Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The GK experience

Today is a day after I went to the Gawad Kalinga site in Benguet. It wasn't something that I was expecting, I was just going with the flow and decided to join the fun at the last minute. Much has been written about the Gawad Kalinga project and writing about it now will simply repeat the many praises. The project has been awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award this year so people is familiar with this. I will just dwell with the things that happened... I will call it my GK experience.

Having written a feature story about Project ISLAM, I understand now what people can do to really help people if only they wanted to. But writing about a certain endeavor and actually taking part in one are definitely two different things. I realized that now and somehow I am able to better appreciate what it has to take to really make a difference.

We started with the usual orientation and then we started working. Our first task was to transfer about 500 pieces of hollow blocks somewhere 200 meters away. With more than 30 of us, we formed a long line and passed along the blocks. It was a perfect illustration of how tasks could be done easier if only more and more people were willing to help out. In around 45 minutes we were able to haul all of the 500 blocks. After that, we then started leveling an area inside an unfinished house. My hands started to hurt as I tried to dig the accumulated mix of soil and stone and put it inside the sacks provided. I remembered one underclass saying, "Ang hirap palang gumawa ng bahay." I thought the remark was funny at first but thinkig about it, I realized how easier we made it to those who were to benefit from the house we were building. The others cleared areas, hauled metal bars, moved piles of sand and so many other things. It was some kind of a busy market place that looked as if everyone knew what they were doing. Although some eventually had to take some rest, chat with others and even doze a little bit, there was some kind of aura in the air that just felt wonderful.

I did not know if the other more than 200 cadets with me felt the same way but I felt a sense of purpose working there. It was true that I liked it better than performing drills but there was just something about it. I said to myself that if this was done in PMA, I am sure the cadets would feel bad and consider what they were doing a waste of time. I guess no matter how hard something is a sense of purpose, a noble purpose at that, spells out the difference. We will never be able to really know what happens to the things that we did. We may not be able to go back and see the houses and its future occupants. I guess the fulfillment in what we did comes from inside. It comes from the thought of being able to do something no matter how little and realizing how special it is to others. As cadets, we often take for granted the things that we are to do once we graduate such that we do not take things seriously. Life in the Academy has become monotonous that we no longer dwell on its noble purpose but just hope that we will get through it. The experience I got was a wake up call. It rejuvenated a sense of purpose that has been dormant because of the pressures that I have been applied to and has tried to avoid. I wonder how much pressure the homeless people are subjected to everyday and yet they just have to face it head on because they can not avoid it. Again I go back to doing something not because we do not have a choice but because we know it is something that we have to do.

I was reading earlier Hannah's Blog and it pretty much sums up everything... let me just copy my comment to her entry:

"...I felt really really bad when I was not included in the final list for AYLC. For one, you, ralph and all the others filled me with so much imagination of what it was going to be like. I hated how come so-and-so was able to go and I am so much better than this person. Even if you tried to comfort me when I told you the news it wasn't until sometime that I got it. The thing is we will not be able to get everything we want in this world. We will not be able to save this world. We may have the best of ideas and wonder why the stupid ones are up there. But then that is not the point. The point is we are endowed with talents and gifts. What sets us apart from others is the sense of compassion and the willingness to do something with what we have. The key there is to act using those gifts. Alam ko I am a good writer and I promised myself to write only articles that matter. I do not write for some popular magazine, in fact most of my ideas are in my blog but at least I'm doing something. It does not have to be something great, you only need to do SOMETHING... Rather than just ranting, do something, fullfilment comes not from the number we of people we have helped but from the peace of mind knowing that we made everything that God has given us count. Hindi tayo ang nagliligtas ng mundo God does so we allow Him to use us even in the littlest things"

I am hoping to go back to that site. I do not know what it is with what we did there, but there is something and I would certainly want to find out.


ian gomez said...

hi alex! i chanced upon your blog as i enrolled mine in technorati. just thought of entering the tags "Gawad Kalinga" to see who has been through the great GK experience and was gracious enough to share it with the rest of the world.

and it's really heartening to discover your blog entry and know of people who talk about their GK experience =) hopefully, all Filipinos will be bitten by the heroism virus. and may we never be cured =)

i work with GK full-time and it's almost sinful for me to accept salary from the organization i'd gladly serve for free. but bills have to be paid and so i accept the money they give every 10th and 25th of the month with much gratitude hehe

anywho, God bless you in the PMA! and do continue working with GK in whatever form. Bagong Bahay, Bagong Buhay, Bagong Bayan, Bagong Bayani!

alex said...

What you are doing out there is great, I'm just so happy that I had the chance to know what it is like when everythin, no matter how little, counts.

thanks for visiting my blog...