A year after the City Government of Valenzuela and Dakilang Handog Foundation launched the “Disiplina Village,” a housing project established exclusively for the residents of the city who lost their homes due to Typhoon Ondoy, the initial three clusters 16-unit housing buildings were already completed and were inaugurated and blessed last weekend in an event dubbed as “Bagong Bahay, Bagong Buhay sa Disiplina Village.”
Through partnership with Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation,a poverty alleviation and nation-building movement, 46 beneficiary families that are currently living in the village on temporary shelters were awarded with Certificates of Occupancy. These lucky families were determined through draw lots of names of around 900 families that either partially or totally lost their homes during the Typhoon Ondoy tragedy in 2009.
The project is the first initiative in the country to address the devastating impact of Typhoon Ondoy, not only to Valenzuela, but to the whole country. It is cotangent with the National Government’s pledge to find permanent homes for more than half a million informal settlers in the metropolis, particularly those living in danger-prone areas such as riverbanks, esteros, waterways, under the bridges, roadways or sidewalks and aqueducts.
DisiplinaVillage is a 1.9 hectares resettlement site in Barangay Ugong, established in partnership with private entities and Non-Government Organizations in the city through the Dakilang Handog Foundation, Inc. It was born as the City’s concrete direction towards building safer homes for Valenzuelanos who are living in danger zones. It is designed to have medium-rise 56-cluster housing buildings that will accommodate the 900 families displaced along the Tullahan River.
Gawad Kalinga, on the other hand, is a poverty alleviation and nation-building movement, which builds empowered communities by people with faith and patriotism, driven by a culture of caring and sharing, and dedicated to eradicate poverty and to restore human dignity. Its Community Infrastructure Program aims to build safe homes in sustainable communities for the poorest of the poor.
The homes with a total area of 28 square meters, 16 square meters floor area plus 12 square meters loft, were built through collaborative efforts of skilled paid labor, volunteer workers, and sweat equity of the beneficiaries themselves.
Gawad Kalinga Foundation Executive Director Luis Oquinena said that GK is set to build another 300 houses. “Mayor WIN wants Disiplina Village to be the benchmark good quality housing units. You all deserve the best. Alagaan natin ang mga ito at lalong pagandahin. (Let us take care of your new houses.)” He added.
City Mayor Sherwin T. Gatchalian said t the inauguration of the GK Buildings signals the continuation of the construction of the rest of the 53 clusters buildings for more than 850 other victim families that need to be provided with safer and more descent shelters.
“Bawal na kayong tawaging squatters dahil legitimate homewoners na kayo. (No one should call you squatters because you are now legitimate homeowners.)” Mayor WIN said in his address to the beneficiaries. “Wala na ang pangamba, lalo na kapag maulan, dahil baka tumaas ang tubig sa ilog. Safe na safe na kayo dito sa mga bago ninyong bahay. (You can now leave your worries behind, especially during rainy days when the rain threatens to raise the river’s water level. You are now safe here in your new homes.)”
First District Representative Congressman REX Gatchalian, on the other hand, reminded the beneficiaries that the reason why the housing project is pushing through are the beneficiaries themselves. “Ang lakas ninyo sa pagharap sa mga suliranin na tulad ng Ondoy ang nagiging inspirasyon namin para mas pagbutihin ang aming paglilingkod. (We draw from your strength in facing the catastrophes like the typhoon Ondoy to be of better service to you.)” He said.
Mrs. Liberty Agno, one of the beneficiaries who received their Official Certificate of Occupancy, was very thankful and said she felt indebted with so much gratitude. “Hindi ko akalain na magkakaroon kami ng bahay at maaalis sa riverside. (I’ve never thought of owning a house, much more to be able to leave the riverside.) Said the woman whose family lived along the banks of Tullahan River for more than 50 years.
After the inauguration, Mayor WIN inspected the other GK three-cluster buildings that are currently nearing completion, and the vegetable garden project of the residents and the City Agriculture Office which is now in bountiful yield.
The beneficiary families also receive 5 sacks of rice each from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Food for Work Program of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO).
Also joining the celebration are officials from the National Housing Authority (NHA) headed by Assistant General Manager Froilan Kampitan, the Dakilang Handog Foundation donors, Second District Councilors Lorie Natividad-Borja and Cecil Mayo, First District Councilors Ritche Cuadra and Cora Cortez, the staff of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) and Special Project Office (SPO) headed by Officer-in-Charge Ms. Dorothy G. Evangelista, the City Engineering Office headed by Officer-in-Charge Ms. Praceli S. Nelson, the Housing Resettlement Office (HRO) headed by Ms. Ellen Reyes and PB Godofredo Dela Cruz with the Brgy. Ugong Council.
- LAURO ZYAN F. CAIÑA