Local government, together with Malaysia-based Berjaya Corp., and Gawad Kalinga have begun construction for permanent housing facilities meant for families displaced by the landslide of December 2014’s Typhoon Seniang.
The project was commenced over the last weekend. 40 families affected by the calamity will be housed in the units now being built on an eight-hectare city government property in Payao village. The affected families are from Mercedes village, located over three kilometers from the city center. Their current accommodations are bunkhouses, also built by the city government.
Construction activity over the weekend was an effort by government, non-government, and volunteer personnel. The project’s beneficiaries also joined Saturday’s bayanihan activity. These housing projects require recipients to contribute 1,500 hours into the construction of the project, hauling sand, gravel, and hollow blocks for their eventual homes.
“I am thankful that I was chosen to be one of the recipients of this housing project. After the disaster, I thought we will not be able to own a house again,” said Pacencia Uy, 70, a project beneficiary. Her grandchild was unfortunately one of then20 who perished in the 2014 landslide.
According to Gawad Kalinga Samar Coordinator Eduard Baltazar, another key aspect of the recipient’s responsibility, besides hours rendered, is following the community’s guidelines and regulations.
“Our goal for this project is peace and harmony. We cannot achieve this if there are indifferences among community members,” Baltazar said, emphasizing the importance of community participation in the housing project.
These housing units are the second project of Gawad Kalinga in Samar province, and part of the targeted 5 million houses built by 2022 for victims of calamities or the impoverished with no means to build their own homes.
Catbalogan City Mayor Stephany Tan thanked Gawad Kalinga and the management of Berjaya Corp. for their role in addressing the needs of the city’s landslide victims. In an interview Saturday, Tan expressed her gratitude while also recalling that the original plan for collaboration between the LGU and Berjaya Corp. was to handle the city’s solid waste management program.
After learning that the city was looking for resettlement project partners, the firm later offered their services to answer the housing need of the community.
“Many doubted that this project will be implemented because it is already two years since we started our talks with them and completing the requirements. The local government is really happy that soon, the survivors of the landslide will have a better place to live in,” Tan added.
The eight-hectare government property where the housing project is located is also has a public school, two evacuation centers, and a rehabilitation center for young offenders and drug surrenders planned to rise.