A Caring Gesture for the Homeless Marks Yolanda’s 1st Anniversary

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Bogo, Cebu — Hope for homeless victims of super typhoon Yolanda here was provided through the provision by SM Cares Housing Program of 200 housing units at the SM Cares Village in Barangay Polambato, Bogo City in Northern Cebu.

The turnover of the housing units coincided with the super typhoon’s first anniversary last Saturday.

The 200 houses was the first of 1,000 disaster-resilient homes to be given free to selected beneficiaries among survivors of Yolanda. Another such 200 houses homes will be built in Çoncepcion, Iloilo, as well as 400 in New Kawayan, Tacloban City. SM Foundation is also set to break ground for another SM Cares Village with 200 more houses in Ormoc City.

11SM CARES VILLAGE_02 11SM CARES VILLAGE_01 HOMES FOR BOGO’S TYPHOON SURVIVORS – Beneficiaries of housing units in SM Cares Village in Bogo, Cebu receive keys to their new home and certificates of ownership from SM Prime Holdings President Hans T. Sy, SM Foundation Executive Debbie Sy, UNISDR Margartea Wahlstrom, Gov. Hilario Davide III, Presidential Assistant for Recovery and Rehabilitation Sec. Panfilo Lacson and Bogo City Mayor Celestino Martinez, Jr. The 200 homes in the SM Cares Village in Bogo are the first of 1,000 disaster-resilient houses given free to chosen beneficiary survivors of super typhoon Yolanda. 

Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) Secretary Panfilo Lacson, United Nations Chief of International Strategy for Disaster Reduction in Asia and the Pacific Margareta Whalstrom, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III, and Bogo Mayor Celestino Martinez, Jr. led in the ribbon cutting ceremony and unveiling of the donor’s wall and village marker along with SM Prime Holdings President Hans T. Sy and SM Foundation Executive Director Debbie Sy and members of the prominent Cebu-based Fernan family who donated the lot.

Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Trustee, Fr. Ernesto Javier officiated in the blessing of the houses. Keys and certificates were then distributed to families who were officially identified as beneficiaries of the program.

“These houses send a message that indeed, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Martinez. “These homes provide a new beginning for these families.” The Bogo Mayor also thanked the Sy and Fernan families and “all those who worked hard to make this dream come true for the project beneficiaries.”

Governor Davide also thanked the SM Group for partnering with the local government unit (LGU) in giving not just houses, but a village to the community. “Now I can say that Bogo City has risen. Life goes on and we are determined to bring the northern part of Cebu to full recovery.” To recall, Bogo, and other areas in this part of the province were badly hit by super typhoon Yolanda in November last year.

Lacson, for his part, said he was happy to note that “SM followed standards with the structure of these houses, and we are classifying these housing units as permanent shelters because they followed the 250 km per hour wind resistance element in their design.”

The 20 x 23 square meter houses are designed to exceed Building Code requirements and mandated standards and each was designed to withstand winds and strength of a Category 5 super typhoon without any major material damage.

The SM Cares Village, meanwhile, has utilities and basic amenities like streetlights, a community center and basketball court. In addition to its disaster resiliency features, the houses built there also have heat-resistant painted roofing to help lower interior temperature and increase energy efficiency.

The turnover ceremonies last Sunday brought much joy to the beneficiaries. One of them, fishpond worker Ernesto Orque saved all his ten children but lost his wife during the typhoon. The Orques also lost their home, and for nearly a year, the family has been living with friends and neighbors. Ernesto thanked SM for “providing my family a new shelter and new hope to pick up the missing pieces of my life.”

Another beneficiary is Eufrecina Tepait who, along with her family, had lived in a shanty. She almost lost her wits after the typhoon badly damaged their house. “When we learned that we were one of the beneficiaries of the housing project, our hearts leapt for joy,” exclaimed Eufrecina.

After last Sunday’s program, the donors met with the housing beneficiaries who were all typhoon survivors. The latter thanked the donors for the early Christmas gifts they received.

Among the very generous donors present were RAFI President Robert Aboitiz, Rotary International Past District Governor Ed Chiongbian, and Bernie and Alice Liu of Golden ABC. Also present were FCB Manila’s Nikki Diyco, Jun Young Bang and Tony Park of Tony and Jackey Beauty Salon; as well as executives from SM Store, Watsons, and SM Appliance Center.

Also present were Presidential Rehabilitation and Recovery Undersecretary Danny Antonio and SM Supermalls President Annie Garcia.

The village’s streets are named after major donors – Fernan Street, Acre Aircon Street, All Around Street, Asya Design Street, SM Appliance Street, Watsons Street, Boysen Street, Rotary International Street, and Paul Harris Street. British model David Gandy, also a donor, had the street named for him after his grandmother Doreen.

The SM Cares Housing project is fully privately-funded by SM, its business partners, stakeholders and by the communities it serves.

The SM Cares Housing Project is on top of the P100 million SM has already committed to rehabilitate areas hard hit by super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan in the Visayas.