Design Discussions with Mayor of Ormoc

“Our journey towards victory begun with a single pair of shoes." Mayor Richard Gomez stated after the victory.

Young athletes of Ormoc City recently won the 2018 Eastern Visayas Regional Athletic Association (EVRAA) competitions. Sports is a major focus of Mayor Richard Gomez and his team and this recent success is very likely a reflection of the Mayor's dedication which has included shoe sponsorship programs and high level coaches. It's remarkable that these athletes became champions despite not having proper dedicated training facilities that could match the ambition of the athletes themselves.

However, this is now going to change. After a year of designing several learning center prototypes for Ormoc City Government our collaboration is now evolving and solidifying. Resulting from discussions over the past month is not only additional financial support of our next three Learning Centers (huge news in itself)  but also several new design commissions for Native Narrative. 

We now work on the redevelopment of Ormoc City's main sports facilities in Collaboration with the Ormoc City Engineering department.  This includes the construction of: a new fencing training center / a covered basketball court, a grand stand and a Boxing Club. To the Mayor an Olympic Fencer himself this project means a lot and is of course also a huge honour for us to be involved in.

With construction starting on three Learning Centers in a few weeks and these new additional projects it's inevitable to feel positive and excited about the future of sports and education in Ormoc City.  

 Ormoc City's current main sports facilities - Site for Ormoc's New Boxing Club   

Ormoc City's current main sports facilities - Site for Ormoc's New Boxing Club


 Ormoc City's current main sports facilities - Site for Ormoc's new Fencing Center, covered Basketball court as well as a new Grand Stand.    

Ormoc City's current main sports facilities - Site for Ormoc's new Fencing Center, covered Basketball court as well as a new Grand Stand. 


 Ormoc City's current Grand Stand

Ormoc City's current Grand Stand


"How do architects & engineers approach design in different ways?"

"How can ideas evolve by creating generations of options?"

"How are 3d models influencing the design process?"

These were some of the topics discussed yesterday as I had the pleasure of giving the first in a series of lectures at EVSU, Ormoc to incredibly welcoming and inspired students. For little over a year we have been lucky enough to be receiving occasional construction advice from Professor Vincente Duallo and now we finally had an opportunity to return the favour to about 70 of his 5th year engineering students.

I also spoke about my University  experience in London, commercial offices in UK, Indonesia & China and last years Charity work here in the Philippines. My aim was to leave the students inspired and with a feeling that there are many ways to approach the industry and many situations where an engineer is needed. No matter what happens, recessions included, find a way to keep working and developing!

I'm already looking forward to next weeks lecture.

Superdome Contractor Meeting

Not only did we have a contractor meeting in the most majestic Ormoc City setting imaginable but we also had a brass band playing in the background. Its a sign of exciting things to come for Native Narrative and the children of Ormoc City. The last few months of intense design work, feedback and reviews is soon being materialised on site. We are soon starting construction of three more Learning Centers, expected to be completed this spring.


Collaboration Partner - Weaver Arlene

The Learning Center features bespoke woven seating covers, made from recycled t-shirts. From cities to rural villages things made from woven bamboo or palm leaves are common property in the Philippines.  

Weaving using recycled t-shirts is often used in the Philippines but reserved for making doors mats only. Applying it as seating covers is the first of it’s kind. Native Narrative wished to not only celebrate the weaving method but also raise the status of recycling, as foreign and new is often preferred over local and used.  



Many people in Ormoc City are selling colourful woven doormats made from recycled T-shirts, Arlene is unusual in the sense that she actually makes the pieces herself in her small shop located in Ormoc City  (as opposed to importing them from the nearby city of Cebu). 


For months we had been seeing these matts and discussed the idea of incorporating bespoke pieces in learning center interiors but never managed to find a person with the skills needed to customize appropriate pieces. 

But one day as we walked past we spotted Arlene's shop and began talks on how to collaborate. For two weeks Arlene worked marathon sessions producing beautiful seating covers for Native Narrative's first Learning Center project.


The covers were extremely well recieved with the local kids who enjoys these colourful splashes in the otherwise monochromatic center but also with adults who discussed other ways of using this material; for sofas, in cars etc. We enjoyed these conversations immensely as this  recycled material technique is (at least locally) receiving higher status.


We are very happy to have Arlene onboard our team and to be working with her on our next upcoming Learning Center projects and honestly cannot wait to see what she produces. 


We are pleased to announce that Native Narrative is now supported and funded by the Danish Arts Foundation, Committee for Architecture Grants and Project Funding. 

With this support we will be able to continue our work in the Phillippines, and pursue the construction of another 4 learning centers in villages around Ormoc City. The construction and labour costs for these 4 centers will be fully financially supported by Mayor Richard Gomez, Ormoc City Government.  

We are super grateful for this acknowledgment and can't wait to hand-over the next learning centers to the communities around Ormoc City!  



To read more about the Danish Arts Foundation, please visit here

Follow the Danish Arts Foundation on Facebook

The soon to be constructed Learning Centers in Village Mas-in and Salvation:

To read more about our upcoming Charity Architecture projects, please visit here.

Collaboration Partner - Local NGO: Rural Development Initatives

Almost everyone can stay excited for 2-3 months, few people can stay excited for 2-3 years, but true professionals stay excited for whatever time it takes to get the job done. The development work of Rural Development Initiatives (RDI) is however never done and it’s remarkable that after 20 years, these NGO (Non Governmental Organisation) members are continuously excited about the tremendous amount of field work they do every day in and around Ormoc City.

Paid or unpaid, they make no exceptions.

 Some of the RDI community facilitators.  RDI Leyte is a larger team consisting of many volunteers who generously give their time and effort everyday.        

Some of the RDI community facilitators.  RDI Leyte is a larger team consisting of many volunteers who generously give their time and effort everyday.  



Led by Executive Director Josefa Roces-Pizon (pictured above), the team of RDI community facilitators are daily supporting rural communities by facilitating various training programmes including children feeding, disaster preparedness, human and children’s rights programmes.  


Since RDI was founded in 1996, RDI has played an important role in rebuilding communities in the aftermath of several natural disasters, herunder Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

Executive Director of RDI, Josefa Pizon reporting in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013:

RDI collaborate with various stakeholders on local, national and international levels such as government units, charity organisations, business sectors and funding partners.

The collaboration with Josefa Roces-Pizon and her team is extremely valuable to us! Right through the beginning of our work in the Philippines, we have been met with the greatest warmth and generosity from the Executive Director Josefa Roces-Pizon and her team. After having lived nearly a year with the RDI team being a part of the local community, an understanding of Filipino culture emerged which fundamentally informed our work.

Native Narrative was introduced to RDI through the Sheryl Lynn Foundation, who have been closely collaborating with RDI for the past 10 years.

The never-ending enthusiasm, generosity and kindness of the RDI team is a huge source of inspiration for us!


Read more about Rural Development Initiatives here: 



Collaboration Partner - Ormoc City Government

After being seriously devastated by typhoon Haiyan in 2013, Ormoc City is now on a path of recovery led by Mayor Richard Gomez. Before becoming a politician, Gomez had a remarkable multidisciplinary career as an actor, model, elite athlete and television presenter in the Philippines. Since Gomez’ arrival in office in the spring 2016, Ormoc City has undergone a huge transformation and is now a city in development and progress.


Throughout out our time in Ormoc City (nearly the entire year 2017), we have established a close collaboration with Mayor Richard Gomez and his administration. After completing one project last month, Native Narrative now runs 3 Charity Architecture Projects expected to be finished spring 2018. These buildings will be implemented in rural areas around Ormoc City and receive full financial support from the local Government. Native Narrative will however still be giving time and expertise free of charge.


The collaboration with Mayor Richard Gomez and his administration means a great deal to us. Together we are able to provide safe environments where children can study and play. In addition to the Learning Center projects, we are currently discussing Native Narrative's involvement in the design of a Woman Rescue Center on behalf of the local Government in Ormoc City.


More information about Ormoc City Government and Richard Gomez can be found here:




Collaboration Partner - The Sheryl Lynn Foundation

Sheryl Lynn Callister is the founder of The Sheryl Lynn Foundation (SLF). With a main focus on children and education, SLF has since it was was founded in 2007 actively helped and supported Filipinos in poverty.

The first Native Narrative designed learning center was a project initiated by the Sheryl Lynn Foundation in collaboration with Rural Development Initiatives (local NGO) in Leyte who commissioned Native Narrative as the lead Design & Project Management consultant on a non-profit basis.

DSC_7765 (2).jpg

Being a daughter of a Filipino mother and a Dutch father, the people & culture of the Philippines has always been a great part Sheryl Lynn's life. 21 million people lives under the national poverty line in the Phillippines (Source: Asian Development Bank), seeing the poverty in the Philippines with her own eyes during family visits as a little girl made a strong impact on her. She always hoped that one day she could find a way to make a significant impact for those who live in poverty.   

Realising this dream came closer when she was crowned Miss Netherlands in 2006, as this title gave her the opportunity to start her own foundation. Beauty competitions are extremely popular in the Philippines and the voice of the winner has the opportunity to reach a large audience. Over the years Sheryl-Lynn has used her extended work in entertainment as a platform for her foundation.  A successful hosting & modelling career, winning the Mrs. Globe 2013 pageant in the United States and currently performing as an international DJ, all brings awareness to the foundation and ultimately creates funding for new projects.


Sheryl Lynn furthermore graduated with honours in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University, a study she consciously chose as an investment for the Sheryl Lynn Foundation. She specialised in Environment & Development in the region of South-East Asia and did her fieldwork in the Philippines in the provinces of Leyte and Isabela. SLF collaborated with Leiden University to raise funds for the victims of super-typhoon Haiyan, after which Sheryl Lynn left to the disaster area in Leyte to help in relief and rehabilitation efforts.

Leiden University nominated Sheryl Lynn as their representative for the national ECHO Award competition after her return from Leyte to the Netherlands. In 2014 she was awarded the ECHO Award for combining the world of entertainment, academics and philanthropy to use the outcome for a greater purpose; a formula & vision Sheryl-Lyn continues to carry out today.


Photos: Sheryl Lynn DJ-ing for the kids, teenagers and parents in the village Cagbuhangin during the opening ceremony of the first Native Narrative designed Learning Center.


To read more about Sheryl Lynn and her work, please have a look here:
Sheryl Lynn Foundation      SLF Facebook         DJ Sheryl Lynn

To support her on her journey, please like and follow her on social media:
Facebook      Instagram     Mixcloud

OFFCIAL OPENING OF Children's Learning Center

Last week the Children's Learning Center finally opened in Village Cagbuhangin. The ceremony was a beautiful and emotional well attended event that featured representatives from The Local City Government, Brgy (Village) Cagbuhangin, the very multidimensional project initiator and donor DJ Sheryl Lynn Callister, Rural Development Initiative (Local NGO), JV Enterprises, local residents, friends and others. 

Native Narrative would like to give special thanks to: The Sheryl Lynn Foundation for starting the project, bringing us in to the team, connecting us to the local community and making a significant first contribution of project funds. The RDI team for treating us like family and providing an endless supply of local knowledge. Mayor Richard Gomez and the entire local Government in Ormoc City (way too many people to mention all) for the financial support and believing in us. All people who took part in the construction process, you have our deepest appreciation and respect.

Finally we also like to thank our commercial client's as they are paying our salary and allows us to give our time and expertise for free to important projects like this.

The regional newspaper EV Mail featured Native Narrative and project collaborators earlier this week, (article below). The local Government are also this week featuring us on their website, see more here.

We now look forward to building at least another 3 Learning Centers in 2018. Stay tuned for more info. 


For more details about this particular project, see HERE.

Hand Painted Signage

In Ormoc hand painted signage is just about everywhere. We are seduced by this aesthetics to the point where we really have to get one for our nearly completed project. Muhammad Ali's father had the fine profession of a billboard and signage painter, if only he was around to paint ours.


The Philippines is very hot sometimes, most people use fans and air-conditioners but we do not have the budget for an aircon unit or the electricity budget to keep several fans on.

Found an article on and got very interested in making a concrete block version of this bottle aircon solution developed in Bangldesh. Its completely passive and lowers temperatures by 5 degrees.

Incredible, right?

Our intention is to make the whole wall a passive aircon system in the soon to be constructed Learning Center in Juaton, Philippines (see bottom image).

Durability is a key factor for us so we are looking to incorporate the same method into a building component, casting it in concrete, basically fixing the bottles into the formwork and making an aircon-brick.

Here is a little more info from the article. [in Bangladesh] "air conditioning is simply not an option for most people living in rural areas. Ashis Paul developed a clever DIY cooling system that doesn’t need any electricity and is built from a common waste item: empty plastic soda bottles. In just three months, Paul’s company has helped install its smart powerless air conditioners, called Eco Coolers, in 25,000 households, with many more still ahead."



We are working on plywood furniture for the Children's Learning Centers.  Our intent is to make these affordable, durable and easy to make for relatively unskilled workers with common basic tools. Tables and storage units will follow soon also. If anyone wants to have a go at making one of these chairs: contact and we will happily supply the technical drawings!



Every creative person knows the feeling of relief when a difficult aspect of a project is finally resolved. Sometimes this aspect is entirely in the hands of someone else. In our case it was to do with funding. After 8 months of working, wishing and hoping, we finally got a break as we presented our development strategy to the local government here in Ormoc.

The outcome really called for celebration. Mayor of Ormoc City; Richard Gomez, confirmed that the local government not only fully supports our efforts but will also fund the construction of 4 more learning centers in villages around Ormoc City. We are obviously super excited about these news, as it will mean more children will get a safe and secure place to play and develop! 

Construction is estimated to begin at the end this year as well as in the beginning of 2018. More updates to follow soon!

Architectural Visualisation

Construction Update

We have just been to site and the children's Learning Center is coming along well. After so much hard work its unbelievably positive to see and even a little emotional.

In addition to this site we have also visited several other sites that are suitable for other centers. We also have some funding. Its really exciting to know that we are able to help more children develop in a safe and positive environment. Of course we often wish that we could do more and build centers in every village. 

By telling architects about us and recommending our 3D visualisation work you can really help us staying here for longer and building more centers. Together we can make a difference.

Blackout Pt 2

Before the earthquake the ice distribution plant across the street was heavily trafficed, but now it sort of looks like a festival. Music is playing and there are plenty of cars and tricycles randomly parked outside and all  of them are here to get ice.

The city has been nearly a week without a power and reliable water. All electricity comes from noisy, smelly,  polluting diesel generators. Considering these sell new on ebay for $20.000 there are surprisingly many of them we see around. By now we have gotten used to wearing headphones as earplugs when we sleep.

 Occasionally we see charging stations around and there are plenty of people selling solar powered flashlights. 

On a positive side note Ormoc is undeniably more beautiful in candlelight than from the cold blue artificial daylight lighbulbs most people use. Our neighbours are saying that rather than being stuck in front of digital devices, family members now talk and feel more connected as they go to fetch water or look for something in the house using a flashlight.

What consequences are to be expected as a result of power shortage? Food, sanitation, livelihood and economy, it's hard to think of any areas that are not affected.

Fridges and freezers are only in temporary use. Meat is constantly frozen and thawned. Many people are temporarily out of business and if they normally just about manage to live hand to mouth they might well be struggling to buy food now and other supplies now.

The government is helping out, we have seen evidence of food being handed out.  but despite being given with the best intentions it cannot nearly be enough.  



Earthquake / Blackout

Its now 2 days into the Earthquake aftermath.

3 People have died, over 100 are injured. Some people have not only lost their homes but also their lot as areas might not be safe to rebuild in. Many houses are partially destroyed. Some people are now staying in make shift tents as their homes could fall apart in an aftershock (there has been many). There is almost no electricity. Very few places (hotels and expensive restaurants) have a petrol generators running but certain hours of the day only. Some charging stations have been set up for phones and emergency lights. Some roads are in bad shape and there are plenty of landslide areas. The military is handing out canned food.

We have spent the day in badly affected mountain villages, trying to make sense of the devastation. We are of course ready to provide architectural help where needed but its unclear how we can best make use of our abilities at this point. 

If you know someone who lost their home to the earthquake and needs advice before taking on the rebuilding process, please contact us, we are here to help!


Today we had the pleasure of meeting officials from two villages that we most likely will be collaborating with in the near future. One project is most likely to be a renovation / extension of an old Learning center. The other project is a new building on a location we could not even dream of back in the U.K.

This village does not have facilities often found in other places such as a basketball court or a playground. Being involved here seems like another fantastic opportunity to improve the environment of local children by construction a space dedicated to them and their needs only. 

A special thanks to Ate Anning from Rural Development Initiative (RDI) who helped making the introduction and took us to see the sites. 

Fathers Day Demolition

Yesterday, as it was fathers day here in the Philippines, 16 volunteering Police Officers from the local village worked hard in the scorching sun. They used sledgehammers and ropes and by the end of the day an old building was demolished. Watching people working in this heat and giving so much to their local community, when they could have chosen to be home with their families in the shade, was a humbling experience.

The building, an old jail cell, will give way for the first prototype of a Children's Learning Center.  Hopefully this center will help provide enough opportunities for the children to develop into adults that will never again see another jail cell. 

This week we're starting excavation work while we simultaneously develop Native Narrative's Visualisation Projects. 

We are currently looking for architects, developers or designers who's in need of Architectural Visualisation. These commercial jobs are allowing us to work free of charge, and create the opportunities for the Charity projects we do here in the Phillippines. 

Please help us spread the word to architects & designers.

Next week........

Sonod Simana! Means “Next Week” in Visayas. We know this a little too well by now.

Initially, the Philippines and it's sunshine, nature & friendly locals seem like a rather perfect place to work. But charity architecture is in many ways frustrating, slow & difficult.

Despite receiving nothing but positive feedback from everyone we interact with, delay after delay is holding us back from construction. After months of being promised that progress will happen “Next week!” we cannot help but sometimes question ourselves: Why Charity Architecture? Why do we bother working here when it so much easier in Europe? 

Whenever this question comes up, the answer is often no further than the kids on our doorstep. They (or their hard working parents) cannot quit or hand in their notice and have no cosy first world country to move back to when things get hard.

Interacting with these kids every evening keep us in check and puts things back in perspective. We came to improve their reality. That was our goal when we started 6 month ago, it still is, despite delays and complications. It feels like progress is just around the corner: Sonod Simana!