Sunday, June 24, 2007

June 24: 'Engeng Bahay

The topic of homelessness is too looming to be discussed in any setting, most especially on-air within just one hour. Large and frightening as it is, Rock Ed Radio agreed to take a shot at discussing an overview of this harsh reality. So Lourd and I prepared well for this one. (Warning: Smoking Kills. Don't try this at home.) After researching on our own, it was agreed that we didn't know squat about the country's housing problem (pun intended)--all we had were questions. So we invited the experts. Topbilling our roster of guests is Home Guaranty Corporation's President, Mr. Gonzalo "Bong" Bongolan. He explains that the HGC is one of six agencies of the government that works to address the problem of housing. It is a government-owned and controlled corporation, that operates a credit program to promote home ownership. HGC is compelled by law (RA 8763) to give more attention to low-cost housing. The Law provides that 70% of their efforts must be allocated to prioritize lower-cost packages. In other words, inuuna nila ang mga sakto-sakto lang ang income. Kapos-kapos, pero kaya pa naman. (O parang ganun...)

HGC's clients are banks and lenders, including the Pag Ibig fund that assists easier payment plans for those who can afford homes for as long as the terms are kinder. Minsan hirap magbigay ng loan ang mga bangko kasi housing talaga ay matagalan ang bayaran. Kung kaya't mabagal ang balik ng investment sa kanila. HGC gives them go-signals, even incentives to go ahead and support these people. On paper, kakampi mo ang HGC! naks. (Teka baka hindi accurate ito.... I'll re-ask Bong to write and post his definition again on this blog entry...) Ma'am Teacher not listening. But if you should know, I did my research. Now do yours. Surf the HGC website. Bong reiterates that the solutions to resolve homelessness is not about building houses alone. It is also the building of educational institutions in the rural areas, sources of employment, rural development. Whew. Any questions? ( I know I do! Baka kailangan ng second part itong episode na 'to....) Then, of course, we have Team Unity's deputy spokesperson Tonypet Albano guesting as a champion of Gawad Kalinga in his native Isabela. (A week late! haha) He says that Gawad Kalinga's approach is different. They really prioritize the poorest of the poor. Those who cannot afford at all. Those who have none. He explains that it is an offering to collectives who really have nothing to start with. Many big businesses contribute to the growth of Gawad Kalinga and President Arroyo was the one who jumpstarted the fund way back when she donated (wait, whose money?) to build the first thousand homes. Gawad Kalinga believes in value formation and right behaviour in communities. They disallow drinking in public and indecent demeanor in the respective areas. (nakupo, bawal uminom sa labas ng bahay.... Lourd! At bawal daw ang walang tishert o nagto-tong-its sa tapat ng mga bahay-bahay.... lampas kalahati ng UP Diliman hindi na puwedeng manirahan sa GK Village, kung gayon...) Tonypet's point is that a decent living condition really helps in eradicating what GK calls "the slum mentality" and all the bad behaviour that supposedly comes with that squalid territory. Hmmm. He mentions that competing businesses help and outbuild each other within the GK confines. He also says even rival political clans try to outdo each other in helping GK out. And that's unusual. And perhaps that can be an indication of hope for this ominous problem of ours. Also representing Gawad Kalinga is Mike "G-Money" Mercado. He is a rap artist and he is part of the head committee to recruit in the North Manila chapter. He shared that GK is more than just building houses. It is really more about building the figurative community. With programs like education and community building in place, they don't merely build shells. There's a big stress on what they call "sweat equity" and the physical contributions of people in the actual site. One builds his neighbor's home, so in turn, the neighbor builds their home. According to Greg, this kind of arrangement really fosters the bayanihan spirit because he explains --- no one would really wish harm on another person especially when he helped build your home. (Nga naman.) Values formation is stressed again by Mercado. I think the premium of the goals of GK is really found within the poetic homes and villages they build for people. Yung mga hindi nakikita ng mata. Greg is the one who was most on fire last night. I was wrong in saying that it was because he's young, I think it's really because he has it in him to have true hope and a positive vision of the future. In any case, every old fogey in the studio wishes that he doesn't lose his idealism to the cynicism of so-called adulthood. Greg-- may your reality be nurturing of that positive outlook of yours. Don't let anyone put out that fire. I guess. But what do I know.... Haha. Ah since I'm here, lemme plug Greg's album coming out entitled GK 1MB: Isang Milyong Bayani, suportahan ninyo yon. It's a rap/hip-hop album promoting the values that Gawad Kalinga uphold.
Habitat for Humanity was formidably represented by Warren Ubongen. He explains also that "sweat equity" is prime in Habitat. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, it was Habitat for Humanity that coined that term during its inception. People are encouraged to earn their keep. They help in the building and with very kind terms, they pay back their homes slowly. That is to preserve the dignity in that transaction. Habitat for Humanity stresses the need for core human values of kindness and consideration.

*Habitat houses are sold to homepartner families at no profit. Homepartners repay through affordable, zero-interest, inflation-adjusted mortgage loans. These monthly mortgage payments are pooled into a Fund for Humanity so that the amortization of one house will help build another ("House-for-a-House" principle). Ang galeng naman neto! Wuhooo. Learn more about Habitat and ways to help them out.
Discussions ensued. Each guest contributed expertise based on their points of view because of the work that they do. Bong talked to Warren, Warren dealt with Tonypet while Greg supported Tonypet with the GK youth view and the discussions went round.
"Sitting in" (as he calls it) is musician and artist, Rico Blanco. He passed by the show to learn about homelessness and to help Lourd and I ask questions. He contributed insightfully angled queries for the guests to answer. He asked the much-avoided but necessary question, "So, what does it look like for us? What is the situation, really?" Whew.
Joining the discussion is a post-graduate product of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG, Agnes Nonog. She brings up the subject of urban migration. How lack of employment opportunities pushes people to migrate to the cities. And because work is difficult to find, people tend to squat all together in idleness. Siksikan.
Lourd asks if homelessness is a purely economic state. He also shares the weird fact that despite shelter being up there in the 'most basic-needs list' of the human being, homelessness is one of the least discussed topic in circles. I think it's because of the multi-dimensionality of the problem. Nakakatakot nga kasi talagang pag-usapan ang isang problema na parang ang tagal, laki, at ga-higante ang kinakailangang solusyon. Katakot nga naman kasi yon. But here we are trying to talk about it. More information is a good precedent for better and more sound solutions.
I think the problem of housing is most complex. Based on my interviews of offenders in jail, most of the narrations of the crimes they've committed would've been avoided if they didn't live in such squalid, congested conditions. Dahil ang sikip sa bahay, ang daming cases of incest, rape, homicide because of petty fights. Eh ang sikip nga naman kasi kung saan sila nakatira kaya't minsan talagang, --napupuno sila. (another pun, aba...) And I re-assert Bong's point. It is multi-dimensional, therefore the solutions have to be just as (or possibly more) multi-dimensional. Gusto ko rin ang sinabi ni Warren na talagang kailangan LAHAT ng Pilipino ay tumulong. Maski papaano, maski gaano ka liit, tumulong ka. Tumulong tayo. We may not have directly built a house tonight, but certainly the conversation that flew out onto our airwaves must've sparked some ideas in some of the listeners. If you feel the urge to help or contribute to any of these movements, go ahead and surf their websites. Donate, build, join, share. Whatever. Sabi nga ni Warren ng Habitat for Humanity, kaya pa 'to. Basta't tumulong tayo. Hindi lang GK, hindi lang government, hindi lang Habitat. Kasama dapat LAHAT.

Okey, Rock Ed, tama na satsat. Trabaho na tayo. Game. Mag volunteer kayo dito.

Cut and pasted below is a letter I kept for 18 years. Bong Bongolan wrote this for me before I entered UP as a Freshman.

It was the encouragement of young student leaders like Bong who helped me shape my dreams of someday helping our country. I read the letter on air as my tribute to him and the other people who preceded the idea of Rock Ed Philippines. (Sila Chito Gascon, Miro Quimbo, Mardi Mapa, CP David, (naks, Ceep!) at Amante Jimenez)
Letter reads as follows:

1 Feb 1989

Dear Gang,

As promised, here's the note.

To tell you frankly, I'm not comfortable with the "Hon(orable)" stuff at all. However, I have to fulfill the duties and responsibilities accompanying the position.

I look forward to your transfer here to UP Diliman to pursue a college degree. The way I look at it, you are more than prepared for college life. Moreover, I look forward to having a new comrade-in-arms in you --- one who will take on the cudgels and persevere in the effort to advance the rights and welfare of the students and the people.

Work hard at growing up and at improving yourself. What we make of ourselves is what we offer to the Filipino masses.

Pls. keep in touch.

Love, Bong

Rock Ed Radio thanks you for listening and participating on Sunday nights @8pm. Because learning is still the new rock and roll.

To continue this conversation, feel free to post comments on this entry or email We will forward your questions to the guests and they have agreed to reply as best they can.


reca said...

madami akong natutunan sa episode kagabi! Sana lang sinagot ng derecho ang mga tanong tungkol kung kanino galing ang pera na binigay ni GMA sa GK?!! Maski NGO o magaling sila, dapat may integridad pa rin ang pinagkukuhanan nila ng pera. Hindi ako mapalagay, sana my sumagot nito? Mula ba sa buwis naten ang binigay sa GK? OY!! AKALA KO BA VOLUNTEER ang pagbigay doon????? Dapat kusang binigay ang mga donasyon at hindi sa buwis ko nanggagaling at ang presidente ang nagdesisyon kung saan papunta. May mga pa-sweldo din ang mga maraming empleyado ng mga NGO at dapat sagot nila dapat iyon at hindi salapi ng taxpayers. Bakit nga hindi sa DSWD binigay ang 30 million? Bakit hindi sa HGC o PagIbig na govt institutions? Namigay si GMA sa GK para kampanyahin sya ng GK tulad ng ginawa ni Mr Albano. Kung totoong gusto tumulong ni GMA sa homelessness, mag trabaho siya sa pamamagitan ng kaniyang administrasyon ng maayos. HUWAG na HUWAG gamitin ang mga pabidang NGO na nagkakawang-gawa para magpabango ng pangalan at chuva nila. At ang mga NGO naman, HUWAG magpapagamit o magpapaloko sa mga IYAN maghanap kayo ng iba ninyong tagasuporta, akala ko ba may globe smart jollibee lasalle ateneo kayo? nagpapagamit kayo sa mga hudasssss. ANG INIT TULOY NG ULO KO!!!!! pakisagot naman plis lang

Anonymous said...

........nagustuhan ko lahat ng mga guests, masayang malaman na may mga taong tumutulong talga malutasan ang problema natin. Maganda ang sulat ni sir bong kay gang, hindi ko rin itatapon ang sulat kung ganoon kaganda ang mensahe! Sayang nasa ibang bansa ako naaawa na ako sa Pilipinas.............

ana banana said...

sabi sila ng sabi na dapat magtulung tulong lahat para malutas ang problema sa pabahay...sabi pa nila dapat magtulungan ang Opposition at Administration para lutasin ang mga problema e sila sila din nagpapagalingan, pabidahan... sana tigilan na nga talaga yung ganun...bakit di nalang magtulungan ang habitat at GK at iba pang mga groups para malutasan ang problema sa pabahay noh? tama na yang pagalingan...

Tonypet Albano said...

Hi Reca,
Salamat sa iyong comment. Sana masagot ko ng husto ang iyong tanong.
1. Yoong P30M na galing kay PGMA ay galing sa social fund ng opisina ng pangulo. Ito po ay government money at hindi po talaga pera ni Ginang Arroyo. Discretionary fund po ito bilang Pangulo ng Pilipinas. Kaya ang GK ay lugod na nagapapasalamat na nuimpisahan itong maganda at Graft Free NGO Housing ng Gawad Kalinga na ngayon ay inadopt sa Indonesia, Solomon Islands, Malaysia, Papua Nuguini, at ang UN.
2. Ang DSWD po ang naghandle ng funds na P30M at wala pong actual money na ibinigay sa GK. Pero kasama ang GK pumili ng poorest of the poor na nabigyan ng housing.
3. Ang GK ay non-political at hindi po kagaya ng ibang religious groups na nageendorse ng mga politico. Hindi ni minsan nagpagamit ang GK sa pag-endorse ng politico sa anumang halalan.
4. Kung sa HUDC ibinigay ang P30M, based sa kanilang pagawa ng bahay, 100 houses lang ang magagawa ng HUDC dahil P300,000 per house ang computation nila. Dito po sa GK, naging 1,000 houses ang P30M na government funds dahil may P30M counterpart non-government matching funds (Galing sa mga corporations, individuals, etc.). At P60,000 lang ang halaga ng pagawa ng bahay kaya naka 1,000 houses yoong maliit na P30M funds.
6. Ang major funding ngayon ng GK is coming from Globe, Smart, Jollibee, HSBC, Filipinos in Canada, US, Opposition and Administration Politicos (i.e.Koko Pimentel, Cheeze Escudero, Migz Zubiri, etc.) and many more Filipinos who wants to help in providing a home and life for our poorest of the poor.

Sana po, huwag uminit ang ulo ninyo, Reca. Libre po kayong makita sa GK office o sa DSWD kung paano nagamit ang ating buwis sa unang 1,000 bahay. Kailangan po natin ng pamahay sa ating mga kaawa-awang kababayan at ito po ang isa lang sa solution na nais naming magampanan. Kung meron po kayong masmagandang paraan para malutas ang ating backlog sa pamamahay para sa dugha nating mga kapatid, willing po kaming tumulong at samahang kayo para tayong lahat ay magtagumpay. Salamat po.
God Bless.
Tonypet Albano

ian said...

sir albano, maraming salamat sa reply mo, naliwanagan ako ng kaunti. susubukan ko pong tumulong.

habitat -- gusto ko makatulong! may kaklase ako na sa isang habitat for humanity community nagbo-board. tutulong po kami.

salamat sa mga panauhin. ser lourd at ma'am gang --mabuhay!!!

jennilynn said...

It's nice 2 c rico blanco taking a worthwhile hobby & good works after giving up career in music

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