THE SM Group, through its corporate social responsibility arm SM Cares, has turned over 200 houses to the SM Cares Village to Yolanda survivors in Bogo City, a day after the anniversary of the supertyphoon.
The houses, designed to be resilient to typhoon, stand in a one-hectare lot donated by the heirs of Wenceslao and Margarita Briones Fernan of Barangay Polambato, Bogo City and funded by SM Group and various donors.
Hans Sy, president of SM Prime Holdings Inc., said this will be the first 200 of the 1,000 disaster-resilient houses that SM and its business partners have committed for the survivors of Yolanda.
Sy said the houses are designed to exceed the requirements of the building code and mandated standards.
Each house can withstand the winds and strength of a Category 5 super typhoon without any major materials damages.
Out of 200 houses, the 48 houses were donated by the Rotary International District 3860 represented by past district governor Edgar Chiongbian and District 3860 disaster chair Wilton Uykingtian at P9.6 million.
In recognition for Rotary’s donation of 48 houses, the two streets within the SM Cares Village were named Rotary International Street and Paul Harris Street, in honor of the Rotary International founder, Paul Harris.
Uykingtian said RI District 3860 also donated 15 houses worth P3 million for SM Cares Yolanda houses in Tacloban City and six houses worth P900,000 for Ormoc City.
In his speech, Bogo City Mayor Celestino “Junie” Martinez Jr. said that after Yolanda swept and devastated his city and the neighboring municipalities in Northern Cebu, Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide Jr. and Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale were the first to offer them help, then came aid from various countries and civic-oriented organizations.
“Together, we established a level of cooperation never yet seen before in this part of the country. You see, at a time of great calamity when unexpected friends come over offering helping hands, it gives up hope, and hope is a powerful thing. It made the prospect of each day something to look forward to,” Martinez said.
But beyond food and water, Martinez said their grave concern was shelter for the 18,000 families whose houses were destroyed by Yolanda. About 4,000 of them needed to be resettled because these families were in houses along coastline, hazard-prone and
no-building zone areas.
“By and by, we have received over a thousands pledges for houses from the private sector and some government agencies. As of today, we have identified seven relocation sites in different barangays. We have completed and provided 138 families with new homes. Today, SM Cares delivers another 200 houses for the people of Bogo,” Martinez
Martinez thanked the Fernan clan (including the heirs of Wenceslao and Margarita Fernan) SM Group Vice President Marissa Fernan and to all those who worked hard to make it a dream come true for the families who will be beneficiaries of this project.
“We cannot say thank you enough. These houses send the message that, indeed, there is light at the end of the tunnel and providing a start for new beginnings for these families,” Martinez said.
In a separate interview, Hans Sy told Sun.Star Cebu that he was happy to see the beautiful houses and the happy faces of the beneficiaries who personally received the Certificate of Ownership from him during the ceremony.
He said the village has utilities, basic amenities like streetlights, a community center and basketball court.
In addition to its disaster resiliency features, the houses will also have heat resistant roofing to help lower interior temperature and increase energy efficiency.
Meanwhile, several residents in Santa Fe are still waiting for the emergency shelter assistance (ESA) from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to pay it to the loan firms.
Santa Fe Mayor Jose Esgana said half of the families affected by the typhoon have borrowed money from credit firms to rebuild their houses.
Esgana said once the borrower receives ESA, they will just immediately forward it to the “loan sharks.”
“Collateral. Let’s say way yuta, syempre ang collateral kana ilang madawat expected sa government (It’s like a collateral. Let’s say, if a person doesn’t have a land then the expected financial assistance from the government will be the collateral),” said Esgana.
DSWD will give P30,000 for the families with destroyed houses while those with damaged houses will get P10,000.
For instance, Esgana said the person who loaned for P10,000 will just get P8,000 because the lending firm has already deducted the 20 percent interest.
“Mahu’g nga biktima sila sa 5/6 (They are victims of loans that have high interest rate),” he said.
Based on the DSWD’s data as of Oct. 17, there are 2,349 destroyed houses and 2,536 damaged houses in Santa Fe.
Santa Fe needs a total of P83.150 million for the ESA.
The DSWD initially released P5.58 million.
Esgana said they distributed the funds to the families in Barangay Langub in Kinatarkan Island, after the area was also hit by a sinkhole.
The mayor said the residents were given P10,000 to repair their houses.
Currently, there is no definite time yet when DSWD will give the rest of the assistance.
Esgana was glad that the people still look for ways how to build back their houses, but was just saddened after hearing these reports.
“Mao gali gitawag og emergency shelter assistance kay emergency. Kung madugay mahimo na nang permanent shelter assistance (That’s why it’s called ESA because it is emergency. If it will still take longer its good as permanent shelter assistance),” he added.
Esgana said what the local government unit can do is just keep on doing follow-ups.
Last Saturday, some of the residents in Bantayan asked the governor when they will receive the ESA.
Bantayan is among of the northern towns that has not yet received the ESA funds, a year after the typhoon.
Luckily, Islamic Relief (IR), one of the NGOs that provided assistance in Bantayan Island, helped rebuild houses for the typhoon survivors.
IR has built 270 houses in Bantayan and Santa Fe.
Out of this, Ellery Crislin Lasala, IR’s team leader for community physical infrastructure, said IR built a total of 75 housing units in the relocation site in Barangay Sillon and another 75 houses were built on-site in Barangay Patao and Kabac.
The rest of the houses were built in Santa Fe.
IR will build another 240 houses in Barangay Kabangbang and Kampingganon in Bantayan and also in Madridejos.