Gawad Kalinga means ‘to give care.’: Becoming Minnesotan

Patrick Faunillan, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2008. Minnesota Historical Society.
  • Name - Patrick Faunillan
  • Age at interview - 19
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 12.22.2010
  • Patrick Faunillan building homes with Gawad Kalinga, Palawan, Philippines, 2009.
    Patrick Faunillan building homes with Gawad Kalinga, Laguna, Philippines, 2010.

    We Are Here

    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Contributions: How is America better off because of this group of immigrants?

    Words to look for

    Background Information

    Many immigrants who have moved to new countries seeking opportunities for themselves remain strongly attached to their homelands. They are very aware that they have perhaps been able to achieve more and have more resources as residents of the United States than they would have otherwise, and want to help their native countrymen, by sending money, by eventually returning permanently, or like this narrator, by making trips to provide service.

    To learn more about Filipino history and culture, visit our Filipino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

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    Narrator: Patrick Faunillan (PF)

    Interviewer: Lita Malicsi (LM)

    LM: Now a big part of your young life is the volunteer work that you and the young people do for the community. Would you tell me about this?

    PF: I’ve volunteered a lot since middle school, high school, and I’m still volunteering in college. And the Filipino community here, we’ve caroled for people during Christmas, we’ve done car washes, and performed for people in other Filipino events, and some of us went to the Philippines on a mission trip, Gawad Kalinga. And I’m continuing to volunteer at school, I’m in Saint Olaf AmeriCorps Program, which is volunteering for a whole year, around three hundred hours, and if you fulfill that, you get a scholarship at the end. So I’m involved with that.

    LM: Gawad Kalinga. What is it? Talk about why it sparks considerable interest in you.

    PF: Gawad Kalinga means “to give care.” And initially, I just really wanted to go back to the Philippines, and I thought this would be a great way to do it, and something my parents would support as well. And I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I knew that I was going to a village and helping out the village, help build a house, but I thought it would be very similar to the other volunteer opportunities I’ve had here in America where I'd go to a place, volunteer, help out, then that’s all. But Gawad Kalinga, we had to live in a village for two weeks, and we had our own host family. And that was just . . . such an impact. It opened my eyes to just how poverty can strike a country and a family, and it just showed me that there are hard things in life, and showed me how fortunate I was here in America.

    And I thank my parents for bringing me here, because that is probably the reason why they wanted me to come here, is because they wanted me to have that or be exposed to it. But it . . . it hurt me at the same time, because all these little kids in the village we got close to and everything, they had the village and the hard life, while we would fly back to America and continue on with our fortunate, good life. And that’s why I wanted to really come back and help other countries like that or help the Philippines, medically, because they can’t afford health care. They can’t afford really good health in general. And there was a nursing major there, volunteering as well, and she was telling me how great it was to be a nurse. And I was like, oh, I think I want to . . . I’ll consider that. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a nurse at the time, but I definitely knew I wanted to be part of the medical field, because I wanted to help these kids out, and other people in poverty, medically.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  A group of people who share a common understanding of the same language, manners, tradition and law.


    Adjective: Lucky, favored by fortune.


    Noun:  A purpose or duty.


    Noun:  A chance for advancement, progress, or profit.


    Noun: The state or quality of being poor or in need.


    Noun:  One who enters into, or offers for, any service of his/her own free will, especially when done without pay.

    Verb:  To enlist oneself as a volunteer; to do or offer to do something voluntarily.  (volunteers, volunteering, volunteered)


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 2157