Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kwentong Kaladkarin #20: Flashback Files* - CosmoBuild Habitat for Humanity

Da Where: Pasig LGU-Habitat Project Site, Gov't. Lot F, Bernardo Compound Caliuag, Brgy. Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City
Da When: March 29, 2009
Da Who: me, Lala and the fun, fearless females of Cosmopolitan Philippines
Da Trivia: The best way to start the summer is to help out brothers and sisters in dire need of goodwill. :)

Fab construction worker on site! ;D

When I was a kid, I was always fascinated with how a house or a building is built. From the ground foundation to a simple framework to the posts put up then the walls and finally the finishing touches. Of course, I could only observe from afar seeing how sturdy construction workers or the dependable local Manong Panday are the only ones who could do the job right.

Fast forward to 2009, I came across an article in a Cosmopolitan magazine calling volunteers for a Habitat for Humanity project. The ever I-wanna-try-new-things me, I dragged my then-roomie Lala early Saturday morning (coming off a Friday graveyard shift) and still half-asleep, stumbled into Starbucks Silver City as the meeting place.

We then loaded into vans and the next place we saw when we got off was a construction site, complete with heavy equipment and people milling about in hard hats.

The construction site
Orientation from Habitat for Humanity spokesperson. Tulog ata ako dito. :D

We were ushered to a half-done unit to be oriented by a Habitat for Humanity spokesperson (a former beauty queen but I can't recall her name now) and prepped by the project engineer, Engr. Vio Payacag,on the do's and don'ts in the site. We were then handed hard hats and gloves and off to work we went.

Hard hats on! Lala and I ready for work!

All volunteers, around 50 or so, mostly Cosmo staff and women readers and a few manly men, split to do the work. Lala and I chose to make concrete interlocking blocks (CIBs) which at first looked pretty easy but was really hard to do.

A fellow volunteer making CIBs
Photo from the Habitat for Humanity Philippines website

In a nutshell, we needed to fill the metal mold with sand and pound with a heavy wooden mallet to make sure the block is filled. Then ever so slowly, we place the mold on wooden boards and carefully remove the mold so the actual CIB can be baked under the sun before use. If you're lucky, the metal mold will fall away completely and give you a perfect CIB which always happened to the construction guy who demonstrated the process to us. Most of the time though, the whole thing would fall apart and you'd have to start all over again, which happened to me all  the time! :D After several attempts, I believe I only made like 3 pieces of CIBs. Bummer. :D

Lala and I with Nanay Vangie, one of the beneficiaries of the soon-to-be-finished housing complex

Lala and I then moved on to cutting, bending and tying steel bars to be used for the posts. It was fairly easy and much more fun than making CIBs. Just had to be careful not to insert your hand in the cutting tool, it looked sharp enough to cut off my hands coz it was snapping steel bars like twigs. :D

Cosmopolitan Philippine's EIC Zo Aguila, tying bent bars
Photo from the Habitat for Humanity Philippines website
Bending steel bars
Tying steel bars. Chicken lang to. ;D

After a sumptuous lunch courtesy of Max's Fried Chicken, we then headed to the second floor of the building to do some grouting. Before that day, I had no idea what grouting was. Look it up in the dictionary if you don't know what it is too. ;P If I only knew grouting was this easy, I should have volunteered to do it the whole day. Haha!

The sun was almost setting when Cosmopolitan's Ed-in-Chief Zo asked everyone to gather and know our construction stats for the day. She shared that the volunteers worked really hard and beat the record for some of the accomplished tasks at the Pasig site.

Me and CosmoPH EIC, Zo Aguila
And oh, the boys of Boys Night Out also dropped in to pitch in some help. ;)
Photo from the Habitat for Humanity Philippines website

All in all, we bent 840 pcs. of bars, while the average is 500 per day; cut 60 pcs. of rebars (average is 50); and hauled 130 bags of sand, which is twice as many as the average bags hauled per day.

We also laid 150 pcs. of concrete interlocking blocks, grouted 10 bags of cement, tied 8 columns worth of rebars, and produced almost a hundred concrete interlocking blocks in one day alone.

How's that for girl power? ;D

Lala and I proudly showing our scratches and madungis faces from the construction. ;D

Anyone need construction help? I wouldn't mind saying 'Yes' to another Habitat for Humanity construction project again. :)

*Flashback Files is a series of posts on past kaladkarin adventures prior to the creation of this blog.


  1. that's a nice thing to do.. i also want to do things like this, wala lang makaladkad na kasama. hehehe

  2. @happysole - Are you in the Manila area? I couldn't be sure coz you have great Iloilo posts. :D If you are, I usually sign up for outreach programs like this one or co-organize along the lines of charity climbs, which we did back in February (

    I'll hit you up on your blog if I have one coming up. :)

  3. Such a fabulous heart you got, gurl. Haven't done this one yet, unfortunately. I signed up for Hands On Manila before so I could do this thingamajig, then I found out that I was pregnant! Boo.

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  5. @Pinay Travel Junkie - We all have fab hearts, don't need to do the heavy lifting to help, di ba? :) And anyhow, baby trumps building so ayos na yan. :D Thanks for dropping a line, Gaye. :)