Amazon engineer helping Pavia village cope with disasters


A hardware engineer who helped developed the Amazon Fire smart phone is quietly helping residents of barangay Hibao-an, Pavia survive typhoons and earthquakes by building a low-cost yet sturdy multi-purpose structure where they can take refuge during these calamities.

Dr. Pat Tang, Ph.D., a product integrity engineering director of Amazon’s Lab 126 division, is working closely with former Pavia vice mayor Guillermo “Gimo” Hisancha for the design and construction of this building which can be a model for other barangays in the country. (Gimo Hisancha is the award-winning architect who designed and supervised the restoration of the old Iloilo Capitol building.)

“The idea came to me last year after I visited a child I had helped send to school for 10 years,” Tang, a British-educated Hong Kong national with a Ph.D. in physics, told me. “It bothered me that the residents of the village will continue to trudge through muddy fields and barely make out a living out of clay-pot making.”20150526_101124 (1)

He drew inspiration from Matthew 17:20 in which God tells his disciples that if they have faith as little as a mustard seed, and they will have the power to move mountains. “I decided to start small with this idea of a typhoon-proof housing to protect our brethren in Pavia,” he said. His search for an architect who could translate his vision into a blueprint led him to visit Hisancha, who has returned to the active practice of his profession after “retiring” from politics two years ago. mustardseed_mpb Hisancha agreed to help him, and this partnership was born. Two weeks ago, Tang, who has taken a brief vacation from his work in Sunnyvale, California to kickstart the new project called “Mustard Seed”, shared the excitement of the barangay residents who started clearing the land, bayanihan-style, on which the building will be put up.

Tang is also exploring avenues for the export of the baked-clay pottery products that Barangay Hibao-an, Pavia has become famous for. On his return to the U.S. Tang carried with him a few samples of the pots and vases to show to retailers in the West Coast.

This small initiative occupies Tang’s mind outside his work at the Amazon laboratories. For him, it is a mission from God. He wants to plant a mustard seed in Hibao-an that can grow into something big, especially if fellow Christians in the U.S. pour their support into this undertaking.

For Hisancha, public service didn’t end when his third term as municipal vice mayor ended last June 30, 2013. “I am still actively pursuing community service in my own small way,” he said. This partnership with Tang gives him fresh ideas on where he can channel his energies to help the poor.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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