Jollibee Foundation and Gawad Kalinga team up with Butuanons for safer and better lives

After years of living in a danger zone, constantly threatened by floods, the soon-to-be residents of Jollibee-Gawad Kalinga Mahay Village in Butuan City, Mindanao received a beautiful gift at the start of the year – keys to their new homes.

On January 29, 2010 Jollibee Foundation turned over 49 houses to families who were relocated from their old residence along the Agusan Riverbanks. GK Kapitbahayan member and resident Antonio Burdeos expressed his gratitude.

“I lived in an area of the city where it is easily flooded when heavy rains pour,” he said in Butuanon. “In fact as of now there is still water everywhere in our old place, due to the heavy downpour during the last few weeks. We thank God for making you an instrument so we could reach our dream to live in decent houses.”

Jollibee Foundation (JF) Executive Director Gisela Tiongson said, “We hope that by relocating these families to the GK village, they will not suffer the same tragic experience as the Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng flood victims from Luzon.”

She also thanked the partners that made the Jollibee-GK Mahay Village possible. The city government of Butuan (represented at the event by Councilor Randolph Plaza), Fr. Saturnino Urios University (represented by Rev. Fr. John Christian Young), and the national and local GK team pooled their resources and expertise to ensure that the GK Mahay Kapitbahayan members were afforded not only shelter but also basic services and a solid sense of community and well-beiing.

Also present to mark the turnover event were GK Chairman Tony Meloto, JF President Grace Tan Caktiong, and JF Vice President Belen Rillo, along with Jollibee and Chowking Management Teams, representing around 50 employee volunteers who in August 2009 worked hand-in-hand with other GK volunteers and the Kapitbahayan members to lay the foundation of the houses.

The Jollibee-GK Mahay Village is the third village resulting from the partnership of Jollibee Foundation and Gawad Kalinga. The other two villages are located in Las Piñas, Metro Manila and Bontoc, Southern Leyte. Each village symbolizes the Foundation’s support to the vision of Gawad Kalinga: to provide housing for the underprivileged, thereby ensuring human dignity, welfare, and survival.

Tiongson emphasized that in building the houses, “We have accomplished only half of what we set out to do. We trust that we will see equal measures of hard work, dedication, and community ownership as we move on to accomplish the other half of our task – to nurture the community and steer it towards unity and development.”

She challenged the GK residents to become responsible stewards of their own stable and vibrant community, quoting Jollibee Foods Corporation CEO and Jollibee Foundation Chairman Tony Tan Caktiong who says, “Dream big, focus on it, and it will be realized.”

The GK Kapitbahayan members made their own promise through Burdeos. “We have learned that there are still many generous people who want to help their fellow men. We will do our very best to cherish, love, and care for this home and community, to stay united and happy at all times. You inspired us to be our best and to extend our help to others so that they too can share this blessing we have now.”