After our last site visit we stayed in Naga city at the regional GK office. From there we took day trips to the nearby GK sites, many of which were some of the first GK sites we visited at the start of our trip.
From their earlier houses to their later designs, GK changed their building materials from shallow wood walls, to walls made entirely of hallow blocks and concrete. One village near Naga was one of the earliest sites in Cam Sur, and had houses of both the 1st design and the later design. This unit is literally half and half, the right side made of wood and hallow blocks, the left made entirely out of hallow blocks.
One GK site was half managed by GK, and the other half managed by Habitat for Humanity. There are several differences between both of these housing projects. But one clearly visible difference is the overall aesthetic of the site. Say what you will about GK’s mismatched pastel colors, but juxtaposed against the stark white of the Habitat homes, I prefer the GK houses over the reminiscent houses of Manzanar.
Another one of the ‘model GK sites’ in Cam Sur. The site benefited from heavy collaboration from the Local Government Unit (LGU), thanks to the site director, Benjamin Gonzales, who also is the City Planning and Development Coordinator & City Cooperative Officer for the city of Iriga. The physical site itself is absolutely gorgeous. The local major take particular pride in the site, and bring all international visitors to the site. In doing so, the GK site has become the Iriga’s number one tourist attraction.
Not every GK site is a success story. This site unforatnely suffered from the patronage politics of the local mayor. The previous major was extremely supportive of GK as a project, and was an active member of couples for christ. Unfortantely when the succedding major took office, they choose to abandon the project GK site, leaving the site wihtout any Local Goverment support. This left the site with no paved road from the main road, no portable water, no sibol school, no community hall, no office, and various other necessary infrastructure. The larger injustice is that the funds and money for these projects were already budgeted and allocate by the national government, but the mayor will not sign off on the projects, especially freezing the funds. If GK Iriga is the epitome of the beneficial collaboration between GK and the local LGU, then GK Pascao is it’s opposite. The residents of the site could only resign themselves to work with what they had, and wait for the next mayoral election.
The wood panel in the back had the lyrics to the Gawad Kaling song written on surface. Almost every site we went to the children knew the song, either by heart or with some guidance from the GK coordinators. Lyrics bellow.
Ako ay isang anak dukha
Sa murang edad napariwara
Hanggang kalian ba ako maghihirap ng ganito?
Sana ay tulungan mo ako magbago
Ako ay isang anak mayaman
Lahat ng layaw koy natutugunan
Sabalit ayaw kong magpahirap sa bayan
Sana ako rin ay inyong tulungan
Ako ay tunay na Pilipino
Sa isip salita at gawa
Dugong dumadaloy sa aking katawan
Iaalay sa bayan kong mahal
Gawad pag-ibig, gawad kalinga
Itoy kailangan upang magka isa
Pilipino pag kumilos kakayanin ang lahat
Bagong bahay, bagong buhay, bagong bayan
Sisikapin kong maging tapat
Sa Diyos at bayan kong sinilangan
Kabataan ngayon, pag-asa ng bukas
Gumising at kumilos para sa bayan
Kapit bisig, kapitbahayan
Isulong ang naghihirap na bayan
Sa ngalan ng Diyos mangyayari ang lahat
Mahirap at mayaman magtulungan
English lyrics translated by Alvin David.
I am a poor child
at a young age put on the wrong
until when will i suffer like this
hopefully you will help me change
i am a rich child
i can access all freedoms / opportunities are within reach
though i don’t want to burden my community/country
hopefully you will help me too
i am a true/real pilipino
in thought, words, and action
blood that flows through my body
i will offer to my beloved community/country/nation
to give love, to give care
this/these are necessary in order to become one
pilipino when moving/striving can handle/take on everything
new home, new life, new community/country/nation
i will strive to be true/live with integrity
to god and my community/country from which i was born/from which i came
today’s youth, tomorrow’s future
wake up and move for your community/country/nation
holding arms/ holding hands, neighborhood/local community
shelter the poor/suffering community/nation
in gods name all this will happen
poor and rich help one another
The largest low-income housing project site in Bicol. Most GK sites we visited consisted of no more then 40-50 units. Ocampo which comprised 143 houses was easily the largest site in Cam Sur, but this site in comparison is massive. The site itself is overseen by multiple NGOs including GK, Habitat for Humanity and several more.