Home Partners2020-07-31T16:18:08+08:00

Our home partners are more than just beneficiaries we serve and help. They are part of our growing family.

In every family, each member has its own role. While we provide our home partners the opportunity to build their own homes, they become empowered, independent, and more productive members of their community, and of the family.

Here are their stories.

Going the Distance

Being miles apart from your loved ones is never easy. To cope with this kind of situation takes an extraordinary amount of strength and will to get thru each day. For one Habitat home owner, he has now gotten accustomed to this way of life.

Emmanuel Tolosa, better known as Emman, is a 29 year old family man who lives with his wife and two children in Calauan, Laguna. They have been living there for almost three years now, enjoying the serene environment which brings peace to their minds. “We used to worry so much because we live near the river in Pandacan, Manila, which often overflows whenever there’s a storm. Flooding often occurred and water would enter our home.” Emman describes their past ordeals.

To rectify the situation, they applied to be relocated in a Habitat house and underwent all the necessary steps to acquire one such as the sweat equity program where they were required to do spend 400 hours as partial payment for their new home.

He recounts the first time he saw the community, it brought him tremendous delight as it was quite a change of scenery for him and his family. They no longer had to rent out a place which was frequented by flooding and that they would be able to raise their family properly.

Their dream of not having to pay for rent anymore and live in such harsh conditions has been finally reached. However, in every trade off there is always price to be paid.

Although nestled in a liveable community, the opportunities to have a good source of income are quite few. “It’s hard to live here without establishing your own business that’s why I decided to continue working as a restaurant supervisor in Manila.”

Emman would sleep in their restaurant’s employee quarters and go home only during his off-days. “I’m happy as long as I see my family even for just once a week.” According to him, commuting to and from Manila would not be a feasible idea as this would take a significant chunk from his monthly salary.

He also adds that he can still shoulder the family’s expenses so that his wife can focus on caring for the kids. Emman also emphasized that what’s important is that he is able to provide food on the table for his family and have a roof over their heads.

He explained that when the children are old enough, his wife would look for a job so that she could also help out too with their everyday needs.

“Despite the challenging situation that we’re in, we’re happy that we’re in a better state than before. I couldn’t risk my family’s safety and security in our old home that’s why we moved to a Habitat house in Laguna. You just need to put in a lot of effort in your work and persevere until it pays off”, he shares.

Emman is currently looking forward to earning enough just so that he could establish a business near their home and prepare for his children’s college education.

A Dream Fulfilled

We first met Felisa Amistoso and Shirley Elladora last year. Back then, they were just two women who were motivated by a dream. This is a story of their success and unwavering hope for a better life. Read about their journey here.

It is November 6, 2015.

The air was festive. There were green and blue balloons lining the main road. A marching band was playing a catchy, modern tune. The sky was a clear, bright blue, complementing the green roofs of the houses. Some had curtains, others already had furniture, many had lawns and new shrubbery.

There were children running around the village. There were women sweeping the floors of the houses. There were men gathering water and making last-minute adjustments to their furniture.

These are the new residents of Habiat French Village in Barangay Agujo in Daanbantayan, Cebu. They are 76 families who lost their homes to super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, but gained new and better ones nearly two years after.

Felisa Amistoso and her best friend, Shirley Elladora are two of these new residents.

Up until a few days ago, Shirley and Felisa were living in rented shanties among fishpens and a creek in what is now a government-declared “no build zone”, on land that wasn’t even their own. Felisa recounts that in all her years, she had never experienced living in a concrete house.

“We were literally squatters,” she said.

Last year, Shirley and Felisa were chosen by the Daanbantayan LGU as potential beneficiaries of one of the 76 disaster-resilient hypar houses Habitat Philippines is building in Barangay Agujo. But they had to undergo sweat equity first in order to qualify for the final list.

“We are willing to do whatever it takes just to live in one of those houses,” Shirley said last year, pointing to the full-concrete structures. “With those houses, our families wouldn’t have to be afraid of typhoons and floods anymore

“They’re like mansions!” Felisa added, “I want to live in one of those!”

Motivated by this dream, they continued working. They completed the required 400 hours of sweat equity and came out more empowered women who were not just mere house recipients, but home partners.

And so it came to pass that on November 6, two days shy of Typhoon Yolanda’s second anniversary, the Elladoras and the Amistosos moved into their new homes in a festive turnover ceremony.

“No words can describe my happiness today,” Felisa said. “We finally have our own home, and it’s everything I’ve always dreamed of and more!”Felisa’s husband, Norlito, was also elected president of their homeowners’ association, an unexpcted blessing for the Amistoso family.

Shirley could not stop smiling. She proudly showed off her curtains: green and blue, to match the colors of their new house. “I said [last year] that I wanted to put up curtains first. Here they are!”The women could not stop expressing their gratitude for their new homes. “Nabunutan ako ng tinik,” Felisa said. “I can breathe easier because we don’t have to be afraid anymore. We’re safer now.”

Felisa added all their problems now seem small in comparison to the new and bigger opportunities their new house will open for them. “I’m excited for the future. I know now that we will now be able to overcome whatever problems we might face because it is possible!”

These are the real value of decent homes: it gives people opportunities and inspiration to break out of the poverty cycle because it helps them dream big.

“My children can study more comfortably now,” Shirley added. Then she points to her belly: “And this one, he will grow up in a better home. He will have a better life.” Shirley is five months pregnant. The blessings just keep coming.

Shirley and Felisa are the epitome of the modern woman: driven, motivated, inspired and empowered. They did not lose faith or hope. They pushed forward because they had a dream of a better life for themselves and their family.

It is November 6, 2015. What was once a drab, grey construction site is now a vibrant community with green, white and blue houses. Construction workers are now replaced by children and families.

And Shirley and Felisa: they can finally start building and living the life they’ve been dreaming of ever since.

Still Complete

Being a solo parent is not easy. You have to be able to balance two roles as both mother and father, and that can be very challenging.

Elsa Valenzuela, 65, raised her four children singlehandedly. She has also become the foster mother of her two grandchildren, whose parents separated when they were young. Even with one other son living with her, she is still able to support her household’s daily needs with her job as a community health worker.

Some might say they were getting by easily. But when Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) brought massive flooding in the town of Burauen, south of Tacloban City, Elsa lost everything. “When we came back, our house was gone. I couldn’t even locate the plot of land it was built on.”

Elsa, her son and her grandchildren lived in a tent for months before they were chosen as home partners of Habitat for Humanity Philippines’ core housing program. “We had no running water then, no electricity, no bathroom,” she recounts. “We had to dig a hole so we can do our business.”

Elsa, herself, participated in sweat equity, a program that aims to empower homeowners to become partners in development instead of mere recipients. Within a few months, Elsa and her family were able to move into their new home.

“Now we were able to sleep well. We’re more comfortable now, and we already have strong walls and a nice bathroom,” she said. “Best of all, my family is still complete even after Yolanda.”