Before my stint at “Build, Build, Build,” I worked with United Nations Development Program and Food and Agriculture Organization on their Typhoon Haiyan Response (locally known as Typhoon Yolanda).
The first time I saw Tacloban (after the onslaught of Yolanda), I was crying. Cadavers were in black plastic bags and the streets smelled of death and decay. In several barangays, not a single house survived.
In one of our visits, I met a fourth-year high school student, who was three months shy from graduation. Before Yolanda hit, he was studying for his exams with his girlfriend. It was supposed to be the last Christmas they would be dependent on their allowances.
They dreamt of traveling together after college. It was going to be their first time. They never had money to spare before. But in three months, they thought, everything will be all right. It can wait. After all, they’ve already waited for four years.
What he didn’t expect was the fact that the storm would be so strong, he would have to choose between saving his girlfriend or her one-year-old niece. For months, he would stare longingly at the sea, at the exact same spot he found his girlfriend, with a piece of galvanized iron that was used for roofing pierced through her stomach.
It was a relief that one of the first projects we started under DPWH Secretary Mark Villar was the Leyte Tide Embankment — a storm surge protection structure that would serve as the first line of defense of residents of Tacloban, Palo and Tanauan in Leyte should another typhoon hit the region.
Today, let’s explore 10 “Build, Build, Build” projects in Region 8 or Eastern Visayas — a region composed of six provinces, one independent city and one highly urbanized city.
According to Secretary Villar, a total of 1,380-kilometer of roads, 435 bridges, 570 flood mitigation structures, and 8,206 classrooms have been completed under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
- Leyte Tide Embankment Project
The height of the tide embankment project is set from a storm surge stimulation of a 50-year return period. The project will include a promenade, a bicycle lane, an early warning tower, a view deck and a fish landing. It is expected to protect at least 33,185 houses and an area of 33.7 square kilometers.
- Palo West Bypass Road Project
The 2.956-kilometer Palo West Bypass is a six-lane wide highway and will include the construction of two bridges: The 20.8-meter Caloogan Bridge and the 48.80-meter Bangon Bridge. The project will decongest the traffic from Tacloban City to Palo, Leyte from 30 minutes (via Daang Maharlika Road) to only 15 minutes. The project will benefit about 1,500 motorists per day and decongest traffic at the junction of Palo-Carigara-Ormoc Road and Daang Maharlika-Tacloban-Baybay South Road-Government Center Road Network.
- Tacloban City Bypass Road Project
The Tacloban City Bypass will start from Barangay Nula-Tula and end at Barangay Caibaan along Daang Maharlika. The project will improve accessibility of the road network and reduce travel time from 1.5 hours (via Daang Maharlika) to only 30 minutes. The project is expected to benefit about 1,000 motorists per day.
- Tacloban City Bypass Road Extension
The 33-kilometer six-lane expressway will decongest traffic along Tacloban-Babatngon Road going to Tacloban City shortening travel time from 1.5 hours to only 45 minutes. This will complement the proposed international seaport that will be constructed in Babatngon, Leyte.
- Mahaplag-Hilongos Road
The 48.20-kilometer Mahaplag-Hilongos Road starts at Barangay San Isidro, Mahaplag, Leyte along Daang Maharlika and ends in Barangay San Roque, Hilongos, Leyte along Ormoc-Baybay-Southern Leyte Road. The project will reduce travel time from Maasin City to Tacloban City from 4 hours to only 1.5 hours.
- Maasin Coastal Bypass Road
The 4.7-kilometer Maasin Coastal Bypass Road will connect Tomas Oppus Street to Maasin City Port to Boundary Southern Leyte-Maasin-Macrohon-Daang Maharlika Road.
- Ormoc City Diversion Road
The 4.3-kilometer Ormoc City Diversion Road will speed up movement of people, goods and services between Barangay San Juan and Naungan in Ormoc City.
- Divisoria-Langit-San Antonio Farm-San Diego-Sto. Nino Road
The 12-kilometer road project in Alang-alang is included in “ROLL IT,” a convergence program between the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which aims to improve access to areas with processing activities or raw materials.
- San Roque Bypass
The San Roque Bypass in Northern Samar which is already at 78.01 percent includes the construction of a 2.4-kilometer concrete road, and a 450-square meter concrete bridge.
- Calbayog City Coastal Road
The 4.32-kilometer Calbayog City Coastal Road will minimize traffic congestion in the city property by diverting traffic from Daang Maharlika to the Coastal Diversion Road.