Habitat for Humanity  celebrates 35th year

It was a heart-warming gathering of partners, volunteer leaders and supporters as Habitat for Humanity Philippines celebrated 35 years in the Philippines.

The Gala Dinner, held at Shangri-La at the Fort, was themed “Building hope.”

A four-course dinner, paired with wines, was prepared by Michelin-starred chef Walter Manzke and James Beard awardee chef Margarita Lorenzana-Manzke.

Hosted by Karylle Yuson and Kim Atienza, the program began with an invocation sung by Gian Magdangal and Lara Maigue, and performances by Nicole Laurel Asensio with Gabriel Dandan, Ayen Munji-Laurel and Franco Laurel.

Fernando Zobel de Ayala


Chief Development Officer of Habitat for Humanity Philippines Lala Baldelovar, Eugene Alava and Maria Divina Alava Pelaez of Maritess Alava-Yong Foundation.


Ana Lorenzana de Ocampo


Chef Walter Manzke with Kim Atienza and Karylle Yuson.


Board Chair Monique
Albert-Lopez and Carlo Lopez.

In her welcome remarks, Ana Lorenzana de Ocampo, chair of the 35th Anniversary Organizing Committee, sought to emphasize the importance of having “a united force committed to making a real and lasting impact by building homes, building communities and building hope.”

She said, “As we revel in this celebration, let us take a moment to reflect on the incredible impact that Habitat for Humanity Philippines has achieved over the past 35 years. Through the shared dedication and tireless efforts of donors, partners and volunteers, we have enabled over 4.3 million Filipinos to build or improve the places they call home. This achievement is a testament to the power of unity and compassion — a testament to what we can accomplish when we come together with a common purpose.

“Behind these numbers are countless stories of transformation. Families once burdened by inadequate living conditions now have safe and decent homes where they can nurture their dreams and aspirations, and where their children can study better and dream bigger. Communities that were once marginalized and overlooked are now thriving centers of hope and opportunity. The impact that Habitat for Humanity Philippines has made goes beyond bricks and mortar; restoring dignity, igniting potential and creating a sense of belonging for the many lives it has changed.”
Lorenzana added, “However, even with this remarkable progress, we must remember that our work is not done. We are still faced with an enormous housing backlog of 6.7 million housing units.”

Deeply moved
Before dinner ended, Ayala Foundation chairman Fernando Zobel de Ayala, who has been supporting Habitat for over 20 years, shared, “My journey with Habitat began during the preparations for the Carter Build in 1999, which if I recall, was the first Carter build in Asia. I was so deeply moved to see President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Rosalynn Carter travel to our part of the world, with so many volunteers, to help build homes and what would be a good foundation for our fellow Filipinos to build upon.

“Since then, and through the tremendous talent and dedication that we have here in Habitat Philippines, I am proud and delighted to see how our organization has become one of Habitat’s flagship programs across the world. We have produced many Filipino leaders for the regional and international levels, while becoming the regional headquarters for Asia.”

Zobel lauded the stories of Mardee Tangian, Claudette Fernandez and Christian Seso, whose lives were changed by the work of Habitat. “Their stories illustrate that a home is not just about shelter; having a home is also about having hope, dignity, good health, safety and security, and an opportunity for a better future,” he said.

Zobel echoed Lorenzana’s words: “Habitat began in the Asia-Pacific region by building a dozen homes in India in 1983. As of fiscal year 2023, the region accounts for 33 percent of the 53 million people that have been served by Habitat worldwide. For our part, Habitat for Humanity Philippines has supported over 4.3 million Filipinos. Although this is a huge achievement, there is certainly more to be done. The country still faces a housing gap of 6.7 million. Many families remain in danger zones, informal settlements, and inadequate spaces, all looking for a meaningful opportunity to build a good life for themselves and their children.”

The dream for decent homes for every Filipino family continues.