My Day with Derek Ramsay, Cheez Escudero and Don Fernando Zobel de Ayala

February 19, 2011 (Saturday) Part II
(Read about Part I here - Taking on the Challenge, One Brick at a Time)

Aside from knowing that I made a difference, here are some fun interesting facts that made bricklaying an exceptionally enjoyable experience.

For one, this was a day where the youth, the old, the rich, the poor, the families, the individuals, the celebrities, the private persons, the companies, the leaders in government, the leaders in business, the professionals, the students, the media and the travelers went all out and all the way to rebuild lives.

What’s made available, now that we know working together across different sectors is possible, is that it is also possible to recreate togetherness and be a part of it at any given time.

Easy Breezy Fun in Bricklaying

You’re toning your arms and “obliques” as you become part of a connected line that brings the blocks inside the house. Putting down my camera for a couple of hours and concentrating on work was a great idea.

Image from Chinita Montalbo

The CIBs and channel blocks you use are lighter than hollow blocks and they interlock with each other. It’s nice to know that you’re building a sturdy house at such a quick pace (with the guidance of the engineers and skilled workers).

Hitting my head on a block made me understand the use of wearing a hardhat even at lower-level building. The pain will go away but my learnings from this day will stay with me.

No less than Derek Ramsay is on the other house and just behind me encouraging his team to keep on working. 

Image from Chinita Montalbo

All of us were a team in my mind. My spirits were uplifted in the process and it made building fun.

Sen. Cheez Escudero was building with friends and his security team.

Strangers whom I’ve just met become part of my journey and my life will never be the same without them. No bloodlines here but we were connected through the houses we built – in making a difference to other people’s lives.

There are more fortunate individuals like Fernando Zobel de Ayala who makes visions (like addressing the housing problems in the Philippines) come true. He works twice as hard and just kept on working even after everybody had stopped – truly inspiring.

Most of all, it was possible to be all smiles despite having worked under the hot sun and knowing that your body might just ache the next day. (Note: Jeff's Alaxan Shirt means every pain is brought about by excellence in what I do. Borrowing further from Alaxan's tagline, I'm not afraid of pain, repeated excellence and success comes with it.) The Krispy Kreme treat gave us a quite a boost.

Here are some before and after pictures of our work.

One can’t be choosy in this line of happy work but I want to unleash my creativity on painting next time.

Bricklaying was easier than I thought (5 CIBs then 1 channel block). 

Our team helped build the foundation for 3 houses on this 2-hour day job.

The Resident Building Community

While on break, I asked about the livelihood of a resident volunteer tasked to cleaning during the event. She told me that as a homeowner now, they practice sweat equity here. This means that in exchange for x number of hours of work, they get earnings (as much as P200 and probably is decreased from their monthly dues). 

She said that women also take part in building houses for their community. In her words in Filipino, I will translate it loosely as “Women do what men do here (build this place).” I guess equity starts in equality too. To learn more about Habitat for Humanity's sweat equity, click here.

The Habitat Youth Council

If the leaders of this Youth Council understand what they are doing then I commend them for their commitment at such an early age. I, for one, do not believe in making volunteerism an after-school program and in mobilizing the youth if they do not fully understand what it means. It was an “Aha” moment for me even if I had heard people around me repeat it over and over throughout my life. I finally understood for myself early this year that making a difference in people’s lives naturally uplifted my life in the process. That moment of discovery required emptying myself up completely and a whole lot of deep thought about my purpose and direction in life.

Volunteer With Your Heart

The Habitat Youth Council is planning to mobilize a thousand youngsters to build homes in Calauan, Laguna on May 2011. If you feel that you are no longer part of the Youth, making a difference does not have an age limit.

Please feel free to fill up the form below if you are interested to rebuild lives even beyond the May 2011 event. I’m sure Habitat for Humanity could arrange a schedule convenient for you and your group.