Ironman foundation, pros raise P3M for Bantayan

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Monday, August 4, 2014


CEBU - The Ironman Foundation raised at least P3 million to build 25 houses for typhoon Yolanda survivors in the northern Cebu town of Bantayan.

Fifteen of the Ironman 70.3 international triathletes, including champions Brent McMahon and Caroline Steffen, visited Bantayan to help in the rehabilitation efforts.

The athletes showed up full of energy, carrying sacks of sand and painting the walls of the houses, only a day after they swam nearly two kilometers, biked 90 kilometers and ran a half-marathon during the competition.

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The Ironman Foundation, in partnership with Gawad Kalinga (GK), broke ground Monday for the construction of the houses in Barangay Ticad, Bantayan.

[More stories about the Ironman 70.3 Philippines here]

The area will be called the Ironman GK Village. The foundation had raised funds by, among others, selling rehabilitation-themed shirts in different countries.

Swift recovery
SWIFT RECOVERY. A day after covering 70.3 miles swimming, biking and running, pros who joined the Ironman 70.3 competition last Sunday visited Bantayan to show their support for typhoon Yolanda’s survivors. Among those who visited were event champions Caroline Steffen (second from left) and Brent McMahon (rightmost). (Sun.Star photo/Arni Aclao)

During their visit, the athletes installed the Ironman 70.3 Ave. street marker, interacted with the survivors, went to work on the houses and shared a boodle-style lunch.

Geoff Mayer, chief executive officer of Asia Pacific Ironman, said they sold Ironman T-shirts in about 34 countries to raise funds. These were marked “Humanitarian: Philippines Relief Effort”, with the M resembling the Ironman logo.

“And we took them to all the events. And every event where we took them to, they were sold out right away,” Mayer said.

Wilfred Uytengsu, president of Sunrise Events and Alaska Milk Corp., explained that after holding the triathlon for the third straight year in Cebu, they want to give back support to the community.

Solution

Uytengsu said that aside from the shirts, they also made bike jerseys and auctioned items donated by some international professional triathletes.

The Ironman Foundation is concentrating on Bantayan, one of 15 towns in Cebu that were ravaged by Yolanda (Haiyan) last November 8. All over the Visayas, the typhoon killed more than 6,200 persons, damaged or destroyed around one million houses, and wrecked nearly P40 billion worth of infrastructure and crops.

“We want to be part of that mission (rehabilitating the town). We want to be part of the solution,” Uytengsu said.

[More Ironman 70.3 Philippines photos here]

The Bantayan Municipal Government owns the four-hectare property where the houses are being constructed.

Christopher Ocañada, GK area coordinator and team member in Region 7, said there are different non-government organizations who have pledged to build 400 houses.

However, only 264 houses—including the 25 houses that the Ironman Foundation sponsored—that can be built on the four-hectare land in Ticad.

More sites will have to be found for the remaining houses. 

He said after the groundbreaking yesterday that it will probably take three months to complete the houses.

P150T each

Each house sponsored by the Ironman Foundation, a two-level unit, will cost P150,000.

GK chose those families living within the no-build zones to be relocated to the site in Ticad. Upon arriving at the site, dance presentations by children greeted the triathletes.

In an interview, McMahon, from Canada, said it felt great to help the people who survived typhoon Yolanda.

“It feels great to be able to enjoy the Philippines by enduring the race then be able to come back here and give support to the country and the area that has given us such a beautiful place for race,” McMahon said.

The professional men’s champion said it was his first time to visit Bantayan; he first visited the Philippines last year to join the triathlon, and placed fifth.

Uytengsu said that aside from the 15 athletes, more than 50 would have wanted to help in Bantayan, but the organizers could not bring them all to the island.

Madonna Pacala, 28, one of the beneficiaries of the housing project in Ticad, was thankful that her family will finally own a house.

New house

Pacala, a mother of six, said the houses her family had rented for two years in Barangay Binaobao, Bantayan was destroyed during the typhoon.

Another survivor, Maribel Pasigay, 30, said that without help, it would have been very difficult for her family to get a new house.

Pasigay, who has five children, recalled that her family evacuated to Bantayan Mayor Christopher Escario’s home after Yolanda ravaged her community. Her house was destroyed.

Mayer of Asia-Pacific Ironman said he would like to return to Bantayan next year to check on the houses.

Does that mean the organizers will bring the Ironman 70.3 back to Cebu for a fourth year? Mayer was noncommittal, but said that while he admired the race course, “We can’t jeopardize the safety of the athletes with the current road structure now.” (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 05, 2014.

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