“Charity begins at home, but it does not end there.”—Thomas Fuller
“Once the demands of necessity and propriety have been met, the rest that one owns belong to the poor.” —Pope Leo X111
I spent Valentine evening eating crabs with my youngest son AJ and his wife, Ayet, at home. And the two being movie freaks, they asked me what movie I wanted to watch. My only choice was Pretty Woman and so crunching away at the crabs I bought from Farmers market (I love the cleanliness of that market, the variety of seafood, meats, and vegetables at prices within my budget) and cooked by XO Heritage Bistro’s chef Tanya Dizon, I swooned away to Richard Gere.
I tried buying flowers at the stands across the Farmers market but was horrified at the prices. “Eh Valentine ho ngayon!” the sellers smirked at me. So I bought a modest three-rose bouquet for my one and only valentine, Sonny.
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“Transformation through Charity,” the philosophy behind the quietly successful Wong Chu King Foundation (WCKF), believes that we can change the world even by one simple charitable act at a time. This is the core belief of a foundation founded by the heirs of Wong Chu King, a humble migrant from China, who built from scratch a tobacco company that is now the country’s biggest wholly-owned Filipino cigarette manufacturer.
Their office is at the old factory in Makati which now houses their offices and the family’s residence, the new factory is in Bulacan. I was invited to the Chinese New Year’s dinner which turned out to be fun and we were entertained by singer Bobby Mondejar with his friends. It sent us reminiscing down memory lane.
We learned that as a tribute to their father, Wong Chu King, the heirs established WCKF. The goal is to give back to the less fortunate but deserving members of the society opportunities to uplift their lives. This brings to life the patriarch’s core values. The officers of the foundation are Nelia D. Wongchuking, chairman and president; Cesar D. Wongchuking, vice-chair; Marietta W. Co Chien, director; Alexander D. Wongchuking, executive director; Helen W. Chien, corporate secretary; Lilia R. Ong, treasurer; Leonard Lim, independent trustee and James Vincent Navarrete, general manager.
The family’s success can best be gauged by the charity work they do through WCKF. Without much fanfare, WCKF has worked tirelessly on the ground to provide deserving but less fortunate members of society with opportunities in the areas of education by granting scholarships to children of tobacco farmers, feeding programs for children, free medicines, and basic sustenance for orphaned elders, water system projects for potable water-deprived areas, construction and renovation of churches, and so many others.
WCKF has also engaged in church construction and renovation activities especially in Piat, Cagayan province in the North. The foundation helped build the majestic Our Lady of Piat Basilica in the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao there and WCKF has worked closely with the community to provide much-needed assistance. I went to the church there years ago and saw how devotees showed their love for the dark-skinned Lady of Piat.
The Wong Chu King family members are all devotees of Our Lady of Piat, also known as “the Mother of Cagayan.” WCKF saw through the construction of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish Church in Peñablanca, helped rehabilitate the damaged 251-year old St. James the Apostle Parish Church in Iguig town, Sta. Rosa de Lima Parish Church in brgy. Annafunan, Tuguegarao, and helped construct the St. Michael the Archangel Chapel in Tuao town.
And on the priority list of WCKF’s water system projects, as of the previous years, the foundation donated a water supply system to brngy. Minanga, brgy. Caloagan, and brgy. Dugayong of Piat, Cagayan which serve thousands of households.
This year, the WCKF will donate another water system project for the households of Brgy. Villarey in Piat, Cagayan. Also, WCKF has also begun the construction of school gym in Our Lady of Piat high school to provide students and school staffs their own sports gym where they can hone their athletic skills without the need of going outside the school premises. May the tribe of the patriarch of the Wong Chu King increase and prosper more!(mb.com)