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Manila's anti-poverty initiative aims to go global

Archdiocese's 'Fund for Filipinos' is looking to reach out and help more people

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Updated: October 01, 2019 07:29 AM GMT
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Manila's anti-poverty initiative aims to go global

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila announces plans to expand the service of Pondo ng Pinoy, an anti-poverty initiative of his archdiocese, to other countries. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

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An anti-poverty initiative of Manila Archdiocese is to expand its services to other countries especially where Filipinos live and work.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila announced the move during the 15th-anniversary celebration of "Pondo ng Pinoy," or Fund for Filipinos, on Sept. 30.

"It isn’t wrong to dream. But now, there are a lot of Filipinos outside the country. So maybe we can, in the future, bring [Pondo ng Pinoy] to Filipinos in other countries," said the prelate.

Cardinal Tagle, who is also president of the church aid agency Caritas Internationalis, said he hoped the initiative will also be able to help other nationalities not just Filipinos.

"We see the situation of those in Venezuela, those who flee their country because of hunger, the refugees in Lebanon, hopefully, [Pondo ng Pinoy] will be our contribution to people in need of help and care," said the prelate.

He said that by taking the movement abroad migrant Filipinos can also help their fellow Filipinos.

Henrietta de Villa, an official of Pondo ng Pinoy, said the organization will coordinate with the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People to reach out to migrant communities.

"What matters most, especially in these trying times when the culture of indifference is so pervasive, is that [the program] has bolstered hope and faith in the love of God," she said.

Initiated by retired Manila archbishop Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales in 2004, the program aims to encourage people, "no matter how poor, no matter how humble, the freedom to give, to help, and live fully."

"Pondo ng Pinoy" aims to "cultivate a culture of giving and helping" through saving as little as 25 centavos, or US$0.005 as an act of love for the poor.

Cardinal Rosales said the money would be meaningless without the love that is generated from saving it, adding that small ordinary acts can accomplish great things if done or given by many, frequently, and consistently.

Since 2004, the initiative has raised about US$7.5 million which has been spent on projects and aid for the empowerment of communities.

The program was able to help 268,606 individuals in poor communities through health and nutrition projects, livelihood, education, housing, and emergency relief.

Father Benjie Francisco, chairman of the initiative's programs unit, said people continue to benefit with most of the money coming from young people.

To date, the movement operates in at least 30 dioceses across the country including the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines.

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