Ayala Corp Supports HFH Philippines And Partners In Pasig River Rehabilitation Project

Philippine Conglomerate To Fund 175 Housing Units For Informal Riverbank Settlers And Provide Wastewater Treatment

MANILA, 4th February 2010: Habitat for Humanity Philippines received a boost to one of its major projects with a recent pledge of support from Ayala Group.

HFH Philippines is leading house construction and rehabilitation for informal riverbank settlers in the resettlement community in Calauan, Laguna province.

Domestic and industrial waste contributed to the pollution of Pasig River.

Informal settlers living along the banks of Pasig River face the risk of flooding during the rainy season.

HFH Philippines and its partner San Miguel Corp handed over an initial 47 houses in Calauan.

Families in Calauan are engaged in various livelihood activities such as bag-making (left) and wood work (right).

The locally-based conglomerate pledged to help rehabilitate Pasig River in central Metro Manila through providing wastewater treatment and housing. Ayala will partner with HFH Philippines to build 175 new homes — to mark the company’s 175th anniversary — for informal settlers who live along the banks of Pasig River.

“We’ve committed 30 million pesos (about US656,000) as a group, and this is just the beginning of what I hope will be an ongoing process for that area,” said Ayala Corp’s president Fernando Zobel de Ayala, a former member of the Habitat for Humanity International board of directors. “We also hope to build a school, basketball court, and some of the other amenities.”

The Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig (Arm-in-Arm for the Pasig River) project was first launched in February 2009 through the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources and ABS-CBN Foundation. The project involves various groups ranging from non-governmental organizations such as HFH Philippines to the national government to the private sector. Spanning seven years, the project aims to transform the Pasig River into a zero toxic and clean river zone.

The 27 kilometer-long Pasig River stretches from Manila Bay in the west and Laguna de Bay in the east. The river was a major transport route during the time of the Spanish colonial Manila. Over time, the river has become increasingly polluted with domestic and industrial waste cited as culprits. Disasters such as Typhoon Ketsana in September 2009 also exacerbated the flooding that was a regular feature for families living in makeshift shelter built along the river banks.

The Pasig River project will also provide housing to informal riverbank settlers, build up communities and sustainable development. HFH Philippines will help provide part of the housing required for some 4,000 families living along Pasig River who will be relocating to a new community about 50 km. away from Metro Manila. The housing project — BayaniJuan sa Calauan — in Calauan municipality, Laguna province, is co-managed by ABS-CBN Foundation and the National Housing Authority.

Other partners include Manila Water (water and sanitation facilities); Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (assistance in relocation); the government’s Department of Energy (electricity); Global Asiatique (construction materials); Boysen Paints and San Miguel Yamamura Packaging.

In the Calauan housing project, HFH Philippines will be building 175 homes with Ayala as well as another 200 units in a partnership with San Miguel Corporation, the largest food, beverage and packaging company in the country. Using a steel frame technology adapted from New Zealand, HFH Philippines will build row houses of 20 sq. m. each with provision of a 12.5 sq. m. loft. (Habitat has built hundreds of homes across the Philippines using this approach.)

HFH Philippines will also refurbish 800 housing units. Refurbishment works includes installation of doors, louvers or windows, toilet bowls or heat barriers, painting, repair of roofing sheets and rehabilitation of septic tanks. So far, HFH Philippines has refurnished 766 housing units in BayaniJuan.

Earlier, HFH Philippines and San Miguel handed over an initial 47 housing units to families in Calauan. Guests who were present during the handover ceremony included ABS-CBN Foundation managing director Gina Lopez, Habitat for Humanity Philippines chairman Popoy del Rosario, San Miguel Foundation executive director Camille Buenaventura, Calauan mayor George Berris, local TV personality Kris Aquino and local basketball stars. The 47 families received gift packages from San Miguel while the sportsmen, from clubs owned by San Miguel’s subsidiaries, played basketball with children from the community.

While San Miguel has donated 21 million pesos (about US323,950) to support the new homes, it is also looking at creating livelihood opportunities. In an interview with local newspaper Philippine Star, Ginebra San Miguel president Gerry Payumu said: “The next step is to find ways by which San Miguel could source some of its material requirements from the area, like raw materials for its many businesses, or possibly farms like poultries, piggeries, crab farms, so that livelihood could be developed in this area.”

To date, nearly 660 families have already relocated to the Calauan community. Many families are engaged in livelihood activities such as making bags out of recycled materials, sash-making and planting garden vegetables. In addition, about 100 men from the community have graduated from house painting courses conducted by Philippine government agency, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. Others are undergoing training in electrical work, masonry, plumbing and massage therapy. A Catholic group, the Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life, provides values education to the families in Calauan.