March 19, 2017 at 12:01 am
There is hope even in the darkest of times. Almost four years after the tragic super typhoon “Yolanda,” the people of Tacloban City have opened new chapters in their lives. Exhibiting the resiliency of the Filipino spirit, they have held on to light and optimism despite chaos and grief.
Over a hundred families in Barangay Suhi who were displaced by “Yolanda” in 2013 were recently given eco-friendly houses under a program jointly run by the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation and the Tacloban City government, with the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development or USAID.
Called “butterfly houses,” these transitional dwellings are made from eco-boards, which consist of 100 percent recycled materials— 80 percent plastic and 20 percent aluminum. These innovative houses are fireproof and waterproof, and can withstand storm winds with speeds of up to 195 kph.
Each butterfly house measures 18 square meters, good for a family of five and adhering to the sphere standard for housing, which is 3.5 square meters per family member.
“These smartly-designed homes will help the beneficiary families to move forward,” said PLDT chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan, who also co-chairs PDRF.
“We hope this project becomes a means for the people of Tacloban to realize their dreams of rebuilding their communities,” said PDRF president Butch Meily.
These dwellings are the second batch of butterfly houses turned over to families in Tacloban under the program called Building Resilient and Economically Adept Communities and Households or BREACH of USAID.
Under a two-year cooperative agreement, USAID has tapped PDRF to deliver an integrated package of assistance to families in Northern Tacloban.
PDRF works with local and international partners to mobilize resources to expand the benefits of the USAID support by leveraging existing resources, fundraising activities, and provision of pro bono expertise.
“The US government is pleased to be your partner in rebuilding Leyte, and we look forward to our continued partnership with the Philippine government to achieve our goals towards an inclusive and resilient world,” said USAID Contracts and Agreement officer Sandra Jensen.
The United States-Philippines Society (USPS), which has long supported various projects of PDRF, was also in attendance during the event. It was represented by key officers, including Executive Director Hank Hendrickson and USPS Founding Director Henry Howard.
Howard, who has stayed in Cagayan De Oro for some years, led the crowd in a moment of silence to honor 120 students from San Jose Elementary School who perished during “Yolanda.”
In February 2016, 44 butterfly houses were turned over to select beneficiary families. Thirty houses were provided through donations raised by about 1,800 employees of leading telecoms services provider PLDT through its “House of Joy” project.
Jim Anthony Adonis, 29, an aspiring baker and one of the beneficiaries of the butterfly houses, expressed his gratitude to PDRF and the opportunity to start anew.
“Thanks to PDRF, I was able to study baking and get my NC2 (National Certificate 2) from TESDA (Technical Education Skills and Development Authority),” Adonis said.
BREACH supports the development of a transitional community by providing individual shelter units, access to basic services, transport systems to facilitate mobility of goods and people, and economic opportunities, and capability building for disaster preparedness and strengthening risk mitigation for the community.
PDRF consulted with partners and the Tacloban city government, and identified Barangay Suhi as the community to be developed through BREACH.
The completion of the BREACH Transitional House units included installed solar kits, water and sanitation facilities, to start the transport system operation, to establish community cooperative, and to implement livelihood projects within the area.
As part of the program, PDRF has partnered with the Negros Women for Tomorrow to set up a transportation business using 12 multi-cabs as a livelihood project for the community.
The multi-cabs were turned over to NWT, which will serve at least 14,000 families relocated to northern Tacloban.