The Road to Paris Starts in Daanbantayan

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On November 6, two years after typhoon Haiyan struck the Visayas, two disaster-resilient villages funded by the Filipino-French business community and the French public generosity were delivered to residents of Daanbantayan.

Located along the typhoon belt in the Pacific, the Philippines is visited by an average of 20 typhoons every year, five of which are destructive. Climate change is expected to make these events more frequent and powerful in the coming years.

Two years ago, on November 8 2013, typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines affecting about 14 million people and causing more than 6,000 fatalities.

As a response to this tragedy, France-Philippines United Action (FP-UA), a consortium of leading French companies operating in the Philippines, was created in order to coordinate the relief and rehabilitation efforts lead by the French business community in the Philippines.

FP-UA was launched to address coordination and communication issues and improve the efficiency of French-led actions for victims of Typhoon Haiyan. In the face of massive devastation in 2013, the French Ambassador to the Philippines at that time, His Excellency Gilles Garachon, convened representatives from leading French companies, the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur, and the French Chamber of Commerce to form the consortium, which is also tasked to encourage optimal allocation of goods, define key evaluation areas, provide various opportunities for involvements, and communicate all these efforts to the public.

In line with President Benigno Aquino III’s approval of the P167.9-billion reconstruction plan for the Visayas to “Build Back Better” after Haiyan, the FP-UA marked two years of coordinated relief efforts from the French private sector by delivering its two sites in Daanbantayan to the beneficiary families on November 6, 2015.

The first village is a partnership with the NGO Habitat for Humanity Philippines, which completed the construction of 76 disaster-resilient houses as well as a multi-purpose center on a 5,488-square-meter site in Daanbantayan, barangay Agujo. The companies involved in this project include Republic Cement & Building Materials, Inc. (formerly Lafarge), Schneider, Commanderie de Bordeaux, Megacem, Archetype, ParexGroup and Manille Bienvenue.

The Habitat French Village was inaugurated on the morning of November 6 by no less than the French Ambassador, Thierry Mathou, himself, together with the local authorities and the FP-UA members and partners. The 76 beneficiary families were there to witness the event; waving drawn flags of the Philippines and France in appreciation of the partnership between the two countries that provided them with a safe and durable homes.


RIBBON CUTTING: Charlito Ayco, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, Dilip Vaswani, Chairman of FP-UA, H.E. French Ambassador Thierry Mathou, Christophe Riout, President of the French Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Corro of Daanbantayan, Renato Sunico, President of Republic Cement & Building Materials, and Hilario P. Davide III, Governor of Cebu Province inaugurate the Habitat French Village on Barangay Agujo.



MOVING IN: Families in Barangay Agujo, Daanbantayan, are ready to move in their new disaster resilient houses.




WAVING FLAGS: The families in barangay Agujo were waving Philippine and French flags in appreciation.

On the afternoon, the festivities moved to barangay Paypay where another village was inaugurated. Led by the Philippine Red Cross in partnership with the French Red Cross, this rehabilitation site, referred to as the Red Cross Village, is built on a 13,500-square-meter lot, also in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Philippines as well as FP-UA. Thanks to donations by Total, Sanofi, the French Red Cross and Caisse des Dépôts, this village includes 128 houses, a multi-purpose center as well as a livelihood center, a day-care center and a barangay health center.

All the partners and representatives of the donor companies were gathered to witness the event. H.E. French Ambassador, Thierry Mathou, together with Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, remitted a symbolic key to one of the beneficiary families to mark the completion of the project.

Keys to beneficiaries Site 2

KEY HANDOVER: H.E French Ambassador Thierry Mathou, Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, Charlito Ayco, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Philippines, Oliver Gonzales, Market Access Manager at Sanofi and Gwendolyn Pang, Secretary General of the Philippine Red Cross remitted a symbolic key to one of the beneficiary families.



Turnover Site 2_1

SEALING A PARTNERSHIP: Surrounded by Representatives of FP-UA and the Red Cross, Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, Mayor Corro of Daanbantayan and Charlito Ayco, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Philippines, shake hands over the delivery of the Paypay project.





MODEL HOUSE: Together with the Red Cross and FP-UA representatives as well as the local authorities, Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, the French Ambassador, Thierry Mathou and Dilip Vaswani, Chairman of FP-UA, pose in front of the model houses built in barangay Paypay.

From the onset, the benefits of these projects were envisioned to endure the long term. The houses were specially designed by Filipino Architect E. Florentino to withstand up to intensity 8 earthquakes and 275-300 kilometer-per-hour winds.  These houses will be able to resist future storms, which are predicted to become increasingly strong in the coming years due to climate change.

In fact, during the turnover ceremonies of both sites, French Ambassador Thierry Mathou congratulated the disaster resilience component of these projects. “The Road to Paris starts in Daanbantayan” he stated during the inauguration of the two villages in November 6; referring to France’s engagement to finally turn the tide of climate change at the COP 21 UN climate change to be held in Paris this December. President François Hollande himself emphasized this when he visited the Philippines in February this year and, together with President Benigno Aquino III, launched the Manila Call to Action on Climate Change, a global appeal to act for the climate. From October 5-11, the French Embassy in Manila organized the “Climate Week” with the slogan “The Road to Paris Starts in Manila” with the aim of expressing support for an ambitious, universal and legally binding agreement on the climate during COP21 in Paris.

Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro also praised the FP-UA consortium this time for its reactivity “They were the early birds, they were the first to come in and they are still here”. In fact the construction of the first village started less than 2 months after the typhoon and the construction of the second village initiated in May 2014.

These two villages will benefit 204 families who lost their homes in the typhoon and were until now living in makeshift shelters in zones at risk by the shoreline. They will be relocated to these permanent houses that will all have access to safe water, proper sanitation, and stable electricity. The aim of these projects is to help these families get back to their lives and increase their resilience to help them better cope with future disasters.

The construction of a third site will soon be added to the projects handled by FP-UA.  Cités Unies France (CUF) will fund the construction of a village in the municipality of Bogo, Northern Cebu. The site selected for this project is a 5,000 square-meter lot in barangay Cayang Bogo City, located in Northern Cebu. CUF will finance the construction of 46 houses on the same Hypar Model design as built by Habitat for Humanity in Site 1.

“We are very grateful to FP-UA for its desire to partner with us in rebuilding the lives of the people of Daanbantayan,” said Charlie Ayco, Managing Director and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Philippines. “Like FP-UA, we are here [in Daanbantayan] for the long-haul, continuing to provide homes for those in need.”

Constructing the houses, meanwhile, is just the first of many steps towards building a disaster-resilient future for residents of Daanbantayan, and the French business community remains steadfast in its commitment to help Filipinos rebuild their lives. In fact, the FP-UA and the French Red Cross are now working to create an integrated community development program aimed at restoring livelihood for the affected residents as well as improving their disaster preparedness. The Red Cross is already backing a local fishing association, named KAUGMARAN, which members mainly come from the rehabilitation project in Agujo. The Red Cross will assist them in restoring their fishponds. Furthermore, a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) project is already well under way in this barangay where a team of 143 Red Cross volunteers have been trained and a Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment of the area has been made.

With nearly two years of existence, the projects of FP-UA have already garnered important support. In January 2015, Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy of the French President for the Protection of the Planet, visited our sites in Daanbantayan and was very impressed with the joint efforts initiated by the Filipino-French private community. So impressed in fact that a few weeks later, French President François Hollande himself highlighted the achievements of FP-UA during his official visit to the Philippines. He also announced the future conversion of FP-UA into a Foundation of the French Chamber of Commerce.

On September 23 2015, the FP-UA Foundation was registered and made official in front of the French business community. Its aim is to be the key channel for French organizations in the Philippines for effective and CSR driven solutions to FP-UA’s key pillars: Children’s Welfare, Disaster Rehabilitation and Health by 2018. The Foundation will strive to encourage and strengthen the CSR activities of the French industry in the Philippines. It will serve as a bridge between the French companies in the Philippines that would like to contribute to CSR projects and the implementing NGOs that are looking for private backers.

“We at FP-UA credit the French embassy for bringing together the French business community in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.” said Dilip Vaswani, President and Managing Director of Total (Philippines) Corporation and Chairman of FP-UA. “Collectively, we can make a larger impact and bridge the support that companies are willing to provide to sectors of Philippine society that need it most.”

All the members and partners of FP-UA reiterated their commitment to the Foundation for the years to come. Since the creation of FP-UA, French companies have governed the structure and participated in decisions ranging from dealing with construction as well as selecting which projects to endorse. .“There is a long road ahead to recovery, and this is just the beginning. Total is committed to continue to support FP-UA in its efforts to uplift the lives of those affected by Tyhoon Yolanda. We look forward to future projects of FP-UA that will expand to develop other underserved sectors of Philippine society,” said Vaswani who assumed the Chairmanship of the FP-UA in January this year. Before him, Don Lee, Country CEO of Republic Cement & Building Materials, was chairman for the year 2013-2014.

The FP-UA Foundation would like to thank all of its partners and donors for their continuous support and unwavering commitment to these projects.

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Site 1 Site 2 Site 3
Location Barangay Agujo, Daanbantayan, Cebu Island Barangay Paypay, Daanbantayan, Cebu Island Barangay Cayang, Bogo City, Cebu Island
Land Size 5,400 m2 13,500 m2 5,000 m2
Leading Donors Republic Cement & Building Materials, Schneider, Commanderie de Bordeaux, Megacem, Archetype, ParexGroup, Manille Bienvenue Total, Sanofi, Caisse des Dépôts, French Red Cross Cités-Unies France
Leading NGO Habitat for Humanity Philippine Red Cross in partnership with the French Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity Habitat for Humanity
Number of homes 76 128 46
Additional Facilities Multi-Purpose Center A Barangay Health Station, A Day-Care Center, A Livelihood Center, A Red Cross Room, A 33kw Photovoltaic solar power plant, an autonomous Decentralized Water Treatment System (Dewats) Multi-Purpose Center
Total Budget USD 500,000 USD 1M USD 259,292
Progress Site completed. Site completed. Construction will start in November. The first “model” house will be erected in January 2016.
Completion November 2015 November 2015 2016