Magtayo ng Buhay Update

Our Livelihood Projects: Magtayo Ng Buhay

(which means “Build a Life”) 

Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening. *source: World Bank Development Indicators 2012
The statistics can be overwhelming.  The data, often couched in despair.  There is a term that is used often in fund raising circles : compassion fatigue. Its when people are overwhelmed and exhausted by the level of need that exists in the world and the seemingly non stop requests to ‘be involved’. 
This is where those who have chosen the way of Christ can be lightning rods of change and possibility.  We are people who are driven by hope and captured by the awareness that Jesus is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all we can ask or imagine…when we simply obey His whisper to our hearts, and do what we can. 

When all of us, with our gifts, our abilities and our resources do that…miracles. 


This is one of the driving motivations we have behind our livelihood projects.

We focus on providing skills, education, training, mentorship, micro-financing and opportunities for the poorest of the poor to be proactive in changing their life circumstances.  This involves skills development, tools, opportunities to grow and learn, and education. 

There is a very real challenge of culture and expectation that imprisons those living in poverty.  It’s often not just a lack of resources, it’s a prison of worldview.  ‘This is all there is.’  It is why we believe in partnering education with opportunity.

To this end we are working to develop a network of small businesses throughout the Philippines that create the opportunity for social and cultural change.


Our WOODSHOP has been operating for close to 6 months.  We have partnered with several other ministries and have seen a surge of interest and excitement.   We refinish furniture, build custom pieces, design and install cupboards and cabinets.  

Please take a moment to watch this short video (by clicking it) about our main carpenter Jimmy and the Woodshop:

We are excited about this family and what Jesus is doing.  This year we will be able to add more carpenters and their families to our Magtayo family.
Our BAKERY.  This has been a slow burn development over the last 18 months.  We have been working in partnership with the Rotary Club of Makati and the doors are continuing to open.
They have donated all of the bakery equipment and we are hoping to begin construction on the bakery in February or March.
Gina has been a part of our family and ministry for over 5 years. Along with the support of many in Canada, we were able to help her build her own house on some land she purchased in a community in the nearby mountains. She has since bought the lot behind her for her “retirement” one day.

It’s on this lot in her community that the dream of a bakery for a source of income for her future started.

This bakery will employ several families and provide fresh baked goods to a community of 15,000 people without a place to buy fresh bread nearby.

Our SEWING CENTRE.  This is another Rotary collaboration that has developed in the last 6 months.  We are hoping that in February we will have our 6 donated machines ready for operation.

(Above is the group from the community who
are excited to start in the new sewing centre!)

The current plan is that as we build the bakery, we will attach an addition to provide a centralized space for our sewing centre.
The fund raising has just begun for the cost of building:  to complete the bakery and sewing centre we will need $5000.  Please pray about how you can be involved!

We have had several companies, with like minded vision, already contact us as to how they can partner with us in training and employing marginalized Filipinos! So cool!
We are excited about this community and what is ahead.


Christmas 2016!

Merry Christmas!  Maligayang Pasko! Mutlu Noeller! Eid Milad Saeid!  חג מולד שמח!  καλά Χριστούγεννα!  

I am currently writing whilst flying over the pacific ocean, Tracey is on a boat from Turkey to Greece, Caleb has just returned from India to Australia, and Rosie holds down the fort in Manila. What a life we live.  

We wanted to drop you a note before the Christmas season is fully upon us and let you know what has been happening on several fronts:


Our Livelihood Projects: Magtayo Ng Buhay
 (which means “Build a Life”)

This ministry is focused on providing skills, education, training, mentorship, micro-financing and opportunities for the poorest of the poor to be proactive in changing their life circumstances. To this end we are working to develop a network of small businesses throughout the Philippines that create the opportunity for social and cultural change.

OUR WOODSHOP is in full swing.  We have partnered with several other ministries and have seen a surge of interest and excitement.  
Our shop has moved location and our carpenter Jimmy is busy and excited about the long list of orders and potential jobs that continue to pile up.  
We are working hard at relocating his family closer to our shop in the early part of 2017.
We are also believing that next year we will be able to add more carpenters and their families to our Magtayo family.  


Our BAKERY This has been a slow burn development over the last 18 months.  We have been working in partnership with the Rotary Club of Makati and the doors are continuing to open. They have donated all of the bakery equipment and we are hoping to begin construction on the bakery in February or March.  
This bakery will employ several families and provide fresh baked goods to a community of 15,000 people without a place to buy fresh bread.


OUR SEWING CENTRE.  Another Rotary collaboration that has developed in the last 6 months.  We are hoping that in January we will have our 6 donated machines ready for operation.  
We are planning to build additional rooms onto our bakery to provide a centralized space as we continue to add livelihood opportunities to those without the means to build a life.  
We have partnered with another local ministry and have already put our seamstresses to work making hand made mats.  They are excited for larger projects.

OUR FARM. We continue to have conversations with local ministries and farmers from the west as to how to tackle the dream of opening farms that grow food sustainably and raise quality animals.  
We are believing that this will be the year when we will gain the traction needed to make this happen.



*more on these projects will be coming in new year*
 If you are not part of the Magtayo ng Buhay facebook page, like us and stay up on the latest developments:

As I write , Tracey is doing taking the first step in our investigative process, gathering data, connecting with local outreaches and non-profits, speaking with locals and getting the lay of the land.  

 We covet your prayers as we unpack this dream.  We are dreaming of taking all we have done, all we have learned and transplanting in this place of great need.  It is overwhelming as we learned this week, Turkey has begun to jettison 3000 refugees a day into Greece.  

 We are looking at “setting up shop’ in the island of Lesvos, just off the coast of Turkey, which is the first stop for refugees coming out of Turkey and only a short boat ride to the mainland of Turkey.  


 It is here we believe all that we are doing now in the Philippines and Asia will serve us as we stretch into the Near East.
 In the New Year we will send you a detailed report that outlines what we have learned and what we feel to being led to do there.

The Weekly Manila Post - April 15, 2016



This “Weekly Post” has been on vacation for a month…but for great reason.  March 10 our best friends from Canada and their 3 kids came to visit for 3 weeks!
What an incredible time together - making gorgeous memories, showing them our “normal everyday life in Manila” and some beach time away from the city.
Then 2 days after they left, our pastor friend from Saskatchewan came for a week to spend with Jonathan, do some outreach music (and Caleb joined too) in the province and the kids’ school. Was a fun, whirlwind week!
50 days and counting!
Caleb, here with a classmate at a retreat, graduates from Highschool on June 3….JUNE 3! Time has FLOWN. He is excited and has some cool plans after grad. More about those in his own words himself in our next “Weekly Post”!
Rosie and the Girls Varsity Basketball Team won the Asia Conference in Malaysia! 

The Weekly Manila Post - March 7. 2016


Update on the Woodshop & Discovery Workshops

This year has started on a great note with Magtayo:

  • A couple of projects for Jimmy, our carpenter, have kept him busy and just enough to pay the bills! We pray that as the woodshop expands, he will be able to sustain his family completely.
  • Jaszmyn, Jimmy’s daughter, is FULL TIME in school now in the Special Education Program. She is doing well and Jimmy & his wife are grateful that her daughter can now see properly (thanks to the operation she had last fall) and is now able to resume her studies.
  • We have met with an existing NGO which runs a daycare and preschool and is based in a depressed community - the poorest of the poor in that area. Our talks were great - we connected on so many levels and are going to do our pilot DISCOVERY WORKSHOPS with their community.  Discovery Workshops are 4 days (either consecutively or weekly for 4 weeks) where we bring different livelihood means - handicrafts, silk screen printing, baking, etc - and allow the particpants to “discover” what they love doing and then can make a livelihood with. We are EXCITED to start this with them!
  • The same NGO has property on an island that was struck by the Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan 2 years ago which they have 8 hectares…and want to do a livelihood farm on some of it! How awesome! We are talking about the partnership this can become in the future as well!

Some scenes from the Woodshop…
Jimmy doing some sanding and staining on a rustic Entertainment Unit.
Jimmy and his brotherinlaw working on a desk unit before it gets sanded and painted.
The beginnings of some old wood being transformed into furniture.

We need SPONSORSHIP for Jaszmyn’s education.

Amazing to see this confident young girl transformed from a timid insecure one, all because of a simple eye operation.

Thank You ALL who were a part of this miracle!

The Weekly Manila Post - Feb 14, 2016

Photogs for a Cause

We had a fantastic 2015 - 

  •  30 projects with 17 different organizations in Metro Manila, Rizal, Caramoan, Catanduanes, Davao, Ifugao and Kalinga!
  • As well as a new partnership with Epson Philippines! They GAVE us our own printer that we can take to remote areas and print photos on demand and supply us with the paper and ink as well!

We have 25+ fantastic Volunteer Affiliate Photographers that help shoot all these projects.

Some of the organizations were: Amazing Hope Scarves, Portraits of Love, Sparrow MusicKalinga Tribal Christian Ministries, Philippines / Patients of Abundant Grace of God Maternity / Ateneo Center for Educational Development - ACED / Redemptio Christian School / IFLC International Festival of Language and Culture / Turkish Chamber of Commerce Of the Philippines / In-Visible / Pagasa School / Magtayo ng Buhay Inc / Medikids / Kidz Jam Philippines / SIL International / Serving Orphans WorldwideHorizon of Hope Village / World Team Philippines /Caramoan Coral Reef Project / International Service Corps of Asia / Help Mandaluyong Animal Shelter / Action International Ministries - Shalom Christian Bahay Pa-Anakan, Antipolo City) / Safe Refuge International /Coffee For Peace / Help International CMC Philippines.

NEXT WEEK we are heading to Kalinga to do an outreach in Tabuk and Bugnay, working with Abundant Grace Maternity Clinic. Pray for us as we will be traveling far (12hrs driving each way). It will be an awesome time!

We are meeting with a couple of established NGOs and ministries this week, one in Manila and the other in the province of Rizal. We are discussing how Magtayo ng Buhay can partner with them by doingDISCOVERY WORKSHOPS, which help the poor explore and discover their gifts that can be used to make a living.
Turkey trips are scheduled this year for April 9-20, July 16 - 27 and Oct 29 - Nov 9. Moroccotrips are scheduled for April 23 - May 6, July 3-14 and Nov 11-24 as well asItaly scheduled for Oct 22-28. 
Join one - they are full of awesomeness and not the cookie cutter trip. More info on our site
We also put together BIBLICAL TOURS in Turkey, Greece & Israel. 
St Paul’s Journey, St Paul & the 7 Churches of Revelation, and many more itineraries as well we can customize something for your group, church or family.

Find us at
Sadie’s Banquet was this last weekend at school - and 50s theme to boot. Calebwent solo and Rosie asked a sophomore, who they had fun swing dancing with everyone. They pulled it off quite well, no? :)
Caleb spent the entire of last week out of town helping at the Middle School Outdoor Ed leading the younger ones through Corrigedor Island. He came home tired, but happy to have been able to serve the kids.
Rosie and her Varsity Girls Basketball team had their last home game on Friday and they NAILED it! Now they are preparing to be in Malaysia this week for their final Basketball Tournament. GO ROSIE and team!

The Weekly Manila Post - Feb 5, 2016

Magtayo ng Buhay

The year began and several cool developments have transpired with Magtayo ng Buhay, our livelihood NGO

  • There IS $ available from a local Rotary Club for putting up a Bakery Project in Ate Gina’s place! An occular and meeting is in the next few weeks.
  • We continue to get projects for our Woodshop Project to keep Jimmy busy and challenged!
  • Another 2 livelihood projects are in the works - one in the city and one outside the city.
  • We are meeting with several missionaries in the next couple weeks on how to partner with them in already established communities with Discovery Workshops to determine what people are good at doing. Collaboration is awesome!

If you want, check out our Facebook page and see what’s going on, new projects and other great things regarding Magtayo ng Buhay!

Jonathan is finally taking “writing a book” seriously. An outline of several have been sighted on his desk. There were whispers of drafts being done by the summertime. This is awesome.
There are great Travel Experiences scheduled for 2016 through Follow Your Heart Travel Experiences. Check them out and consider booking one; it supports all we are doing here.
We had David, Greg and Alex from the USA with us a couple weeks ago from the USA. They are with Defender of the Fatherless and support our ministries in different ways here.
The Girls Varsity Basketball team that Rosie is on placed 3rd in the yearly Hardeman Tournament. They leave for their last tournament in less than 2 weeks - to Malaysia!
Once again, Caleb and his classmate and friend Alex ROCKED Talent Night. :)
[Click to watch]

Happy New Year!

Dear Friends!

What an exciting time we live in.  We see the hand of God going before us in so many exciting ways.  

It has been a while since we wrote to bring everyone up to speed on what we are doing:

Magtayo ng Buhay is a ministry specifically focused on providing skills, education, training, mentorship, micro-financing and opportunity for the poorest of the poor to be proactive in changing their life circumstances.  Our goal is to develop a network of small businesses and partnerships throughout the Philippines that affect local communities and their sustainability.  We have started with developing a wood shop in co-operation with Prairie Barnwood from Morden, MB.  We have open doors to work with tribal groups making textiles, starting farms, and several developing ideas in the food industry.

Photog’s for a Cause (PFAC) is simply a bridge that goes between Non-Profits/Charities who have little or no budget for photography needs for their marketing, awareness, website, and any other official Non-Profits/Charities use. The photographers are able to “give back” by donating their time, talent and images to a Non-Profits/Charities needing a professional photographer… pro bono.

Biblical Tour Advisor & Follow Your Heart Travel Experiences. We organize and lead cultural and biblical itineraries for people who want to ‘earth out’ their faith and explore the world. These are uniquely designed for churches, small groups, seminary groups, or just a group of friends… you decide. The intention is that this will not only be a profit generating venture for ministry endeavours, but that it will open doors in closed countries.  We are believing that all of our present ministry is a preparation for coming ministry in Turkey.  (****more on this soon!****)  

Gentle Hands India.  There are 20 million orphans in India, some sources say closer to 35 million. 11 million are abandoned, and of those, 90% are girls. 3 million live on the streets. There are between 20 to 50 million child labourers. Over 1.2 millions are locked in child prostitution. Gentle Hands of India is a voice of hope. We are opening homes throughout India to house, parent, raise, educate and love children who are without hope.

The Tribe is a developmental environment for dreamer, visionaries, lovers of God and people, artists, misfits and leaders. This is a program designed to be a journey of discovery and growth, filled with the potential of awakening His intention within the life of a believer. Initially, it was designed to be run within the local church. But we are in process of developing a Teaching and Missions Exposure Module specifically designed for people who live in Canada and the US who are hungry to grow but have limited time. These week long whirlwind ministry exposure and training modules will happen in the Philippines and then be followed up with online conversation and interaction. (****more on this soon!****)

We will begin sending out monthly updates on each area of our work in the coming months.

We are so thankful for you.

Jonathan, Tracey, Caleb and Rosie

A Summer Update! - August 2015

It’s time for a summer update! 

smile emoticon It’s been quiet around these parts of the internet not because we aren’t doing anything,

but quite the OPPOSITE!



The Summer break here is from end of May to end of July. Jonathan had a month long trip to the west - several different meetings and such. I took a couple groups on some leisure trips to Morocco and Turkey.  Caleb spent two weeks volunteering in July at an Expat Camp, as a counselor, and Annarose spent a couple weeks with friends and her grandparents in Manila while both of us were away. It was busy!

We had some visitors come for a quick visit - Greg, Jessica and their group from the USA were over at Gentle Hands with Jonathan’s sister and we were able to get together a couple times while they were here. Bernine came for 10 days while renewing her Thai visa where her and her hubs are for some months, so that was fun!

I was able to take the kids away for a couple days to the beach nearby in June with my friend JO and her little girl so that was nice to start the summer break! And we ended the break with our little family using some airmiles to go down to Boracay for a week and stay for some family R&R and 20th wedding anniversary. :)


We were able to spend time with many of our Manila friends too, having coffees and dinners and hanging out - Not sure what we would do without them! You know who you are, if you are reading this! xx

It was a busy summer!


The kids started school today - we have not one but TWO high schoolers! Rosie is in 9th grade and Caleb just started his last year of high school. (Yes I have been weepy!)

A cool development happened over the summer - Jonathan was asked to coach the Varsity Boys Volleyball team this fall, as Caleb is on it as well. He said yes and they just finished their “volleyball clinic” and tryouts are today. He is really loving it! And the kids love having dad up there too! They were shocked that their own dad knows so much about volleyball (They may have forgotten that it was one of his best sports in high school and college!)


 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

magtayo ng buhay logo 2.jpg

We continue to move forward, albeit at a slower pace than I’d like, with Magtayo. Our board meets every couple months to make sure we are all on task for all the necessary things we are all doing - getting paperwork to the government, having necessary documents put together for our projected financials for the next 2 years, meeting with people whose specialties are working with NGOs and Non-Profit Livelihood programs and projects…a lot of “legwork” being done. Which is good. We, as a board, firmly believe this has to be a solid foundation from the ground up to be sustainable well-past our terms of being there. So we are being meticulous!


some planning from our last board mtg:



I am attending a Forum tomorrow morning, actually, put no by a global CEO here in the philippines doing Livelihood work, so I am super excited to glean ANY and EVERYTHING i can!


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  


We continue to serve nonprofits, NGOs and ministries here in Manila and the Philippines with pro-bono photography. Although our workload is much less than our first year, we are still busy! From shooting for missionaries, to bible dedications in the mountains with SIL International, to events of In-Visible, local Help Mandaluyong Animal Shelter , partnering with Serving Orphans Worldwide as an associate photographer and many more, PFAC continues to help so many with visuals of what they are doing and it’s been so exciting to see the networks being built.






Next week I will be shooting for In-visible again, as the founder (and my now dear friend) Adina will be in town. She also invited along to a meeting with the founder of Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc. (VF) - a woman who is on the forefront of human trafficking here in the Philippines. How exciting! So many opportunities.

I will also be going down to Catanduanes to shoot for some missionaries down there who wanted me to document and cover what they are doing - reaching the community of Caramoan and San Andres through rehabilitation of the reefs and aquaponics. SO SO COOL.


 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 



We continue to build relationships and promote our Biblical and Leisure trips. These trips are not only amazing to go on and to host people on, but the profits help us live and do what we do here!


If you are a church or christian group and want to do a biblical tour of israel, greece and/or turkey, please contact us. we work with a guy in Turkey who has been doing this for 20 years and is brilliant in his history of the areas and Bible. We have a page here - Biblical Trip Advisor, but do contact us and we can make up your own tours to suit your group best!



Or if you just like to travel and see the world but in a unique way - not typical tourist, but want to really experience local customs and people, I have many itineraries available for you through Follow Your Heart Travel Experiencessmile emoticon




That basically brings you up to speed with our family and what we are all doing here!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We are always blown away when we get messages of people wanting to give (big and small) to us and our ministry here. THANK YOU doesn’t seem enough, but thank you. Without you, we couldn’t do what we do here.

xxTracey for all 

xxTracey for all xxsmile emotic

A great day for Magtayo ng Buhay!

what a great day! our months of paperwork has paid off!

Magtayo ng Buhay is finally incorporated with the Philippine government!

A trip to the Mountains this month!



This coming Feb 19 - 23, Caleb and I will be going up to the mountains. 
We will be in Tabuk and then in the Butbut tribe of Buscalan.

The above photo is when I last visited here - in 1996!

We will be giving out clothes to the kids, as well doing some Photogs for a Cause, Inc. work by photographing each family outside their home and giving them a photo onsite (I am talking with EPSON to HOPEFULLY donate the use of one of the printers and the photo paper to print up there!)

We want to be able to give out canned goods and a couple sacs of rice as well as some other items like matches and such that are very helpful for the tribal folks.

If you would like to donate for us to purchase any of the canned goods or sac of rice, please contact us. We would love to be able to bless them big and you can be a huge part of that!