Habitat launches special book to honor prime movers, donorsBy Tina G. Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–The Habitat for Humanity (HFH) has made a fitting tribute to its donors and prime movers by coming out with a special coffeetable book that traces the nongovernment organization’s story in the Philippines.
Titled “I Build My Philippines,” the 352-page book honors the people “who have not only contributed to building homes, but to forming a new nation.”
In its 25 years of service to the Filipino people, HFH has built over 35,000 homes and changed the lives of just as many families.
The book, according to HFH, celebrates the milestones and prime movers of Habitat’s four-year “I Build Campaign,” which aims to create a community building and development model through innovative and sustainable solutions. These solutions strive to address poverty housing that can be replicated nationwide.
“This book is a story of love and gratitude to all our donors, volunteers, ambassadors, and all the others who have given their time and resources to build a new country,” broadcast journalist Karen Davila said during the book launch and donors’ night held at the Manila Peninsula in Makati City last Thursday.
Davila, who has been a Habitat advocate since the Jimmy Carter Work Project ’99 in the Philippines and one of the HFH ambassadors, spearheaded the publication of the coffeetable book.
The first in a series of two books, the coffeetable book “presents HFH story in a news documentary way through photographs–taken by edgy, young photographers–the need for an organization like Habitat,” she said.
“It shows people, donors interspersed with volunteers, beneficiaries, companies, in trying to build a new country, a better Philippines,” Davila said.
Among the highlights of the book were graphic images of the human tragedy in Mindanao caused by Typhoon “Sendong” last year. But the book also presented how the devastated families—more than 8,000 of them–managed to rise above the situation through the help of Habitat, its generous partners and the government.
According to the “I Build My Philippines” book, while many donated and assisted in any way they could to help Sendong victims, San Miguel Corporation President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon Ang heeded the call to help “in an act that is now widely considered as possibly the largest philanthropic donation to date.”
San Miguel Foundation, the book says, created a fund worth P500 million for social investment in housing in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.
For half of this grant, San Miguel Foundation partnered with HFH in a grand scheme to build 2,500 homes on government land, it added.
On the other hand, the government, through the DSWD, donated P200 million for the cause, said Davila.
“The book will show you what private and government partnership can do,” she stressed. “We believe that the government can’t do it alone. The backlog is so big that the government will have no choice but to partner with organizations like HFH which is completely non-profit.”
Ang and Soliman were given special recognition during the prime movers’ night, which was also attended by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson, and boxing champ and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, who is also a HFH ambassador.
While Ang was recognized for “transforming the landscape of philanthropy,” Soliman was cited for “achieving greater heights in public private partnership,” according to Ron Terwilliger, chair of the Capital Campaign Cabinet of HFH International.
Make a difference
“Our goal as a company has really been to make a difference in the lives of our countrymen. In times of great need, San Miguel is always ready to extend a helping hand. When Typhoon Sendong ravaged Southern Philippines last December, we jumped at the chance to do our share and we are happy that we found a ready and able partner in Habitat,” said Ang in his acceptance speech.
For her part, Soliman shared the citation given to her and to the entire government “who at this time would like to build a partnership with private sectors so w can have the dream of a better Philippines come to life.”
Apart from honoring generous donors from the private sector, the book also made special mention of some government officials, including the late Jesse Robredo of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad.
“All of them wanted to build their own country in their own way… housing for teachers, policemen and government workers,” Davila explained.
Davila said HFH hopes that the coffeetable book would also serve as an inspiration for others to support the mission of the organization.
“We hope this book will not only honor the prime movers but will also inspire others to work as passionately as they have in our mission to build one home, one nation,” she said.
She added that they are considering putting the coffeetable book in bookstores. “But for now it’s the donors and companies ordering the book.”
Apart from Davila and Pacquiao, other HFH ambassadors present during the book launching included former beauty queen Margie Moran Floirendo, young actor and racer Matteo Guidicelli, youth leader Alexandra Eduque, basketball sensation Chris Tiu, news anchor Arnold Clavio, model-actor-athlete Derek Ramsay, and television host Kim Atienza.
Presidential sister Kris Aquino and singer-stage actress Cris Villonco were also among the Habitat’s ambassadors.
The Habitat ambassadors were chosen for the campaign not just for their face value but because they are passionate about the organization’s cause.
Together in one mission, the ambassadors have offered their support and commitment to become the voice of the organization and to help inform the public about how to make a difference through Habitat, added Davila.