Is this for real? Hawaii-based Center for Philippine Studies slams Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto

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On Sat, May 23, the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa (UHM) Center for Philippine Studies (CPS) posted a controversial statement on its Facebook page. The statement was titled, “Statement regarding the Center for Philippine Studies (CPS) 40th Anniversary Fiesta.” We have embedded the images of the posted statement on this page. (Please click on the images to get to their bigger versions.)

Speech gone awry?

You see, between Apr 8 to 11 this year, CPS had held events to highlight “academic exchange” between experts. In an Apr 11 event, among the featured speakers was Tony Meloto, the founder of Gawad Kalinga (GK).  Meloto is held in such high regard that he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2006.

Well, based on the statement posted on the UHM Facebook page, a lot of people were not happy with Meloto’s speech.
(Note: We have attempted to search for a video of Meloto delivering the speech and have tried looking for a copy of the speech online as well, but we have not been able to locate these sources. Hence, the “Is this for real?” in our title.)

In fact, the CPS statement accused Meloto of promoting himself and his interests.

The speech noted that he  was “characterizing the Philippines as full of broken and poor people” who were “hopeless” and “violent.” At the same time, the speech claimed that Meloto “presented GK’s work as almost magically transformative.”

The statement also pointed out that he “seized the opportunity to promote the products of his own family company, Human Nature, and to suggest that members of the audience might bring them back from the Philippines and market them in the US.”

CPS’ statement also said that Meloto’s “sexism” was disturbing, as he allegedly also said that “the greatest asset of the Philippines is our beautiful women.” Meloto allegedly also said that “the future of the nation can be advanced” by these “beautiful women” if they attracted “men from the West” and “enticed them to invest in the Philippines.”

A different take

In any case, an article in The Filipino Chronicle by Carlota Ader, which was published on Apr 18, makes no mention of anyone criticizing Meloto’s speech.

Ader’s report noted: “Meloto was the guest speaker at a fiesta celebration on April 11 at the FilCom Center in Waipahu. He was invited to Hawaii by the Consuelo Foundation, a major supporter of CPS and a partner with Gawad Kalinga in several joint ventures and projects in the Philippines aimed at improving the lives of poor families.”

Ader goes on to cite Jon Matsuoka, president and CEO of the Consuelo Foundation, who tagged Meloto as “one of the Philippines’ ‘premiere thought and action leaders.'”

For now, we have attempted to get in touch with Meloto via social media. We await his take on the matter.

Photo: video screengrab news


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