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OLFU pledges to build 50 homes with Habitat for Humanity; breaks ground for the first 28 in Bignay
08 March 2017, Bignay, Valenzuela City
On a bright and early Wednesday morning, Fatima employees were all a-smile as they joined the residents of Northville 2 and officials from the Habitat for Humanity. The day was one for the books for it marked the First Build Day for the 50 homes that are being funded by Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU).
Earlier in the final quarter of 2016, officers from the Habitat for Humanity led by Francis Macatulad and OLFU coordinator Gelo Paterno had gone to the main headquarters of OLFU to jointly sign-off on a Memorandum of Agreement with the University President, Dr. Caroline Marian S. Enriquez; VP for Student Affairs, Dr. Mylene S. Abad Santos, and other school officials. Stipulating that OLFU will be funding 50 houses, as well as providing the student and employee volunteers for the construction phase, the formalization of the partnership holds much weight to Fatima. After all, 50 homes tie-in with the celebration of the school’s 50th founding year in 2017.
And on March 8th, the groundbreaking day was solemnized by a simple holy mass at the Northville 2’s basketball court. In the ensuing, short program, Habitat for Humanity said that this was a pioneering project for them since it was their first attempt at building houses in an existing subdivision that had specific lots already pre-awarded previously by the National Housing Authority to qualified beneficiaries; but beneficiaries who lack the financial capacity to build homes.
Before this, Habitat had always constructed on property directly acquired by the group; property earmarked exclusively for Habitat homes. In Northville 2’s case, the 28 designated lots for OLFU are spread out within the community, mixed in with already existing privately-owned residences.
OLFU’s Dr. Enriquez recounted that as early as year 2015, planning was underway for initiatives that would honor the golden milestone of the school. Big, lavish celebrations, she said, could have been the easy pick, but, no. The university leaders opted to celebrate, not with a one-time event but, rather, with an act that would leave a legacy for, perhaps, 50 more years, and impact positively on the lives of others. And, thus, the pledge of 50 homes was made; weaving in perfectly to the fruition of OLFU’s vision of “improving man as man”. “To make a difference in the lives of 50 families is deemed a great privilege by the school as it shows humble gratitude for “50 Glorious Years,” Dr. Enriquez averred. She then thanked the 28 beneficiaries and called upon them to team-up with OLFU in building their homes.
Thus, as the day progressed and as the sun magnified its power, side-by-side, OLFU banded together with the beneficiaries as they cleared the first lots of dirt and rocks; trying their very best to level the soil to the ground in preparation for the next steps of construction.
While the University had ensured that the event would be amply supported with water and nourishment, it was touching when the residents called-out for lunch. In a makeshift shaded area on a long bamboo table, a feast of home-cooked food greeted the famished volunteers. It was a most humbling moment to see that the beneficiaries had begun to embrace the Fatima people as one of their own.
With 28 homes in the pipeline at Northville 2, the remainder of 22 homes will be constructed at Bistekville in Quezon City. Construction for all 50 houses have project completion timeline of 3 years.
And, as OLFU “broke bread” with the residents, another shining moment came to be. A woman named Porfiria Vinluan approached Dr. Enriquez and introduced herself.
Porfiria shared her story. Her and her late husband’s only dream was for their children to complete their education, because it was one thing the couple never achieved. She only finished grade school, while her husband only reached high school level. With her meager means and a then ailing spouse, Porfiria took on all sorts of odd jobs like selling tocino and longganiza just so she could put her children through school. And she did just that.
Habitat for Humanity apparently identified her as a future beneficiary of a home to be constructed on a lot in Northville 2, Bignay, Valenzuela; a lot awarded to her by the National Housing Authority many years ago but which remained idle because she never had enough money to construct a house.
Then, Porfiria discovered on on Fatima’s First Build Day that her future house is one of 50 to be funded by OLFU. And, only then did she reveal to Dr. Enriquez that her daughter, Mary Ann, graduated from Fatima and is now a licensed Nurse in the Middle East--- a fruit of Porfiria’s hard work. How blessed to be “exchanging gifts” with Porfiria Vinluan.
Life comes full circle. It’s OLFU’s turn now, Porfiria.