The Philippines

Inequality and Access to Opportunity: Metro Manila Team serves Eastern Samar 2003-2006

  • There is a pyramid of inequality of wealth, income, and opportunity in the Philippines.
  • From 1988 to 2000, the top ten per cent increased their income from 36 % to 38%. The bottom 70 per cent had a decline income from 38% to 34%.
  • Where there is inequality in society, there is likely to be more inequality between women and men.
  • Low income children would lack preparation to do well in public elementary schools.
  • Just now, the government is upgrading day care centers to supply preschool training. But it is not still adequate.
  • The Philippine Grail has responded to this need for preschool education since the late eighties. A new preschool is being built in Cagayan de Oro financed by a Grail member for poor children.


Training preschool teachers
Training for industrial action

Preschool upgrading seminar
Community bakery

A Glimpse of the Philippine GRAIL history

The Grail in the Philippines officially gained recognition in October 1975. The members expressed their commitment before Simone Tagher, then Grail president visiting the Philippines.

Five years earlier, 1970-1980 was declared by the United Nations as the decade of Women. It seemed providential that the Philippine Grail began as an internationally recognized group in 1975, the mid-decade focusing on women.

The theme of Women as an auspicious beginning by the Grail group to initiate discussions among Maryknoll faculty, personnel, and friends. Began with prayer, these meetings touched on the different aspects of issues concerning women and was ecumenical from the start with a Methodist woman from Northern Luzon.

1980s marked the beginning of the preschools in Metro Manila as the bi-monthly meetings with urban squatters’ women. The Grail made use of an integrated approach helping these women gain more self-knowledge, knowledge of society, and deeper awareness of our relationship with the Creator.
1987 was the birth year of the Pagbubuo, and experiential learning experience for grassroots women coming from the more remote islands in the Philippines – more frequently, Samar in the Visayas and Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao.

The catechists, village leaders, public school teachers, participants in the program, learned the interconnectedness of their very selves, with the neighbors and ultimately with God.

Rebecca Nebrida, Grail coordinator, got elected member of the International Presidency Team (IPT). She donated her stipend to pay for a rent of a place where the Pagbubuo sessions were held.

1990s saw the mushrooming of preschools in Samar – peaking at 17 at its height with much foreign funding facilitated by Grail women abroad and their contacts. Cagayan de Oro followed with its own preschools which later became self-sustaining.

In 1991, a historic first was the holding of the International Sub Council in Manila, with participants from North and South America as well as Teresa Santa Clara Gomes and Marita Estor of the IPT.

2000 is distinct with the turn-over of responsibility from Rebecca to a three women-leadership team, reflecting the Grail value of shared leadership.
Prepared: Jeanette V. Loanzon, June 2000.

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