Wednesday, Mar 03

A step towards recovery

February 23, 2018 | Jamaica Digo

Richard Lafuerta and Remy Alayon are now raising their first born in a house they can call their own. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

Story Highlights

  • Richard Lafuerta and Remy Alayon are among those displaced when a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck central Leyte in July 2017. In September, they were among the beneficiaries of Tzu Chi Foundation’s prefabricated shelters.

  • No longer worried about a place to live in, the couple restarted cooking and selling banana chips. With this, they are gradually getting back on their feet after the calamity.


When a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck Leyte in July 2017, Richard Lafuerta, 25, and his live-in partner Remy Alayon, 29, were among the many that had to evacuate their houses in the mountainous area of Barangay Rizal due to threats of landslides. They pitched tents on safer grounds. At that time, Remy was nine months pregnant with their first child and, unable to save any of their belongings, they barely had a decent bed to sleep on. 

The local government of Kananga sought Tzu Chi Foundation’s help. After assessing the living condition of the evacuees, Tzu Chi volunteers decided to donate 70 units of prefabricated shelters to Barangay Rizal. Another 50 units were donated to nearby Barangay Hiloctogan. Each prefabricated shelter features a living room, bedroom, toilet and bath, and a kitchen.

The construction began in September. By November, Tzu Chi formally inaugurated the Great Love Villages and turned over the houses to the families.

About a week before the Tzu Chi houses were completed, Remy gave birth to a baby girl. Today, they are raising her in a more decent environment. “Tzu Chi had come to our rescue and gave us a house. If they had not, I couldn’t even imagine how our life would be like right now. Probably, we would still be living under tents,” she says.

Having settled into their new home, Richard worked on getting their footing back.

For the second time since the earthquake, Richard pitched another tent but this time it is for a makeshift kitchen. Under this tent, he cooks banana chips using a large wok. In a week, he is able to produce 500 packs of banana chips. He sells them at Php4 each. It serves as an additional income for Richard, whose stable source of income is selling vegetables in the market.

“When the earthquake happened, our banana chips business was put on hold because I had no place to cook. After we moved into our houses, I thought of restarting our business. Right now, we are gradually getting back on our feet and recovering one step at a time,” says Richard, 25.

Although it brought them suffering during its time, Remy chooses to focus on its positive results so that now, she looks back to what happened in July last year with gratitude.

“We’re actually grateful that the earthquake happened because if it did not, we wouldn’t have been able to have a house we can call our own,” she shares.

The family used to live with Richard’s mother. When Tzu Chi committed to donate shelters, they intended for each family to receive one instead of giving it according to household.

As soon as they moved in, Remy began decorating their new home and adding new furniture.

“Back when we were still living with my mother-in-law, we felt that we were too dependent her. But now that we have moved to this house, it’s better because we learned to stand on our feet,” Remy adds.

While it’s true that calamities can tear lives apart, one act of kindness can spark hope and make a difference in someone’s life. Help Tzu Chi help others. Join Tzu Chi as we continue to change the lives of the needy Filipinos. Visit for more details.

  • After the tragedy of the 6.5-magnitude earthquake in July 2017, the family of Richard Lafuerta is starting anew at the Tzu Chi Great Love Village in Barangay Rizal, Kananga. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • With his family now settled in a decent home, Richard Lafuerta restarts his small enterprise of making and selling banana chips, which was put on hold when the earthquake happened. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Richard Lafuerta converts the backyard of his prefabricated house unit at the Great Love Village in Barangay Rizal into a makeshift kitchen where he cooks and prepares banana chips. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • LAST UPDATED: March 20, 2018 14:03 PM