Brand new homes of Typhoon Pablo survivors through the DSWD Modified Shelter Assistance Program.

CATEEL, Davao Oriental- More residents here left homeless by Typhoon Pablo in 2012 expressed profound appreciation for the unexpected gift of brand new and durable homes.

“Dako gayud yang kalipay ko na makahuya da kami sang tarong na bahay. Gapasalamat ako sang Ginoo na yahimo na instrumento yang DSWD para matagaan kami ng bahay. Dako regalo yang gihatag mayo kanami dun ng Christmas. Gibag–o mayo yang kinabuhi nami tanan sang isa ka tuig na pag-antos. (I am very happy that we can finally live in a decent home. I thank God for making DSWD an instrument to enable us own a home. This is a big Christmas present to us. Our lives have been transformed after suffering for a year),” teary eyed 38 year-old Narcilita Lazo shared during the turnover of 72 permanent shelter units in Poblacion Cateel.

Lazo lived in a bunkhouse with her six children after losing her home to Typhoon Pablo in December 2012.

Abundio Mancal, 50, of Purok Madre De Cacao expressed gratitude to those who provided the housing program during a meeting with his co-homeowners.

Mancal is a carpenter and grows coconut, banana and cacao in his small farm lot. His wife Claudelsa works as utility in the local hospital.

“Daghang salamat sa natabang sa DSWD. Dakong kalipay namo nga gitagaan og lote ug balay (Thanks for the assistance of DSWD. We are overwhelmed that we were given a lot and a house), Mancal shared.”

Gerry S. Tabura, president of the newly-organized Neighborhood Association for Shelter Assistance (NASA) of Better Living Village, Poblacion Cateel, said the housing program is a Christmas present which they did not expect.

All kinds of people came to Cateel to help and he would not know how to thank them, he added.

Tabura called for a meeting with the new house owners, lauded their cooperation and urged them to “unite and help each other as they rise up again” [from devastation].

He also bared his plan of accessing the members to livelihood facilities to help them recover.

Led by Gov. Corazon N. Malanyaon of Davao Oriental and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Director Priscilla N. Razon, the turnover ceremonies was held last December 17.

Also awarded were 72 Certificates of Occupancy and 43 Titles with house keys to the new homeowners at Better Living Village, Purok Madre De Cacao, Poblacion Cateel .

Turnover of housing units in Baganga and Boston towns followed suit.

“To date, we have constructed 825 units in Davao Oriental and construction continuous in all affected towns to complete the more than 7,000 shelters committed by the national government,” said Governor Malanyaon.

She pointed out that DSWD is one of the national agencies that really helped in the total rehabilitation of ‘Pablo’-affected areas.

Further, she disclosed that industries will soon be put up in the province that would help revive the economy of Davao Oriental.

“This will help victims to have a chance to work and improve their lives. The Building Better Back agenda is still a long way to go, but we are positive that resources and partners will come very soon,” she added.

“I am proud to say that this is a real transformation, from a makeshift and shanty house to a more concrete permanent and modified shelter. Let us continue to work hand in hand, take care and love this gift from God,” Director Razon emphasized in her speech. (DSWD)