Merry Love Regodon and her father Marcelino by their new home.

LAAK, Compostela Valley – Merry Love Regodon, a Grade 6 pupil, cannot hide her joy because her family celebrated Christmas and will soon celebrate New Year in their brand new home.

Last year, they spent the holidays at the evacuation center after they lost their house to Typhoon Pablo which struck on December 4, 2012.

The brand new home Merry Love was referring to is part of the newly-completed housing project for ‘Pablo’ victims in Barangay Kidawa under the Modified Shelter Assistance Program (MSAP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

An initial 115 units were turned over by the DSWD to the family-recipients on December 22, two days before Christmas.

She shares how pleased she is that their new house is nearer her school.

“I used to walk one kilometer to Kidawa Elementary School,” she said.

Spearheaded by the provincial government, the housing units were constructed through Cash-For-Work (CFW) and through Gawad Kalinga’s Bayanihan scheme.

With a lot area of 70 square meters, each unit comes painted inside and outside, with bathroom and septic tank, separate kitchen, and window-level concrete walling.

The government spent P20,709,840 for the completion of the 115 units.

Governor Arturo T. Uy said he instructed his provincial department heads and 82 employees to personally supervise and monitor the construction of the units.

The relocation site is one of the two safest places in the town based on the study of the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB).

“The housing design is sturdier. The residents have already organized the Neighborhood Association for Shelter Assistance (NASA) to ensure the cleanliness and overall maintenance of the relocation site.  The residents are now more united and more prepared for any disaster,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman explained.

Of the initial recipients, 39 are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Sec. Soliman urged the families to take care of their new homes.

President Benigno S. Aquino III went to Brgy. Kidawa to personally inspect the housing units.

Addressing the beneficiaries, Pres. Aquino said in the vernacular, “Kamo gihapon ang akong kusog (You are still my strength).”

“Marami pa tayong kailangang gawin at mahaba pa ang ating lalakbayin. Sulong tayo sa pag-unlad nating lahat  (We still need to do a lot and our journey is far from over. Let‘s move forward towards progress),” he remarked.

Marcelino Regodon, Merry Love’s father, said, “Most of us here in the village have gradually recovered with the numerous assistance that reached us.”

Luna Mae Lino, a 21-year old mother and another recipient of the housing project, on the other hand, is very thankful to DSWD for bringing the program to their village even if it is far.

The town’s Parish Priest, Fr. Jun Tuyco, said in his homily prior to the house blessing, “Let us strive to listen and help the government.”

Some 5,116 houses in this municipality were destroyed by ‘Pablo’.

Of this, 456 were located in Brgy Kidawa. The DSWD aims to replace all the 456 with brand new houses. (DSWD)