|By Nancy C. Nicolas
After the People Power Revolt in mid-1980s, the Philippines was flooded by the international funding agencies with aids to help rebuild democracy after a decade and a half of dictatorship. As a consequence, non-government organizations (NGOs) sprouted like mushrooms after a rainy night of thunderstorm. In the 1990s, however, the wind (or more accurately, the attention of funding Gods from the United States, Europe and Japan) shifted direction, leaving the foreign fund-dependent Philippine NGOs drained of their all-important life-blood.
This trend went on up this day and the civil society in the country is still reeling big-time. The tragic fate of many of our NGO-colleagues make us appreciate more how blessed Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), formerly the Methodist Social Center.
We especially are grateful for having pioneers and leaders who had the foresight so secure the sustainability of the Foundation. I am particularly referring to KKFI founder Ms Madaleine Klepper, Mrs. Ruth G. Prudente, and Mrs. Nellie Mercado. The former was granted by the Women Foreign Missionary Society of the United States the land where KKFI is now located which was formally transferred to KKFI when Mrs. Prudente initiated the incorporation of KKFI in 1971. Meanwhile, the latter built a 4-storey building and the financial system that ensured its sustainability.
In 1950, the late Ms Klepper initiated programs on P. Paredes Street in Sampaloc, Manila to have a place to serve the poor women and children of Manila who were widowed and orphaned by the recent World War 2. It was a time when some of the biggest schools and universities—the Far Eastern University, the University of Santo Tomas, the University of the East, etc.—started sprouting the area.
It was not long when the KKFI started offering its facilities as a dormitory to the schools’ students, many of whom came from Metro Manila suburbs and provinces. Who knows how many lawyers, doctors, teachers, nurses, engineers, pastors, deaconesses and other professionals have made the KKFI dormitory their “home away from home.”
I started to work in KKFI six years ago. The six anniversary celebrations were conducted differently. This coming July 20, the Foundation celebrates its 67th founding anniversary and this time, it is honouring the role of the dormitory (and the dorm residents past and present) in the life of Kapatiran.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the rentals and fees of dorm residents have been KKFI’s lifeblood that have allowed it to do what it was meant to do—provide assistance and services to the poor and the marginalized sectors of the Philippine society. Perhaps these students have been doing it unwittingly but, still, they are that important. Hence, the decision to make the 67th founding anniversary of KKFI a tribute to the four-building complex, the people managing and working in it and especially the past and present residents.
I say it’s about time. That is why the Board of Trustees and management of KKFI are leaving no stone unturned in order to make the tribute a memorable. Even the staff members, the volunteers and even the residents themselves are now busy practicing their respective presentations, promising to surprise everyone come July 20.
We expect at least 200 participants who will come to the KKFI compound to join us in this special occasion, which will start at 2 o’clock in the afternoon up to six o’clock in the evening. The grandeur that we expect the celebration to be is only fitting since the dormitory, although remaining in the background all this time, will at last occupy a place it so richly deserves—the spotlight.