Philippine President Attends Habitat’s Handover Of Hundreds Of Houses To Families Affected By Tropical Storm Washi

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HFH Philippines Hands Over 700 New Homes In Cagayan De Oro City And Is Due To Complete More Than 500 Others

MANILA, 7 May 2012: Philippine President Benigno Aquino III was the special guest at the recent handover of 700 new Habitat homes in Cagayan de Oro city to families affected by last December’s Tropical Storm Washi, known locally as Sendong.

The families had spent months living in tents, a few minutes away from Habitat’s Calaanan site in Misamis Oriental province in the Northern Mindanao region.

HFH Philippines is on course to complete more than 500 others at sites in Calaanan and Indahag in the coming days. All 1,200 or more homes will have been completed within 100 days of breaking ground.

Habitat’s partners in the project include the government’s Department of Social Welfare and Development, the National Housing Authority, the local government of Cagayan de Oro City, and several private-sector partners such as San Miguel Foundation.

President Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay laid the bricks for the first Habitat house being built when they attended the groundbreaking ceremony in the Calaanan site in late January.

At the handover ceremony, President Aquino said: “My plea to everyone is to always cooperate and work together as one nation. Let us all together achieve a bright future for our country.”

Among the families who attended the ceremony amid the blistering heat was 55-year-old Inday Rosalia. She spent the night in her new home, even though the family had not moved in any belongings. “I slept on the floor and I was so happy to wake up in the morning in my new home.”

The morning after the handover, Inday, husband Domingo who is paralyzed following a stroke, her daughters and grandchildren moved in properly to their Habitat house. Walking up to the front door, she said: “Welcome to my new home, my very beautiful new home.”

Her young neighbor in the tent community, Kristine Delay, 23, and her family, moved into their Habitat house in the night despite a heavy downpour. They had just finished loading their belongings to a jeepney, a local vehicle used for transportation when the rains came down. Kristine’s father, 56-year-old Wilson insisted on moving.

“We really wanted to move into our home todays no matter what time it was, even if it rained,” she said. Since her mother died after the typhoon, life has been difficult for Kristine, her father and 25-year-old brother Ryan.

“With this new house it is a fresh start for my family. I am so thankful for all the volunteers and to Habitat for making this happen.

“I miss my mother very much but I know she would want us to be happy here and rebuild our lives,” said Kristine.

Charlie Ayco, chief executive officer and managing director, HFH Philippines, said: “We share the vision of our partners in rebuilding the lives of affected families. After the completion of all of the houses, we hope to have made a critical impact not only on the lives of the families and the communities but also in Cagayan de Oro as a whole.

More than 1,200 people died when Washi struck the northern coastline of Mindanao island. Of the 125,000 families (1.1 million people) affected, more than 40 per cent had their homes damaged.

In the early stages of its response, HFH Philippines distributed construction and clean-up tools, and by March, several thousand shelter repair kits, containing items like plywood, lumber, corrugated iron sheeting, nails, hammer and handsaw.