The amazing thing about the Filipino people, is their resilience. When facing overwhelming obstacles, they have this wonderful ability to be thankful for the blessings they have, rather than focusing on their personal loss.
We went to visit and distribute food parcels to the 40+ families from the landslide area who had been evacuated and they were living on the concrete steps in a disused indoor basketball arena. But unlike the evacuation centres for the typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) victims, there were no donated mattresses, blankets, clothes or food, no foreigners visiting and no TV cameras.
Among the evacuees was Rolly and his family, who had lost their 3 sons in the landslide. They had a few pots and pans that friends had lent them and they slept on cardboard boxes and a blanket given by their neighbour.
The evacuees told me that the mayor had promised them land so that they can start to rebuild their homes, but the days had turned to weeks and even months. Then one evacuee told me that she had heard that the land will be given after the New Year.
Rolly, Orpah and 2 of their 3 girls
As soon as funds came in I made an appointment to speak to with the mayor. I thought that I would be able to persuade the him to hurry along with donating land if he knew that I was going to build them a homes.
It took a couple of weeks to get an appointment, but as soon as I received the text to say he was in the office, I quickly dropped everything made my way there (hence the not so appropriate dress code in the photo below!!).
When I told the mayor my plan to build homes, he wanted me to help all 21 families that were still the evacuation centre. I had to explain that my budget would not be much use when divided by 21, but that we could at least provide homes for the 3 families who lost their loved ones. I told him that I hoped to get them moved in time for Christmas.
He was very appreciative and very helpful. He told me that I along with the could go with his staff the following morning and each of the 3 families would be given a small plot of land in Wea (a resettlement village in the hills of Subic).
With Mayor Jhay Khonghun
We went immediately to give the 3 families the good news and to invite them to join us when we went to see the location mayor was offering them.
Though it must have sounded like a dream come true, I knew that there would be some drawbacks.
As we went to the location, it was a very long walk!! We had to cross a small stream because the rain had destroyed the footbridge and the road behind it.
this little brook is the nearest water source for all the villagers.
The man in the posh outfit was sent by mayor to assess the damage.
He has promised the residents that the bridge and road will soon be replaced
From the brook there was quite an uphill hike to their plots.
View from the donated land
The nearest water source is at the bottom of the hill
and has to be carried up by hand
Whilst their new homes will be quite out of the way, really hard to get building materials to and quite far from the nearest water source, there is electricity, which means that in time they can improve and possibly drill for water etc. I thought they would be discouraged with the "out of the way" location, especially as Jomar is a fisherman and needs to get to the sea for his work, but they were so grateful and really elated that they should have a chance again of having their own homes.
One of our workers said to Rolly's wife Orpah, "So you will have a nice Christmas!" tears filled her eyes. How can there possibly be a "nice" Christmas? She sobbed as she thought of Christmas without her 3 precious sons. Nevertheless, she was very grateful for a new start.
They were all so excited it took just two days to get the buildings underway. Young men in the neighbourhood were grateful for the extra jobs of carrying materials to the site. Within just a few weeks, the houses were almost built.
The Ytac family home built by neighbours in Wea
Rolly is in the building trade and enjoyed building his own home
POC workers built the home for Donnalyn who lost her
father, step mother and 4 siblings in the landslide
The houses are now almost finished and the families are excited to move in.
To think I almost didn't get involved with these dear people because I had no money to give!! Now they are attending church at POCF.
We at POCM wish to thank all those who gave and helped make this possible. God Bless you!!
We couldn't build for all the 21 displaced families, but we could make a difference for these 3 families. How I wish we could do more!!!
Of course since we started this project, there has been another terrible disaster through the strongest typhoon to ever hit land. Now we are busy trying to at least reach out and help a few.
Follow our trip to Cebu and Leyte to the typhoon hit areas in my next blog