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Neighbors who treat each other like families

Friday, 29 December 2017 10:10 AM | ARTICLE BY | Jamaica Digo
Volunteers disassemble the steel frames and Polypropylene board. They will be replacing the steel frames, which curved inward after the flooding, with new ones. They will retain the PP board, however. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

Story Highlights

  • On December 29, local Ormoc Tzu Chi volunteers mobilized to repair the houses that were damaged from the flood. Although most of the houses at the Great Love City managed to withstand the flood’s current and remained intact after the calamity, there are two that suffered minor damages.

The torrential rains brought by Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-Tak) flooded the Great Love City, Tzu Chi Foundation’s housing village for Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors in Ormoc City, Leyte. Said village is one of 26 areas in Ormoc that suffered the most from the storm’s wrath.

Although most of the houses at the Great Love City managed to withstand the flood’s current and remained intact after the calamity, there are two that suffered minor damages.

The house unit that belongs to Rosalia Manawatao, 53, is located in a corner, fronting a river dike. Before the houses were put up in this village, the dike was built to regulate the water levels. However, with the heavy downpour that had been going on for days and intensified by Urduja, the dike could not contain all the waters and the river overflowed, flooding the village.

The Manawataos’ house slanted inward from the strong flood current.

“I was so scared when the storm happened. The water rose fast and high. When we came back after the flood subsided, our home and belongings were filled with mud. Our house seemed to bend inward and our flooring collapsed,” says Rosalia.

Despite the calamity, Rosalia is grateful that their house remained standing. sPrior to Typhoon Yolanda, the Manawatao family lived in a makeshift shanty made of bamboos in Barangay Alegria, Ormoc. Back then, when disasters strike, they were usually left homeless. Since moving in at the Great Love Village, they have been through several powerful typhoons and a destructive earthquake yet their house remained up.

The houses from Tzu Chi were made of steel frames and Polypropylene Plastic, or PP boards and were prefabricated in Taiwan.

On December 29, local Ormoc Tzu Chi volunteers mobilized to repair the houses that were damaged from the flood. At the Manawatao residence, they replaced the steel frames that bent from the strong flood current.

“We were lucky our own house did not sustain any damage after the flood. We pity our neighbor because their house has minor damages. Since she’s the only one who is usually left at home because her husband and children are out at work, we came over to help repair their house,” says Tzu Chi volunteer Benjamin Mingao, 48.

“I am happy that we were able to be of help to our neighbor,” he adds.

The group of volunteers also thoughtfully wiped and washed clean every corner of the PP boards and the steel frames that they reinstalled. “So the house will look beautiful again and so the owner will be happy,” explains one volunteer.

Rosalia is filled with gratitude and happiness in watching her neighbors disassemble the damaged parts of her house, replacing it with new ones. In about an hour, the Manawatao’s house was back in good shape. Rosalia can finally smile in relief.

“When the typhoon struck, I was worried that the entire house would be destroyed, but fortunately it was only a little deformed. Thank you very much for helping to repair it,” says Rosalia.

Among the volunteers who helped in the repairs is Engineer Fortevillar Napoles. Originally from Cebu, he currently works in a company in Manila. Like many Filipino employees, Engineer Napoles had taken a holiday leave from work to spend Christmas time with his family in Cebu. They had a long list of plans for the holidays. However, when he heard about the situation at the Great Love City, he cut his vacation short and flew to Ormoc a day after Christmas.

“From the updates I got from the villagers, I was worried about their situation,” he says.

Engineer Napoles has been with Tzu Chi since the Great Love City was only starting to rise. He monitored the construction and engineering aspects of the project. He spent a good two years – from the construction to the moving in of the housing beneficiaries – in the area and had formed a deep bond with the villagers.

“These people have been like a family to me so hearing about their plight, I could not just stay still and do nothing. I had to come over and help out,” he says.

With his help and many others, love continues to pour for Urduja survivors. With this love, the villagers gain the courage to keep pressing forward until they recover from the calamity. One day, when they are capable enough, they will be the one to help others in need, thus continuing the cycle of goodness and filling the world with love.

Last Updated: Friday, 29 December 2017 10:10 AM

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