A new village rises in Barangay Kidawa.

LAAK, Compostela Valley – As you enter Barangay Kidawa of this town, you would hardly notice the bumpy ride ahead.

What will catch your attention in this once Typhoon Pablo-ravaged village just a year ago are the evidence of recovery from the tragedy. New houses, the rebuilt public market and school, the cheerful disposition of the residents who bore the brunt of ‘Pablo’s’ wrath, are all signs that the town has fully recovered.

Victoria B. Gucor, Municipal Administrator, affirming this said, “As of this time, we have fully recovered. Trees and banana plantations decimated by ‘Pablo’ are now bearing fruits, and the people have new homes and sources of livelihood.”

“As the local government unit, we continuously deliver basic services to the people, and we are truly grateful to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) which continues to assist us in providing livelihood and other assistance to the Pablo victims,” Gucor continued.

She added that as of November, family food packs have been distributed to 19,000 families in the municipality.

“The construction of on-site and cluster shelter units are also ongoing,” Gucor said.

Best gift 

Brgy. Kidawa was the worst-hit barangay in this town.  Some 115 families lost their homes to ‘Pablo.’

Today, they are now the proud owners of new and sturdy homes as the DSWD, in partnership with the municipal local government and the provincial government of Compostela Valley, awards their Certificate of Ownership in simple turnover rites.

Succeeding turnover of permanent shelter units in similarly ‘Pablo’-stricken towns of Monkayo, Compostela, New Bataan and Montevista will follow suit.

Built through the DSWD Modified Shelter Assistance Program (MSAP), the shelter units are constructed on a three-hectare relocation site on higher grounds as approved by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

Each housing unit measures 24 square meters and stands on a 70-square meter lot.

Brgy. Kidawa has 10 puroks with a population of 1,600 consisting of 600 households, 60% of whom belong to the Dibabawon tribe.

With four DSWD workers in the area, residents have been given access to DSWD programs like Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Supplementary Feeding, Social Pension, and Sustainable Livelihood, and Day Care Service.

Other agencies also provide programs and services to the residents.

According to Brgy. Captain Nilo A. Bangonan, the people’s source of livelihood is now stable following the devastation of ‘Pablo’.

“We are currently harvesting palay, banana, corn, peanut, camote, and other crops. As chairman, I wish to thank all agencies especially DSWD which continues to help us until now. We are happy with these shelter units.”

Bangonan outlined his plans for their village including livelihood projects for the women, such as sewing, gardening and food processing. He is also proposing for the construction of a potable water system.

Mary Ann Aportadera, 34, mother of five and a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiary, expounded that having a new home “is our best gift.”

With four children studying in Grades 1, 2, 4 and 7, and her youngest in day care, she is happy and grateful that they now have a sturdy and lovely house.

For her, this is a “refuge from the elements where we can begin anew.”

Mary Ann also serves as the secretary of the newly formed Neighborhood Shelter Assistance Association (NASA) which will manage the cleanliness of the new community.

“Most of us who relocated here used to live in Purok 7, Magaed, which was wiped out by the typhoon,” she recalled.

Jaclaryn A. Torrico, 33, said they are happy and grateful that there are people who assisted them in their distress.

“We should not lose hope and faith in God,” she stated.

Rising again

As Gucor puts it, “We have been through a great tragedy. Nevertheless, we will continue to do what we have to do to rise again.”

“Kami mismo ang dapat  na tumulong sa aming mga sarili at huwag palaging umasa sa tulong ng iba (We must help ourselves and not always rely on others’ help).”

Gucor also emphasized the strengthened partnership with the provincial local government, the national government through the different agencies, the NGOs, and humanitarian organizations was instrumental to their recovery.

For her part, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer (PSWDO) Jo Frasco stated that the provincial government will always be there to assist the people of Laak, and the other towns in ComVal.

“We will all strive to do our best to put the past behind, live in the present, and look forward to the future with hope and determination.”

“A day after ‘Pablo,’ our battlecry was ‘Tindog ComVal,’ (Rise Up ComVal). Now it is ‘building back better lives and better homes,” Frasco ended. (DSWD)