Thelma Quevenco. She works with Ricky Lacson for the project ‘Green House for Organic Farming’.

This could be another tourism frontier for Silay City. It is another productivity project for GK. ‘Gawad Kalinga’ literally means to give care. It is an integrated, holistic, sustainable program which aims to address poverty by empowering poor communities through its various programs. It is a template for the world to uplift the dignity of the poorest of the poor (beneficiaries) and give hope through transformation.

GK’s vision is: building communities empowered by people with faith and patriotism, driven by a culture of sharing and caring, dedicated to eradicate poverty and restore human dignity. Here at GK Fiat in Silay, the action is a collective effort of the GK hierarchy, Diocese of Bacolod, Parish of San Diego, Silay City Government, Friends of Tourism, and countless generous souls who want to work as volunteers for Christ with beneficiaries (36 families) who were former squatters.

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In contrast to pork barrel that some pieces go to fake NGOs, a GK community is built and sustained through the implementation of all seven GK programs: Productivity (Livelihood), Community Infrastructure, Child and Youth Development, Health, Community Empowerment, Environment, Community Development and Value Formation.

The GK-Fiat is along the Silay Airport Road. Visitors can always have a brief stop to see what Christ is doing for His community. The project intends to provide a sustainable productivity and livelihood opportunity for the community. Soon, there could be a cafeteria serving Silay brewed coffee and hometown delicacies. Bed and breakfast could be made available later on to tourists who want to experience a village life with the brethren. This is community-based tourism.

The GK Kapitbahayan will be assisted by GK caretaker team. The Area Coordinating Team with the Provincial Management Group will oversee the project and will ensure that it is implemented as planned. The main concern is to bring the Fiat GK families out of poverty so that eventually they can be caretakers in other GK communities.

The Green House for Organic Farming would be an open school to those who want to learn the benefits of organic farming. Mrs. Quevenco said that growing plants is both an art and a science. The Green House Technology will provide favorable environment condition to the plants. We can always avail of the advice of Ramon Uy Jr. of Fresh Start Organic Farm (also in Silay) on how to protect plants from the adverse climate conditions such as wind, cold weather, precipitation, excessive radiation, extreme temperature, insects and diseases.

Ramon Jr. is growing lettuce along Silay highway and his harvest is better than the produce of Kanlaon, Patag or Kudkud in San Carlos. This project could be one unifying factor where beneficiaries share common knowledge and common values. This is ‘Filipino Bayanihan’, the spirit of volunteerism and cooperation. It gears towards empowering communities to achieve a culture of excellence and effective governance to sustain the work of Gawad Kalinga.

Here in Silay, Thelma Quevenco and Ricky Lacson are stewards of Fiat Gk. If you want a guided tour, Jesus Christ will always be there as a Tour Guide and a Good Shepherd.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 31, 2013.

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