HFH Philippines And Compassion International Celebrate 625 Houses Built For Typhoon-Hit Families

Joint Project In Bicol Region Aims To Help Over 800 Families, Including Home Repairs

BICOL, 5th February 2008: More than a year has passed since Typhoon Durian pummeled the eastern Bicol region of the Philippines, leaving tens of thousands homeless and over 1,000 dead.

Taking pride: Naga City mayor Jessie Robredo (with microphone) congratulating home partners in Batalas on their new houses.

Transformed: Oliver Coronado (left), internal vice-president of Habitat for Humanity’s Bicol affiliate with a token showing an old house in Anislag village and a new Habitat home. Next to him is Noel Pabiona, Compassion International’s country director.

Jubilation: Home partners rejoicing over their new homes in Anislag village.

Now 625 families can start their life afresh in new homes constructed under a joint project by Habitat for Humanity Philippines and Compassion International, a US-based Christian child-advocacy ministry.

Habitat representatives were present at a recent dedication ceremony held in Anislag village, Daraga town, in Bicol’s Albay province. Other guests include Compassion International’s country director Noel Pabiona, Compassion’s complementary intervention director Bob Thorp, and Daraga’s mayor Cicero Triunfante.

In addition to Compassion International, Habitat also partnered with the local Albay Mabuhay Foundation and the government’s National Housing Authority in the Bicol project. Apart from funding the houses, Compassion has funded the educational expenses of children from affected families. Habitat and Compassion are expected to serve 800 families with either new homes or home repairs.

Habitat home partners contributed to the construction of their own homes as well as those of others. Widow Aling Angelina Lostan had a narrow escape when Typhoon Durian’s strong winds ripped through their house. Together with her four children, they managed to escape through a gaping hole in the tin roof. All that remained of their home was the foundation and a skeletal structure. Thankful for the opportunity to rebuild her home, Lostan said: “I’m okay with the fact that we are helping each other build homes. If we went our own ways, it shows that we don’t care about each other. It’s nicer when everybody’s helping one another.”

Other volunteers also played a key role in the construction of the homes in Bicol. Among them were the 800 volunteers who took part in a September 2007 blitz build called Bicol Express. They traveled to Anislag village in a caravan of buses from the capital Manila and braved incessant rains to help construct 25 duplexes, or 50 houses.

Prior to the Compassion project, HFH Philippines had completed more than 1,300 home repairs and rebuilt several school rooms by the end of last June.

In total, just over 4,000 typhoon-hit families in Bicol are expected to be assisted by Habitat and its partners. The latest partner to lend support is the Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare Development. DSWD recently inked a memorandum of agreement with HFH Philippines to build 495 core houses for typhoon-affected families in Bicol’s Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur provinces. Under the agreement, DSWD will provide more than 80 per cent of the cost of the 42 million peso (about US1.1 million) project.

HFH Philippines is also working with DSWD to rebuild homes for hundreds of families affected by the February 2006 landslides in Southern Leyte province.

On the same day that Habitat and Compassion marked the house dedication, HFH Philippines had another reason to celebrate in a different part of Bicol. In Batalas town, Naga City, 50 families received new homes under a 100-house project. The project to resettle informal settlers in Batalas’ Maogma Village (literally happy village) was a Habitat partnership with the local government of Naga, local non-governmental organization Community Organizing in People’s Empowerment (COPE) and the Computer Manufacturers, Distributors and Dealers Association of the Philippines.