DAVAO CITY – A total of 300 housing units costing P75 million (USS1.785 million) will be constructed within three to six months in Baganga, Davao Oriental, in Southern Philippines, which was the landfall of the devastating typhoon ‘Pablo’ (international code name: Bopha) that left over 500,000 victims homeless.
Funded by PLDT-Smart Foundation, a subsidiary of Filipino telecom magnate(MVP) Group of Companies, the groundbreaking ceremony of the low-cost shelters, which will later house displaced families temporarily residing in bunkhouses in the village of Lambajon, was held last January 31.
PLDT stands for Philippine Long Distance Telephone, the country’s largest phone firm, and Smart, the sister company recognized as the largest mobile phone outfit in the archipelago.
The financial allocation was actually earmarked from the proceeds of a telethon project, a brainchild of Pangilinan, who is widely known for his philanthropic activities.
Typhoon ‘Pablo’, the most devastating storm to hit Southern Mindanao in a century, destroyed the towns of Cateel, Baganga, and Boston, in the province of Davao Oriental, and the municipalities of Compostela, New Bataan, Montevista, and Monkayo in the province of Compostela Valley.
Also heavily damaged were the provinces of Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Norte.
The housing project is the first project jointly undertaken by the provincial government of Davao Oriental with a corporate giant.
Gov. Corazon N. Malanyaon, in her speech, personally thanked businessman Pangilinan for the donation, saying the people of Davao Oriental “are greatly honored and privileged to be given such grand consideration in our recovery efforts.”
“The MVP Group of Companies,” she told representatives of the donor, “was the first to come to our aid as we started to position in rebuilding the devastated areas and build homes for the typhoon victims. I feel so humbled and blessed that you have come to our assistance. You have come to be a part of putting back the shattered lives of our people by providing them homes, helping them rebuild their lives.”
Ramon Isberto, head of PLDT-Smart Public Affairs, said the foundation is not only giving hope by constructing houses, but is also building communities in support of te province’s Building Back Better Movement (BBB), which was recently launched in the province during a series of dedication service.
“The BBB Movement,” the governor stressed, “is the final phase of our recovery efforts; however, this is also the most difficult and challenging,” adding that the initiative “envisions a better Davao Oriental where beauty is restored and enhanced, [and] hearts are transformed and lives improved.”
In response, Maria Ester O. Santos, president of PLDT-Smart Foundation, said the houses will be turned over to the beneficiaries as soon as the project is completed, aside from equipping the resettlement site with basic amenities such as health clinics, and services like power, water supply, and communications services, among others.
The Pangilinan project was launched nearly a month after Malanyaon announced that the province has set its eyes in constructing 15,000 new houses in the devastated towns, which shall be classified as single detached, duplex and raw.
The low-cost residences, which shall cost P1.2 billion (US$28.57 million) if completed, will be distributed to Baganga town, which shall get 7,000 units, the municipality of Cateel with 6,000 new homes, and the town of Boston, with 2,000 residences.
In a related development, Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization, is donating 500 housing units for typhoon victims, which shall be built in Monkayo on a resettlement site and at the town’s economic zone..
Official records at the Monkayo Municipal Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation and Management Council (MDRRMC) showed that 7,947 residences were totally destroyed, while 12,062 houses were partially damaged, or a total of 20,009 structures.