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Simon’s story -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Simon’s story

More than 3,000 Filipino youth volunteers helped build 200 Habitat homes in the Philippines during a multi-country Youth Build. ©Habitat for Humanity Philippines

A youth volunteer in the Philippines becomes part of something bigger
By Simon Romulo Tantoco


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Why We Build


I have spent a whole day in Manila’s high temperatures and heavy rainfall, laying bricks, carrying heavy sacks full of sand, and mixing cement until my sweat became one with all the ingredients needed to build a house.

Why do I do it?

Why do I bother to build for Habitat for Humanity?

I am just an ordinary 21-year-old who does the usual things a teenager would do. Sometimes I am a bit too daring. I have had my fair share of mischievous acts — I am no saint. During those times, I only considered myself a “boy,” not a “citizen.”

My transition from boy to man happened after a series of events in my life. I lost some people close to my heart: my uncle, Tito, and Daddy Mon, my grandfather. I also went through the breakup of a relationship that I had thought would last forever. In truth, only your character will last forever.

As a young man, I now understand that what I should be focusing on is how to improve the lives of others — people with problems much larger than my own.

Many individuals played a significant role in helping me shape my future.


Philippine youth leader Simon Romulo Tantoco (left) works at the Youth Build site in Barangay Tanza, Navotas, Philippines. ©Habitat for Humanity Philippines


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I met Alex Eduque at my grandparents’ wedding anniversary. She’s the founder of the Habitat for Humanity Youth Council. She asked me if I wanted to be part of something special — something that has helped build 32,000 homes and 174 communities in the Philippines.

I felt it impossible to refuse.

The main goal of the Youth Council is to give young adults the opportunity to help out and to feel the sense of fulfillment one gets when sharing with others. I consider the time and effort I give to Habitat the most important donation of my lifetime.

Our latest big project was Habitat’s multi-country Youth Build. Nearly 5,000 volunteers throughout China, Indonesia, India, Thailand and the Philippines began building homes simultaneously on May 12 to serve more than 700 families in need.

Our country had the biggest contingent of volunteers, with 2,200 in Navotas and 1,500 in Cagayan de Oro, assisting 344 families.

In Navotas alone, 1,500 families had been devastated by typhoons and flooding. Thousands were left homeless and forced to live in relief centers, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Many of their family members had been swept away by the calamity.

All of the volunteers who turned out May 12 had a hand in making our nation better.