The 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership -
Response of Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation
by Francisco A. Padilla, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies, August 31, 2006, Manila

The Honorable Chief Justice, Chairman and Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, distinguished guests, fellow Awardees and dear friends.

I am privileged to represent the many faceless heroes of Gawad Kalinga who are giving of themselves without counting the cost, without being recognized, without looking to gaining anything for themselves, except the satisfaction of having served God, society and our nation. And I am honored to speak on behalf of the poor of our land who are also the unsung heroes of Gawad Kalinga. They inspire us with their quiet dignity, their joyful simplicity, their perseverance despite the seeming hopelessness of their situation. They are the future and the strength of our nation.

Today we live in a world where there is great poverty, and where poverty has inevitably led to crime and corruption, to instability and insurgency, and even to terrorism. Many people are lost, feeling helpless and hopeless, dreading what else the future may bring. But this is not how life was meant to be, for we live in a world of beauty and abundance. But due to selfishness and injustice, it is the ugliness of poverty that we see all around us.

There is a way out. This is when we realize that the poor have dignity, as children of God. This is when we think less of ourselves, and begin to serve the least among us. This is when we begin to really care and share. This is when we realize we are our brother's keeper, and begin to love and help the poor.

We in Gawad Kalinga are privileged to be among those who are striving to make a difference in the life of our nation. We are building beautiful and peaceful communities among the poor. In this effort, we are harnessing all sectors of Philippine society, and in doing so, we strive to unite rich and poor, Christians and Muslims, the right and the left, the mighty and the lowly, the haves and the have-nots. Gawad Kalinga, in the spirit of bayanihan, is the collective work of everyone who is willing to respond to the call to heroism in building a nation.

Our vision is a Philippines where there is no one in need, where all will have an equitable share in the abundance of the land, where Filipinos will be brothers, moving as heroes who will rebuild the nation and bring it to a time of peace and prosperity. And as we rebuild our land, we look to the other nations of the world that also experience poverty, oppression and injustice, and strive to share with them what we have learned. We thank the people of Cambodia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea for welcoming us and giving us the privilege of building communities among their poor. We in Gawad Kalinga humbly look for more opportunities to be bearers of light and hope to a world in darkness.

It is a great honor for us in Gawad Kalinga to be conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award for community leadership, and to be the first organization to be given this Award in this category. Indeed, Gawad Kalinga is a movement that aspires to lead our nation to greatness through the heroism of every Filipino. May this award inspire not only our faceless workers in Gawad Kalinga, but every Filipino, including especially the poor, to desire to be part of this great effort at building a nation. And furthermore, may this award give hope to the poor and oppressed of the world, to know that together we can build a better world, one of caring and sharing, a world where justice reigns, where we are our brother's keeper, a world that is at peace.