The Philippines is one of the world’s most disaster prone countries, with over 274 natural disasters and calamities inflicting damage in the last two decades. To this day, many are still reeling from the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) that submerged most parts of Metro Manila and resulted in the displacement of close to five million people and the death of hundreds.
Five years since Typhoon Ondoy destroyed their shanties along the esteros on Pasig River, families that have been resettled in Calauan, Laguna are building back their lives, raising ducks, selling fruit jams, and other activities for their livelihood.
The self-employed residents of Bayanijuan sa Southville 7 admit, however, the they still face a lot of challenges in life. Mercedita Daro, a 47-year-old mother who plants vegetables in her small garden and carries 10 kilos of fresh produce every day to sell to the market located at the foot of the mountain several kilometers away, knows that hard work is needed for her family to survive.
Fortunately for Daro, she is getting a lot of help from Dutch banking giant ING Bank that launched its “ING Bike for Livelihood” project that awarded pedicabs to several lucky residents of Southville 7.
Partnering with ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, ING Bank says the locally sourced pedicabs are inspired by the Dutch tradition of biking and is envisioned to promote “non-motorized mobility” within the area. “These are people who come from various backgrounds and will use the pedicabs for different purposes: bringing the community kids to school, delivering mineral water, and selling their goods,” said ING Bank country manager and managing director Consuelo Garcia.
Many of the pedicab beneficiaries hail from the ING Village, which was built by ING Bank using proceeds from a one-day running event it mounted in 2010 to celebrate its 20th year in the Philippines. Together with Habitat for Humanity, ING Bank built the second ING Village to provide shelter to a number of informal settlers hit by Typhoon Ondoy. The first ING Village was built in Baseco, housing 170 families whose homes were damaged by fire.
Bayanijuan sa Calauan project head Leah Bautista of Lingkod Kapamilya cited the multi-sectoral approach in building and sustaining the Calauan village. “These are different NGO partners coming together to help these families get better integrated in their new community,” Bautista said of the 107-hectare resettlement site.
Part of empowering the pedicab beneficiaries is a 20-percent equity stake in the bicycle units, which they will pay monthly to the Humanityville Homeowners Association over one year. Payments will be funneled into more community projects, such as livelihood trainings. “This will give them a sense of ownership and heighten their responsibility over the bicycle, which symbolizes renewed hope for them,” shared Garcia.
For the beneficiaries, the orange-and-blue pedicab is indeed symbolic of new beginnings, one that would empower them to “stay a step ahead in life and in business.”
“Poverty is the absence of opportunity, as they say. So we build initiatives that will uplift these people. But it is ultimately their next empowered move that will help them realize their own vision for a better future,” said Garcia.