KUBO: The Disaster Relief House by 3BUILD

Brgy Marcos in Roxas City, Isabela

Mark Amen Gaming, Krystelle Joy Zipagan, Julius Caesar Baua, Ronald Palicpic, & Hans Ambrose Aggabao

The temporary shelters are shipped and set up on location, in as less a time as possible so that the survivors can be provided with immediate shelter. 3Build's innovative shelter is: 1. Made of eco-friendly & durable material found easily across the Philippines; 2. Easy to ship and transport [IKEA style flat packaging]; 3. Easy and quick to assemble on location with minimum effort; 4. Modular and customizable so that shelters can be joined together to increase the size as and when needed; 5. Affordable, cost-effective and reusabl

“Building Shelters, Building Lives” 1. Provide the victims and/or survivors of calamities or natural disaster with a cost-efficient and modular house that they can use after a disaster. This will also give them a relief from any discomforts that they might experience in the evacuation or relocation areas; and 2. Reduce the time frame for the government to provide shelter / construct and assign housing to the villagers


We believe as young entrepreneurs that our innovative concepts and business model will be able to effectively attract development practitioners addressing the housing problem among the poor and disadvantaged sectors not only in the Philippines but elsewhere in the ASEAN region.

TUKLAS opened vast opportunities to improve our innovation design and business model via feedback gathered during the testing phase. The KUBO business concept was born as an innovation – a sustainable capacitating and engaging economic support opportunity to the local people. And if successful, it thus has the opportunity of being scaled up to more communities in the country and elsewhere in Asia. We still need funding assistance that will be used to fast track the development of the prototype product, set up the whole production process, and open up the business. It will provide us the immediate opportunity to produce a few units of our KUBO and to use in other potential communities for demonstration to attract investors.


Know more about our story!

We wanted to bring the Filipino “BAYANIHAN” spirit into a modern economic context.

Constructing a house is really just like innovating. We need to follow certain tried and true step-by-step methods, however, along the way, we must test. We cannot wait for final form to see if it will work or not.


In September 2017, three young students from Isabela State University participated in the fourth leg of a program that benefited students and communities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. The 12-day programme used Design Thinking Methodology to discover insights and identify unmet needs in the lives of the people in the communities, supported by the Singapore Polytechnic University.

Called a Learning Express (LeX) Program, the Philippine edition was conducted at Cauayan, Isabela where the three innovators had our community immersion at Barangay Marcos, Roxas, Isabela. These three students, Mark Amen Gaming, Krystelle Zipagan and Julius Caeasar Baua, tried out the DT method of empathizing with the community and identifying their needs.

In the first two phases, the team was able to gather information by visiting the community and conducting interviews with the residents of the village, which was ravaged by Typhoon Lawin in 2016. According to the baseline data, the primary source of living in Barangay Marcos was seasonal farming. The harvest season is twice yearly so residents don’t have stable jobs to provide the daily needs of their families. When the typhoon struck the area, the community had an even harder time to have a livelihood. Furthermore, majority of the homes partially or totally damaged. The municipal government, in partnership with Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), was able to provide housing but it took quite some time for them to provide even temporary shelter. The provided units were very small and residents were required to pay for them in installments.

The team thus proposed an innovation that will make it easy for the temporary shelter to be shipped and set up on location in a much shorter timeframe. They also envisioned for the construction of the shelter units to give the people in the community a source of income. They will be tasked as the primary workers to construct the housing units.

The 3Build Team thus proposed for Tuklas to prototype and test their innovative shelter project that was to be made of eco-friendly & durable material found easily across the Philippines (bamboo) and will be easy to ship and transport. The idea was to have a house that is to assemble on location with minimum effort and be modular and customizable so residents may opt to increase the size.

The team decided to call the house KUBO, after the traditional Filipino nipa and bamboo hut. The group aimed to involve the community as the main users of the product, using their indigenous knowledge in building a bamboo house. The team would ask the barangay officials to support community an entire production line.

“We wanted to bring the Filipino “BAYANIHAN” spirit into a modern economic context,” said Amen, the team lead.

The team’s secondary goal was to capacitate community participants to participate in the production process through training and provision of basic tools. The idea was to strengthen their “BAYANIHAN” spirit by developing a mindset of helping others while providing employment.

The community will make use of the abundant local resource (bamboo), for which procurement the community people will be compensated, along with unit assembly process and packaging or shipment.


From the proposal stage to their first project review, the 3Build team made it clear that KUBO was a business start-up. Their goal was to develop it to support core-shelter housing programs of local governments at the provincial and municipal levels as a business opportunity. Specifically, it also was a sustainable capacitating and engaging economic support opportunity to the local people of Barangay Marcos. If successful, it could be scaled up to more communities in the country and elsewhere in Asia.

The startup was envisioned to eventually become a foundation and use their revenues and other funding sources to provide education to children of partner communities like Barangay Marcos.

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program of 3Build would also support communal bamboo farming as a sustainable economic activity among these communities.

The team’s community representative was Ronald Palicpic, a carpenter by profession, who had already achieved a certain level of mastery in his craft while he was an overseas Filipino worker (OFW). When he was presented the design of the KUBO, he claimed that even with his experience and skill, he was confused how to construct the housing innovation.

“It was for that reason that I suggested that a small-scale prototype be made before the full-size one,” he told reviewers in June 2018.

A week later, a small version of the foldable house using plywood and small planks of wood mounted on wheels was presented to the community. The team was satisfied with the easy foldability of the prototype. The community responded positively to the convenience manifested. However, the main question, from the community up to the project reviewers, was: how much would a full-scale model weigh? The small prototype was only 3 feet high, while the next one would be 6 feet.

“The full-scale model is set to be priced at PhP 60,000,” said Amen. “If sold to to individuals, alternative payment schemes may be explored.”

Work on the second prototype, this time using bamboo planks and amakan (woven bamboo wall cladding), commenced in late July and was presented around the time of the second project review in September. However, the team ran into several difficulties in the testing.

“First off, it took several men to unfold and set up the house,” said May Wan Posa Dominado, Tuklas NL MEAL Officer. “It was tall and heavy.”

The Tuklas Lab team witnessed how the wheels on the prototype broke from the weight, prompting the men to half-carry, half-push the prototype into the covered basketball court that hosted the community testing. As the project reviewers predicted, it was a challenge to transport the prototype.

The team reported other challenges, too, such as the unavailability of the amakan material in Isabela and sourcing it from the adjacent province of Nueva Ecija. The other was the unfamiliarity of the community-based carpenters working with Ronald. The last one was the remoteness and distance of Barangay Marcos from their school, Isabela State University in Cauayan city.

Being students, they weren’t able to visit their partner community as much as they liked. Add to these, back to back typhoons Ompong and Rosita halted community activities. Rosita actually isolated the town of Marcos when the lone bridge connecting it to the national highway was destroyed.


Ompong arrived in mid-September when they were still trying to cope with the suggested modifications form the project reviewers. Before they could address these, Rosita arrived in October and promptly resulted in their inability to visit the town. The team had to wait for a month while repairs were made.

Another complication was that they had academic requirements (final exams) that they could not be excused from. Krystelle, in particular, had more difficulties, being an officer in the university Student Council.

The team did the best they could but were not able to produce the third prototype in time for the final project review at the end of November. By the time implementation period ended in December, they could only present a blueprint and illustration of their prototype.

The project reviewers advised the team to consider the following: (1) unfolding/folding of the house by sections and not really as one big piece to resolve the issue of transportability; and (2) considering other indigenous materials apart from amakan if it was in short supplies in Isabela, as well as abandoning the idea of using corrugated tin GI sheets as roofing. The latter is a disaster hazard by itself.

Further testing is needed for the innovation, the team acknowledges. Isabela State University has been very supported of the team. Faculty members Hans Ambrose Aggabao and Ruby Mamauag shared to Tuklas Northern Luzon that the university is commited to support the young innovators.

“Constructing a house is really just like innovating,” concluded Julius, the Engineering major of the team. “We need to follow certain tried and true step-by-step methods, however, along the way, we must test. We cannot wait for final form to see if it will work or not.