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. 

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!


Back to Uni - Love is in the air

We now collaborate with Vicente Duallo at the Engineering Department of Visaya State University. This is great news as he is helping us with structural advice and the students are breaking down the cost of the project.

We presented the children's community center to 4th and 5th year students and agreed to do some lectures in the future. Cecilie will speak of her experience in project management and Jakob will talk about architecture and possibly give an introduction to Rhino modelling. 

We felt extremely welcomed and not just because of those lovely floating hearts.....

Concept render - Children's Community Center

We have been working on a concept and now getting the very helpful engineering students at Visaya State University to assist with the cost breakdown for this option. Much appreciated!

NOTE: the Bamboo screen is indicative and will be replaced by artwork made by a local weaving expert. More on this soon......

GK Santiago Relocation Area

We went for a little stroll and stumbled upon another relocation area.  This is of particular interest in relation to the UNDP Relocation Site we visited earlier. The stuff in-between the architecture makes all the difference. Some of the things we discussed would be suitable for Cagbuhangin are already in place. A huge roof, a basketball court, small gardens, a playground. These things are everywhere and everyone is using them. 

We will schedule a meeting with the inhabitants of the UNDP Site in Cagbuhangin and see what additions they would prefer. Our guess is it wont be much different from whats here, plus some sort of market facility.

Below description of this relocation area was found on GK's Website: Again, the resident story is very similar to Cagbuhangin's relocation area:

"GK Santiago is located at Sitio Canlalin, Poblacion, Albuera Leyte. Brgy. Canlalin is the center of the municipality where the seat of the local government is located. The site is about 500 meters from the national road and is easily accessible by land transportation. Potable water is readily available. All beneficiaries are residents of Brgy. Poblacion. They came from poor families who have no decent houses and lots of their own. Most of them are farmers, fishermen and tricycle drivers. Miss Anecita Zaidivar donated a portion of a sugarcane-planted lot with an area of approximately 1.3 hectares for a noble purpose, thus the GK site was unexpectedly offered as donation."

Meeting Pastor Joel

I just had the pleasure of meeting our neighbor Pastor Joel. We spoke about his charity projects, feeding children and his volunteering attempts at restoring Ormoc after Typhoon Yolanda. Initially after the typhoon he found it easier to get funding which mainly came from Tacloban based charities. Now as time has passed and Tacloban is somewhat restored, Ormoc is experiencing difficulties in achieving the same results.

Pastor Joel's work is also including a childrens community friendly center at a potential site nearby where we are building one. He does not yet have funding and although we cannot promise anything, we will visit the site and try to help him by redesigning the center we currently work to fit his site. Perhaps with a developed proposal in place fundraising might be easier. Perhaps something can be built. In the meantime Pastor Joel will pray and we will draw.

Pastor Joel

Passing on the Gift

We had the pleasure to return to Boroc Village for a gift ceremony. Basically this means that a charity project is set up where a female animal is given to someone in the village and after a number of years the offspring is passed on to somebody else. In this case a Hen and a Goat was passed on. We enjoy this beautiful simple logic of wealth redistribution. There was also a feeding ceremony in which kids receive local vegetarian food. We spent half a day observing this and speaking to the kids and just about managed to convince them that these two "canos" are actually Scandinavian. Boroc is quite reduced in terms of material welfare but regardless its undeniably pretty. If we do get the opportunity to work on a women's rescue center here (as discussed with RDI) we are ready without hesitation.

UNDP Relocation Area

In the outskirts of Ormoc, close to one of our sites in Cagbuhangin is the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) Relocation Site. 55 families have moved here as their homes were destroyed by typhoon Yolanda. The homes are built well and the spaces in between offer opportunities for additional structures where social interactions and livelihood could happen. 

This area was established for people living close to the coastline (often fishermen) who would be in a significant danger if / when a new Typhoon would hit the island. Therefore UNDP supported this relocation and funded the architectural intervention so that families could be safe. 

Some of the challenges that the area today are facing is:

  • All of the families used to have their main income from fishing, since they are now located away from the coastline they can no longer work as fishermen and will have to seek employment as either farmers or carpenters Unfortunately they often lack these skills.

  • The area is quite isolated from the closest nearby village, which makes it difficult for the relocated families to integrate and be a part of the local nearby community.

  • Since the relocated families was initially brought together from many different villages, they didn't know each other before moving into this area so the families are living very divided lives as they don't have an common ground to meet.

Our aim is to create a communal space where by the families will have a common ground to meet and play. We will be working on this in collaboration with the Sheryl Lynn Foundation and RDI.

Childrens Community Center

The first project we are involved in is a 110 sqm community center for children located on the site of an old jail cell (also damaged by Typhoon Yolanda) next to a health center and a basketball court. The small village of Cagbuhangin just 15 minutes from Ormoc City. 

The center will be an after school and weekend facility where kids of various ages can meet, play and feel secure in a space dedicated to them. Having seen how incredibly resourceful kids around here can be, its clear that just a roof over their heads would be a huge improvement from playing in the streets. 

Currently, one building is being developed in particular but talks have begun with Richard Gomez, Mayor of Ormoc, with the potential to build in other villages.

Jakob will be running the design process while Cecilie is supporting the local team on the Project Management side.