Lahug fire victims refuse to leave contested lot

WHEN 49-year-old Estela Sarosal heard that the Cebu City Government will start the distribution of home lots to the families affected by the fire in Sitio Avocado, Barangay Lahug, she immediately went to the area to see if she was among the first batch of beneficiaries.

After her name was called, Sarosal immediately told her siblings and relatives that she can start rebuilding her house.

Her brothers and male cousins who worked on her makeshift home are from Barangay Lahug, but were spared from the fire because they are from other sitios.

In one hour, they were able to produce light materials, four bamboo posts and a tent, which they used to build a temporary shelter.

“Magpatukod gyud mi ug balik sa among balay bahala ug magkina-unsa, bahala pa ug mangutang mi (We have to rebuild no matter what, even if we borrow money),” she told Sun.Star Cebu.

Worried

Sarosal, who has been living there for more than 45 years, said she was worried when the administration of the University of the Philippines Cebu (UPC) tried to block the clearing team.

She inherited her space from her mother who has been occupying the place for a long time, she added.

She is living with her two daughters and niece.

“Pasalamat kaayo mi nga gitabangan gyud mi nga makabalik sa siyudad, wa mi ganahi nila (UPC), wa sila’y kasing-kasing ug kaluoy nganong karon ra sila mo-move nga nahawan na, nga nasunog mi (We’re thankful that we got help to return to the city, we don’t like them, they have no heart and pity why they’re here just now when it’s already clear),” she said.

UPC claims to be the owner of the lot and had earlier expressed to relocate them as the place will be use for their extension project.

If they plan to implement a project, Sarosal said UPC would have consulted them and negotiated with them even before the fire.

“Naa sa balaod nga kung 10 years above na gani ka nagpuyo unya wa gihapon gikuha ang lugar, entitled na mi sa housing mao na among stand mao nga gi-fight na namo (It’s in the law that if you’ve been living in the place for more than 10 years and the lot has not been claimed, we’re entitled to housing, that’s what we’re banking on),” she said.

Staying

To make sure that they will not be removed from the area, Sarosal said she would sleep in her makeshift house last night.

Now that she has her space for their house, Sarosal said the next thing she will work on will be the schooling of her daughter, who is a first year nursing student at the University of Cebu, Banilad Campus.

“Nasunog intawn tanan niyang gamit, libro ug uniform pero kahibaw na ang eskwelahan (Her things were all damaged, her books and uniform, but the school already knows),” she said.

Sarosal said she was assured by the school that they will grant her new books and a set of new uniform as she will be back to school today.
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