Friday, June 15, 2012


D.C. – based Poverty Warriors

It would be remiss of me to write an article about battling poverty in the Philippines without mentioning two groups in the Washington, D.C. area that are deeply involved.


When there was a major natural calamity engulfing the Philippines, the Washington Post called me and followed up with an email. It was interested in interviewing someone other than a Philippine Embassy official about groups helping their countrymen.

I immediately told the Post to call Nap Curameng who is one of the leaders of CFC ANCOP – a group that has been in the forefront of helping Filipino victims of calamities.

I understand that they connected.  ANCOP is actually more than just responding to calls for emergencies but all year-round it is known for “answering the Cry of the Poor”.

The focus of their programs had been the poor child, his family, and his community. They believe that “educating the poor child and his family would restore hope and faith towards transformation of the whole community. Education can likewise give poor families a chance to break out of the cycle of poverty and provide equal opportunity in order for all to enjoy the bounty and blessings provided by God.”

They also have health and nutrition and community development programs geared towards transforming child, family and whole communities.

Nap Curameng is an effective management leader. We worked together during the successful political campaigns of David Valderrama, the first Filipino elected to the State Assembly in mainland, U.S.A. Nap was in fact the campaign manager and I was Dave’s political strategist and adviser.


Its leader is Tessie Calderon Alarcon. Its mission is “to uplift the spirit and well-being of the poorest of the poor, the abused and the desolate through feeding, community and economic development, gift giving, educational scholarships and classroom building, and calamity relief and emergency medical assistance programs.”

Tessie is one of the most admired Filipinos in our area. Hers is a life of commitment and dedication. Backed by her loving husband Pablito Alarcon, she led and inspired others to join her in making Feed the Hungry, Inc. an internationally recognized organization. Recipient of the Presidential Award called Lingkapil (Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino) in 1998, she also received the Dakila Award of Washington, D.C. for outstanding community leadership; the Chicago Hall of Fame Award, World Bank/IMF Filipino Association Outstanding Member Award and was even chosen as one of the Twenty Outstanding Filipinos Abroad (TOFA). The achievements of Feed The Hungry, Inc. and her inspiring leadership merited a Headline and Front Page coverage by the most read Asian paper in San Diego, California, The Asian Journal USA.


Outside of the previously mentioned organizations, I firmly believe there exist abroad several groups that have been proven to be effective in assisting their countrymen. Yet, they have the capability of leveraging both their political and economic powers to win any battle including the reduction, if not eradication, of poverty.

I am referring to the associations formed according to their hometowns. Many of them have been in existence for several years helping their town mates in the Philippines without fanfare or public recognition.

The political impact of these groups in their respective towns have been silently recognized but not maximized. Their economic impact is felt but not leveraged.

Also belonging to these associations are the public high school alumni groups formed according to when they graduated. They usually have projects benefiting their high school and town.

As I have discussed in an earlier article, under the Constitution, the enabling law on People’s Initiative, the Local Autonomy Act and the Administrative Code, the people are empowered to amend the Constitution; make, repeal, and amend National laws, Provincial Resolutions, City and Municipal Ordinances, and Barangay Resolutions through people’s initiative.

Working with their relatives, friends, classmates and neighbors, these hometown associations can virtually pass laws that would focus on poverty alleviation.  A major portion of the “pork” or local development fund could be allocated to match, double, triple or even quadruple the funds raised by the hometown organizations abroad.

The leverage could extend not just with the government but with the local Church, the Gawad Kalinga, ANCOP, Feed the Hungry, Inc. and other similar groups.

If all these associations networked into a national federation, you would have a Philippines composed of local instrumentalities with real political and economic powers freed from the culture of corruption and impunity engulfing Philippine society today.  

This is real People Empowerment, which could be utilized both in the Philippines and in the United States.

I suggested this to a friend who is active with a group called NaFFAA (National Federation of Filipino American Associations). The group is supposed to be a national organization. Majority of the Filipinos and Filipino associations are located in Southern California. But the sad reality is that NaFFAA has virtually ZERO presence there.

This realization, however, brings hope. Perhaps, NaFFAA under a new leadership or a new national organization under a new name could aim to form an effective and efficient network of associations that include these hometown organizations.

Any effort towards this end should have the cooperation and encouragement of the Philippine Embassy and all the consulates.

Somebody once said, “Organization determines everything.” Another one also said, “There go my people and I must follow them, for I am their leader.”

In this Battle Against Poverty, we need efficient and effective Organization, Leadership, Planning and Control.


Next and Final: Individual Commitment and “Little Miracles” (Technology): The Future Is Better Than You Think.

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