Anthony "Tony" Martin was a Canadian Catholic Priest who was sent to the Philippines in 1958. Stunned by the poverty
that surrounded him, he spent the last 36 years of his life trying to save the livelihood of thousands of poor Filipinos.

He resigned as a priest and left the Catholic Church in 1972 to spend more time promoting Credit Unions in the Philippines.

Credit Unions, which started in Europe in the 19th century, had been used to great effect in bringing Canadians out of
poverty in Atlantic Canada. He took the lessons he learned from that area and brought it to the people of Southern Leyte.

But in doing so, Tony Martin ran into opposition from powerful political clans and money lenders who profited from the poor. The
"American from Canada", as he was sometimes known, fell into their radar and became a person they viewed with suspicion.

In 1976, in what is considered his finest moment, he outmaneuvered the political and economic elites who controlled the Philippine
government by giving up his Canadian citizenship and becoming a Filipino.

The elites, who had considered his work of bringing social justice to the poor a threat to the current political and economic order -
wanted him deported back to Canada.

By becoming a Filipino citizen, those in power could no longer get rid of him.

Tony Martin's leadership of these Credit Unions in the Philippines during the tumultuous time of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s would
go down as one of the most remarkable feats of any Canadian in Canadian history.

But Tony Martin's leadership of the Filipinos would come at great personal cost. By sealing his fate with the country and its people,
Tony Martin charted a course that would lead to his downfall in 1982.

Born on August 28, 1926 in Newfoundland, Canada, Tony Martin's life was shaped by his Protestant father, and his Catholic mother.
Not wanting to join his father in the forests of Newfoundland as a lumberjack, he became a Catholic Priest after succumbing to
his mother's domineering influence.

Wanting "to see the world", he joined the Ontario-based Scarboro Foreign Missions and was sent to the Philippines in 1958.

There, in the island of Leyte, he witnessed crushing poverty where farmers and their families were in continuous cycle of debt.

Malnourished children and destitute families wandering the towns begging for food destroyed Tony Martin's notion of the Philippines
as a "Pearl of the Orient" island paradise.

Wanting to break this cycle and alleviate the suffering of the poor, Tony Martin mobilized his Catholic missionary group, the
The Scarboro Missions, into creating 5 Credit Unions in 5 towns in Southern Leyte.

Credit Unions would help Filipinos break out of poverty by pooling their meager financial resources together and through patience,
discipline, and strict fiduciary management, provide its members with low-interest loans. These loans, if handled productively, were
a ticket out of poverty.

Credit Unions were also a "force multiplier". By Using the concept of "strength in numbers", the poor could save on items such as
fertilizer, food, and medical insurance by buying as a group. Credit Unions greatly reduced the cost of these items and allowed the
poor to have a fighting chance of improving their standard of living.

Tony Martin's message to the poor of Southern Leyte was : "The only way out of poverty, is through each other".

Starting in 1962, with the backing of Scarboro Missions, Tony Martin went about recruiting poor Filipinos and trained them to run
credit unions. From the 1960s, and 1970s, other credit unions would sprout up in the central region of the Philippines - mostly
under the auspices of Tony Martin.

Canadians, through their donations to Scarboro Missions, helped sustain the development of these early credit unions - all of which
were fragile.

Filipinos, with their delicate temperaments, fragile egos, passive-aggressive approach to dealing with conflicts,low
self-esteem, a defeatest mentality, and a penchant for infighting & crab-mentality, were not an easy group to organize. But
through a combination of sheer will, force of personality and the promise of financial freedom, Tony Martin kept these early credit
unions from imploding.

But Tony Martin's dedication to organizing credit unions had its limitations. He was reminded by his superiors that he was still a
Catholic Priest - and that his main duties were to nurture the Catholic religion among Filipinos. But Tony Martin was not a zealous
defender of the Catholic Faith. The memory of his Protestant father - which he greatly respected - was still embedded in him. Tony Martin,
a Catholic priest, was partial to all things Catholic.

He stated in 1969, in an article in Scarboro Missions magazine, that his drive to create credit unions "was not a trick to bring people
to church". This flew into the face of hardlined conservative Catholics who thought that Catholic Priests were duty-bound to recruit
more Filipinos into their brand of religion.

His mantra "God does not intervene in human affairs" and "Only man can solve man's problems" drove him to promote social
action over religious pageantry to fight economic inequality.

In 1972, he resigned as a Catholic Priest and left Scarboro Missions to dedicate himself fully to establishing credit unions in the

That same year however, the Philippines fell under martial law after a growing communist insurgency disrupted the peace and order
situation in the country.

The cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States was still brewing and the Philippines, being under the
influence of the United States, morphed into an extension of the Vietnam war.

Assasinations, kidnappings, and atrocities were committed on both sides of the conflict.

Despite this, Tony Martin decided to share the fate of the Filipinos by becoming one of them. Tony Martin applied for a Filipino
citizenship in 1976, claiming it to be essential to his work of establishing credit unions in the Philippines.

The civilian-military establishment had considered his work of organizing poor Filipinos into credit unions as tantamount to
organizing the people along the lines of socialism and communism - two idealogical enemies of the Philippine government.

Despite this suspicion, Tony Martin was granted Filipino Citizenship on April 26, 1976.

After 18 years in the Philippines, Tony Martin was no longer returning home to Canada.

The 1970s was pivotal in Tony Martin's career. In that decade, he would create two iconic Philippine institutions - VICTO (The Visayas
Cooperative Training Organization) & NATCCO (The National Training Center for Cooperatives).

Partnering with agencies such as Canada's Development & Peace & CIDA, the United States' USAID, and Germany's MISEREOR and
FES, Tony Martin would funnel thousands of dollars of foreign aid money into these institutions.

In 1982 however, the Filipino culture reared its ugly head after the financial successes of these institutions, which were now running
into the hundreds of thousands of dollars (a substantial amount in a poor country), changed the nature of the relationship Tony Martin
had with the Filipinos. Tony Martin was struck down from his post as leader of VICTO and NATCCO after charges of accounting
irregularities were thrown against him.

Blindsided by the betrayal of a handful of his colleagues @ VICTO, Tony Martin tried as best he could to fight back against the
accusations of mismanagement. He realized, much to his horror, that they had effectively barred him from defending his case to the
shareholders of VICTO.

Adding to his difficulties, and one that eventually crushed his spirit, was the consequence of severing ties with Canada.

No longer a priest with the Scarboro Missions, or under the protection of the Canadian government, Tony Martin realized that
he was alone, isolated & powerless to do anything.

After realizing that the Filipinos who had taken over VICTO had gained the upper hand through cunning legal means, Tony Martin
gave up the fight and succumbed to the Filipino's crab-mentality. He withdrew from the credit union movement and spent the last
14 years of his life barely scraping by in the Philippines.

His struggles during this period is covered in great detail in his upcoming biography.

Despite a stellar and exemplary contribution to the country, Tony Martin's final years in the Philippines were crowned with this defeat.

After 36 years of service to the Filipino people, Tony Martin died on October 21, 1994 and was buried in Cebu City, the Philippines.