Taking on the Challenge, One Brick at a Time

February 19, 2011 (Saturday) Part I

Today, I learned that rebuilding lives is a manageable feat. Spending half a day in Laguna gave this builder the guts and inspiration to make a difference in fellow travelers’ lives. In this post, I offer you a different destination, one that will shape our actions for the future and erase a limitation that keeps us from doing what we want in life.

Resistance to Recognition of Greatness: We Can Actually Rebuild Lives
I was a small person in college, sticking to my own world and creatively avoiding NSTP (where I will be tasked to be either a teacher or a construction worker as part of community service). I never imagined that this day would come – I personally volunteered to attend a Habitat for Humanity build last weekend and helped make homes.

If I heard myself talking now to a younger me, I would have shrugged at the thought and just go back to worrying about my future like finding a high-paying job when I graduate. Fast forward to 2011, I just realized that I didn’t like NSTP because I believed that I was only one person and I cannot change a corrupted Philippines, much less the world. With that out of the way, I am now taking on the challenge.

I am committed to showing a different way to travel in this blog.

Destination: Calauan, Laguna
I switched my clock from blogger time to traveler time and struggled to be at the meet-up place in EDSA by 6:30 a.m. The van cruised along the highway at warp speed and I opened my eyes a few minutes past 8:30 a.m. to a fantastic view of the countryside.

Informal settlers from the Pasig and Paco areas will leave their urban life and transfer to their new homes here near the mountains and rice paddies once the project is complete.

The Bayanijuan site in Calauan, Laguna is home today to around 5000 families already in this 107 hectare land.

Builders aim to create communities where there are markets, schools, gardens and multi-purpose centers aside from housing.

Building 101

Building homes is not only about building an infrastructure like a house for people to live in. Lives must persist even after those houses are finished.

Habitat for Humanity in the Philippines ensures that these Filipino settlers have a livelihood and a value system in place so that this group of people would survive collectively. The Habitat Way also includes caring for the environment, health, education, microfinance and vocational training.

Local volunteers and traveling volunteers can take part in the process of building a community that works.

Before any building, I was given a waiver and information form for any accidents.

You must have your own insurance. They told us to wear long pants (for nails that stick out), long sleeves (if you don’t want your arms to get dark), white top (it feels cooler), closed shoes and sun block.

We were given gloves, a hardhat and water for a few hours of bricklaying. Other types of activities include house-painting, fabrication of CIBs (concrete interlocking blocks specifically used and made for Habitat for Humanity houses), tree planting, etc.

Know more about my volunteering experience and how to join in rebuilding lives. Stay tuned for my next post - My Day with Derek Ramsey, Cheez Escudero and Don Fernando Zobel de Ayala.