Filipinos Helping Filipinos...Beyond Borders
In 1990, the CFO established a donations program in response to the desire of Filipinos overseas to "revisit" their homeland in ways that rekindle the traditional bayanihan spirit. The birthing process of Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino or LINKAPIL was unique given the extension of the concept of mutual cooperation -- heretofore experienced at barrio or village levels -- beyond borders.
The LINKAPIL ideal transformed an absentee citizenry into pro-active partners in Philippine development. Over two decades, the inflow of financial and technical resources has remained unabated, in good times and bad. Ubiquitous contributions have seen the sprouting of small-scale infrastructure projects such as water wells and classrooms while humanitarian efforts have scaled down the incidence of ignorance, disease and mortality in town and countryside.
It was tragedy that occasioned the coming together of pioneer LINKAPIL donor-beneficiary partnerships. Launched in 1989 in the United States, its inaugural event was nature-driven. A killer earthquake with a 7.8 surface wave magnitude hit Luzon on 16 July 1990 and created a 125-km long ground rapture from Dingalan, Aurora to Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya. Recorded as the second largest earthquake in 1990 and in the 20th century, it killed 1,621 persons and damaged an area stretching from the mountains of the Cordillera Administrative Region down to Central Luzon.
In June 1991, typhoon Diding and the ten others that ravaged the Philippines in the wake of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption compounded the problems. The impact of nature's wrath and the resulting state of calamity drew an intense emotional response from overseas Filipino communities that has since been institutionalized as the CFO's LINKAPIL program.
From inception to-date, the LINKAPIL remains the government's most comprehensive program that engages the Filipino diaspora in service-oriented developmental activities nation-wide.
The traditional Philippine values of pakikisama, utang na loob, damayan are enshrined in the LINKAPIL. In concrete terms, during its 20-year existence, these have been translated in the form of PhP2.49 billion or US$62,250 million worth of assistance that have reached an estimated 14.79 million beneficiaries. These donations were directed to rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in communities all over the Philippines, i.e, infrastructure, livelihood, education, calamity relief assistance, skills-transfer, and health.
Donations to the health and welfare sector consisted of surgical and medical missions, feeding programs, calamity relief assistance, and other health-related activities.
Donations for educational purposes were for books, school supplies, equipment, and scholarships.
Donations to support micro-enterprise / livelihood projects were directed to poor individuals and families. The initial grant came from the British Columbia, Canada-based Global Development Relief Fund which donated a 20-ft container of vegetable seeds to help jumpstart the Benguet agri-industry sector in 1991.
Donations for small-scale infrastructure projects focused on potable water supply systems for underserved areas and the construction of classrooms in public schools suffering shortages. Started in 1997, to-date 63 water well systems and 87 classroom buildings in 76 public schools are in place.
Donations for skills-transfer began in 2008 when scholarships and trainings were extended by U.S.-bound Exchange Visitor Program participants. The pioneer initiative was the conduct of a "balik-turo" seminar-workshop by the Association of Filipino Teachers in America for beneficiaries coming from various schools in the National Capital Region, Ilocos Norte, the Bicol Region, and Western Visayas. Subsequent trainings have focused on teaching skills enhancement since most of the donors are professional educators.
Under the present administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III, LINKAPIL remains the centerpiece of the Diaspora to Development (D2D) flagship initiative positioned to further enhance Diaspora Philanthropy undertakings of Filipinos overseas. The CFO serves as the enabler, facilitator and coordinator to ensure that the tremendous outpouring of good-will and the deep concern for the homeland can be harnessed and channeled to priority areas of need, both geographic and sectoral.
As the precursor of the Migration and Development framework that now guides social concern and involvement programs of diaspora communities worldwide, the LINKAPIL stands proud as the showcase of the Philippine diaspora through time. Today, it is the important vehicle for the realization of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.