President Benigno C. Aquino III visits Kidawa, Laak.

KIDAWA, LAAK, Compostela Valley, December 23 (DSWD) Over 300 families left homeless by Typhoon Pablo in December 2012 met up with President Benigno C. Aquino III as he visited Barangay Kidawa Sunday. The President inspected the newly-completed housing project under the DSWD Modified Shelter Assistance Program. He also talked with some beneficiaries identified to receive the initial 115 units. He was accompanied by social welfare secretary Corazon J. Soliman, defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin, national housing general manager Chito Cruz, cabinet secretary Jose Rene Almendras, presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery Sen. Panfilo Lacson, among others.

In his message, the President emphasized that cabinet members are instrumental ‘sa ating pagbangon at pagsulong’ following the disasters that hit the country. He said, we have to make sure that every step we take brings us towards sustainable development. “Kailangan ang aktibong pagkilos at pakikipagtulungan sa mga institusyon (There is a need for active collaboration with the institutions).” Addressing the beneficiaries, he stressed, Kamo gihapon ang akong kusog…Marami pa tayong kailangang gawin at mahaba pa ang ating lalakbayin…Sulong tayo sa pag-unlad nating lahat (You still are my strength. We still need to do a lot and our journey is far from over…Let’s move forward towards progress).”

At the briefing for President Aquino here, Secretary Soliman said the relocation site is one of the two safest places in Laak per study of the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB). “The housing design is sturdier and the NASA (Neighborhood Association for Shelter Assistance) is already organized and they are now more united and more prepared for any disaster. Of the 115 initial recipients, 39 are Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries.” She urged the families though to take care of their new homes.

Spearheaded by the provincial government, the initial 115 permanent shelters were constructed in 45 days through Cash-For-Work and through Gawad Kalinga’s Bayanihan scheme. Gov. Arturo T. Uy said he instructed his provincial department heads and 82 employees to personally supervise and monitor the building of the units. Governor Uy personally thanked the President, saying, “Your presence will be our inspiration to strive and rise again through diligence and hard work.”

Houses that were destroyed in Laak by ‘Pablo’ reached 5116. Of this figure, 456 were located in Kidawa. The DSWD aims to build 456 units of the 24 square meter-shelter in Kidawa barangay relocation site. With a lot area of 70 square meters, each unit comes painted inside and out, with bath room and septic tank, separate kitchen, and window-level concrete walling. For the 115 units, project cost is Php 20,709,840.00.

Beneficiary and owner of House No. 15 Marcelino Regodon, said, “As most of us here in the village, we have gradually recovered considering the numerous assistance that reached us.” His daughter Merry Love, a Grade 6 pupil, is glad that their brand new home is much nearer to her school. She used to walk one kilometre to Kidawa Elementary School.

“We work hard so we can survive. God is really good. There are kind-hearted people helping those in need like us. We are overjoyed since we can now transfer to our new house. Unlike our present makeshift dwelling where we use plastic sheets as roofing material. When it pours, some portion leaks and we get soaked,” admitted Norma Bautista, 52.

Luna Mae Lino, a 21-year old mother and the lucky owner of House No. 72 is very thankful to DSWD for bringing the program to her village even if it is very far.

Laak parish priest Fr. Jun Tuyco said in his homily prior to the house blessing, “Let us strive to listen and help the government.”

From Poblacion Laak, it takes an hour to reach Barangay Kidawa. It has 10 puroks with a population of 1600 consisting of 600 households, 60% of which belongs to the Dibabawon tribe. Kidawa is bounded in the north by Veruela town, Agusan Del Sur; Montevista, ComVal in the south; and Monkayo, ComVal in the east. (DSWD)