HFH Philippines To Build Homes For More Than 500 Urban Families In Pasig, Metro Manila

Informal Riverbank Settlers Among Families Whose Lives Will Be Transformed; Beauty Pageant Contestants And Basketball Star Contributed Voluntary Efforts

MANILA, 27th March 2009: In support of the local government’s urban renewal program, Habitat for Humanity Philippines is building homes for more than 500 families in need in Pasig City, Metro Manila. These families include informal settlers living along the banks of Pasig River in the city.

(From left) Pasig City mayor Robert Eusebio; HFH Philippines’ president and CEO Alberto Jugo; Friends of Habitat’s co-chair Margie Moran-Floirendo; ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda hosts Bernadette Sembrano, Donita Rose and Alex Santos.

Contestants from the Binibining Pilipinas 2009 beauty pageant cutting steel rebars and making concrete interlocking bricks at Bernardo Compound.

Basket star Chris Tiu (right) learning from the more experienced Alexandra Madrigal Eduque (left) before getting down to work himself.

HFH Philippines is constructing a series of multi-story buildings. Partnering with the Pasig government, Habitat will build 416 two-story town homes in Molave Street, Nagpayong in Pinagbuhatan barangay or village. The hosts of a popular local daily morning show, Umagang Kay Ganda, also committed to provide homes for 12 families as part of the project.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Pasig City mayor Robert Eusebio said: “Through this urban housing project with Habitat for Humanity and other partners, we are offering a new lease of hope for our people by helping them acquire decent, affordable and quality housing right within the city.”

At the same event, HFH Philippines’ Margie Moran-Floirendo commented: “(The underprivileged) deserve an equal opportunity to live and work in urban centers as much as rich people do; but to be able to offer that opportunity, we need to create communities where they can live in dignity. That is what HFH Philippines seeks to promote through its Urban Renewal Project.”

The 416-two-story town homes project is the second partnership between HFH Philippines and the Pasig city government.

In another project nearby in Bernardo Compound, HFH Philippines is building housing units in multi-story buildings for 120 families who are informal riverbank settlers. Built with concrete interlocking blocks, each 20 sq. m. unit comes with a provision for a loft. Land is provided by the Pasig government.

The relocation of informal riverbank settlers is part of a seven-year project to clean up the Pasig River. Spearheaded by the ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, the Kapit Bisig sa Ilog Pasig project aims to transform the area into a “zero toxic and clean river zone”.

Various volunteers have helped to make progress on the site in Bernardo Compound. Among them were 24 contestants who took part in the Binibining Pilipinas 2009 beauty pageant. The holders of the 2008 Binibining Pilipinas titles for Miss Universe, Miss International and Miss World - Jennifer Barrientos, Patricia Fernandezand Denielle Castano - also lent a hand.

After a day of carrying pails of gravel, cutting reinforcement bars and bending them as well as making concrete interlocking blocks, volunteer Priscila Mae Honorio told the Manila Bulletin newspaper that she was humbled by the experience. The pageant’s producer, Stella Araneta, was full of praise for the volunteers and hoped that they would develop an affinity for social work after their volunteering stint.

Earlier, Filippino basketball star Chris Tiu and HFH Philippines’ youth ambassador Alexandra Madrigal Eduque contributed their labor of love at the Pasig site.

First-time Habitat volunteer Tiu told The Philippine Star newspaper that he learnt to appreciate the work of construction workers. After his maiden stint, he believed he would advocate more effectively for the cause of Habitat. “Everybody gains,” Tiu was quoted as saying. “The home partners, the builders, as well as the volunteers. Together, we build not only homes but also communities. Ultimately, we build better lives.”

Working at the same site as Tiu, Eduque and her friends spent a day making concrete interlocking bricks and tying steel rebars. A winner of Habitat for Humanity International’s board of directors’ Nehemiah Awards for outstanding volunteer service, Eduque had raised three million pesos (about US62,490) for HFH Philippines at her 18th birthday celebration in 2008. The funds would go toward rebuilding homes for typhoon-affected families in the Bicol region.

“Community service has to come from the heart,” Eduque toldThe Philippine Star. Although she will be leaving in a few months for her overseas college education, she said she will continue volunteering with Habitat during her holidays and summer school breaks. “I find my fulfillment in service, so I will continue doing this.”