Bicol Express To Take Hundreds Of Volunteers To Region Where Habitat Completed More Than 1,600 Home Repairs
MANILA, 3rd September 2007: Hundreds of volunteers are set to descend on the typhoon-struck Bicol region in eastern the Philippines in September, aiming to build about 500 new homes. The event in question is a three-day Build on Faith, and volunteers will be travelling to Bicol in a caravan of buses dubbed Bicol Express, in recognition of the region’s famous pork and chilli dish.
HFH Philippines is aiming to recruit up to 400 volunteers to help build homes in Anislag village, Daraga town. The volunteers will boost Habitat’s construction of new homes following the completion of repairs on more than 1,600 homes for local families affected by Typhoon Durian (Reming) late last year.
Daraga, in the province of Albay, was badly affected by Typhoon Durian. More than 1,000 people died and over 180,000 houses were totally destroyed in November 2006 disaster. “In dire need of shelter, the victims have either dug through heaped mud and debris to get to their old houses or are still living in evacuation camps. Through Bicol Express, Habitat hopes to put roofs over their heads, and also to jumpstart volunteerism across the nation,” HFH Philippines said in a statement.
In late September, the Bicol Express will be set in motion with a caravan of buses leaving the Philippine capital Manila early in the morning to make its way south to Naga City. Local bus lines Isarog and Peñafrancia had agreed to have their buses chartered at discounted rates “as their share of social service for Bicol Express”, Habitat said.
After arriving in the late afternoon, the volunteers are due to attend a dinner hosted by Naga City’s mayor, Jessie Robredo.
At the crack of dawn on the second day, the volunteers will leave for the relocation site in Daraga town, and work alongside home partner families and skilled workers to build 500 homes.
The completion of the day’s build should be music to the ears, not least because the volunteers will be treated to a dinner and rock concert by the band Rock Ed Philippines at the Aquinas Gym in Legaspi City.
On the last day of the event, the volunteers are scheduled to visit Camarines Sur province and its attractions including the CamSur Water Sports Complex, a six-hectare park for wakeboarding and waterboarding enthusiasts, before heading back to Manila.
To date, more than 1,600 families who were affected by Typhoon Durian have been able to start life afresh in homes repaired  by HFH Philippines and its partners.
After the disaster-response program was completed in June 2007, HFH Philippines and its partners decided to continue to serve families in need of safe and decent housing with new home constructions. Habitat aims to build more than 800 new houses in Naga City and Legaspi City in Camarines Sur and Albay respectively.
Joining Habitat to rebuild lives in the Bicol region are international non-governmental organizations World Vision and Compassion International, and Ayala Foundation, a local non-profit organization of the Ayala Group. The US-based Compassion International focuses on child development and is also partnering with HFH Philippines to build 564 new houses in Bicol. It is expected that Habitat will build another 300 homes with Operation Compassion, another US-based non-profit organization that is involved in disaster relief in the Philippines.
Forty classrooms have also been repaired in Bicol. GMA Kapuso, a local charitable organization, funded most of the classroom repairs while SC Johnson, a global manufacturer of household cleaning supplies, and the Swiss embassy also lent their financial support.
Since 1988, Habitat for Humanity Philippines has been playing an active role in transforming the lives of families in need. Other than disaster response projects, HFH Philippines is also partnering with the local government in Taguig City to provide urban housing solutions  through multi-story residences. Through its 25 afffiliates in rural and urban areas, HFH Philippines has completed more than 17,000 houses to date.