Popular nation-building initiative Gawad Kalinga (GK) is a housing project that has been bridging the rich and the poor, said its founder Tony Meloto.

The prominent Lopez family which traces its roots in Jaro, Iloilo City committed to build a total of 50 housing units inside the Eugenio Lopez Sr.-GK Village at Brgy. Buntatala in Jaro District, a 1.6-hectare site donated by the Archdiocese of Jaro for homeless church-workers.

Oscar M. Lopez, chair of Lopez Group of Companies, said their donation was part of their social development projects coordinated by the Lopez Group Foundation Inc. (LGFI) for their hometown.

The GK village highlighted the “Lopez family’s legacy to return to their roots,” said Meloto.

“Their (Lopezes) efforts will encourage other rich families to follow their example. Being the most prominent family in Iloilo, they are championing this province,” he added.

“If every rich family in this country will make the poor also their heirs, then there will be no poor. If you understand what I’m saying, we can see a prosperous country because of sharing – the wealth is there all along,” said Meloto.

GK is not just giving house and lot packages to the homeless and landless but restoring their lowly plight so they can have an opportunity to live fruitfully, explained Meloto.

“We are not giving land but dignity and security…They are squatters who build shanties in slum communities…There is security because they will be not evicted anymore,” Meloto stressed. 

The GK project in 2007 also marked the 105th birth anniversary of patriarch Eugenio Lopez Sr.

Manuel M. Lopez, chair of Meralco Millennium Foundation Inc., led the turn-over of P.5-million school building project also at the said site.

This modified story first appeared in The Guardian Iloilo Feb. 27, 2007