Home>Service> Global Love of Lives Award> 16th Fervent Global Love of Lives Award> Fr. Gerard, the Philippines—The Doctor of the Poor
[Eradicate poverty with education. Defy typhoons with love and compassion.] 

Humility makes up one’s spiritual fortification.
 I dream for our students. I want them to have a better chance in life in the future.
--Fr. Gerard
 

Founder of Divine Healer Academy in the Philippines is a doctor that is said to work miracles and has already cured innumerable people’s illnesses. However, a turning point came for him in 2002 when a disastrous typhoon struck. He received a letter of help from an orphanage in the slums in the Sorsogon province besides being inspired by a nun. Consequently, he made the decision to leave Manilla for the center of the storm—the Sorsogon Province. He established the Divine Healer Academy (formerly Divine Healer Learning Center) for orphans who have lost their families to the typhoon, leading 14 teachers and 4 nuns to provide homes and education to 292 orphans from primary school to high school.

To save more orphans, Fr. Gerard started a plan called “50 pesos for Books and Hopes,” inviting people all over the world to contribute to eradicating poverty with education. He saw his responsibility in the need of others. Humbly, he left behind his glamorous past and went straight into the province battered by the typhoon. Bit by bit, he has left a positive impact on the places he has visited.

“50 pesos for Books and Hopes”
The Philippines is Taiwan’s neighbor, merely a hundred nautical miles away. In-between lies the Bashi Channel. The Philippines has a population near 100 million, but about half of them earn about one US dollar per day. It may be hard to imagine that the worst slums in the world lie at the heart of the Phillipines, right at the capital city Manilla. Fr. Gerard has always believed that the only way to cure poverty is education. The Sorsogon Province was where he started his plans.

Merciless typhoon vs. human compassion

Fr. Gerard heals not only physical pains but mental afflictions as well. He is a doctor of dreams. Through education, he plans to help poor children lead better lives. Starting from 2002, he began a decade of diligently moving from one place to another. In the first year, he founded the Divine Healer Academy (formerly named Divine Healer Learning Center). Here, students study for free. Those who face financial difficulties may even get free uniforms, school bags, stationery and so on. All this is done so that the children have a chance to dream.

Rev. Fr. Gerard said that humility makes up one’s spiritual fortification. There was no way he could build a school all by himself. It took no less than a group of people capable of great love and compassion to realize their dream. 

With a resolute mind, he set out to improve the lives of poor children. He visited friends, promoted his ideals and ideas, and successfully garnered support from a lot of people. These people did more than just open up their hearts to absorb what Fr. Gerard had to say—they knew that the Sorsogon Province was the place where the typhoon had dealt the heaviest blow, and were willing to help its inhabitants get back on its feet. 


And it all started small. Initially, in response to the nun’s inspiration, Fr. Gerard only helped a child out of 25. But he came to realize that it was not his will but that of God that he was given the chance to extend a helping hand. 

Fr. Gerard learned to aspire to greater dreams. He would like to expand the school, enrolling 500, 5,000, even 50,000 students if he could, and not just to accommodate high school students, but make it possible for them to study all the way up to college. 

This idea led to the “50 pesos for Books and Hopes” project. All funds raised for this program are deposited in the bank and used solely for the affairs of Healing Servants Foundation Inc. 50 pesos may not sound much, but a million people each donating 50 pesos would accumulate a significant amount. With it, millions of poor children would gain the ticket to achieving greater things.

Many charity groups have already joined this project. It would not be long before the seed of benevolence sprouted leaves and grew stout and strong. Fr. Gerard believed that, in a foreseeable future, 50 pesos would add up to the prospect of building a university, one that testifies to the fact that love truly exists in this world.