Along some shores in the Philippines, squatters have set up precarious shanties on stilts, such as the ones pictured here.
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1999 JCWP Report

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Tagbilaran City, one of six JCWP '99 sites in the Philippines, is both rich and poor.

It is rich in natural beauty. Bohol, the smallish island on which the city makes its home, is ringed by white, sandy beaches. World-renowned diving sites abound, and whales often cavort just off shore. Inland, centuries-old stone churches and tree-lined plazas adorn the landscape.

But Tagbilaran City is poor economically. More than half the city's 70,000 residents fit the governmental definition of living in poverty. Along some shores, squatters have set up precarious shanties on stilts; a child who falls could be swept out to sea during high tide. Unsanitary conditions contribute to heath and nutrition problems, including a high incidence of dengue fever.

JCWP home partners are generally laborers and street vendors, earning about $100 a month, far too little to afford even the $50-per-month rent for government-supported housing projects.

The families' Habitat for Humanity houses will cost $13 a month, following a $25 down payment and a hefty 800 hours of sweat equity. Twenty-six families will move into the duplexes JCWP volunteers build this week, with another 282 families to follow them into the growing subdivision during the next three years.

The Tagbilaran municipal government "set the stage" for housebuilding when it purchased the 1.6-acre tract last year and invited the National Housing Authority to provide roads, drainage and other infrastructure.

Tagbilaran City Habitat for Humanity, only 18 months old, had built six houses on the site before JCWP'ers arrived.

Despite its location away from the beaten path, Tagbilaran has a cosmopolitan background. In 1565, the Philippines first international treaty -- a compact sealed with blood -- was entered into a stone's throw from the JCWP site. The event symbolized the friendship between Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and native chieftain Datu Sikatuna.

This week, Tagbilaran is the site of new international friendships -- these based on the "theology of the hammer."

Return to Wednesday's 1999 JCWP Report

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