Tropical Storm Pablo: A blessing too:

Antonio and Rufina inside their new home.                                                                                           

Kilagding, Laak, Compostela Valley – Sometimes the worst of disasters could hit the already distressed communities. For an elderly couple in Compostela Valley, what was initially thought as nature’s wrath turned out to be life’s greatest blessing.

Rufina A. Gan Ongan, 82, and husband Antonio T. Gan Ongan, 84, used to stay in a small hut with walls made of bamboo slats and nipa roofing. After the devastation of Typhoon Pablo on December 4, 2012, nothing was left of it.

The old couple was not blessed with children. In those trying times, no one was able to take care or look after them. They had no one but each other.

Rufina recalled how she and her husband painstakingly made a makeshift shelter using the GI sheets and lumber they collected from the debris that scattered in the neighborhood.

“It would always bring me to tears whenever I recall our situation when the typhoon hit us here. For three days, we hid under the two pieces of GI sheet propped in an A-line position. We slept on the damp soil and endured the scorching heat during the day and the numbing coldness of the night,” Rufina sadly recounted.

Through the Modified Shelter Assistance Program (MSAP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Antonio and Rufina received a permanent shelter constructed in a much safer ground in the village.

Three years after typhoon Pablo wrecked their home, they now live comfortably in their new abode. The house is fully painted with concrete walls, two bedrooms and a rest room.

The BLGU donated a 400-square-meter lot for each shelter, enabling residents to cultivate plants, cash crops and vegetables and even raise hogs or chicken.

In Rufina’s garden, one will find several blooming plants of various shades and a few vegetable patches which are dwarfed by tall cassava stalks. Most of the MSAP units here are teeming with an assortment of plants and vegetables that would surely amaze passersby and visitors alike.

MSAP granted nearly 300 beautiful permanent homes here. The vibrant community seemed to have not been ravaged by ‘Pablo’.

I am overjoyed that we have a house now. The government never neglected us, Rufina exclaimed.

Antonio is a Social Pension beneficiary of DSWD and gets P 500 every month which is paid every quarter through the local social welfare and development office. Rufina said it is truly a great help since Antonio could no longer walk nor hear.

We are very thankful that DSWD did not neglect us. The disaster that was ‘Pablo’ also brought blessings in our lives. We got a house and a sizeable lot for free and relocated to a place safe from disasters, Rufina said. ###