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    TOMORROW is not only our National Day, which is what our Independence Day is. Tomorrow is also the 10th anniversary of one of our country’s most effective humanitarian movements, the Catholic Church’s Pondo ng Pinoy.

    The movement allows each Catholic to do something about his or her duty to show love for God by caring for the needy. In a concrete way, everyone, even a relatively poor person, can do this act of love for God through service to neighbor by using a plastic drinking water or soft drink bottle as a kind of piggy bank and depositing 25 centavos in it daily, or in the case of really poor person, as often as he or she can spare 25 centavos until the bottle is full. Which is when he or she turns it over to the parish and begins again.

    In some parishes, the faithful with filled Pondo ng Pinoy plastic bottles are invited to march toward the altar behind those carrying the bread and wine at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist during the preparation of the gifts.

    Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales started Pondo ng Pinoy before he was made a cardinal. He was driven by his resolve to get the Catholic faithful to realize that each of them should help solve our country’s problem of massive poverty.

    He gathered the priests and religious of the Archdiocese of Manila, as well as delegates from the dioceses of Antipolo, Cubao, Imus (Cavite), Caloocan, Malolos (Bulacan), Novaliches, Parañaque, Pasig, San Pablo (Laguna), Taytay (Rizal) and Puerto Princesa (Palawan), at the Folk Arts Theater in Pasay on June 11 and on June 12, 2004. The assembly launched Pondo ng Pinoy.

    Cardinal Rosales saw in Pondo ng Pinoy a way by which every person, “no matter how poor, no matter how humble, can enjoy the freedom to give, to help and live fully.” This is because Pondo ng Pinoy aims to cultivate the culture of giving and helping another, through saving as little as 25 centavos a day as an act of love for the poor and as symbol of one’s good works. The money, Cardinal Rosales said, would be meaningless without the Spirit of Love generated by the act of saving it daily. Cardinal Rosales summed up the Pondo ng Pinoy principle in this motto, “Anumang magaling kahit maliit basta’t malimit ay patungong langit.” [Every good thing and act, no matter how small, if it is done often leads to heaven.]

    This year’s 10th anniversary celebration showcases one of the numerous successful livelihood projects that came into being thanks to Pondo ng Pinoy. This is the Eco-Uling project in Taguig City, which both gives a livelihood to persons with disability and promotes environmental protection and enhancement. The project produces charcoal briquette from a combination of water lily, coconut husks and shell.

    Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle leads the guests at the project site where there will be a demonstration of how the unique charcoal briquettes are produced. He will celebrate the Mass at 11 a.m. About one thousand delegates from 21 Pondo ng Pinoy member dioceses are expected to attend the celebration.

    Some 20 persons with disability and their young Muslim friends run the Eco-Uling project. They gather the materials, do the technical production and market the product. This project has enabled the PWDs to earn a living by themselves. The project wipes out the water lily-caused problem of clogged waterways that causes flooding during the rainy months. Pondo ng Pinoy initially granted the project P300,000 and then gave an additional P280,000 to expand the operation.

    Pondo ng Pinoy has sponsored more than 300 health, livelihood, development, alternative learning and housing projects and the Hapag-Asa subsidized feeding program. All these projects and programs have cost more than P200 million.

    The Pondo ng Pinoy movement operates through the Pondo ng Pinoy Community Foundation. Its members, aside from the Archdiocese of Manila, are 18 dioceses, two apostolic vicariates, and the Military Ordinariate.

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