CEBU - Flattened sugarcane plantations, damaged beach resorts, collapsed poultry farms, livestock turned into carcasses.

Such was the damage caused by typhoon Yolanda in northern Cebu, disrupting the people’s livelihood and businesses for months.

When Yolanda made landfall on November 8 last year, the livelihood and employment sectors suffered the biggest damage in the province at P2.79 billion, according to the Cebu Province Rehabilitation, Recovery and Development Plan.

A year after the typhoon, affected residents in northern Cebu are slowly getting back on their feet through livelihood loans, emergency employment and in some areas, dole-outs from both government and private sectors.

As of October 31 this year, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) have released a total of P101 million in loans and emergency employment funds to Yolanda survivors in the north.

DTI, under its financing arm Small Business Corp. (SB Corp.), has released P59.70 million under the Enterprise Rehabilitation Fund 1 (ERF 1), SB Corp. Visayas Group head Francisco Buenavides said.

ERF 1 has a total funding of P400 million that was offered in the form of loans to SMEs devastated by the typhoon.

In Cebu, ERF 1 was exclusively offered to business owners in Bantayan Island who are engaged in tourism, poultry, piggery and trading.

Owners of poultry farms, being the main source of livelihood in the island, got the bulk of the funds at P40.52 million, followed by tourism at P14.53 million, piggery at P3 million, and retail trading at P1.65 million. A total of 55 establishments have benefitted from the loan.

Catalysts

“We are prioritizing enterprises that are catalysts for rehabilitation in the area,” Buenavides said.

Business owners may avail themselves of loans from P200,000 up to P5 million with an interest rate of six percent per annum under a five-year term.

One of the recipients of the loan is Teresita Ruedas, a poultry owner in Bantayan who lost P20 million worth of chickens, eggs and structures when Yolanda struck.

She applied for a P5-million loan from SB Corp. but was only granted P3.5 million, which she used to reconstruct warehouses and fences and to buy chicks.

“It’s so painful to think that what I worked so hard for for 47 years was gone in just one day,” said Ruedas.

She recalled how the typhoon destroyed the poultry structures and sickened or killed her chickens, leaving her with only 4,000 laying hens from the 23,000 before Yolanda.

Ruedas’ poultry is currently producing 960 eggs a day, which she sells to a retailer in Liloan.

Before Yolanda, the farm produced 5,360 eggs daily, for distribution in Cebu City, Negros, Camotes Island, Samar, and Danao.

Picking up

Meanwhile, resort owner Joan Gay Nepangue of Placid Beach Resort in Sta. Fe said she lost P3.5 million worth of cottages and other structures.

The same amount was released to her, the biggest loan granted by SB Corp. to resorts in the island, she said. From having 21 cottages before Yolanda, only five were left after the typhoon.

Using the loan proceeds, Nepangue finished the construction of 21 cottages last March and started full operations soon after.

Buenavides said they will release another P300 million worth of loans under ERF 2 to enterprises in other sectors in Yolanda-affected areas. Business owners from other towns will qualify.

To help business owners in northern Cebu, the DTI Cebu set up five Business Assistance Centers (BAC) that will serve all the LGUs affected by Yolanda.

The BAC’s programs and services include bottom-up budgeting, shared services facilities, streamlining of business permits and licensing system, industry clustering and value chain mapping, green growth and disaster resilience, building local competitiveness and investment promotions.

None closed

From January to October this year, DTI Cebu business development chief Elias Tecson said 16 towns in northern Cebu recorded 7,112 business registrations, a mix of new businesses and renewals.

Last year, business registration was at 7,240.

Though livelihood assets and facilities were damaged, not a single business establishment reported permanent closure after Yolanda, according to Dole 7.

Dole 7, for its part, has also poured P7.4 million in northern Cebu out of the P15-million budget for the livelihood component or Kabuhayan program. This will provide working capital at a maximum of P10,000 per person for those who have yet to start a business or re-establish a damaged business, and P15,000 per person for those who wish to expand.

The starting capital, according to the DILEEP guidelines, shall be provided “in the form of raw materials, equipment, tools, and other support services necessary in setting up the business.”

But not everything is a loss for residents in the north. As some suffered losses in their livelihood, others took the opportunity to gain from the situation.

New business

In Bogo City alone, some 201 new business establishments have opened a year after Yolanda. Most of them are hardware stores.

“Because many are rebuilding their houses and need materials, they saw it as an opportunity to earn and open a store,” said Julio Ursonal Jr., the Bogo City Government’s treasurer.

The three town mayors in the island of Bantayan also noticed new enterprises in their towns a year after typhoon Yolanda, including hardware and retail stores.

Beach resorts and medium enterprises are slowly recovering.

“There are businesses who have already recovered while others are still doing rehabilitation,” said Sta. Fe Mayor Jose Esgana.

In Medellin, whose sugar industry employs more than half of the town’s population, the people took a beating as the typhoon knocked out mills and flattened sugar cane plants that were supposed to be harvested few days after Yolanda came.

To help these farmers recover, the Department of Agriculture (DA) allocated a total of P132.2 million for its rehabilitation efforts in the north, where it estimated that about P1.19 billion worth of crops, livestock and poultry were damaged.

Cycle

For its part, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported that over P250 million was allocated for the 16 affected LGUs for the replacement or repair of fishing boats and gear of fishermen.

So far, 2,000 new motorized fishing boats have been distributed and 2,346 units were repaired.

At least P33 million was released to the Provincial Government last March as financial aid to those engaged in aquaculture who lost their livelihood.

But some fishermen have yet to receive their share of the assistance.

A year after Yolanda, fishermen Bonifacio Segundo, 53, and Roberto Tumakay, 14, of Sta. Fe town are still waiting for their fishing nets from the government.

These cost P2,008 and they cannot afford to buy it on their own.

Without it, their daily catch is measly, and this keeps them from raising the much needed money for the repair of their houses, they said. (Sun.Star Cebu)