Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter spreads mortar on a concrete block at the Maragondon build site's house #6.
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Amid the rice paddies, cows, chickens and horses, a visitor to the metro Manila town of Maragondon will find a budding residential development called Isaiahville.

At Isaiahville this week, hundreds of Habitat for Humanity volunteers and prospective homeowners are working feverishly to construct 100 new houses for families earning about US$75 a month.

The houses will be simple and decent, offering 325 square feet of floor space. Each structure's walls are made of hollow concrete blocks; inside, bedroom partitions divide space for families with as many as five children.

That JCWP '99 is occurring in Maragondon at all is something of a miracle.

Habitat for Humanity can thank World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, for planting the seeds of what would become Isaiahville. World Vision Japan spent years trying to buy a little more than 3 hectares (1.3 acres) to turn into a building site.

After World Vision Japan finally acquired the property and after World Vision Philippines provided a 2 million-peso donation for infrastructure and a community center, the groups called on the Greater Metro Manila Habitat for Humanity affiliate to keep the project going.

The development of Isaiahville -- 100 houses this week and 100 more by December 1999 -- will be the latest historical milestone in a city already noted for its place in the Philippines' heritage.

In 1898, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo established the government of the first Philippine Republic in Maragandon.

Maragondon, by the way, means "resounding noise." The city was named for the rush of cascading water through its thick forests almost 400 years ago.

Perched along the Manila Bay shoreline, Maragondon is hemmed in by mountains to its east. The city's population numbers 26,000.

Many of the adults in the families that will move in to houses in Isaiahville work as farmers, fishermen, construction workers or caddies at nearby Puerto Azul resort. They currently live in flimsy shanties on land they do not own along the coast, riverbanks and cemetery compounds.

When they move into the new Habitat homes, valued at about US$2,125 each, they'll make monthly mortgage payments of about 500 pesos with no interest added.

Return to Wednesday's 1999 JCWP Report

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