Korean and Japanese volunteers build with Filipino volunteers and homeowners during a Global Village work camp in Bacolod City in 1997.
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1999 JCWP Report

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Don't be surprised if Habitat for Humanity volunteers in Bacolod City get a little sugar during JCWP '99.

Sugar, after all, is the mainstay of the Bacolod City area's economy.

In the old days, sugar production meant great wealth and power for the city that lies on Negros Island, about 50 minutes south of Manila as the Cessna flies.

But these days sugar is anything but sweet for Bacolod City. Sugar prices on the world market nosedived in the mid 1980s, devastating the local economy. The recent Asian financial crisis has only exacerbated the hard times that linger.

As a result, lack of work -- seasonal or otherwise -- has left many families in Bacolod City without resources to pay for housing. But Negros Occidental Habitat for Humanity and others are changing all that.

The affiliate and JCWP volunteers are building simple, decent duplexes with 20 families this week in a development called Pamana Village. Each side of each duplex will encompass 250 square feet. After a US$40 down payment and 600 hours of sweat equity, families are required to pay about US$12.50 a month in no-interest mortgage payments.

With the typical partner family's average monthly income at about US$150, Habitat's low payment schedule helps ensure families have enough funds in their budget to pay for other necessities such as food and clothing.

Best of all, the low monthly payments buy the families time -- time to ride out an economic downturn and time to transition to work unrelated to the soured sugar industry.

Negros Occidental HFH has been building at Pamana Village since 1996. It has already constructed 52 houses in the development's first phase: 49 are occupied by families and three are serving as bases for JCWP '99 and Phase II of the project.

Return to Wednesday's 1999 JCWP Report

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