Berjaya Group founder and Malaysian philanthropist Tan Sri Dato Seri Vincent Tan came back to the Philippines to fulfill another commitment to the Gawad Kalinga cause.
Tan Sri flew in the country to lead the unveiling of the Berjaya Garden Restaurant and Culinary Center (BGRCC), a training facility that supports the GK Enchanted Farm’s role as an incubator-hub for the country’s growing social entrepreneurship.
Located in the GK Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan, the BGRCC is envisioned as one of the vital cornerstones of learning inside the farm – touted as the “first farm village university in Asia” – as it serves as the primary food center of the farm, catering to the 200,000 partners, entrepreneurs and students who visit the GK Enchanted Farm annually.
The food served in the restaurant is locally produced, sourced and processed, providing livelihood for local farmers.
BGRCC is also a school-within-community where students and social entrepreneurs can develop their culinary skills and products.
Joining Tan Sri at the opening are: GK Founder Tony Meloto, Berjaya Philippines Country Head Paul Soo, GK Executive Director Luis Oquiñena, Sen. Bam Aquino, Berjaya Philippines Executive Director Tan Eng Hwa, GK Enchanted Farm COO Shanon Khadka, and Tan Sri’s children Morvin and Chryseis Tan.
The milestone marked the Malaysian conglomerate’s steady support for the GK mission. The Berjaya-GK collaboration started in 2012 when Tan Sri, through Berjaya Philippines Inc., pledged to contribute PhP300 million over three years to GK for the construction of houses for Filipinos affected by Typhoon Sendong and other natural calamities, as well as for poverty-stricken families across the Philippines.
To date, Berjaya has successfully helped build 820 GK houses in 14 provinces.
What began as a shared vision to help victims of calamity has now expanded to bigger dreams ofbuilding a sustainable template through initiatives such as the BGRCC that create life-changing impacts on the poor and needy.
At the concluding ceremonies of the 4th Social Business Summit which celebrated the theme, “Social Market: Disruption for Shared Prosperity Now”, hundreds of participants that include businessmen, youth representatives, and GK volunteers have gathered to take part in the momentous event that brought out the best in every one.
And there is indeed a great deal to celebrate.
Tan Sri expressed his utmost elation over the continued success and growth of GK communities in the different parts of the world.
“I’m very pleased and deeply honored to be given the opportunity to join GK’s vision of creating sustainable community development in the Philippines. GK’s work is very commendable; many countries need GK. But I have to ask GK people to build communities faster; if they do, we would like to commit building 5,000 homes, from the original 3,000 units that were first committed. This is just to emphasize my admiration and support for GK. Truly, every one of us, rich or poor, can make a difference in their own ways. People should go out and help each other in reaching a common goal,” Tan Sri said.
Tan Sri’s heart for humanitarian causes is emboldened in his personal foundation, the Better Malaysia Foundation. It supports various community and charitable causes which include educational programs, medical and health causes and humanitarian aid.
Empowering the ‘Geniuses among the Poor’
Oquiñena lauded Berjaya Group for its immense contribution in helping create impacts on the far-flung areas in the country.
“The beauty about the partnership between our chairman and Tan Sri is that it builds friendship between two peoples and two nations. Berjaya has been paving the way for the most difficult to reach areas like down Muslim Mindanao and Eastern Samar, where most corporations don’t want to go simply because there’s much media going here. Berjaya is not about building its own brand, it is bent on building a legacy of caring. The friendship and trust between GK and Berjaya, the Philippines and Malaysia, have made all these happen,” he said.
In terms of spearheading projects that help the locals,Berjaya Philippines Country Head Paul Soo revealed that one of Berjaya Group’s philanthropy highlights is its vital support for GK’s (SEED) scholars.
The Group has already sponsored a total of 42 Filipino indigent students, with full tuition and board, to the Berjaya University of Culinary Hospitality, an institution in Kuala Lumpur specializing in culinary arts, hospitality and tourism education.
“The corporation itself does not stop in just giving out cash donation. Our employees from across the group actually go and visit the GK sites and volunteer their time for the home-building. I think that an important thrust that we do, we ensure that the people who work at Berjaya Group are aware of the CSR works that we do for the communities and people in need,” added Soo.