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If each of us takes part in caring and sharing, the overwhelming challenge of poverty can be addressed. Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much.
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The Face of the New Middle Class

[Date Created: August 12, 2013]

by Claire Ericta

Clad in blue shirts, jeans, bright orange hard hats and bandanas, they stole everybody’s attention at the Bayanihan Expo 2012, and rightly so. On that day, they represented one of the most underserved sectors in the country – the blue-collared workers. Printed just above their hearts was the word "GAWA”, which stood for the Gawad Kalinga Accredited Workers Association.

Sharing the face of the new middle class during the Bayanihan Expo 2012

(Photo Credit: Topert Ocanada)

>> Read more about the Bayanihan Expo 2012 in "Gawad Kalinga Celebrates Nine Years of Bayanihan"

GAWA is a product of rediscovering the wealth of human resource in GK’s 2,000 communities. It aims to organize skilled and non-skilled workers – from construction workers to housekeepers – and prepare them for opportunities by building their character and skills.


In parallel, a separate arm called Galing Kapitbahayan or GKap will take care of linking them with concrete opportunities in the market, leveraging GK’s network of partners and the trust it currently enjoys.


Restoring the Dignity of Labor


GK has made it clear from the start that ending poverty is ultimately about restoring human dignity. The new homes inspired this dignity in our Kapitbahayan, but this can be easily confined within the four walls of their homes and not be true in the mainstream market where detached employers, inadequate pay and non-existent benefits largely exist.

>> Learn more about Gawad Kalinga's perspective on poverty

With the help of GAWA & GKap, our Kapitbahayan will have dignity of labor, as they go out to work and earn themselves a living. We hope for them to understand that work is a means to better themselves and not just another of society’s ways to discriminate the poor; for them to feel that all labor is equal in worth. After all, these workers care for our children and/or siblings when our parents go off to work. They fix our broken cars, showers, gadgets and appliances. We live in a world of interdependence.



Building the New Middle Class

True to our unrelenting fire to dream for the poor, after the houses, GK moves on to the next pieces of the solution: How will they put food on the table? Send their children to school? The reality is, all of us, Kapitbahayan included, need steady income for our evolving basic needs. This means getting compensation that actually meets the minimum cost of living, not necessarily the minimum wage. This means paid sick leaves, access to emergency funds and other benefits. When they stress less about these concerns, they can begin to set sights on middle-class aspirations. During the Bayanihan Expo 2012, GAWA represented something else that day – the face of the new middle class.

Representing the new builders of the Philippine economy

(Photo Credit: Topert Ocanada)

To GK, our Kapitbahayans are the future recruits for caretakers, nation builders and heroes… the army who will be with us to 2024.

>> Learn more about Gawad Kalinga's vision for 2024


Shaping the Bayanihan Economy


GK has long dreamt of helping spur an economy that leaves no one behind, an economy that is a shared responsibility by every Filipino. The current rich and middle classes were never enough to turn around this economy. Progress is when the hard work of the poor is complemented by the self-sacrifice of the rich. Having a “kaban ng bayan” that both rich and poor can – and will – contribute to. With the poor as the new middle class, they also become builders of the Philippine economy versus victims of it. It is only with this aid from the new middle class that an economy thriving on Bayanihan takes shape. And from there, a new nation will rise.


In this new setup, GK once again reinforces that heroism is for and is in every Filipino.

Bawat Pilipino, bayani – sa isip, sa salita at sa GAWA.


Gawad Kalinga is not a charity, rather, it's a nation-building movement dedicated to eradicate poverty and restore human dignity. You too can help restore the dignity of labor and build the new middle class! Partner with us in building an economy that leaves no one behind, an economy that is a shared responsibility by every Filipino.

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