Antonio Meloto or “Tito Tony” to the countless Gawad Kalinga volunteers and community partners was born on January 17, 1950 to a low middle class family in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. At a young age, he was already exposed to the squalid living conditions of the poor, his home being near a shoreline squatter community where poverty was already very pronounced.
His college years were dedicated to preparing for a career that would take him and his family out of the poverty of his past. After he graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, he was offered a position as the Purchasing Manager of Procter and Gamble. Eventually, he built his own name as an entrepreneur.
It was when working in Australia that he felt the powerful call to start the work with the poor through a youth development program for gang members and juvenile delinquents in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.
Since it began in 1995, the program has now evolved to become Gawad Kalinga, a global movement that builds integrated, holistic and sustainable communities in slum areas.
Gawad Kalinga is now being implemented in almost 2,000 communities in the Philippines and in other developing countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea. Believing that poverty is not so much about the scarcity of resources than it is about the loss of human dignity, it tries to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, government and the private sector.