Gawad Kalinga’s Genius of The Poor

By: Charisse Trinidad
The Gawad Kalinga Community proudly hosted the book launch of renowned British journalist Thomas Graham’s newly published book Gawad Kalinga’s The Genius Of The Poor. The event was held at ground floor of Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street last Saturday (29 November 2014) where highly regarded bloggers, book buyers, and important contributors flew in from different parts of the world, to hear Graham’s deeply inspiring speech.
A popular title at the book recent World Book Fair in Frankfurt, this book is an interesting read for bookworms that want to know more than just the basics of how people find day to day happiness within the villages and islands of the Philippines.
Gawad Kalinga’s The Genius Of The Poor has been translated into French an soon, to six other languages.
At the event, young social entrepreneurs of the GK community warmly greeted guests to try out their special products. They offered edible materials that varied from being organic, raw, or farm made. Each product was presented in an exquisite and delightful manner. They offered organic ube jams, pure harvested honey, and freshly cleaned ice cream. These social entrepreneurs have invested their time and effort to help others realize that you can eat healthy and also learn more about giving out to people who are in need.
In his speech, Graham spoke of his experience with Gawad Kalinga and his achievements in understanding the beauty of the Philippine spirit. He shared how he started as from a journalist on an assignment and how it turned into a personal, life-changing journey.
The word bayanihan is all about, “walang iwanan”. If you were to translate it in English it would mean, “no one gets left behind” and “the best to the least”. Graham confessed that after meeting the young people at a GK Center for Social Innovation, he immediately envied their commitment: compassion and courage that he felt were missing in his own life. This gave him the motivation to become just as dedicated as they were. Ditching his shirt and tie, he decided to extend his stay in the Philippines for a few extra months. His main purpose was to travel up and down the country, as well as trying to figure out whether Antonio Meloto “Tito Tony”, the founder of Gawad Kalinga’s love and admiration for the poor is a perspective that he could personally embrace.


Gawad Kalinga is a community development foundation that started in 1994. Its flagship program was poverty alleviation focused on housing for the poor. Its first humble target of 700,000 homes in seven years has increased to five million families crossing the poverty line by 2024. Gawad Kalinga’s The Genius of The Poor not only honors the greatness of the Filipino spirit, it also highlights the Philippines as the new land opportunity within Asia. The book includes real people, real names, addresses and life stories. It is stunning, sad, amazing, and heartbreaking to share. In their company Thomas saw, as if for the first time, his own life in a different context. Having said to be a must read for every Filipino, this book is a wonderful calling card for all GK believers and an exiting gift idea this Christmas. 

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