What Does Community Mean to You?

Trip Start Jan 22, 2010
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Where I stayed
Sierra Vista Beach Resort

Flag of Philippines  , Ilocos,
Monday, August 8, 2011

When you hear the word 'community', what comes to mind? The original definition of community is this: a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality. It comes from the Latin ‘cum’, which means together, and ‘munus’, which means gift. Thus, it literally means, ‘gift together’, or in other words, ‘give among each other’. In my opinion, in the Western world (for want of a more politically correct term), the word ‘community’ has lost is origins. Nowadays, it is used to describe any type of group, no matter how large or how spread out geographically, which can be distinguished from the rest of society by any particular interest. Think about it: How often in the news do you hear or read terms such as the ‘scholarly community’, the ‘Christian community’, or even the ‘international community’? Community used to be unique and exclusive, signifying a small and important bond, a place where ‘everybody knows your name’ and everybody genuinely helps each other. But the 'Western' uses of the word implies a community of literally millions of people…Have we forgotten what it means to be part of a community?

I am pleased to see that here in the Philippines, community still means community. Most Filipinos place family and community above all else, and this can be shown by the way in which ASKI runs its microfinance business. All ASKI clients are members of community centers, demarcated by barangay (or neighborhood). ASKI defines a center as a group of men and women who join together to guarantee each other’s loans, meet weekly to support one another, receive training, monitor loan payments and make contributions to savings. In terms of microfinance, these centers replace the need for collateral and ensure credit discipline among members; If a member defaults on his/her loan, the entire community has to cough up the dough. Aside from repayment collection, these centers offer support to its members through assistance with loan applications, appropriation of loan funds, and general overall support for each other as they cultivate their small businesses and try to make a better life for themselves and their families. Now that’s what I call community!

Just like most groups, ASKI community centers have elected leaders: Center Chief, Deputy Chief, Treasurer, and Secretary. Once a year, these leaders are invited to a Leadership and Teambuilding Summit to promote unity and support among community leaders across multiple barangays and branches. This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend the Leadership and Teambuilding Summit for Area 3, covering 13 branches and nearly 400 barangays in Western Luzon. Rather than describing the summit, I have put together a video which showcases what the event was all about. It is my first time making a video on the computer, so bear with me. Click here to see the video. (I also posted it below but it requires a plug-in to view.)


Slideshow Report as Spam

Comments

Mom on

Great video!

Stephanie Yue on

Hi Kim, I'm really impressed with what you're doing. It's very heart warming and inspirational. Work here is the same, take care and best wishes.

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