BECOMING AN ADVOCATE FOR BUILDING BACK BETTER
by Chuck Janolino*
It was a life-changing time for me.
Yolanda had just wreaked massive havoc on our Visayan islands. Our Team, under our country CEO Don Lee, had gone to Daanbantayan in northern Cebu where we witnessed first-hand the devastation that Yolanda brought to this small town, even then just a microcosm of the widespread destruction that had snuffed out 6,000 Filipino lives and damaged 1 million homes.
It was then that I found my personal advocacy to “Build Back Better”, drawing from my own industry expertise and personal experiences, and working on reconstruction centered on disaster resilient homes. By Building Back Better, our countrymen can then avoid the destruction of another super-typhoon should one cross our country again.
Back from the site visits at the end of November 2013, I still remember that day clearly. Myle Macalam, Joy Sarmiento and I approached Charlie Ayco, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Philippines and his Technical Team for design ideas for disaster-resilient homes. Early on, we had jointly agreed to utilize a bamboo and concrete home design for earthquake-hit Bohol; but for these super typhoons, we needed to find another design.
Charlie showed us an array of designs which resembled conventional options. And then, Charlie and August Baltazar, head of the Habitat Building & Resource Center, brought out a paper and matchstick design that they were working on with Architect Eddie Florentino and his team. Upon seeing it, it dawned on me that this was something very different as it showed a uniquely-designed concrete roof and sturdy concrete walls for a house that will truly resist 275-300kph winds.
However, I knew it would be a hard-sell and we will be facing challenges to sell the new idea. Though the design was based on sound architectural principles and physics, it would cost double the conventional designs and, as it had not been tried locally before, no contractor was familiar with its specificities. It would also require a very workable cement to help shape the hyperbolic-paraboloid concrete roof design. To compound our problem, land was not immediately available to accommodate the houses we wanted to build.
With our Team’s persistence and working with Don who provided strong leadership for the French-Philippines United Action, we progressed very quickly on funding, finding adequate and suitable land at Baranggay Agujo away from the shoreline, training the construction crew, creating the model house and even producing a new rehabilitation cement called Kapitbalay in our Danao Plant. One year after Yolanda, we neared completion of 74 disaster-resilient homes and started a new second site at Baranggay Paypay, also in Daanbantayan.
Today, disaster-resilient homes with hyperbolic-paraboloid roofs are now a reality, with a third site being started in Bogo. I also continue to live my newfound personal advocacy, working with the French-Philippines United Action as its corporate secretary.
Working in Republic Cement has helped me discover and engage my life’s mission, giving much more meaning to my day-to-day work, knowing that I help build a stronger and greener Philippines.
* Chuck Janolino is the Vice President for Marketing of Republic Cement