Antique families rebuild homes with salvaged materials

Anthony Badoy Mondragon

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While awaiting donations of honest-to-goodness construction materials, families immediately need tents. Once families are 'sheltered,' elders can look for jobs.

REBUILDING WITH LITTLE. Residents of Antique try to rebuild what's left of houses washed away by Typhoon Yolanda. They need honest-to-goodness construction materials. Photo by Anthony Mondragon 

ANTIQUE, Philippines – Just a day or two after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) washed away houses in the town of Barbaza, the evacuation centers started to become abandoned, recalled Reynaldo Manalo, the municipal disaster response officer.

The super typhoon made landfall on a Friday, November 8, and by Monday morning the centers were empty in this town that was hardest hit.

Families had gone back to their villages and started fixing their houses – or whatever was left of these. They salvaged materials from their damaged houses and did temporary repairs just so they could have shelter.

In Barbaza, all the houses were washed away in the upland barangays of Idao, Marigne, Mayabay, Nalusdan, San Ramon, and Tabong Tabong. Only the barangay halls of 5 villages were left standing.

While Barbaza reported the most damage – 2,430 totally destroyed houses and 2,026 partially damaged houses in its 39 barangays – the rest of Antique province suffered extensive damage too.

Based on the partial Disaster Operation Status Report of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), there are 14,528 totally damaged and 31,271 partially damaged houses in the province.

This affected 57,194 families or a total of 254,695 individuals in 472 barangays of the 18 towns.

Heavily damaged, aside from Barbaza, are the towns of Bugasong and Laua-an in central Antique; and Tibiao, Culasi, Sebaste, Pandan, Libertad, and Caluya in the northern part of the province.

These 9 municipalities account for 13,247 totally damaged and 23,352 partially damaged houses – or more than 75% of the totally damaged houses in the whole province.

Despite this huge number of totally and partially damaged houses, the Antiqueño spirit never wavered. 

Appeal for construction materials

“Upon assessment, the people in Barbaza are more in need of construction materials to restore their houses as of now. They are currently using salvaged materials just to sleep in their damaged houses. We are already in the restoration stage,” said Prechie Alavata, municipal social welfare officer of Barbaza.

“We have not yet distributed construction materials because we are not sure of the needs of each family. Instead of giving materials, we are looking and planning on giving cash incentive so that each family will be in charge of buying their needs,” she said.

According to Alavata, she promised the 2,340 families with totally damaged houses that the local goverment will extend financial assistance, but the budget is limited.

“We appeal for help…they are already hopeless in fixing their houses. Although there are some who can manage the repairs of their houses, a lot of people are below poverty level and have no source of financial aid for repairs,” said Alavata.

While honest-to-goodness construction materials have yet to come their way, Alavata said: “We are asking for temporary shelter, like tents, for our people so that they can start looking for work to provide for their families,” Manalo said.

Non-governmental organizations like Habitat for Humanity, PROCESS Foundation, and the Antique Federation of Non-Government Organizations or AFON are in consultation with the local government units (LGUs) for a possible partnership for repairs and rebuilding of damaged houses, said Ritche Jermia, municipal disaster management officer of Tibiao town.

“One of our major considerations in terms of rehabilitation is to look for the vacant lot where we can construct social housing, where we will resettle vulnerable communities,” said Jermia.

Tibiao has 2,961 totally damaged and 2,495 partially damaged houses in its 21 barangays.

“So hopefully, God willing, we can look for these lots and we can build a site. The National Housing Authority (NHA) committed to us that if we have this lot, they will help in site development and the Habitat for Humanity will also help in constructing houses,” he added.

Caritas Manila, through the efforts of the Diocesan Social Action Center of the Diocese of San Jose de Antique, provided about 440 emergency shelters or tents.

In Barangay Santa Rosario, Tibiao, the Philippine Red Cross distributed tents, 500 grams of nails, some relief goods, and used clothing.

“I have seen this already before on television, but right now we are actually experiencing it. It’s very challenging, although we are happy because we have zero casualties and we’re prepared, but it is a very heartbreaking situation where we have to provide shelter for about 2,000 families of Tibiao,” said Jermia. – 

(The writer is a volunteer for the Typhoon Yolanda Story Hub Visayas, a citizen journalism portal created on Nov 13, 2013, by veteran journalists, student writers, mobile journalists, and photographers based in Iloilo City. The Hub delivers reports from across Panay Island, especially the severely damaged and minimally covered northern Iloilo area and the provinces of Antique, Capiz, and Aklan.)

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