Last weekend Children's Learning Centers finally opened in the Mas-in and Danhug villages. As a result, 800 children now have access to fun, safe, informal after school facilities. Despite heavy rain these ceremonies were beautiful and emotional, well attended events that featured representatives from The Local City Government, representatives from the villages, Rural Development Initiative (Local NGO), construction team leader Junnel Dalmas, local residents, friends and others.
Native Narrative would like to give special thanks to: 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 for the financial support and believing in us. All people who took part in the construction process, you have our deepest appreciation and respect!
We are incredibly grateful to all the various people and organisations who donated books, money and learning materials to the centers. These include:
Stine Bech Olsen & friends in Denmark & Singapore
Aileen Suarez & The Ormoc Chamber of Commerce
German European School Singapore
Children’s Book Author in Hong Kong Kimberley Kleczka
Klerisa Mae Yray / Triskellion Ormoc City Council
Shipping Company DSV Air & Sea Inc.
You have already brought tremendous happiness to many children and lots more will follow.
Finally we also like to thank the The Danish Arts Foundation Committee for Architecture Grants and Project Funding for giving us financial support thereby allowing us to give our time and expertise free to important projects like this.
The regional newspaper EV Mail featured reported from the opening ceremony, article to follow shortly.
The 3rd Native Narrative designed Learning Center will within the next couple of weeks open in village Concepcion. While Ormoc City Government are planning on building a center in Salvacion village later this year and 5 more centers planned for 2019.
With these projects completed Native Narrative now relocates the practice to Copenhagen, while the various collaborations in the Philippines will continue!
Stay tuned for more info…
For the past 2 months we’ve been in collaboration with a really interesting collective of weavers and yesterday we had a peak of the results: Woven Seatcovers and Lamps are being produced for the 3 upcoming learning centers. All items are made of Pandan, a grass that is grown, dried and dyed locally.
The corporative was established in 2015 in a small village outside Baybay City, Leyte and employed at that time 15-20 local women. Today the corporative are employing 80 women that are daily producing Pandan woven Handbags, Lamps and other accessories for export to countries like El Salvador and Japan. In total 8 weavers are helping us with the production of 10 lamps and 25 cushions for the upcoming Learning Centers.
By bringing locally woven products into the interiors of the centers, we wish not only to celebrate the method but also raise the status of native woven products in an area where foreign and industrial is often the preferred choice. While we are fascinated by the possibilities of local craft materials we often debate how to achieve an appropriate balance and avoid making the centers resemble a tourist gift shop. In a few weeks we will be able to judge the results as the Centers are near completion. In the meantime we are enjoying the beautiful simplicity of these products.
Native Narrative was invited to visit Stairway Foundation in the island of Oriental Mindoro -Philippines to discuss a future collaboration.
It's difficult to justly summarise the extraordinary achievements of the Stairway Foundation. As a learning and ressource center for Children’s Rights, Stairway Foundation have within the past 28 years given the most marginalised filipino streetkids a better existence. In the form of time, care, nutrition, resources and a positive supportive environment children are given opportunities to develop.
We see a great opportunity in assisting Stairway Foundation designing inspiring educational spaces in a piece of land recently acquired by the organisation. More information will follow.
Find out more and support Stairway Foundation here: http://www.stairwayfoundation.org/
Talked to CNN Philippines about why we started our non-profit architecture projects in the Philippines and the design of the Learning Centers. See the full interview here:
After nearly 9 months of research, design work, evaluations, funding discussions, bidding processes, strange random tasks and endless paperwork we have now finally reached a point in time that sometimes felt like it would forever exist only as a target of our minds. We are now in the process of constructing 3 more learning centers!
On each construction site are 10-15 workers busy casting structures, building walls and making safe environments for children to do their homework and play after school. These designs are improved versions of the first project we completed last years in village Cagbuhangin. This is made possible as Ormoc City Government has doubled the budget for each site; Now 1,5 million PHP (Approx. 21,000 GBP) including all materials and labour. We are designing, coordinating and managing these projects free of charge.
We are very grateful to all involved making and supporting the projects. The Centers will be open and available to about 1200 children in villages where no community spaces previously existed.
It’s days like yesterday, that makes it all worth the effort! Project Initiator and funding partner Sheryl Lynn Callister & Children's book author Kimberley Kleczka visited the Children's Learning Center in Cagbuhangin.
The center was full of excited children dancing, singing and entertaining the 2 special guests visiting. Kimberley who last year donated her own books for the children sang song’s, danced and read her books for all the Cagbuhanging Children.
The event was supported by members of the village and the incredible staff from the local NGO, RDI -including Leader Josefa Pizon, one of the Learning Centers key initiators and one of Native Narrative's main consultants who have actively worked with various resident groups in the village area.
A big thanks you to everyone from Native Narrative! We can’t wait to soon open another 3 centers.
A month ago we were interviewed by Editor-in-cheif Peter Kargaard from the Danish Architecture Magazine Arkbyg, here is the resulting article (in danish).
“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.
"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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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 (In total 2 years: 2017/2018), 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 inhabitat.com 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.
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 inhabitat.com 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."