Fisherfolk residents of Barangay Langogan in the northern part of Puerto Princesa City who were victimized by the onslaught of typhoon Odette on December 17 last year received a total of 63 shelters courtesy of Caritas Philippines and the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa (AVPP) on Monday.
The shelter, named Caritas Village, was made possible through a project undertaken by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-Caritas Philippines) and the Diocese of Kalookan, with the support of the Puerto Princesa City government and the barangay council of Langogan.
Construction of the village started on May 19, during which Bishop Socrates Mesiona, apostolic vicar, said there is always something to look forward to despite the problems brought by calamities.
“Alam natin napakahirap mawalan ng bahay, ng hanap-buhay dahil sa bagyo. Pero hindi tayo pababayaan ng Diyos. May mga taong ginagamit nyang instrumento para tayo ay makabangon,” Mesiona said, noting that the beneficiaries should be grateful and pray for the people behind the project.
Beneficiaries of the village were Langogan residents whose homes were washed away and their former residence areas were declared danger zones, as a result of which they needed to be evacuated.
“May mga pamilyang hindi na maaring bumalik sa dati nilang tinirahan dahil idineklara na na danger zone. Sinisikap nating matutulungan sila kaya naghanap kami ng malilipatan nila. Gusto nating maipadama sa kanila ang kahulugan ng ‘synodality,’ ang sama-sama at pakikiisa sa kanilang paglalakbay sa buhay,” Bishop Mesiona said.
The project had an overall cost of P11 million, with each unit having a 20-square-meter floor area and costing P225,000.
During the turnover ceremony, a teary-eyed Langogan village chief recalled the devastation that his barangay went through from typhoon Odette. He thanked those who helped and are still helping his constituents get back on their feet after the disaster.
“Nagkaroon ng pandemya pero hindi kami naapektuhan ng husto. Pero nung dumating si Odette, parang nakakawala na ng pag-asa subalit nandyan ang Diyos, may mga taong ginamit para tumulong. At ngayon pwede ko nang masabi na nakakangiti na kami dahil unti-unti na kaming nakakabangon,” Bebit said.
Palawan 3rd District Representative Edward S. Hagedorn said the recent tragedy may have served as an eye opener for those who may have forgotten their faith.
He likewise announced that the Department of Public Works and Highways has allotted P50 million for the construction of a water system facility in the barangay.
“Sa loob ng 20 taon nagsilbi ako (bilang mayor), hindi ko nasalubong yung ganito katinding bagyo. Itong nagdaang bagyo ay nagsilbing eye opener kasi unang una, siguro nakalimutan nating magpasalamat sa panahon ng kaligayahan kaya siguro munang patikman tayo ng kaunting sakit ng loob bago natin siya muling maalaala,” Hagedorn said.
“Noong isang araw tumawag na si Dir. Pacana at sinasabi nga niya na naka-allocate na ng P50 million para water system ng Langogan. At dito yan ilalagay sa inyong pabahay,” he added.
Meanwhile, Fr. Antonio Labiao of Caritas Philippines thanked AVPP for its initiative to build shelters for the Odette-affected families in the barangay. He said the same village is being constructed in Cebu.
“I would like to thank you kasi ako nga ata ang na-inspire sa inyo. So I just want to acknowledge and congratulate AVPP, sa inyong magandang pag-organisa. Sabi ko nga kay Bishop Soc, baka pwede natin i-showcase itong Caritas Village, mayroon ngayon ngayon sinimulan din Caritas Village in Cebu,” Labiao said.
He also acknowledged the spirit of unity among different sectors of society as well as the resiliency of those affected by the disaster.
“What I am happy about is na-acquire ko hindi lang sa inyo kundi sa lahat ng mga lugar na apektado ng disaster, yung resilience ng Pinoy. Sa simula medyo umaatras, umaaray tayo. Lumuluha, pero nakangiti pa rin at marunong pa ring magbiro. Kaya nating bumangon. Lalo na naramdaman ko rito yung partnership ng lahat ng sector –government, non-government, private especially the church, kahit ano pang disaster ang darating, kayang-kaya natin kasi meron na tayong human capital – yung resilience and partnership natin,” Labiao stated.
“Tandaan natin at pakaisipin pa rin natin, ang disaster ngayon, hindi natin alam kung gaano kalakas at kalawak. Tumatama siya hindi mo rin alam kung saan. It can hit anywhere, anytime. Ngayon ang tinutulungan natin, hindi pa nga tapos si Odette pero nandyan si Karding na naman.
“But what is inspiring is nandyan ang maraming Pilipino, maraming kaibigan natin sa labas ng bansa na handang tumulong, umalalay. Kaya keep up yung human capital natin—yung resilience at ang pagkamasayahin at matulungin, and of course, hindi mawawala sa atin ang pananampalataya at tiwala sa Diyos,” he added.
On the same day, Bishop Mesiona also led the turnover ceremony and blessing of newly repaired fishing boats to fishermen in Barangays Langogan and Babuyan.