Founder, Gawad Kalinga
Antonio Meloto or “Tito Tony” to the countless Gawad Kalinga volunteers and community partners was born on January 17, 1950 to a low middle class family in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. At a young age, he was already exposed to the squalid living conditions of the poor, his home being near a shoreline squatter community where poverty was already very pronounced.
Tito Tony’s natural acumen provided him the opportunity to be an American Field Service scholar, where he took his senior high school year in De Anza High School in Richmond, California. But his big break came when he qualified as a Full Academic Scholar of the Ateneo de Manila University. His college years were dedicated to preparing for a career that would take him and his family out of the poverty of his past. After he graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, he was offered a position as the Purchasing Manager of Procter & Gamble. Eventually, he built his own name as an entrepreneur.
It was during an assignment in Australia that he heard the call to start the work with the poor through a youth program in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City. Since it began in 1995, the program has now evolved to become Gawad Kalinga, a movement that builds integrated, holistic and sustainable communities in slum areas.
Gawad Kalinga is now being implemented in almost 2,000 communities in the Philippines and in other developing countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea. It has become a concrete manifestation of the healing of relationships in the Philippines, bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, government and the private sector by simply bringing back what is uniquely Filipino – the spirit of ”bayanihan,” the willing sharing of any heavy load for the good of his fellowmen. Driven by a strong commitment to faith, GK is able to bring out the patriotism in every Filipino by making him a hero to his country – a “bayani” (hero) that can contribute to “bagong bahay, bagong buhay, bagong bayan (new home, new life, new country).” At a time when most are happy to leave the country to look for greener pastures, Gawad Kalinga sparks hope in the Filipino dream – to restore this great nation and once again be proud to be Filipino.
This is Tito Tony’s passion. A true man for others, he has inspired not just his family but hundreds and thousands of volunteers throughout the country and the world to work towards building model communities where the poor can thrive and attain to their fullest potentials so that together, we can all look forward to a better future for our children and the generations to come.
After “Builder of Dreams” in 2008, Tony Melot is launching his 2nd book “The Genious of The Poor” on June 12, for the Independance Day in The Philippines.
It will be the last day of the “Bayani Challenge 2014″ as well. This “challenge of the heroes” planned April 9 to June 12 is the biggest volunteering event with 1 million filipinos & int’l volunteers gathering on 100 different GK sites to boost the construction of 20.000 houses for more than 100.000 victims of the recent natural disasters.