Malaysian billionaire pledges 5,000 homes for poor Filipinos
ANGAT, BULACAN— Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan has promised to build 5,000 homes for poor Filipinos with the help of the Gawad Kalinga (GK) Community Development Foundation.
“The rich became rich because a lot of poor people supported their businesses,” Tan said during the 4th Global Social Business Summit held recently at the GK Enchanted Farm here.
Tan, founder of the Berjaya Group of companies, donated P100 million to GK in 2012 as part of his P300-million pledge for the construction of 3,000 homes for Filipinos hit by natural calamities.
It was during that year when Berjaya, through Berjaya Philippines Inc., and GK formally started their partnership.
Berjaya is a company engaged in property management, investment and development.
During the summit’s closing ceremony last week, Tan said Berjaya and GK had built 1,000 houses so far.
“We committed 3,000 houses several years ago and if you build faster, we would like to commit 5,000 houses,” he said. In 2015, Tan flew to the Philippines from Malaysia to lead the groundbreaking ceremony for the 100 units that Berjaya committed to build for the survivors of Typhoon “Sendong” in Cagayan de Oro City.
“I pledge half of my wealth to charitable work. The masses support our business and who are the masses? Many of them are poor,” Tan said.
He said they plan to replicate in Malaysia what GK has done in the Philippines and provide free shelter to poor Malaysian communities.
“We’re going to do something in Malaysia and hopefully, we could get pledges from other organizations who could donate to build homes for the poor who could not afford these,” Tan said.
GK founder Antonio Meloto said Berjaya was one of GK’s most generous partners.
According to the foundation, there are 12 Berjaya-GK villages in the country, including the first two for survivors of Typhoon “Pablo” in Compostela Valley.
Among the beneficiaries of the Berjaya-GK Villages are families who live in disaster and danger-prone areas, returning rebels, informal settlers, members of cultural communities, residents of local heritage sites and displaced Muslims.
“We’re very pleased to help the Philippines by doing business here. Like what I always say, the rich people need the poor to support their businesses and I think the rich must give back as much as possible,” Tan said at a news briefing.
After the summit, Tan led the inauguration of the Berjaya Garden Restaurant and Culinary Center (BGRCC) inside the GK Enchanted Farm.
Meloto said BGRCC serves as the primary food hub of the farm. It is designed “to cultivate the culinary talents of the poor” and provide livelihood as it caters to 200,000 people who visit the farm annually.
Established in 2003, GK has grown into a global movement of nation builders, who are committed to expanding the work and advocacy of caring and sharing across countries, to build a better, safer and kinder world. At present, GK is in Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Canada, United States, Austria, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia and Papua New Guinea.
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