Filipinos are AMONG the most generous people
By Dylan Wilk
I actually find Filipinos to be among the MOST generous people I've ever met! But what is clear is that they need to be inspired and to believe that what they give is going to something worthy where it is really needed because they generally have so many relatives etc who are in genuine need that giving needs to be prioritized.
Some examples: Telly Gabriel of Delaware who auctioned her jewellery and sold her husband's antiques to build a village in the Philippines. Jack and Nelia Macalalad of Houston who downsized their home to build villages in the towns where they were both born. Jun Diala of Calgary who is selling his Mercedes for another village. Charlie Capati of Illinois who kept working 3 years beyond retirement to fund his GK villages. And in the Philippines itself, I know of literally thousands of people who make sacrifices way beyond what almost anyone I know from the first world is prepared to make for the sake of those who have less. Even the Catholic Church there is rich - Manila was recently listed as the 3rd richest archdiocese in the world after Boston and New York (it may even be 2nd now that Boston had to make huge payouts due to abuse).
In fact, I have never met a people more willing to get together for the sake of a good cause. In my native England, only a small minority of people personally involve themselves in the welfare of the needy but among Filipinos, it seems absolutely normal for most to at least attend 2 or 3 functions a year dedicated to the plight of the poor and many seem to put significant chunks of their own time into preparing such events and running foundations etc.
I don't think the problem is one of generosity but one of prioritizing. Filipinos may feel, sitting in well-appointed, grand churches in the USA, that their money is more needed by their poor relatives or other worthy programs in their home provinces and home country.
When it comes to charity, many Filipinos are quick to involve themselves, at least in a small way. But there is a significant leap from charity to stewardship, which is one that I believe we need to discuss in more detail. Examples like the ones I cited above are still quite unusual but are occurring with enough frequency to demonstrate that Filipinos, as a people, are capable of great heroic acts of Christian stewardship. These are not just flukes because they have happened all over the globe when those Filipinos were sufficiently inspired. So it seems there is a huge potential among Filipinos that, if unlocked, could be enough to completely transform the entire country that they come from. My country, England, used to be a nation of slums with a corrupt government but when the general population, starting with the affluent, learnt the difference between charity and Christian stewardship, the whole country was able to change in about 2 generations. Today we've regressed again into a self-centered society, perhaps because there are now very few poor in our communities, but for a while Christian stewardship was the primary tool for nation building that allowed England to rise to prosperity for all, not just the few.
In fact I am going to be controversial and say that even the Church itself could learn more about stewardship. I find it surprising that a Church which grew out of the very first Christian communities described in Acts 4:32 ("The community of believers was of one heart and one mind; they shared their belongings with one another until no-one was in need") could spend over a hundred million dollars on a new church building in the USA whilst the majority of Catholics around the world are living in poverty. As a global community, I hope the Church can also be inspired by the example of several parishes in California and two in Toronto that have recently built villages for the poor in the Philippines. If we could encourage every rich parish in the first world to adopt a slum in the third world, that would be genuine Christian stewardship faithful to the template of the original Christian community in Acts 4:32!
But I ask you to give consideration to how we can continue to unlock the potential for Christian stewardship that it seems many Filipinos possess. We need teachings and examples of what others have been able to achieve. That's why the GK Builders Assemblies are going to be very important :) We can begin to download those very ideas and examples to people on a more personal and more regular basis so that they begin to truly absorb the profound implications for our world of living out genuine Christian stewardship, practiced according to the model prescribed by the early Christians. It changed my country England forever. It can do the same for the Philippines and then other countries too.
-- Dylan Wilk is an Englishman who is one of the most ardent promoters of Gawad Kalinga. Marlene Perez, a Gawad Kalinga leader, quoted in an earlier article, "Are Filipinos Stingy" shared the same article with Dylan.