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"PruLife UK and Habitat Philippines paint the site red "

Almost one hundred office workers stepped out of their business attire, and replaced them for gloves, rain boots and bright red Prudence shirts for the second time running.

Prudence Foundation, the charitable arm of Prudential Asia and PruLife UK, one of Habitat for Humanity Philippines major donors, sent employees from 12 different countries to participate in a week-long Habitat build program in early September.

“We’re here to help build communities,” Antonio “Jumbing” G. de Rosas, President and CEO of PruLife UK said whilst volunteering at Habitat’s Santa Fe site on Bantayan Island, Cebu.

“Here in the Philippines, we cannot avoid natural disasters. We have no power to prevent them, but we can help communities to prepare,” he continued.

Throughout the build, Prudence volunteers achieved to move, complete, and construct 7,130 concrete hollow blocks and 4254 re-bars, amongst other tasks, all of which have contributed towards 27 duplexes, or 54 units.

“Prudence’s proactive volunteerism shows that our partnership does not simply equate to monetary donations. Working as a community, their employees have physically constructed Habitat houses with their own bare hands, to in turn, build prosperous communities,” said Charlie Ayco, CEO and Managing Director of Habitat.

Prudence also donated 183 motorized fishing boats and 140 “trisikads” to Sta. Fe locals as a way of creating a means, and to improve employment and economic growth in the town.

Photo Credit: Prudence Foundation/PruLife UK

“This is extremely important…not only have we been provided houses by Habitat, for our community members who lost their homes, but Prudence also provided Sta. Fe boats and trisikads, which will restore our livelihood. They are giving us a package – a house with a livelihood,” said Hon. Mayor of Sta. Fe, Joe Esgana.

During the handover ceremony of trisikads and boats, Prudence and Habitat employees also handed out school, food and medical supplies to children of the Sta. Fe community.

Other community development activities included a school clinic hosted by The Philippines national men’s soccer team, the Azkals.

During the clinic, players taught elementary school children core soccer skills, as well as team-oriented values, with the hope to grant children hope for a thriving career and future.

“I began playing football from a young age. It taught me camaraderie, and gave me a passion in life. I’d like to do the same for the children here,” said Azkals player, Joshua Beloya.

Photo Credit: Prudence Foundation/PruLife UK

The beneficiaries showed tremendous gratitude to both the Azkals and Prudence through creating a farewell program full of singing and dancing, which showcased their joy and talent to the volunteers.

Upon the farewell program, volunteers had the opportunity to not only emotionally, but physically imprint their hands on the houses they built, using paint.

Many had fun in doing so, but said it was more so a chance for them to reflect on the work they had put into the week at whole, always remembering that they had imparted some of themselves into the homes.

“Even if we exhaust all of our energy, it is very fruitful being here, very joyful. We are doing heavy work, yet we do it without any troubles in our minds as we know we’re doing something great,” Abby Chien, Prudence volunteer from Taiwan said as she reflected upon the week.

“My favorite part of the week was passing the hollow blocks, because we had to work as a team, and if there was one mistake, we would all have to pitch in and fix it together. We worked as one.” 

The success of the program has led to the contribution of British volunteer and multi-platinum award winning performer, Stedman Pearson, re-writing the lyrics of one of his original songs for Habitat. The song is planned to be launched on the first anniversary of super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), with proceeds being donated to Habitat for Humanity Philippines. 

Mark Fancy, Executive Director of Prudence Foundation also expressed interest in a third leg of Habitat’s volunteer program, looking at Habitat’s Culion site in Palawan, which is set to begin work early next year.

“What happened in the Philippines is tragic, it’s really sad. I think any normal person, given the opportunity would want to go and do something. So for me, volunteering is normal. It’s just wonderful that our company is so supportive and that we can create a vehicle or platform that gives people that opportunity to be able to do it,” Fancy said.