P2.2M FOR GAWAD KALINGA HOUSING FOR POOR
BY JOANNA C. BALANZA
At 18, a girl has the world in her hands – a robust life, newfound freedom and the spirit to start a promising future. For girls like Gabrielle Moran Floirendo, her debut opens the gateway to endless opportunities. At the end of the year 2008, a grand celebration was held in honor of the young debutante.
In true form, a magical Alice in Wonderland theme set the mood for the most enchanting evening of young Gabbi’s life. Clothed in the finest garments by Jun Escario, Gabbi received the company of scores of loved ones. Guests were given beautiful hair garments to top off their Alice in Wonderland costumes, were welcomed by the Queen of Hearts and the Madhatter and got comfortable on oversized chairs at long banquet tables peppered with colorful floralscapes by M di Flori topped with vibrant teacups. To capture the endearing disorder present in the original storybook tale, a replica of one of the tables hung precariously atop glass chandeliers, baroque mirrors reflected a distortion of the subject, an enormous clock ticked quietly away and a beautifully designed cake by Penk Ching awaited the attention of the celebrant. Even the service crew was not spared, garbed in costumes that resembled humongous decks of cards as vests.
Naturally, the celebrant joined her guests with much fanfare – amidst blaring trumpets, Gabbi was presented to her friends by her loving parents, Antonio Floirendo Jr. and Margie Moran Floirendo. The young debutante emerged in a midnight blue tiered gown and treated loved ones to a sumptuous meal by Margarita Fores, while 65 children from the Philippine Youth Symphonic Band played beautiful classical music for the celebrant and her guests.
Then came the most momentous part of the celebration. Gabbi, out of the goodness of her heart, had asked family and friends to donate money in lieu of gifts for the benefit of international non-profit Christian ministry, Habitat for Humanity Philippines (HFHP).
HFHP helps build responsible and self-reliant communities by enabling Filipino families in need to acquire affordable, decent, and durable homes. Since 1988, HFHP has built more than 24,000 homes for the underserved and the underprivileged communities in the Philippines.
Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, HFHP builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses with the help of homeowner families.
Among its many programs, Habitat is also present in Mindanao, spearheading the Peace Build project in partnership with the European Union. Peace Build aims to build for peace and development in areas where internally displaced people are severely affected by the ongoing conflict in the region. This is carried out by bringing people of different creeds and faith together to jointly address the massive need for decent housing in underserved communities. It is here that Gabbi has decided to donate all of the Php2,200,000 in cash and in pledges she has raised during her birthday celebration with the help of family and friends.
This thirst to help internally displaced families in Mindanao came from Gabbi’s exposure to the conflicted communities in her hometown of Davao. In the past two years, she, along with friends, volunteered their services at Habitat project sites in Davao Province and Davao City. Thus, it is only apt that she chose San Vicente, Panabo, Davao Province as the community to benefit from her birthday fundraising party. In Manila, Gabbi has also helped build homes at the FTI Rotaryvill Family Townhomes in Taguig and at the Bagong Buhay Village in Baseco, Tondo.
Aside from the monetary aspect, volunteerism offers a significant impact on both the volunteer and the beneficiary. Volunteerism helps imbibe a spirit of compassion and selflessness in those who give of themselves to others who are in need. This noble act helps volunteers learn and understand the plight of the poor. In turn, beneficiaries who experience compassion from others are able to get back dignity and are better equipped for bigger things in life. Volunteering to help build homes alongside homepartners also helps to bring down the house cost.
Undeniably, the party was not only a memorable merriment of the celebrant’s 18 years, most importantly the donation will help provide decent housing for at least 20 poor families and will leave a monumental impact on the lives of those she has touched.