DEC 2, DUMAGUETE, PHILIPPINES - While most students were picking out new school supplies and courses for the second semester, the senior Architecture students at FU donned their grungiest work clothes, and started hoisting shovels and cement blocks up the mountain. Construction work for them has begun.Last June, Foundation University had launched the first design-build studio in the Philippines. Led by Filipino-American Architecture instructor, Ray Villanueva, 5th year Architecture students were given the task to lead a project from design all the way through actual construction. Every year, senior students would complete a new project for a specific community in the Province. For this first year, students have worked closely with barangay Malaunay in the municipality of Valencia to design a day-care facility for its growing population.Villanueva recalls the process of trial and error as they were brainstorming on the name for the design studio for students. He said the natural inclination was to use the term bayanihan since it accurately describes the community effort involved in such a project. But then they thought the term seems overused, and not Cebuano. Something about tambayayong didn’t stick either. Finally it was called Estudio Damgo (or "Dream Studio" in the local dialect).“What we do in this studio is something that’s new and different, and is based on dreams,” explained Villanueva.He said the studio is “the dream” hatched by Architect Dean Sinco and himself to bring design-build to the Philippines, the dream of Malaunay to have a permanent daycare center, and the dream of students, Rick Gando and Jon Jovi Biale, to graduate in March having completed their first building as architects (by hand).In the first semester, the Architecture students hosted several community meetings to go over the barangay’s needs and plans for the new daycare center. For their final exam, Gando and Biale submitted detailed plans, renderings, and a cost analysis for the classroom. And early this month, they broke ground, and began the sometimes-painful-but-also-rewarding process of making their dream a reality. “Now that construction has begun, I can feel myself maturing as a designer,” Biala said. “Because we are responsible for the whole project which we started from ‘scratch’, we now realize how important every detail is -- from the materials we choose to the finishings; how every decision really effects the project, and how important it is to plan ahead,” he added.The senior students are not alone. Fourth year students are also participating in the construction work, handling specific details of various materials and finishings. Foundation University’s extensive workshop is on-hand for tools and expertise, and Valencia residents have been pitching in as volunteer labor and support. It is estimated that the total cost of the class for Estudio Damgo is a little over P900,000. Foundation has so far committed over half of the amount, but needs to raise another P350,000 to cover construction materials. Villar Foundation has granted P50,000; while Buglas Bamboo Institute has offered a five percent discount on bamboo products sourced from them. Foundation University also accepts tax-deductible donations from US residents through the website of Global Giving www.globalgiving.org/projects/estudio-damgo-daycare/To date, Estudio Damgo has raised over P260,000, largely from online donations.
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