Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Agenda Setting and Altruism : Finding the Blend

Throughout our discussion in the implications of Agenda- Setting in the media, we have come across a myriad of deceptive ploys inclined to gain profit and benefit the hegemony. We have also witnessed the fleeting powerlessness of the audience as they subconsciously fall prey to the ideals of the ruling class. Lest that this blog become a full-blown account on how the media plays villain, it is only fitting that we flip the coin to see how the media makes room for altruism.

In 1985, Antonio Meloto joined the Couples for Christ movement to reassess his life and priorities. Moved by his renewed faith and the fellowship of the Christian organization, he devoted himself fulltime to the ministry in 1995. what was supposed to be a solitary house-build for a family of five turned into a “work-with-the-poor” ministry in Bagong Silang, a vast relocation area for the squatters of Metro Manila. This humble venture ushered the rise of Gawad Kalinga, the fastest-growing and most productive non-government organization in the Philippines.

After the success of the first GK village in Caloocan, Meloto identified new sites as potential GK villages. Entailing support from his brethren from the Couples for Christ, he began soliciting donations and inviting volunteers, using the “see-for-yourself” approach to gain assistance. In addition, he coordinated with the ANCOP foundation to encourage participation of expatriates.

Today, Gawad Kalinga has built 21, 759 homes in its 1, 253 communities. GK villagers are educated and introduced to health and livelihood components to equip them with skills and resources in life. Each community is self-sufficient too, as schools, mini-entrepreneurial centers, libraries, chapels and clinics are built as mandatory requisites for the completion of a GK site. Flowers and plants adorn the pathways; and houses are painted in bright pastel shades, symbolic of the neighborhood’s renewed hope for a dignified life.

The response of many sectors to the call of Gawad Kalinga has been astounding. When it was first featured (on television) in early 2003, numerous universities, private institutions and media outfits heeded the call for volunteerism. Tony Meloto became the ultimate philanthropist, and Gawad Kalinga became the nation’s living proof of bayanihan. The media’s continuing coverage and promotion of Gawad Kalinga has inspired Filipinos here and abroad to contribute to the organization’s cause. Members of the international community have also expressed interest, as the governments of China, France, Canada and Japan have provided financial support. In addition, American companies like AIG, Fedex, UPS and Proctor and Gamble have also sent funds from their headquarters.

All in all, the resources gathered almost outweighed government funding. What Gawad Kalinga has raised in recent years only slightly exceeds the combined budget of the Department of Education (2.9 billion) and the University of the Philippines (4 billion). Furthermore, GK has become home to over 200, 000 volunteers, outnumbering the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which is composed of only 130,000 members.

By priming the heroism of Meloto and GK as a whole, the media continues to encourage public support. To date, Gawad Kalinga continues to attract the best and the brightest---students who have given up scholarships abroad to serve as GK volunteers; professionals like lawyers, doctors, architects, teachers, and businessmen who have stepped out of their comfort zones to transform the lives of the forgotten.

By making altruism visible to its audience, the media proves the enduring existence of altruism amidst the never-ending dilemma of crime and corruption. By making its viewers witness the heroism of thousands of GK volunteers, the media moves complacent couch potatoes to dig ditches and carry hollow blocks. By highlighting the sacrifices made by the privileged few for the sake of nation-building, mass media inspires people to share a little of themselves to volunteerism. By showing its viewers that the spirit of bayanihan continues to live on, the mass media nurtures the dignity and pride of the Filipino---a race that is one of a kind, resilient, and giving.


1 comment:

anton said...

wow. my dad actually donates to GK, and he did find out about it in the media. i think that if the media will continue to be "channels" of altruism, the world will be a better place.