Manila (AsiaNews) - Who would have thought that 25 centavos can change the lives of the country's poorest of the poor? Such small amount may be of least importance to some, but not for Pondo ng Pinoy donors, who through collated coins and donations of individuals from all walks of life, have succeeded in improving the plight of people who have always been tied to the shackles of poverty. Now celebrating its ninth anniversary, Pondo ng Pinoy has grown from a small church initiative to a big social services movement that has touched the lives of many Filipinos.
"Pondo ng Pinoy is not just all about raising funds for the poor. It has become a way of life, a movement that allows us to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters," said Fr. Vic Apacible, Vicar Forane of the Vicariate of Sts. Peter and Paul. Founded by Archbishop Emeritus of Manila Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales in 2004, Pondo ng Pinoy has given Filipino individuals the opportunity to be of service to others in simplest ways possible.
"This is a way of life that leads us to heaven by means of fostering cooperation with others. It is not only for those who have most in life, but also even to those who have so little. Everyone is allowed to join the cause of Pondo ng Pinoy," he said. "The 25 centavos that we give is in reality very small. But when we gather them all together, they can provide great help to those who are in need," Apacible said.
Audy Reginaldo, Pondo ng Pinoy Program Coordinator, said poverty exists for the Lord to see who will be helping those who are in need. "The poor lead people to heaven, and it is through Pondo ng Pinoy that we are given the chance to achieve this," he said. Reginaldo noted that unlike other organizations that give special importance to those who are well-off, Pondo ng Pinoy gives equal opportunity to both the rich and poor in extending help to others.
"We are all given the equal opportunity to help. Regardless if you are poor, rich, whatever status you may have in life, you are given a chance by this foundation to take part and be one in this initiative that directly gives help to those who are in need," he said.
"We are only asked to give 25 centavos, but if we scrutinize it, we will realize that the lesson being taught by this initiative is very deep. It allows us to obtain a life dedicated to giving, serving, and loving our poor brothers and sisters-a life that is sensitive to the plight of others," Reginaldo said. He also noted the simple scheme of fund disbursement in Pondo ng Pinoy, adding that helping others must not require a lot of conditions and complications. "What you give to Pondo ng Pinoy is just a mere symbol of your love for others. Taking part in this initiative should not just be for the benefit of your respective vicariates or dioceses, but for all those who are needy," he said.
According to Reginaldo, Pondo ng Pinoy has 27 member dioceses at present. According to news reports, the program collected a total of P15.8 million for the fiscal year 2012 to 2013. The largest pool of donations came from Metro Manila parishes with P7.9 million. It was followed by parishes in Malolos and Antipolo with P1.2 million and P972,000 respectively. Reginaldo urged the people to offer their talents to the cause, noting that it contributes to their act of living faith through action.
"It is not those who receive that are blessed the most. Rather, it is those who give and help others for their hearts are opened to the act of expressing love and concern for others," he added.
Through donations given to the foundation, hundreds of houses were built for poor families and thousands of malnourished children are being fed every day. Accumulated contributions are also used to provide small entrepreneurs with start-up capital. Among the ventures funded by the foundation are health, housing, and education projects, micro-finance and micro-entrepreneur initiatives, and livelihood enterprises such as bakeries and rice mills.
Pondo ng Pinoy, the church initiative that encourages people to drop 25 centavos every day to donation boxes in various churches and schools, continues to prove the compassionate nature of Filipinos in helping others. Carrying the adage, "Anumang maliit, basta malimit ay patungong langit (A good act, no matter how small, if done often, will eventually lead to heaven)," this movement has come a long way in transforming lives of the poor.