Cement manufacturer Holcim Philippines Inc. (HPI) recently built a sustainable community in New Bataan, Compostela Valley, some two hours away from its plant in Davao City.
Dubbed Tabang Ta Kabalayan, the 100-units community was the result of a partnership between HPI, the local government, various government agencies, private sector donors, and members of the community themselves.
Holcim wanted to do more
HPI wanted to do more than its usual outreach efforts after Typhoon Pablo ravaged the province earlier this year. The company decided that Tabang Ta Kabalayan was going to be a real community, that would strengthen its values and livelihood skills, and stand on its own with the help of other partners,
“Recent natural calamities highlight the need to build smarter to adapt to the changing climate,” said Holcim president Eduardo A. Sahagun. “This is our reality now: reduce these difficult catastrophes by improving our building practices to make sure structures are more resilient and sustainable.”
To kick start the project, HPI gathered stakeholders to participate in the solution: plan together, produce materials, help construct the homes and develop the site to achieve resilient, energy- and water-efficient houses.
HPI taught residents to make concrete hollow blocks and roof tiles, plus masonry, carpentry and welding skills. The community leaders then developed their own sustainable vision, mission and goals.
The 100 houses were designed to catch the breeze, block the heat, but catch the light. Concrete roof tiles made the houses cooler and able to withstand strong winds. The roofs are at a 23-degree incline for better rain harvesting that saves water and electricity cost, while keeping residents safer during storms.
Sense of dignity
Today, the Tabang Ta Kabalayan residents, who are mostly farmers, have a common vegetable garden to support a food business, a training center for their hollow block and concrete tile business, and a chapel that they helped build. Upcoming are a playground and town center.
“It seems embarrassing to just wait for the houses to be given and we just move in,” said Normelita Rivera, president of the community association. “ This way we have a sense of dignity because we worked hard for them. And we have a new source of livelihood. We are thinking we can even produce different colored tiles to sell.”