With most regions of the country still mired in poverty, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) through Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, has stepped up efforts to assist the less fortunate, particularly indigenous peoples (IPs) and communities lacking in economic opportunities.
“The Iglesia wants residents in local communities, INC members or not, to fight and eradicate poverty,” explained Glicerio Santos, INC’s general auditor.
Apart from enriching the lives of people through spirituality, the INC has been actively engaging members and non-members alike in various livelihood and assistance programs in needy areas throughout Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
It has launched in November a self-sustaining “eco-community” in Barangay Bakal, Paracale, Cama-rines Norte as follow-up to the “EVM Self-Sustainable Eco-farming Community” in Alangalang, Leyte launched earlier this year.
The EVM community in the Visayas is a 3,000-hectare property meant to shelter and assist Yolanda victims. The site has its own agriculture facilities, such as tractors and other essential farm implements to bring residents to hasten their economic recovery.
The Paracale project involves a 100-hectare site for the Kabihug indigenous peoples that benefited 300 households.
INC has established 10 such self-sustaining communities all over the country. The first one was built in 1965 in Nueva Ecija.
In Mindanao eco-farming projects are in place in Agusan del Sur and Lanao del Norte. The Agusan location helps 3,000 families.
Other INC-initiated eco-farming sites are located in San Miguel, Bulacan, Pinugay and Tanay in Rizal and in Naic, Cavite. There is also a “mushroom house” inside the main campus of the New Era University in Quezon City, where most of the workers come from Yolanda-affected areas in Leyte.
Santos said the success of these communities have encouraged the INC to continue the projects in other areas.