"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Saturday, October 16, 2010

La Union typhoon victims get roofs above heads

By Gabriel Cardinoza
Inquirer Northern Luzon
First Posted 21:04:00 10/09/2010

BAUANG, La Union, Philippines—For almost a year, Corazon Estigoy and her family lived in a small box-like structure she called “cubicle” in the coastal village of Pugo here.

It was built from materials found in the ruins of their house that was crushed by floodwaters at the height of Typhoon “Pepeng” in October last year.

“We were cramped like sardines then,” says Estigoy, 51. Six of her eight children live with her. Her eldest works in Metro Manila, while another has a family of her own and stays in another house.

But on Wednesday, Estigoy and 36 other Pugo residents received “transitional shelter” from the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) in ceremonies held in Naguilian town.

“It’s called ‘transitional shelter’ because the structure is in between [the category of] emergency and permanent shelters. Transitional shelters can only last from seven to 10 years,” says Almira Abrazado, PNRC La Union chapter administrator.

Abrazado says 172 such shelters were given to typhoon victims in 19 villages in Bauang, Naguilian, Bagulin, Aringay and Tubao towns.

“We could not have built this house by ourselves,” says Estigoy, who earns P2,500 a month as barangay secretary. Her husband is a tricycle driver.

Her new house, which has a floor area of 20 square meters, has sawali (bamboo slats) for walls and galvanized iron sheets for roof. It was built with a toilet and a septic tank.

“We required every beneficiary to help construct the shelters so they will have a sense of ownership,” Abrazado says.

A beneficiary’s counterpart, she says, also includes the improvement of the house, such as providing floors and partitions.

Estigoy used plywood panels and hollow blocks in her house’s frontage. She also has glass jalousie windows.

“We hope we can also have concrete floors and partitions soon,” Estigoy says.
Judy Perez, a shell gatherer who lives about 100 meters from Estigoy’s house, says he could not still believe he and his family now have their own house.

After the flood, all he could build was a makeshift shelter made from whatever material is available.
“I was very lucky to have been given this house,” Perez says.

Abrazado says there should have been more beneficiaries in La Union but not all of the typhoon victims met the criteria that the PNRC had set.

Aside from losing their houses to Pepeng, beneficiaries should also own the land where the transition shelter would be built.

“Or if they do not own the land, they should be able to get a permission from the landowner,” Abrazado says.

The location of the beneficiaries was also important. Abrazado says they should not be in “unsafe” areas, such as riverbanks or mountain slopes.



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