Black and white picture of building frame of a typhoon resilient house

The Happiness of Your Neighbor is Happiness for Everyone

Barangays Batug, Cabacungan and Alegre

Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) was one of the strongest typhoons in recorded history. This storm, the strongest in the entire world in 2013, passed right through the Visayas in the central part of the Philippines. Barangays Batug, Cabacungan and Alegre were three communities heavily damaged by the typhoon, which left many homeless and with no income generating activity. Months after, the recovery process is still going on and some improvement is being seen, but much is  yet to be done for life to get back to normal.


The life of a person is a story that only God can tell.

I arrived in Barangay Batug and visited many of the survivors around the community, but I was most struck by one elderly woman, Nanay Arlenia. I was not the only person touched by her. Her neighbors and those who had been there to work or volunteer before me were also moved. She gave us food and fruit every time we visited her. On the day I was to help work on her shelter house, she invited me for lunch and a rest in her small house as it had rained that day. The next Sunday she invited the entire EcoWEB team for lunch. That was the last time that she served us her food because four days later she passed away. She showed love to us through her service no matter how little she had. Only God can repay her. May her soul rest in peace.

For Nanay Arlenia


In August 2014, I had the chance to volunteer with Ecosystems Works for Essential Benefits, Inc. (EcoWEB), a partner of MPI with the Resource-Based Conflict and Peacebuilding Training Program with the indigenous Higaunon and Subanen people in Mindanao. I volunteered for two weeks in their resilient shelter construction and sustainable livelihood program in Leyte, mainly in barangays Batug, Cabacungan and Alegre. In these barangays people are mainly “tuba” (coconut wine) producers, one of their main sources of income. 

As super-typhoon Yolanda struck the Visayan Islands, these 3 barangays were some of the first to be affected. Houses, plantations and farms were destroyed.

In the community of Barangay Batug I helped in the construction of the typhoon resilient house for the survivors affected most by the storm. I joined the carpenters and helped them in building the shelter houses for the survivors. I primarily helped in cutting the lumber. I was also able to develop a garden that is now being used as a demonstration garden for organic gardening with kangkong (water spinach) and string beans that I planted. I also met with the farmers and discussed how being organized into an association or cooperative would help when they grow crops so that they would be able to get a better income from their harvests.

With the limited resources, there was never enough for everyone in the area. Yet people volunteered and helped each other. Many people were united and worked together for those who were most affected, building shelter houses for them, even though some of them also needed the same help. What I learned from this short exposure was that the happiness of your neighbor is happiness for everyone around.

Danny working with the carpenter on the house of Nanay Arlenia which she would not see finished

Danny working with the carpenter on the house of Nanay Arlenia which she would not see finished

Danny clearing the area of the garden besides the EcoWEB office in Batug

Danny clearing the area of the garden besides the EcoWEB office in Batug

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