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Monday, May 07, 2007

The Poor Giver: Charity Group Founder’s Woes Hobble OFW Philanthropy


CALOOCAN CITY—ON A side street of a biscuit factory here the smell of spoiled food, re-used cooking oil, murky wastewater, and sweat of a hundred laborers mixes with the fluttering haze of Maria Luisa Tayco’s dreams of migrant giving.
It is here where Tayco, recipient of the Singaporean community’s Golden Samaritan award, faces up to the reality of life after 14 years of working near Raffles’ Center and seven years of charity work on Bayanihan Centre in Pasir Panjang Road.
It is here where Tayco, who was hailed by a television show on New Year’s Eve as one of the best people the Philippines has, decided to sell her kidney.
“It’s for my son,” the 47-year-old Tayco said.
These four words echo the notion that migrant giving —hailed by advocates as OFW philanthropy— is as easy as securing a fulfilling job in a developing country like the Philippines.
The fate of Tayco, founder of the Singapore-based charity group Pinokyos Welfare Inc., would reveal that the belief that temporary migrant workers can give back to the country (aside from their remittances) looks good in paper.
Her friends and former supporters could only scratch their heads in disbelief.
“Logic alone cannot fathom why she remains helping others other than herself,” said one of her friends. She owes him P5,000.
“It isn’t healthy to help others if you have your own urgent needs, Luisa,” another friend told her. Tayco owes her P2,500.
She owes this reporter P5,000.
Tayco, who once shipped books and school supplies from Singapore to the Philippines worth P2 million, couldn’t pay those loans now amounting to P27,000 (roughly US$500).
Still, she remains focused on continuing her Pinokyos work: the food business she put up fronting the Rebisco Biscuit Corp.’s factory here was named after her group.
Likewise, a plastic piggy bank gobbles coins steadily than the Pinokyos Canteen’s cash box.
“This is for Pinokyos,” Tayco said, her hand softly landing on the coin bank’s back, temporarily forgetting that for failing to pay water and power supplies to the canteen were cut off.

To read full story, visit the OFWJC Website

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