First-time in a Habitat Bloggers Build
I missed the first two Bloggers Build with Habitat for Humanity. To think that I work for this non-profit organization. Finally, I was able to be at the site when a group of bloggers once again took a morning off and traveled for almost two hours to the quiet town of Calauan in Laguna, south of Manila, to experience building houses with other volunteers and Habitat families.
The Habitat site is located at the foot of the mountains. The wind blew heavily while the sun streaked its rays at the hundreds of volunteers swarming at the site. There were five bloggers and volunteers with the likes of Fernando Zobel de Ayala of Ayala Corporation (and Chairperson of Habitat for Humanity Philippines’ “I Build” campaign), Senator Francis Escudero, TV and radio broadcaster Karen Davila; businessmen like Jim Fuentebella of Max’s Restaurant & Krispy Kreme, Emil Yap III of Manila Bulletin, and Felix Ang of CATS Motors; Habitat Youth Council officers like Kay Yang, Kevin Yang, Isabel Francisco, and Mic Eduque; personalities like Derek Ramsey and Cristalle Belo; and media outfits. The Habitat Youth Council is instrumental in getting youth participation and involvement to Habitat.
Over 200 volunteers came that day. From toddlers to adults, volunteers from various ages and color came together and made construction-related activities like a festive event. Upbeat music filled the air as volunteers laid bricks, mixed cement, sieved sand, made concrete interlocking blocks, painted walls and planted trees. Others fed the children from the community and encouraged their creativity through arts & crafts activities.
Children-volunteers helped paint one of the houses. Young Jose Atienza was very enthusiastic that day. He came up to Habitat staff and construction experts and blurted, “I want to build a house! I want to do some welding.” It was cute and I thought it was all curiosity on his part until he asked for a hard hat and said he wanted to do some house painting instead of the arts & crafts assigned to them. “Which part of the house will we paint?” he asked. I told him they will paint the lower part of the facade. “Not the roof?” was his follow-up question. He sounded like an adult and admired his vitality. But, of course, we still had to follow safety precautions, especially for children, so he had to contend with wall painting.
With the warm, sunshiny day, I took shelter in one of the units and chatted with the mothers from the community who were distributing food. They were all very happy to see these people giving up a day off from their busy schedules to help build homes. It’s not every day that these mothers experience this kind of excitement at the site. Even the children who received their Krispy Kreme donuts were delighted to be given a treat that day.
After lunch, everyone left the site. As we headed back to Manila, I gazed at the green mountains, the rice paddies, and the flowers along the highway. We passed by the giant statues of ducks, which Calauan is known for, and realized how one morning can make a difference to the lives of the families who benefit from our program, the workers who help us in construction work, the office staff who came in full force, and our volunteers and donors who felt a sense of fulfillment over the bricks they laid, the cement they mixed, the trees they planted, and the interaction they did with everyone, big and small.
The road was leading me back to the fast-paced life in the capital but I was already looking forward to traveling back to Calauan for another Habitat build.