Thursday, Apr 15

Marawi Housing Update

August 25, 2019 | Anna Geronimo

Maricris Aberoja (right) and twin volunteer workers arrived at the site.【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi staff visit Barangay Rorogagus; the site of the temporary housing units to assess what else needed to be done. So far, more than eighty units have been erected at a steady pace.


On a large lot of former farming land in Barangay Rorogagus, sits the site of the soon to be Tzu Chi’s temporary housing units. To reach the quaint site, one must first cross a bridge over a wide river. Tzu Chi staff, led by Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yunez and volunteer Benson Lao inspected the site when they visited Marawi.

Norhay B. Asum, one of the victims of the siege, whose family donated the land to Tzu Chi’s housing project, greets the Tzu Chi staff with a smile. “The reason why we donated the land is because a lot of the IDPs (Internally Displaced People) need a home. That’s why my family decided to give our land to the people in need. A lot of our families are affected, we hope that one day, we can raise from this tragedy with your help. Thank you so much because at least we the IDPs were given hope that we’d be able to bring our families home.  for example, we have in one house what we call “Home Based” people, around six families lived there. They volunteered to make the houses here so that they can secure a home for themselves and their families. We are very happy that the quality of the houses is very good. We see a lot of effort put into it. We see that the materials you used are durable and can with stand natural disasters. We see that the houses that you donated can protect us.”

She hesitated, then said, “A lot of the people in Ground Zero have nothing. For example, our barangay (village) in Sabala Manao is gone. There is nothing left to go back to where we can say, “This is our home. We can go in”. Totally grounded now, hence the term “Ground Zero”. There is nothing, not even the markets. Even the four barangays next to us were not spared, there are no more buildings.”

“It’s been two years now. IDPs affected by the siege were home based like our barangay, Sabala Manao which is near Lake Lanao. There is no more houses there. We are thankful that Tzu Chi Foundation has chosen to help us.”

Tzu Chi staff walk around the site with more than 80 temporary units erected and more being built at a fast speed as each day passes. Rico Balid, the teacher and leader of the group of builders that went to Manila, together with CEO Henry Yunez and Benson Lao assessed materials needed and work needed to be done, and the number of people needed to work on the project.

Iuan Sanz Sanchez, one of the volunteers remarked on why he chose to help, “So I can help those that were affected by the War, you just need hard work and a good heart.”

Malik A. Macacuna, a university student from Marawi who is also a volunteer piped up, “We were just ordinary students from Marawi City. Before the siege, we were studying and had simple jobs. Then we volunteered in Rorogagus proper so that we can help people like us who are victims of the Marawi Seige. We experienced unity and cooperation and that we are individuals coming together for the greater good. Our impression of the Tzu Chi’s houses; “we think it’s enough because there are three rooms. We are grateful because a lot of people will benefit from the houses they built.”

  • Two volunteers look into the horizon waiting for the rain to stop. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • Rico Balid checks the roof of one of the newly erected houses and the rafters. Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • Clean water from the mountain pour out of this well.【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • Henry Yunez and Rico Balid checked on one of the housing units that was built differently from the rest. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • More than 80 of the housing units are constructed with nine groups of people finish building a house a day. The core team that went to Manila can assemble two houses per day.【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • Volunteers pose with the Tzu Chi team. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • Map of the soon to be Subdivision of the Temporary Housing Units.【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • Children of the locals that live in the perimeter of the site smile to the camera. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • The site is safe enough children to play in. 【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • One of the volunteers, a schoolmate of Malik, remembers the harrowing days of the siege and how she is looking forward to the future with gratitude to Tzu Chi.【Photo by Anna Geronimo】

  • Children innocently play with some of the site’s debris. To a child’s imagination, it is an exciting thing to explore.【Photo by Anna Geronimo】