Ex-SAF man goes on second Typhoon Haiyan relief mission

Mr Tan has bought some 1,000 food bags in Manila to share with the Albuera community in  Leyte province. He will help the families to rebuild their homes.
Mr Tan has bought some 1,000 food bags in Manila to share with the Albuera community in Leyte province. He will help the families to rebuild their homes.ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN

Singaporean Julian Tan left for the Philippines this morning to bring some Christmas cheer to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.

Mr Tan, 40, has purchased some 1,000 food bags in Manila to share with the community in Albuera in Leyte province.

But on his second trip to ground zero within a month, he will take with him more than just ham and other goodies.

The former Singapore Armed Forces commando told The Sunday Times that he will be breaking the good news to the survivors in Albuera of his plans to help rebuild their homes.

"I will share with them about my fund-raising efforts, and I have a potential house manufacturer who is keen to help in this project, which I call Homes for Hope," he said. "Initially, I was aiming to rebuild 100 homes but now I am hopeful of helping all 11,565 families who lost their homes in the disaster."

Mr Tan runs his own security business, specialising in maritime security, medical and security evacuation and close personnel protection. He has managed to raise $45,000 in Singapore since returning from Tacloban two weeks ago.

On Nov 8, Typhoon Haiyan swept through central Philippines and wiped out almost the entire provinces of Samar and Leyte.

More than 6,000 people were killed, with close to 1,800 people reported missing and millions displaced from their homes.

Last month, together with fellow Singaporeans Alfred Yip, 38, and Stephen Cheong, 50, Mr Tan travelled to Leyte and Samar to take relief supplies worth more than $114,000 to places where help was needed most.

Their operation went smoothly with the help of Filipinos from the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1999.

After reading about Mr Tan's relief mission in The Sunday Times, PropNex high-flier Kelvin Fong got together his team of property agents, who raised $35,000 from their own pockets by Friday, which they contributed to Mr Tan's cause.

Mr Fong, 38, said: "I am in the property trade. It is very meaningful when we can help in building homes for those victims. It is only when they have homes that they will have proper sanitation and better living conditions. They can then resume their livelihoods."

Mr Petric Lee, 38, from Wynasean Inu, a Singapore-based manufacturer of pre-fabricated houses, will be joining Mr Tan on the trip so that he can understand the housing needs in Albuera.

He said: "We are working with Julian to supply 100 pre-fabricated houses and we will be teaching the locals how to build them.

"The smallest unit, which is 24 sq m, costs US$3,200 (S$4,018), excluding shipping fees. These houses are earthquake- and typhoon-resistant."

Said Mr Tan: "We hope to raise more funds to provide homes for more families before the next typhoon season starts in April."

joycel@sph.com.sg

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