‘House of Us’

Published November 13, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



(With apologies to The Hows of Us, a movie about millennials and how they get into and out of and back into relationships, which has grossed P700 million to beat Vice Ganda’s record-breaking P600 million take at the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival.)

What do millennials, Generation X and Y and even their parents have in common?

Alas, it’s nothing romantic, for what the generations share over time has been the perennial lack of a house – before it becomes a home – to call their own. As more people are born, more houses need to be built, except that such has not been the case. Look at those sturdy, thoroughly lived-in BLISS apartments, in particular the ones clustered in the neighborhood of SM North, that have survived floods and typhoons since “Marcos time” and how they have spawned not a single decent tenement housing project.

The statistics on the houseless are a shame but not irreversible. Negros Occ. Rep. Albee Benitez, chairman of the housing committee in Congress, prefers to call the problem a need rather than a backlog. “Six million people need to own a house; they’re either renting, living with relatives, or simply homeless. In Metro Manila,” he adds, “only 30 percent of the population have the capacity to pay rent or buy a house.” After food and transportation, housing is No. 3 priority, gobbling up 25 percent of a typical salary of P10,000.

Unfortunately, these days when millennials and their elders hear about a public housing program, it’s in connection with emergencies and tragedies the likes of Yolanda or Kadamay. When Congressman Benitez’ committee investigated the scandal of unlivable shelters built for typhoon victims and men in uniform, the lawyers in their midst could not find a crime bad enough to fit the misdeeds of the evil contractors except a possible breach of contract!

The fate of the Benitez bill proposing a Department of Housing is now in the hands of the Senate. Can the incoming Class of 2019 afford not to give 6 million Filipinos a chance to have a roof over their heads? After President Cory Aquino said no Filipino should be a squatter in his own country, we took heed by renaming them informal settlers. ####