Three months on from Typhoon Ketsana, which caused extensive flooding in the Philippines, people are beginning to earn a living again, reports Dow Punpiputt.
Laguna province, two hours south from Manila, Philippines, is a tourist destination famous for its hot springs. Numerous hotels and resorts spread around the province. Clarisa Mangilinan, 40, used to earn a living by making delicacies and supplying them to five resorts here. Her business was going well before Typhoon Ketsana hit the Northern Philippines in late September 2009, flooding and damaging her home. Her investments in ingredients, worth more than 4,000 pesos (around 86 USD) were washed away with the flood. Laguna province is one of the hardest hit areas because it is located on the southern shore of the Laguna Lake.
It has been more than two months that Clarisa has been staying in a temporary evacuation centre opposite of Tadlac Elementary School. Out of 150 families who came to this centre, she is among the last 20 families remaining. Clarisa cannot return home yet because her wooden house is damaged by the floodwaters that came up to her waist. Parts of her house are still submerged, including the only toilet located in the back of her house. But now things are looking up for Clarisa.
With the 1,000 pesos cash grant she received along with the hygiene kit from Oxfam soon after the typhoon, she was able to earn a living again by setting up a stall selling fruit juice in front of the elementary school. The first investment on selling coconut juice brought her 500 pesos (around 11 USD) per day. Then she started to save half of the profit each day for running and expanding her small business, a quarter for her two young children studying in Manila, and a quarter for herself.
Today, she is selling a wider variety of fruit juice and also makes rice cakes and milk candies to supply to other shops. With all the income together, she earns around 700 pesos (around 15 USD) per day.
Next to her stall was Liza Roja, 30, selling grilled chicken and pork. Liza is a mother of five. Her husband earns an irregular income, from 100 to 500 pesos per day selling scrap metal in the area. Their house was also affected by the typhoon and they had to move to the evacuation centre. Back at home, her mother-in-law used to help taking care of the five children but now she has to take care of them herself.
Like Clarisa, Liza also received 1,000 pesos cash grant from Oxfam. She divided it between herself and her husband. Her 500 pesos was used to set up the stall and buying meat. She earns 400 pesos per day from the stall. Together with her husband's income, they are able to provide for the whole family of seven.
Asked how the women feel today, Liza said, "The situation is different now. Finding money is not a problem anymore. It's a relief to be able to provide for my family."
Clarisa had mixed feelings. "I'm happy because I met new friends here [in the evacuation centre], but I'm also sad that I have to start all over again and again." Her face saddened for a second. Clarisa used to be a nurse before she had a health complication which caused her to leave the job, and start a delicacy business at home. "Thank you Oxfam for helping me to start over again." She said with a big smile.
10,000 families received 1,000 pesos cash grants (around 21 USD) from Oxfam by the first week of December 2009. Of the recipients, 69% were women and most of them are staying in evacuation centres in Rizal and Laguna provinces.
By the end of January 2010, Oxfam aims to have provided 5,000 vulnerable families, especially women-headed households and 1,000 livelihoods groups with further cash grants to give them the capital they need to recover their livelihoods and resume their normal life.