Photo courtesy of City ENRO

An initiative between government agencies and private sector organizations in Puerto Princesa City known as the House Rebuilding Project has turned uprooted and felled trees into proper use by rebuilding totally damaged houses and benefiting a substantial number of families affected by Typhoon Odette.

Typhoon Odette battered Puerto Princesa and parts of Palawan, scattering uprooted and felled trees everywhere. Many of these trees blocked major roads and thoroughfares, collapsed on houses, while others were eroded from mountainous areas and dragged downwards along with other debris, reaching rivers downstream and on privately-owned lands.

The House Rebuilding Project, spearheaded by the city government through the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO), is dubbed “Nature Provides” (Rebuilding Houses), a statement said Tuesday. It aims to give building materials to 100 families whose homes were completely destroyed by the typhoon.

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Photo courtesy of City ENRO

The city government collaborated and partnered with the Palawan Geographic Society (PGS), Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines (WBPP), the Puerto Princesa Association of Quarry Permittees, government agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR- CENRO), and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), among others.

The project was conceived by City ENRO officer Atty. Carlo B. Gomez as part of the city’s “Serbisyong Tapat at Nararapat” initiatives, which intended to assist families whose homes were completely devastated by typhoon Odette by retrieving uprooted trees.

Maoyon, San Rafael, Concepcion, and Cabayugan are the project beneficiaries. Another barangay, which will also benefit, is yet to be identified.

Each beneficiary received a house-rebuilding package that included assorted lumber gathered from uprooted trees valued at around P32,775 with one bag of cement, 14 pieces of corrugated GI sheets, 4 pieces of empty oil cans for post footing, 5 kilos of assorted nails, 1 kilo of umbrella nails, 2 rolls of sawali for walls, 2 pieces of ridge roll, and RSB for structural application for concrete columns. Other dwelling construction supplies cost an estimated P7,100.

Photo courtesy of City ENRO

The distribution of 40 housing construction materials to 40 families who are recipients of the projects in the barangays of San Rafael and Concepcion was led by City Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron, Atty. Gomez, PENR officer Felizardo Cayatoc of the DENR PENRO, Christina Rodriguez of the PCSD, Febriza D. Adem, president of PGS, punong barangay Roland Macula, and “Dodoy” Francisco.

Bayron also handed each of the recipient families P5,000 in addition to the housing materials, for a total of P200,000. He commended the project and described it as a worthy and commendable one.

“Napakaganda ng programang ito kaya gusto ko talagang Makita. na touch ako, ng malaman nating mayroong mga tao na nagtulong-tulong para sa inyo,’’ Bayron said.

He also lauded the efforts of several departments, agencies, and groups that pooled their resources to assist the poor, particularly homeless residents in barangays spared by Typhoon Odette. He consoled the survivors of the typhoon and assured them of the government’s support so they can recover from the disaster.

Photo courtesy of City ENRO

According to Adem, their organization staged a fundraising event to acquire the project’s construction materials. She claimed that their members devised a model house design and drawing.

The project recipients were visibly emotional as they thanked the project implementers and donors.

Atty. Gomez said the project is a partnership between the city government and the business sector, and it is part of their office’s CommuniAct Program, which began several years ago.

He said that after he attended the United States Forest Service’s (USFS) International Seminar on Urban Forestry in Chicago and New York in June 2017, the concept and implementation of the City ENRO’s CommuniAct already made unprecedented leaps.

He said in the statement that learning about a variety of environmental-related activities and initiatives engaging communities and the private sector, CommuniAct Program was included in the Action Plan of his office submitted to the USFS at the end of the session.

“There is a need to inculcate in the minds of the people this shared responsibility. That is why community engagement should be nourished because it is believed to be the key secret in achieving true and total success in environmental and social activities and projects of the city, Atty. Gomez said.

Because of the encouraging results of the utilization and proper distribution of sliced lumber derived from uprooted forest products, Cayatoc of the DENR-PENRO said that their office intends to replicate the project in areas with many uprooted trees, such as in the municipalities of Roxas, Aracile, Dumaran, and Taytay. He will also report the good practice to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu.

“Ito ay iuulat po natin ky Secretary Cimatu. Sa susunod na linggo, during our meeting ay I-re-report ko ito, kung ano ang ginagawa natin dito sa Puerto Princesa,” Cayatoc said.

There are a substantial number of houses that were totally destroyed by typhoon Odette in various barangays in Puerto Princesa, and most of them are in dire need of help to recover and restore their homes. The House Rebuilding Project has been a significant effort by the government and the private sector to respond to the needs of the affected communities, specifically the families with totally damaged houses.

In these trying times, Atty. Gomez said, people are once again turning to the environment and natural world, which gives all they need to survive and prosper.

“Our natural environment continues to give us food, water, medicine, natural cycles such as climate, nutrients, and other what scientists call “ecosystem services. This time, after Typhoon Odette badly hit us, our environment gave us the materials for shelter to help us rebuild our damaged houses,” he said.

Despite man’s willful exploitation of the natural environment, Atty. Gomez claims that it remains as generous as ever.

“Despite the fact, that our environment was beaten and destroyed, ay napagbigay pa rin sya ng resources tulad nitong mga kahoy para sa mga nasalanta ng bagyo. Mas maganda na mahalin at aalagaan natin sya, para mas marami at mas doble pa ang ibibigay nya para sa atin,” he emphasized.

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.