Today, I went back to one of the loves of my life, GK.
Now before you go thinking that this is some boy, no, it’s not. If you’ve known me for a while, you would probably know what I would be talking about, but if not, GK stands for Gawad Kalinga. To give you a formal definition of what GK is:
Gawad Kalinga (GK) translated in English means to “to give care”, and it is an alternative solution to the blatant problem of poverty not just in the Philippines but in the world. GK’s vision for the Philippines is a slum-free, squatter-free nation through a simple strategy of providing land for the landless, homes for the homeless, food for the hungry and as a result providing dignity and peace for every Filipino.
The first time I visited a GK site was during my first Summer House Training (SHOUT) with YFC High School Based. One of our activities for the week was to visit a GK site. Back then, GK wasn’t really that big yet. We visited one of the biggest GK sites in Bagong Silang, Caloocan. At that time, all I thought about GK was like Habitat for Humanity or something like it — all building and such. So what I was really looking forward was the builds. But when I got there, I got to meet some of the kids, who were all soooo sweet. =) They stuck to us like glue, and I know some people had a life-changing experience because of the kids. It really didn’t matter that much to me yet, because I was just really doing it because I was a YFC leader and it’s expected of me.
Admittedly, I went to GK for the next couple of years because it was expected of me. My parents are CFC leaders, I was a YFC leader, I do outreach stuff in the Student Council, I was generally a good person who is supposed to do these things…and it was just right. I guess if you gave me a choice back then, I probably wouldn’t even go. I wasn’t really good with manual labor (although for some reason I like it), I’m not good with talking to new people and with kids. Especially with kids.
But how did I get back? It was that fateful summer of 2005, where I just decided to go with my newfound YFC friends in Dingalan, Aurora. I guess I decided to join that because I just failed my thesis proposal subject and I needed to do something different and new, something to take my mind off the failure and to enjoy my two weeks of summer before my internship started. To put it simply, that four days in the sunny and peaceful hills of Barangay Caragsacan, Dingalan, Aurora is one of the best summers I’ve ever had. It was there I fell in love with Gawad Kalinga.
After that summer, I dived right into GK. I immediately volunteered for GK DLSU, visiting GK Baseco and doing all sorts of stuff to get the GK DLSU Village launched. I was constantly talking about GK, inviting people, telling everyone about it. I would often get teary-eyed reading and hearing different stories of how people’s lives were affected. I believed in GK with all of my heart.
I guess in some way, I got burnt out after. :( After the big Lasallian GK Village launch last November, I got tired. I got so stressed in that activity, that after the entire event, I stopped showing up. Okay, I blame my absence also on my thesis, which ate up most of my time before college ended. The only major activity I went to again was another week at Dingalan, Aurora (which, again, was the best week of my life) but I hardly had time to go back. Major reason was probably the distance to the GK site. As much as I missed the place and my GK kids, I couldn’t go back.
My fault, I guess. I think it hit me then that I started loving GK because I saw other people love it and I was sort of forced to love it too. I followed the others in GK in their way, but not my way. I was kind of envious at all the stories of other people whose lives really changed in GK, while mine seemed to remain untouched. Don’t get me wrong; I believed in Gawad Kalinga, I know it works, but somehow, I didn’t seem to have the same passion that my other friends have. I wanted that. I wanted to feel the GK passion, my GK passion.
I guess my absence in GK moved me to think about myself and how I really wanted to help, why I really wanted to be a part of GK. I missed it: seeing all the people, the kids, the colorful houses, and the entire feeling of being in a GK site. I wanted to feel the goosebumps again, to be amazed at how God is working in GK.
Today, I got back to a GK site. Today was GK 1MB ((GK 1MB = Gawad Kalinga 1 Milyong Bayani. A call to bring 1 Million Heroes to volunteer and make GK their own personal lifestyle.)) day, and I got to visit the GK site in Karangalan, where my SFC friends were. I got to paint some grills for a house (my hands still have some paint on them :P), ate lunch with my hands on a big banana leaf with others, made friends with the little kid in this house where we painted (who gave me a flying kiss before I left) and saw different people rising up to the challenge of GK. It was inspiring. :)
The reason I’m writing this is because I think I might finally be finding my old GK groove. Or, make that the new GK groove, since this time, I am going to GK not because of friends who influenced me but because I knew it was something I wanted to do. I want to be under the heat of the sun, doing manual labor for other people for free, meet other heroes, and most especially, play with the kids. Promise, the kids make the entire experience, no matter how tiring, worth it. :)
I’m still figuring out how I’m really going to help GK, but I can definitely say that I’m definitely going back. :) I’m going to make GK a part of my lifestyle, and maybe eventually, GK is going to be my lifestyle. I can definitely say this now: GK 777: Kasali ako diyan!