Saturday, August 2, 2014

Capiz: Shelter and Rebuilding Lives after Typhoon Yolanda

New day. New beginning. 

Our boatman to another barangay. 

Today's catch.

Typhoons Ondoy. Sendong. Pablo. Yolanda. Glenda. 

These are the names of the most destructive typhoons out of the regular 19 tropical cyclones/ storms that enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility annually. 

And every year, we lament on the impact of disasters saying we are ill-prepared. And worse? We will be hearing stories of rotting rice in the warehouses  and corruption in the construction of new homes. Time and again, we know that fraud and corruption are high in an emergency phase as the urgency and rapid inflows of aid can weaken the institution (and more so if it is already weak).  Also, this will challenge coordination work between agencies to ensure all affected areas are covered- not too many relief in one area while those outside of the center are forgotten.  

Take Typhoon Yolanda. For its magnitude of destruction last year, we received a lot of foreign aid (in cash and pledges). The government made a website  of FAiTh, or the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub where foreign countries, multilateral organizations, NGOs, private individuals and anonymous donors are posted. Great initiative I think but here's the catch: You can't download the reports per aid. You can download the full report but you can't open it! 

Remember the scandal hounding Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region XI through its Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of

Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) report of forging of signatures and other anomalies on 

construction of houses for Typhoon Pablo survivors? Do we need another disaster before we 

get our acts together? Or how many more disasters do we need to be able to strengthen our 

coordination work?  

Creation of shelters is the first priority of families. because shelter is anchored on rootedness and sense of normalcy. Building new homes then should be durable (can withstand Signal #3 typhoon), comfortable and provide privacy for the family. It is not just about distributing money
 like P5,000 or GI sheets. It will entail a different community reorganizing wherein skilled labor and distribution of materials and other logistics have to be considered. We have a lot of indigenous materials like amakan and bamboo for rebuilding homes. In fact George Bankoff on his book, Cultures of Disaster in the Philippines, argued that  our construction of nipa houses are a part of our adaptation for the disasters that we face annually. 

My dear friend Mel was assigned to undertake the supervision of the Shelter Project in Capiz  in partnership with HEKS (Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz, the aid organization of the Protestant Churches of Switzerland). Task Force Mapalad, the local NGO conduit made an assessment and found out that Capiz Province specifically coastal towns in Capiz Province have not received any aid nor much media attention. Focus was 
in Tacloban, Leyte and Samar. So they started the work and after five months, they have now built 1, 817 houses in Panay (Brgy. Butacal, and Brgy. Bantigue), President Roxas (Brgy.Dulungan, Brgy. Binaobawan and Brgy. Rosario), Dao (Brgy. Manhoy, Brgy. Quinayoya, Doyuc and Matagnop), and Pontevedra (Brgy. Manapao). 

Old and new braces. Rebuilding homes. 
The shelter project made use of amakan (woven bamboo walls) and GI sheets but with additional braces (diagonal braces) for the roof and strengthened the posts by putting cement and iron braces. Workers are from the community and labor is a counterpart from each family. And the house including labor only costs P25,000 each. A far cry with the P550,00 bunkhouse made in Cateel by DSWD. Though Sec. Soliman said it was due to bigger floor area and more materials needed. Let's suspend judgement then until COA report will be released (when? We do not know exactly!). All I can say is, it's very appalling when the government agency and institutions you expect to help in bringing back the communities better will even victimize twice the victims.

For the turn-over ceremony, we went to Brgy. Binaobawan and stayed there for the night. We were greeted by laughing kids and smiling mothers. The program the next day started with a boat ride going to another barangay and sharing of food among different sitios and neighboring barangays, dancing and games. And boy, I never wanted to leave. The crabs, shrimps, sasing (seaworm) and tikhan (seashells) will always leave you wanting for more. 

The people here know they will never be truly safe from more disasters coming. Relocation is not just about leaving and going to another place. Livelihood, memories and a familiar place are part of living. And in their case, they have started in-site relocation and rebuilt their homes to locations that are still near their livelihood, ready to face whatever the next day's challenge will be. 

The mothers think I am crazy. :)
Orange is the new black.  Bounty from Brgy. Bantigue. 
Women taking charge. 
Contrary to popular belief, Ricky Martin lives and now serves as Board Member in Capiz. O_0
Fried sasing (seaworm)
Tikhan (seashell), another seashell you can eat. 
Dance and movement is a therapy for young and old alike.
Sexual allusions.
Eggplant and box of matchsticks (egg is impractical) race. 


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