Study & Protoyping: Typhoon and Earthquake Proof Shelter by Katinnulong Daguiti Umili iti Amianan Inc. (KADUAMI)

Brgy Pasungol, Santa, Ilocos Sur

Nelson John Salvador, Imelda Pugyao, Betty Sugao, & Maria Zoilo Baladad

The project hopes to create a shelter model that will address three main issues in shelter rehabilitation and relocation – Time, Cost and Livability (safety). Our output is a design of a shelter that is Fast- built, Indigenous and with traditional knowledge applied, Disaster resilent – Earthquake and typhoon; Low cost and Adaptable (FIDELA). The design is validated through research and proven through actual construction of a prototype and testing.

KADUAMI envisions an empowered community that is able to assert their basic rights, promote self-reliace, equitable and sustainable development, and progressive culture. On the DRR front, our hope at KADUAMI is that whenever a major disaster strikes there will be no more prolonged suffering of the people due to damaged shelter. When the next Pepeng, Lawin, or Ompong ravage Northern Luzon, or the country, no more Juan, or Maria will be rendered homeless.


We need financial support to continue the development of the design the oppurtunity to showcase actual use of the design in a community with partner LGUs or private companies. kaduami@protonmail

Know more about our story!

This type of knowledge was lost when Western standards of construction and housing styles and trends were embraced by Filipinos. Perhaps we can revive it, using new
materials like the M3 particle board and new concreting methods.

Aside from Amianance being located in a low-lying area, the Mestizo river is one of the outlets of a dam up in Abra. When the flood gates are opened, it is almost certain for us here to get submerged.


During the regional writeshop for the 16 shortlisted innovators for Northern Luzon in December 2017, the facilitator asked each participant to write out on a piece of paper what they want their job to be IF they weren’t who they were at that moment. Mr. Nelson John Salvador, Executive Director of Katinnulong Daguiti ti Umili iti Amianan Inc. (KADUAMI), became the most memorable participant. In succeeding Lab trainings, fellow innovators  would say, “oh si Mr. President?”

Sir Nelson, as he is respectfully called among colleagues and community members in the region, has been doing development work for almost 30 years. A civil engineer by profession, he provided his expertise in disaster rehabilitation particular with shelter projects.

KADUAMI’s submitted proposal to Tuklas was one of three shelter-related innovations. Only 2 of them went on to be given the grants, the other being 3Build, a group of students from Isabela State University in Cauayan City.

In Sir Nelson’s pitch to fellow innovators, he recounted how, after the great Luzon earthquake in 1990, houses that survived were built using the indigenous Igorot model stilt house. Apparently, the stilts allowed the house to just sway with the shaking earth. With this realization, he proposed a marriage of the indigenous model with new advances in engineering technology. He particularly wanted to use the M3 board, a new plyboard hybrid that offers high insulation properties but is thick and nearly as hard as concrete. He also wanted to try new concreting methods that could result in less dense concrete stilts that might still “dance” when shaken.

“I have been thinking about this for a long time,” Sir Nelson shared. “Tuklas gave me a chance to see if it will work as I had envisioned.”


A few years prior to his Tuklas application, Sir Nelson had provided consultancy services to two communities in the municipality of Santa, Ilocos Sur. These had been displaced by severe coastal/shore erosion so the municipal local government unit (MLGU) set out to provide them with suitable housing project to move to.

The three coastal barangays that were chosen as partner barangays had suffered the most coastal erosion: Tabucolan, Bucalag and Pasungol. In just a few years, the shoreline in these barangays came closer and closer to the communities, prompting some to abandon their houses. The idea was that the prototype shelter would be built and tested with them. Funding for actual housing will be lobbied during and after Tuklas with the local government unit or other existing allies.

With Tuklas support, KADUAMI sought to design an easier and faster way to construct permanent housing for relocation of the at-risk communities. The approach would be to utilize traditional indigenous housing methods and add modern technologies. This was presented to the community during the inception workshop in April 2018, which was attended by around 60 residents. While the house construction is ongoing, community trainings on DRRM started and would be continued until a Disaster Preparedness Committee is organized. This last was decided after KADUAMI staff interacted with members of co-innovators Alay Bayan-Luson Inc. and Ilocos Center for Research, Empowerment and Development.

The two organizations suggested the DPC formation to ensure that appreciation by the community of the project would be deeper. It would also give them added insights as they would be asked to observe and comment on the prototype shelter construction.

Several factors affected the delays in prototyping, though. The first came during the barangay elections in May 2018. Political affiliations and changes in leadership lead to difficulties in getting the necessary support for the construction of the prototype in the target barangay. The second came during the onset of the Habagat in late July through August. The main livelihood of the partner communities was fishing. Thus, they were not inclined to attend trainings and discussions during the ipon (sycyopterus lachrymosus) season. Ipon is a tiny fish endemic only to the Ilocos provinces that can only be caught between September and December.

In mid-September, supertyphoon Mangkhut tore through the region. In coordination with fellow Tuklas innovator ICRED, KADUAMI community representative and organizer Imelda Pugyao led volunteers to provide hot meals in Santa’s evacuation centers. The municipality did not report any casualties but there was damage to infrastructure, residences, and small farms.

To commence construction of the prototype without waiting for the permits from the LGU, the team’s mentor Engineer Oliver Bacud offered a spot on his poultry farm in Laoag City, barely an hour away from the town. The team agreed, proposing that community representatives just be transported to Laoag on scheduled prototype testing The Northern Luzon documentation team witnessed the testing of the final prototype along with KADUAMI staff and representatives from Santa. Huge springs were arranged around the stilts and workers and community members wedged large wood planks into
the stilt slots to move the springs and simulate ground shaking.

“A little damage (hairline cracks) was noted around the stilts but this was expected,” said Sir Nelson, after the testing.

The team acknowledges that the prototype still needs more testing. Perhaps a partnership with Phivolcs for further testing might be good. Or private engineering or construction companies.

“What’s good is that no major damage was sustained by the structure,” Manang Imelda commented.


Sir Nelson, like many other engineers from the Cordilleras, is excited to share and push forward the inherent resilience of traditional Igorot houses. The stilts are mostly seen historically to protect against wild animals and floods but with faultlines running across the highlands and well into the Ilocos provinces, obviously the ancestors also thought of the stilt structure as a way to withstand earthquakes.

“This type of knowledge was lost when Western standards of construction and housing styles and trends were embraced by Filipinos,” said Sir Nelson. “Perhaps we can revive it, using new materials like the M3 particle board and new concreting methods.”

With more research and testing, this innovative solution could be a better permanent shelter solution for post-disaster rehabilitation, especially for communities that have existing earthquake hazards.