By Benjie de Ubago
The recent Hapag /Gawad Kalinga production created controversy and left the community confused as to how many GK organizations there are. Numerous attempts were made to contact the organizer/producer, Ms. Josie Musa for clarification. A text message was received from Ms. Musa on 22 December at 10.15am saying “U can col me now f u can”. The return phone call was made and upon query, Ms. Musa eluded to the fact that she was a part of Gawad Kalinga. “Hindi ako kasali sa kanila,” she said. When further queried why the proceeds were directed to her name, Ms. Musa replied “Yon ba, ang tinatanong mo?” Ms. Musa did not deny or confirm but instead begged off the conversation “andito ang boss ko, saka na tayo mag-usap.” No other calls or messages were received from Ms. Musa and all other attempts to contact her since have proven futile.
Gawad Kalinga Ancop Australia (GKAA) has issued an official statement denouncing their connection to the recently staged play “Hapag.” The statement was released by Mr. Marcy Mission, CEO of GKAA.
One final attempt was made prior to press time on 29 December to clarify the issue with GK headquarters, Manila. CEO, Mr. Luis Oquiñena confirmed having given Ms. Musa verbal approval to conduct a GK event. . “Ms Josie Musa asked permission from Tito Tony (Meloto) to hold an event for GK. We gave her our approval given certain audit conditions.”
The production of the play “Hapag – Little Children of God” was staged last 20 December 2010 at Bowman Hall and a large ‘GK777’ banner was visible on stage on the night. The production was advertised as a Physical Theatre Production directed by Albert Dimarucut and featured most of the juniors and some of the seniors from the cast of the Rizal production. At the organizing and production helm was Ms. Josie Musa. Initial promotional materials released around 4 November stated that it was a GK Young Ambassador project and it carried the Gawad Kalinga logo which gave the semblance that it was indeed sanctioned by the GK people.
The play was based on Joey Velasco’s painting, “Hapag ng Pag-Asa” and book “They Have Jesus in Them” which features 12 poverty-stricken children in a “Last Supper” scene. Mr. Velasco who passed away in July of this year, allowed Tony Meloto the use of the painting in 2006 for Gawad Kalinga’s promotional purposes. However, the extent of the copyright is unclear. According to Ms. Musa copyright was obtained “ from his (Velasco) relatives in Manila” and “his Auntie was present on the night.” However, when queried as to whether she had a written permission from Velasco’s estate in the Philippines, she replied “tinawagan namin yung mga kamag-anak niya.”
In this regard, Mr. Oquiñena states “Regarding proprietary issues that you raised with Hapag, GK Philippines has no authority to either deny or approve the use of Mr. Joey Velasco’s work.”
Obtaining a copy of the solicitation letter proved to be difficult as requests fell on deaf ears. One source even said that solicitation was being done by word of mouth only, which would be so unprofessional. After a few attempts, a copy was obtained but it only raised more questions.
To date, GKAA is the only known Gawad Kalinga organization here in Australia and has been in existence for the last seven years. It is a registered charity and as such all donations are tax deductible and all accounts are duly audited. All correspondence to and from Manila, and all donations from all sources and partners have been coursed through GKAA in the past. However, the Hapag solicitation letter released as early as 4 November was not on an official GKAA letterhead nor did it include the details of the organization. Furthermore, it clearly stated “Make cheques payable to Josie Musa, and her private address. There were no ABN numbers, no fund raising permit numbers which would further mean no insurance and tax liability.
Initial phone calls to the GK people here in Australia, revealed that that they were not even aware of the said production. Subsequent phone calls were made to the GK people and CEO, Mr. Marcy Mission, and their response was a definite “NO, we are not involved!”. Another GK source advised that they had tried to speak to Ms. Musa and they have tried to ask her to fill in the event form, a mandatory document which needs to be completed by those wanting to fund-raise. Ms. Musa declined and alleged to have had approval from Manila. When questioned at a later date, Ms. Musa replied “I am not a member of their group. I work for Gawad Kalinga Manila.”
The venue, Bowman Hall was booked with Blacktown City Council prior to 4 November, under Gawad Kalinga Ancop Australia. GKAA enjoys subsidized venue fees as per agreement with the Council. But since the GKAA people were not involved in the production, and Ms. Musa admits not to be a part of it, why then was the venue booked under the GKAA name? Mr. Marcy Mission of GKAA has since advised Blacktown City Council of their non-involvement in the production.
Checks were also made with Alpha Phi Omega Australia (APO) to confirm their involvement in the project. The Young Ambassador project was originally an Alpha Phi Omega Australia (APO) Project which was started in 2007 and repeated in 2008 as part of APO’s memorandum of understanding with Gawad Kalinga to build an APO village in the Philippines. For the first two years, Ms. Musa participated in both events and for her efforts, it was agreed that a percentage of the proceeds would be donated to the Peñafrancia group. However, the cheque was issued under Ms. Musa’s name as requested which she would then forward to the Peñafrancia group.
In 2009, the GK Young Ambassador Project was again conducted but this time without the knowledge and involvement of APO. APO confirms that Ms. Musa also has no connection with APO Australia except for being the wife of an APO member, Mr. Musa, who is no longer the assignated GK coordinator nor is he the President of APO Australia.
From the proceeds of the Young Ambassador events, APO Australia donated to Gawad Kalinga $9,000 in 2007; and $1,630 in 2008. In 2009, APO donated $2,300 which was raised through the City to Surf event; and in 2010, a $10,000 donation was made to Gawad Kalinga from the City to Surf 2010 fund-raiser and from individual member donations. In all, approximately $35,000 was donated.
The question then is – were the funds raised from last year’s Young Ambassador event remitted to GK here in Australia or to the Philippines or to APO Australia? Mr. Mission of GKAA, APO Australia and GK Philippines have denied receiving any remittance from last year’s Young Ambassador’s event.
On querying Mr. Luis Oquiñena, CEO of GK Philippines via long distance on 12 December, re Ms. Musa’s authority to conduct the Hapag event, he replied “I don’t know nga kung bakit nagkakagulo yung dalawang grupo.” Clarification was requested as to which groups he meant and his reply was “I will be going to Australia in January to fix the problem between the two groups.” However, to date, there is only one authorized group – that of Marcy Mission.
On speaking with the Philippine GK area coordinator for Australia a week later, Miss Thess Luge said “I thought that was for APO Australia.” Ms. Luge further confirms that Ms. Musa visited GK headquarters during her last Philippine trip and visited the GK APO Village at Sucat Parañaque. She donated 10,000 php for the children of the village and 20,000 php for ‘Bagong Silang GK Village’. (Total amount was approximately $666.00 depending on the conversion rate.) Aside from this, no other donation was remitted on an individual capacity.
GK Ancop Australia claims that Ms. Musa was formerly a partner of GKAA, although not a part of the management committee. Ms. Musa however denies to have ever been a member “hindi ako member nila….never!” It has also been learned that Ms. Musa has since registered Gawad Kalinga Australia Inc. with the Department of Fair Trading on 24 November, after the venue booking was made under the GKAA name and after the promotional materials had been released with the GK logo.
As per Mr. Oquiñena’s response on 29 December, he further states: “As I shared with you over the phone, I am scheduled to visit Sydney this January. I will personally sort things out as the work of GK evolves in Australia. I can only answer your questions after my trip this January. I want to make a personal assessment of the situation,” he added.
Investigations also revealed that there are plans to hold a GK summit in Australia in 2011 and establish a new GK group in Australia. However, until such time re-structuring is implemented if at all it is required, and the community is properly advised, there remains one GK group in Australia, the Gawad Kalinga Ancop Australia aka GKAA or GK Ancop.