HFH Philippines Attracts 1,600 Volunteers For Youth Build In Calauan

June 9th, 2011

‘1k For 1 Day’ Is Part Of ‘I Build’ Campaign To Mark Habitat’s 25 Years Of Serving Families In The Philippines

Volunteers came from 25 international schools, private and public universities, and colleges in Manila. They worked on the foundation of the houses and lay concrete interlocking blocks. After the build, the volunteers formed the word ‘Habitat’ at the build site. All photos by Mikel Flamm.

CALAUAN, The Philippines, 9th June 2011: When Habitat for Humanity Philippines planned its ‘1K for 1 Day’ youth build, it was aiming to attract 1,000 volunteers. In the end, 1,600 volunteers turned up at Habitat’s housing resettlement site in Calauan, Laguna province.

“It was a record number of youth volunteers, the largest number in a single day. So much energy and so much excitement,” said Fernando Zobel de Ayala, chairman of Habitat for Humanity’s Capital Campaign in the Asia-Pacific region. He was interviewed by the local Inquirer South Luzon newspaper.

Volunteers came from 25 international schools, private and public universities, and colleges in Manila.

Forming the largest contingent of volunteers were 300 engineering students from the Rizal Technological University, Mandaluyong city, Metro Manila.

Another group of volunteers also stood out. About 60 students from the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies of the De La Salle College of St. Benilde helped to paint a row of 90 houses which have been constructed.

One of the volunteers, Daisielynne Reyes, 23, said her fellow volunteers and she did not feel any different from the other volunteers as everyone was focused on the idea of “building houses for the poor”.

“As we say, it’s the ability, not the disability. They can do just about anything but hear,” teacher Bea Francisco told the Inquirer South Luzon.

Reyes’ family relocated to Manila from Bulacan province a few years ago. While Reyes missed her old home, she was happy that her family stayed together, an apt reminder to the families who relocated to Calauan from Manila.

The rest of the volunteers built the foundation for 80 houses. They sifted sand, pushed carts of hollow blocks and piled concrete interlocking blocks.

HFH Philippines’ goodwill ambassadors, television news anchor Karen Davila and actor Matteo Guidicelli also lent a hand.

Leading the pack is the Habitat Youth Council chaired by Alexandra Eduque, HFH Philippines’ Youth Ambassador. She was joined by other council members, Kay Yang, Isabel Francisco, Michaela Eduque, Eugenia Zobel de Ayala and incoming officers Kevin Yang, Simon Tantoco and Pedro T. Roxas.

Speaking to the Inquirer South Luzon, Eduque said ‘1K for 1 Day’ underlined “the importance of volunteerism, cooperation and teamwork” regardless of who the young people were or where they came from.

When Habitat Youth Council was inaugurated in August 2010, the members aimed to raise 10 million pesos (US232,000) for the Calauan project.

To date, Habitat Youth Council has raised a total of 34 million in cash, in kind and pledges. This includes 2,650 bags of cement from Mexico-headquartered CEMEX which are enough for the construction of 50 houses along with discounts and technical expertise provisions.

The ‘1K for 1 Day’ event was part of ‘I Build’ campaign, a four-year initiative of HFH Philippines that will celebrate 25 years of providing decent homes for families in need.

HFH Philippines’ CEO, Ricky Jacinto, said a partnership with the Department of Education to build houses for schoolteachers is in the pipeline. Having seen the energy and the power of the young people at the build, Jacinto said: “It’s never too early or too late for nation-building. It’s time we (adults) learn from them.