Is building volunteer work in the Philippines right for me?
Are you willing to use your own two hands to make a tangible difference? Want to do something that will have a lasting impact on the lives of others? Then construction volunteering in the Philippines is perfect for you.
You’ll be supervised by our building manager, and learn from local tradesmen and builders. They’ll teach you everything you need to know, and ensure that you’re doing everything correctly. It’s also a great way for you to learn valuable life skills like teamwork, problem solving, and working with people from different cultures.
You don’t need to have any previous construction experience. All we require is a willingness to work hard and learn. You do need to be in a reasonably fit condition, however.
Your safety is incredibly important to us. On the worksite, you’ll have personal protective equipment, constant supervision, and we’ll instruct you in various safety measures.
You can join this placement for any length of time, starting from one week onwards. Start and end dates are flexible, so you can choose what suits you. However, the longer you stay, the greater impact you will have, and the more projects you’re likely to see completed.
What will I do on this project?
You’ll be working on our building site and you’ll get your hands dirty helping to improve quality of life for a local family. Here are just some of the things you’ll do:
- Build toilet blocks for local families
- Manufacture toilet bowls for rural households
- Learn about local masonry and carpentry practices
Your work will focus on the following areas:
Build toilet blocks for local families
The first phase of this project involves building the actual toilet cubicles for local households. You will dig and lay foundations, mix cement, cut lumber, and install roofing, among other tasks.
Manufacture toilet bowls for rural households
The second part of building toilet facilities involves the manufacture of the toilet bowls themselves. As a volunteer, you will be taught to mix cement and pour it into a cast to set. You will then paint the finished product.
Learn about local masonry and carpentry practices
All your work takes place under the supervision of the Projects Abroad building manager. We also have the help of local builders and tradesmen. This is a great opportunity to learn about local building practices, such as masonry and carpentry. It can be very interesting to see how this work gets done, especially with limited resources.
Where in the Philippines will I work?
You will work in two locations, the Municipality of San Remigio and Bogo City. They are only 12 km apart, so it’s quite quick to travel between them.
Neighbouring Bogo City is relatively young, having only been established in 2007. Around 5% of the households here lack proper sanitation facilities. It has most of the modern amenities you might need, as well as a number of local landmarks which are worth visiting.
San Remigio is situated in the northwestern part of Cebu Island. Over 3,000 households in this area do not have their own toilets. It’s a small town, with a mix of modern amenities such as ATMs, grocery stores, and beachside restaurants. The rural parts of the town don’t have as many modern facilities.
A typical day on the Philippines Building Project
You will work from around 8.30am until 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. You will also have time for a lunch break at the building site.
Wake up in the home of your host family, and enjoy a hearty breakfast in preparation for the day ahead. Travel to your placement in a minivan with your fellow building volunteers.
Your daily activities will depend on which stage the building is at: for example, moulding toilet bowls or actually constructing the cubicle. Before you begin for the day, you and your fellow volunteers will discuss what needs to be done with the building supervisor. On any given day, you’ll dig foundations, mix cement, or paint.
Please note that some days are entirely dedicated to constructing the actual bathroom, and others to manufacturing the toilet bowls. We recommend staying for at least two weeks if you’d like the chance to participate in a full toilet building project from start to finish.
Once you’re done for the day, it’s time for some well-deserved relaxation. We organise regular volunteer socials, so you can get to know each other while having fun. Or why not spend time getting to know your host family over a delicious home-cooked meal? Explore the town, bask on the white sand beaches, or try some Filipino cuisine at a local restaurant.
What are the aims and impact of this project?
The aim of this project is to improve sanitation by building toilets for families in these areas. This in turn improves community health, and ensures their privacy and safety.
Around 26 million Filipinos do not have access to a proper toilet. Within the areas we work, 26% of the households in San Remigio and 5% of the households in Bogo City don’t have this basic but vital facility. This means that millions of people openly defecate, which contaminates water supplies and spreads disease.
We are currently prioritising those with disabilities, as we have identified them as most in need of support. In fact, our ongoing work to improve the quality of life for those with disabilities has been recognised by local authorities.
In January 2018, we handed over 200 new toilet bowls to the Municipality of San Remigio in the presence of the mayor. These will be given to families who do not currently have any toilet facilities, including people with disabilities.
We hope to achieve even more in the months to come! With your help, we aim to build at least two toilets per month. The more volunteers who join, the greater impact we can make to improve the quality of life for local families.
Measuring our impact
Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.
Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.
Leisure activities and free time
The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands, so naturally there are some beautiful beaches where you can relax during your free time. However, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy during your trip.
With white-sand beaches come all the exciting activities associated with living close to the sea. You can go snorkelling through the pristine waters, play volleyball, or relax on the sand as the sun sets.
In Cebu City itself, you can explore the traditional Carbon Market. For an insight into the country’s history, you can visit Fort San Pedro and Magellan's Cross. Here, you’ll learn more about the Spanish conquest.
The Spanish influence is also felt in the regular fiestas and street parades held in the Philippines. If you volunteer around the end of January, you’ll even get to experience the Sinulog Festival, a nine day Mardi Gras-style party.
With so many volunteers joining us throughout the year, there will likely be other volunteers in the Philippines during your trip. You can connect with them and explore as a group or travel independently if you prefer.
Safety and staff support
Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on-hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.
Find out more about safety and backup.
Meet the team in Philippines
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