By Marie Tonette Grace Marticio
CATBALOGAN CITY - Forty families who lost their homes when a landslide stuck Barangay Marcedes here in 2014 were given housing units that will be built by the city government, Gawad Kalinga and Berjaya Corporation from Malaysia.
The city government bought the lot in Barangay Payao for the families, while Berjaya Corporation donated the materials and equipment that will be used by volunteers from Gawad Kalinga to build the houses.
The families have been staying in temporary shelters in Payao for the past two years.
"We are very thankful for these houses. Our commitment is not only to cherish them but to keep our community united for development," Rodulfo Mabag, one of the beneficiaries whose daughter perished along with 22 others during the landslide at the height of Typhoon Seniang.
Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan said the families are required to work on the houses for at least 1,500 hours to give them a sense of ownership.
"It is not easy because everything has a process, but we are finally here. We are just asking for you to help each other and we hope that you will not sell your houses," she told the beneficiaries.
Eduard Baltazar, Gawad Kalinga Samar Coordinator, asked for the city residents’ cooperation to achieve a clean and healthy community.
"We want to build a community with respect and would serve as a model for everyone. If we all help each other, we will have peace and development," Baltazar said.
As long as there are sites available, Gawad Kalinga was willing to help build houses for the people who need them, he said.
He also urged the public to volunteer and help the agency achieve its target to help 5 million families by 2024.
The Catbalogan project is Gawad Kalinga\s second housing venture in Samar.
It built 40 houses on a 1.5-hectare lot in Calbayog.