About 9,000 delegates gathered at the Folk Arts Theater in Manila on 11-12 June to launch Pondo ng Pinoy, a new community foundation that aims to gather the ‘crumbs from the table’ of rich and poor alike to address the pressing needs of the very poor, who make up 52 per cent of Metro Manila’s population of around 10 million. Pondo ng Pinoy is the brainchild of the new Archbishop of Manila, Gaudencio Rosales, who founded the highly successful Pondong Batangan four years ago when he was Archbishop of Lipa.
The occasion was the Manila Interdiocesan General Pastoral Assembly, where Archbishop Rosales called on the whole Ecclesiastical Province of Manila to support Pondo ng Pinoy.
Both Pondo ng Pinoy and Pondong Batangan are based on what Rosales calls ‘the theology of the crumbs’. He illustrates this by reference to the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in the Gospel of St Luke. Lazarus the beggar waited in vain for crumbs to fall from the rich man’s table, but when death came to both, Lazarus went to heaven and the poor man to hell. The ‘crumbs’ here symbolize the 5, 10 or 25 centavo donations that rich and poor alike will give to build up funds to help the poor of the city. In Batangas, 300,000 people make regular contributions to the community foundation. ‘The practice will make love and compassion a way of life,’ said Rosales.
Archbishop Rosales blames Philippine politics for the plight of Manila’s poor: ‘The way politics is practised has been most hurtful of us as a people. It is possibly the biggest bane in our life and the most pernicious obstacle to our achieving full human development.’
1 See Alliance, Vol 8, No 4, December 2003, p3.