Day 9 – Building in Tala

It’s Saturday, January 3rd. Due to various schedule changes, today will be our first day on our build site and we are so excited! We decide to leave at 1 hour early and stay one hour later on each build day to catch up on lost time.

And tooth pic!
We’re excited to build. Like always, we start our day in prayer.
Blue build shirts on and on the bus ready for the first day at Tala community
We arrive at our build site in Tala, Caloocan City, Philippines.
There are 60 houses in this village.  30 of which are finished (as seen here).
John interacting with the local kids in the community.
All the kids are eager to meet us


something about getting building gear
Something about getting building gear on…
These are our yellow hard hats
Jermin with the work gloves
Faith  with her sweat towel ready to work hard.
And Mitch with his toothpick – chillin like a villain
One of the community elders lead us in prayer before our leaders get to work.
This is Rapunzel, our forewoman who will be assign us our work.


3 teams - team 1 (list job)
Team 3 ready to work on draining water.
Team 2 pumped to start painting!
Team 1 before they start their tiring dig.
Mimi bonding with the local kids.


job 1
Team 1 learning how to dig.
Libby hard at work digging.
Working hard in the clay & mud. We’re starting to get really dirty.
It’s incredible how tiring it is to shovel clay!


job 2
Adrian preparing the wall for painting.
Jermin & Kaisha excited to be painting.
Before the work of wonderful team 2 painters.


job 3
Mitch draining water from the ditch (future septic tank)
John and Nicole posing before getting down to business.
Our leaders working together to finish digging.
We need to dig 30 cm wide trenches, 2 feet deep so that the foundation can be poured.
We also need to dig 80 cm corners, 3 feet deep where posts will be laid.


various other jobs pop up eg. clearing
A shot of the site before our leaders work together to clear out the land.
Site must be cleared before we start digging section number two.
Julie and our leaders, strutting their stuff with their piles of tree branches.
Team 2 working together to move bricks and not even breaking a sweat!


unloaded 2 trucks
They unloaded 2 trucks!!
Great job team 2!
An action shot of our diggers working hard! The digging never stops.
Taking out the trash from the build site.
Chloe and her SUPER LONG branch.
A quick shot of the leaders working hard. Septic ditch almost emptied.
It takes two to throw out this heavy tree stump
Kaisha concentrated on sand papering the walls for painting.
The girls are stronger than you think!
Leaders and locals working together. These are the people that will be living in these new homes.
John sawing a tree in half which is in the way of digging.
All hail Queen Chloe!
Sanding down the walls before painting.
Here’s Hailie, one of the local children hanging out with our leaders while painting.
An after shot of the leaders after they got down and dirty from digging.


morning's work
Only half a day’s work and look how much we have done! Foundation channels for one whole unit.
this was half full, we emptied, now the community is able to continue digging it deeper (but we'll leave that to the professionals) :)
This was half full, we emptied, now the community is able to continue digging it deeper (but we’ll leave that to the professionals) 🙂
Grace before our meal after a tiring morning build shift.
Our lunch, specially prepared by the wonderful ladies at ANCOP and Couples for Christ.
Mitch’s new ride.
Our leaders enjoying their lunch break.
Our leaders posing on tricycles – the cheapest form of public transportation.
The cute couple posing for a dramatic motorcycle picture…and John.
One of the the locals climbing the coconut tree which needs to be cut down because it’s in the middle of a future unit we are digging.
“I can do that too”
Our leaders teaching the kids hand games.
The kids love this game!
Libby volunteers to help clean the dishes.
Enjoying some fresh refreshing coconuts that were picked from the newly cut tree.
Emily playing games with the girls.
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Mimi teaching Hailie how to play the Ukelele.
Nicole and the locals.
Break time over.  Time to get back to work.
We cleared this whole area in the morning.  It was full of trees and bushes. Now its ready for a second round of digging. We’re now starting units 3 and 4.
Hard at work, do not disturb! This is units 1 and 2.
Do they ever get tired?
Libby hard at work painting.
Preparing the wall for a fresh coat of paint.
Axile working hard to paint the walls of her house.
Charlie’s Angels came to help out in painting today at the build site.
The finished product by Charlie’s Angels (Dana, Dyan, and Julie)
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Merienda (snack) time! Yummy banana Q!
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After break we come back to notice that groundwater is starting fill up our newly dug trench
The little puppy at our build site. Aww!
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Playing sungka with the children.
After a long day of working, the leaders end the day by playing games with the kids.
Duck, Duck, GOOSE! (of course)
Playing duck, duck, goose with the entire group.
Look at all the kids and leaders!  Biggest session of Duck, Duck, Goose we’ve ever played.
The game got a little too intense. Poor Marc!
We handed out toys to the kids after the games.
Here are all our gear, organized and ready for day 2.
We hi-five the kids before we board the bus and tell them we’ll be back tomorrow


Jullian’s aunt and uncle invite us to their house for a casual dinner.

The bus rolls up to Jillian’s aunt’s house in Las Pinas.
The set up for our dinner at Jillian’s family’s home. So fancy! We were blown away.
Jillian posing with her cousin.
The students playing with the family dog, Hashbrown!
A shot of us saying a prayer before dinner, lead by Axile
There’s quite the spread
And mango crepes for dessert, yummy!



Kaisha and Tina posing with tita Angie (Jillian’s aunt) and their specially prepared vegetarian dishes
We fill up 2 tables
Here’s leader table 2


Meeting the first Filipino astronaut, Chino Roque, a.k.a. Jillian’s cousin.  This is a model of the actual spaceship he will be flying later this year.
During dinner, girls from an orphanage perform a medley of Christmas and pop songs for us.
A shot of the performers enjoying their dinner.
The leaders posing with Chino after dinner and ask him questions about his upcoming space journey he has been training for in Florida. So exciting!
Dana and Adrian singing their hearts out after dinner (special request from Jillian’s aunt).
Jillian’s family shot photo.
Thank you Roque-Maniquis family for your outstanding hospitality.


We head back to the hotel with our bellies full.  Thanks for following our journey.

Please write us a comment below.

29 thoughts on “Day 9 – Building in Tala

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  1. Thanks so much for all the wonderful photos. What an experience the young people are having, we feel they will never forget this time in their lives.

  2. A very big thank you to Jillian’s family for opening their home and their hearts to the team. What a beautiful meal you prepared for all of them. Special thanks for the vegetarian dishes for Kaisha and Tina. How exciting to meet Chino, we will certainly continue to follow his career and look forward to seeing him go into outer space!!!!

  3. Big “thank you” to all the leaders who visited the Philippines! I hope that this experience has touched you as much as your work has touched our lives! More power to TCDSB and to your various missions around the globe!

  4. I may have started on the painting team, but I did not stay there for long… As soon as I started my digging shift I knew I would be the most help there. Never thought I would enjoy digging so much either (hopefully my parents don’t find out so I don’t get put to work gardening at home too 😛 ) We definitely worked hard as a team to get as much done as possible. Although none of us were ready for the heat we encountered in the afternoon. Certainly hotter than the hottest day in Toronto. It was inspiring to see the other workers continue despite the heat, so we continued and stuck it out until the end. So proud of everyone on the first day of build, it was not easy. Three more days to go.

  5. Finally seeing the community we were building in was amazing. Digging was very hard work! It felt like working out in a sauna! Painting was a nice break from digging. The food was of course amazing again, especially our merienda! It was so nice of Jillian’s family to have a dinner in our honor, I thought we were just crashing something they had already planned not going to a dinner special for us! Another amazing day in the Philippines.

  6. Im really depressed that i missed this day of building. I feel guilty that i couldn’t help out because of my fever. But i tried to get better as fast as i could. I took medication and cough drops, and slept on the bus to make sure i didn’t miss out on too much. I wanted to work twice as hard the next day!

  7. Build day one in Tala was a success. Got tons of work done despite the heat of the sun. I started off as digging and realized it was hard because of how unfit I was from all the food from Christmas, and places we’ve been going to!! Lots of the diggers got dirty pretty quickly and it showed that we were putting our most effort.

  8. First building day was super exhausting but I think we were all filled with adrenaline throughout the entire day. Glad we could finally start our build, and even more glad that we were able to bond with kids we were actually going to be able to say we would see them the next day!
    Incredibly grateful for my family for opening up their home to us after our first build. I’ve learned that family bond is stronger than most anything and I’m so glad I have a family who supports all our efforts!

  9. The girls I bonded with first are named: Marilou, Princess, Samantha, and Arianne. They LOVED to sing Rude, Just the Way You Are, and especially All of Me with Hailie. Hailie was such a quick learner on the ukelele.

    Marilou beat me TWICE in Sungka. She is so smart.

    I was so touched by these kids. They were so kind to me, and so were their parents. Hailie’s mother, Ate Michelle, is so sweet! Later while I was digging, Hailie brought me a banana snack and carried around my camcorder for me haha.

    I knew this was the start of incredible relationships. I already fell in love with the village.

  10. A little goes a long way. Even though we only had one day of building, it is amazing how little one task can look at first based on what you were doing whether it was digging or emptying that hole of water. Each bucket or each shovel full seemed really little in comparison to the whole task, but it was amazing how our big that little part became. It makes you feel good inside when you look at the what you achieved SO FAR at the end of the day. A lot of effort, and sweat, and still three more days, but the end goal is more important.

  11. It’s too bad we couldn’t have built at this site longer. The community here is, as always, inviting and warm. It was a little more difficult to connect with the kids while we were working, but I also met with some of the adults. They told me about their children and how they were doing this for them. Again, I was reminded of how grateful I am and should be about living in Canada and the hard work that my parents did for me. And these locals really work so hard for their houses. As for the kids at the end of the day, it was nice to know that I would see them again the next day instead of our hearts breaking. The dinner that night was amazing, although it still felt odd to see how well off some people are compared to others in the Philippines were. Great first build day!

  12. thank you guys for helping me in digging, it is the hardest part in building houses.sorry for exposing your skin in the hot afternoon sun,but you try your best to be a good example to us,and libby im pray to your health in your asthma, everytime i dig i think of you guys with matching tears in my eyes,i wish that i would see you guys again/or may i visit you in toronto?who knows,

  13. the first day we met all of you guys im starstruck,at first i think that you only visit us and give some stuff but you stay 4 days just to help us build and force your body to work hard,and experience the life that we had here,tnx

  14. Really did not know what to expect for this day. I kept telling myself that to make use of every single second so that I get to help as much as I can in the building. My team and I jumped right into the digging and that really made me realize how arduous it is to build houses. It took a long time for my team and I to get the hang of it and at times it felt really discouraging when I saw how little of a difference our digging was doing. But all the kuyas and titos started talking to us and encouraging us. They also patiently showed us and guided us how to do things and it really helped. It was so much fun spending a day under the sun, getting dirty, and just talking to the people in Tala. It was so fulfilling and such a great workout! ❤

  15. First day in Tala was so exciting! We were finally able to do what came to the Philippines to do and a lot of us were pumped to get right down to business. Loved painting with my girls, Julie and Dyan 🙂 though the sandpapering was deafening at times, we made the best of it with music and even painted our names on the walls along with Hailie and Princess, two children of the village. We covered it later with a second coat of course, but not before we captured the memory with our phones aha 😉 overall, such a fun first day at the build site.

    Visiting Tita Angie’s house was so great and we were all so awestruck when we first arrived. It’s so nice that she and the rest of Jillian’s family would accommodate us like that, we all had a wonderful time! Some of us were a little upset at Jillian because she hadn’t told us how fancy the dinner with her family was going to be, and we were literally all dressed in our sweaty worn out building clothes lol! I even asked her in the morning what I should wear and she said anything because it was casual so I wore clothes I would wear to a gym and to my surprise when we arrived in her family’s backyard it literally looked like we were attending a wedding! I was so embarrassed 😦 but it’s okay Jill, still love you ❤ aha

  16. I had soooooo much fun digging. This was the first day at the build site, and lets say it was one of the best days. Though the weather was so hot and digging wasn’t that easy, I still enjoyed it. Digging with the workers in the community was so much fun. You see them using scandals and not really getting much mud on them and then you see me with work boots, gloves and a hamlet and I am covered with mud. Lets say I wasn’t as skilled as them. I got tired a couples of times, and seeing the worker work non-stop, I pushed myself too. But at the end of the day, they are very talented and hardworking. This experience told me to never give up and keep trying, because the are others in much harder situation than us and we have to keep going no matter what.

  17. I was so excited to start building and meeting everyone in the community. Everyone was so welcoming and loving. I was so excited to start building but that changed 5 min in because we had to start from the very beginning, which means we had to dig the base of the house. After 5 minutes of digging i was sweating buckets. it was a lot of work but it was totally worth it.

  18. The first of building was definitely something, the first thing my group had to do was taking out all the water from the ditch. Then we had to help clean up the land in order for the other group to start digging the foundation of the houses. It was actually a tiring first day but it was good! The people in the community were definitely welcoming and I didnt feel like a stranger at all.

  19. This day was so looked forward to by all of us i think. To be able to start getting our hands dirty and start working. I was really exited to meet the kids and workers we would be working along side with. And the yellow paint smelled like Bananas!! 😀

  20. Building Day! I was sooo tired! Mitch, John, Emily, Nicole, Melissa, Tina and I got started and worked hard getting most of the water out of that gigantic hole (shoutout to all of you by the way) It was also tiring learning how to pickaxe! I was not fit for that at all but I tried my best! They made it look so easy! During lunch, a lot of us got to go on the tricycles, and to be honest I felt super Filipino! LOL! We’ve been travelling in our red bus and for once we got to experience something pretty cool!
    Dinner at Jillian’s family’s house was amazing! (another shoutout to Jillian and her family) They were so nice, and we all had a great time!

  21. I can’t believe how much we got done in one day! That’s the power of working together right there!
    The food was so good at both the site and the special event afterwards. I got to meet an astronaut!

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