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All it takes is love to Build Village Economies

FROM THE HEART - Gina Lopez (The Philippine Star) - April 24, 2018 - 12:00am

‘If we have loving organizations with integrity, leadership skills, and a lot of heart — and we empower them with money and skills, and guidance to implement their big love ideas — how can we fail?

My deep experience after 10 months in government is that it’s not the money that makes the difference. It’s the heart. One can have a lot of money (I had a P26-billion budget in DENR and 14,000 employees), but if people don’t really care and it’s just a job for them, there will be minimal difference made. Why? Number one, the money won’t be well used because there is no real caring. Number two, they won’t be able to connect to the people  which, in my 40 years of development work, is the key. Third, they won’t get these brilliant ideas and flashes of insights that come when one really cares. Even without much money, if there is a deep empathy for others, a little money will go a long way.

My equally profound awareness is that the key to development is the change agent. Without it, even if the place has a lot of potential, and even if money is invested there, the money won’t go a long way if there is no intermediary that can mentor the community, guide them, monitor them, receive the help coming their way, and be creative and visionary about what can be done. The change agent is everything.
So, in this light, last March 8, the Quest for LOVE was launched together with government. LOVE, being an acronym for Loving Organizations, can build village economies. Loving Organizations can be people’s organizations, social enterprises, academic institutions, NGOs or any group that is registered with the government and has a two-year financial record to prove they are not fly-by-night organizations. They need to have some kind of track record proving management and implementing capabilities. They need to have a great LOVE idea for the communities they want to help.
Seven government agencies — DOT, DSWD, DTI, DND, DOST, TESDA, DPWH — are involved. The basic concept of the project is that after all the applicants are whittled down to 16, there will be a bootcamp wherein top-of-the-line experts will train them on various aspects of area development.
Area development, for me, is the most profound expression of love in the development field. It’s when the potential of the area is nurtured and developed for the people of the area. I truly feel it is our country’s way out of poverty — given the fact that we have more than 7,000 islands. The ones that don’t disappear during high tide are generally beautiful — and most of the people in our islands are poor.
If a country like Singapore — built on barren land without even the requisite land to produce their own food or the water resources to supply the needs of their people — can get 60-million tourists and have trillions of dollars, why can’t a country like the Philippines, with its mountains, volcanoes, corals, and the highest endemicity (biodiversity which is exclusive to the place) per unit area on the planet get out of poverty? It can be done. It just needs people to work together.

That then is the pulse of Quest for LOVE. It’s where government, the private sector, the academe, the church are all intertwined in the pulse of caring with a commitment to integrity interweaving their aspirations into facilitating area development models — models of love on the ground. The exciting element here is the mentor component. Each community will be assigned one. This is going to be reality TV. So the mentors are: Jeannie Javelosa (founder of Great Women Unite and Echo Store); Chit Juan (founder of Echo Store); Reena Francisco (co-founder of Echo Store and over 70 cafes and restaurants, expert in food processing); Marvin Beduya (graduated from AIM with high distinction); Aaron Palileo (founder of Bootleg, an international marketing organization); Anna Meloto-Wilk (woman entrepreneur of the planet and CEO of Human Nature — the most sustainable brand on the planet 2017); Czarina Medina — Guce (executive director of the Institute of Leadership and Empowerment in Ateneo); Illac Diaz (solar energy wiz, awarded $500k from the Al Gore Foundation); Marvin Agustin (movie actor, GMA contract talent — started as a waiter and now owns 50 restaurants); Sylvia Ordoñez (former head of TLRC and NRDC); and John Aguilar (executive producer and director of Pitch, a reality TV show on ANC). And just recently, there’s Jikyeong, president and dean of the Asian Institute of Management, which is Harvard connected, a top business school in Asia. She is also a director of Security Bank and the Birla group of companies in India.

If we have loving organizations with integrity, leadership skills, and a lot of heart — and we empower them with money and skills, and top-of-the-line guidance to implement their great big love ideas — how can we fail? I have thought many times that if individuals can get rich and famous because they know how to sing or have a particular talent, why can’t Loving Organizations and communities be recognized because they have the guts, creativity, and initiative to get themselves out of poverty?
The 16 will be whittled down to a final eight through a LOVE vote, and after eight months, there will again be a LOVE vote for a final three. The top winner will get P10 million worth of government and private sector assistance for the community in which they operate. The second placer will get P5 million and the third, P3 million. Not for themselves but to expand the inclusive economic zone.

When I go around and discuss this, what I feel is the resurgence of hope and an overwhelming desire to help .... this is the Filipino.

Possibilities are tremendous. The reality is whoever is in government, if our people’s consciousness don’t shift, the constant change on top won’t make a difference. The way to our country’s future is a grassroots global shift towards the values that are critical to our future. Love, integrity, working together, care for the environment, compassionate entrepreneurship, paying it forward -- this then is the impulse of the Quest for Love.  Grassroots shift towards love. It can’t just be about the money. We need to work together. When my father died, I read books and I have seen videos of individuals who have gone to the Light and then have had to come back. Almost universally, they don’t want to come back because they say in heaven there’s so much peace and love. But why do we have to die to go to heaven? Why can’t we bring a piece of heaven in this country? We can if we work together. At the grassroots. In an area development approach.  

* * *

If you are interested in applying or helping, please go to questforlove.ph or call 0917-8780032. The deadline is May 18 . If you have a technology or skill, or something you would like to offer, the final 8, then come to Rockwell 8, 21st floor on May 2, 1 to 4 p.m. It’s free. Just reserve so we make sure there are enough seats. See you! I can be reached at hellogina@gworld.ph.

LOVE VILLAGE ECONOMIES
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