On November 5, the most awaited turnover ceremonies of the 70 prefabricated houses in Barangay Rizal and 50 prefabricated houses in Barangay Hiloctogan both in the municipality of Kananga take place. The beneficiaries from the said barangays woke up early to prepare for the celebration. They also cooked vegetarian dishes and prepared fruits for their guests.
Warm smiles and grateful hearts welcome the Tzu Chi volunteers from Manila, Tacloban, Ormoc, and Cebu when they arrived at Barangay Rizal to witness the turnover ceremony and be part of this historic event.
The volunteers from Ormoc are also recipients of Tzu Chi’s prefabricated houses after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) destroyed their homes in 2013. During the program, they donated the contents of their coin banks for the earthquake victims in Mexico. The housing beneficiaries of Kananga auctioned fruits and vegetables. Sales from which were also donated for Tzu Chi’s relief works in Mexico.
The turnover program in Barangay Rizal is simple. As soon as the priest arrived, the blessing of the 70 units of prefabricated houses starts. Tzu Chi volunteer, Michael Siao, hands over the certificates of ownership to Barangay Rizal Chairman Antonio Baco. He will be the one in-charge of distributing it to the family recipients.
Bacoexpresses his happiness and appreciation to Tzu Chi Foundation.
“Our happiness cannot be described. Before we were just living in tents and it was uncomfortable. Now, Tzu Chi Foundation has given us good shelters. As a simple way of gratitude, we prepared some food for the turnover and some donation (for Mexico’s quake victims). Although it’s not much, it comes from our hearts,” shares Baco.
Fr. Ramon Fiani, Jr., the parish priest who blessed the houses, is also grateful to Tzu Chi for helping his fellowmen have new shelters. He also emphasizes that religion is not a barrier for people to unite.
After the house blessing, Tzu Chi volunteers and residents of Barangay Rizal officially inaugurate the housing project by bowing as a sign of respect and hugging each other. Then the housing recipients, Tzu Chi volunteers, and local government officials of Kananga parade to Barangay Hiloctogan to the drum beat of the town band and as the rain continues to pour.
Compared to Barangay Rizal, the area in Hiloctogan is much bigger so everyone agreed to hold the program and celebration there. The residents also bring the foods they have prepared.
The residents of Barangay Hiloctogan are all smiles as they welcome the parade, leading the visitors to the stage for the program.
Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao welcomes and congratulates the residents for their new homes. Kananga mayor Rowena Codilla also expresses her appreciation to Tzu Chi.
“I would like to thank Tzu Chi Foundation for their very big heart. When typhoon Haiyan hit us, they were there. Now that we were struck by an earthquake, they are still here. I believe that this is not just a simple turnover ceremony., This is a celebration of Tzu Chi Foundation’s compassion to people, and the residents’ gratefulness to Tzu Chi,” says Codilla.
Codilla also has a reminder to the recipients of the prefabricated houses.
“To all the residents of Barangay Rizal and Barangay Hiloctogan, please take good care of your houses. Always remember that that houses are products of other people’s compassion, made out of the sweat of the volunteers,” shares Codilla.
Hoping for a continuous cycle of love
Tzu Chi volunteer Juanito Suco Jr. who is a resident of Tzu Chi Great Love City in Barangay Liloan, Ormoc City, reminisces the day when Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) took their home and possessions. In their darkest hours, they met Tzu Chi Foundation. It did not only give them houses but also helped them become better individuals.
“At the Tzu Chi Great Love City, the people are united and live in harmony with each other. We are living by the teachings of Master Cheng Yen of spreading kindness to everyone. I am hoping that it will also happen in Rizal and Hiloctogan. I hope that the love they have in every home will radiate in the whole community,” says Suco.
Crislyn Mendez, also a volunteer from Ormoc, shares her happiness that the houses have been completed and are ready to shelter the families.
“I saw how the people here started from scratch. Before, they are just living in tents, suffering from the cold at night and the heat during the day. Now, they have homes, and I am very happy for them. They are all good people and they deserve all of these,” states Mendez.
Mendez also hopes that the housing beneficiaries will use the teachings of Master Cheng Yen as their guide in living, and will allot some time to volunteer.
Tzu Chi Philippines Deputy CEO Alfredo Li can’t hide his gladness on the positive outcome of the turnover ceremony.
“I am very glad that although it’s only shelters that we have given to the earthquake victims of Kananga, through our actions, our Ormoc volunteers, and our constant visits and interaction with them, and especially through the ceremony, we have brought something more than the material things. We proved to them that love can circulate. The money is not important but it is the thought, it is the heart that counts so much,” says Li.
Li also believes that the turnover ceremony is just the beginning of a better relationship between the people of Kananga and Tzu Chi Foundation.
“I am very sure that the teachings of Master Cheng Yen will be instilled in their hearts and they will also pass it on to their neighbors and to the community. We are very confident that love will circulate in our society.”
The program ends with Fr. Fiani blessing the 50 units of prefabricated houses in Hiloctogan.
The beneficiaries are wearing their biggest smiles. Gone are the days when they were homeless. Now, they have shelters that will shield them from the rain and the heat of the sun.
These shelters will also witness their recovery and as they grow to become better versions of themselves through the guidance of Tzu Chi Foundation.
Fr. Ramon Fiani, Jr., blessed the houses in Barangay Rizal and Barangay Hiloctogan, he also stated his kind words and advice to the residents as they start their journey in their new houses. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Tzu Chi volunteers and residents of Barangay Rizal officially inaugurate the housing project by bowing as a sign of respect to each other. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
They also hug each other after the bow, this is the residents’ way of expressing their gratitude to Tzu chi, while this is the volunteers’ way of showing their love to the housing recipients. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
The town’s band leads the housing recipients, Tzu Chi volunteers, and local government officials of Kananga as they parade to Barangay Hiloctogan for the turn over ceremony of the houses there. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Ormoc volunteers proudly carry the flags of Tzu Chi Foundation and the flag of the Philippines all throughout the parade. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Barangay officials of Hiloctogan and Rizal hold tarpaulins saying thank you to Tzu Chi Foundation and to Master Cheng Yen. Kananga Mayor, Rowena Codilla, fund the printing of the tarpaulins. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Mayor of Kananga, Rowena Codilla, expresses her gratefulness to Tzu Chi Foundation for helping her people to have a decent home, she also promised support the foundation’s advocacy and to always look after the needs of the residents of both Barangays. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Crispin Taburnal, a resident of Hiloctogan, shares his experiences on building their houses, he is a safety officer in a construction company, but decided to take a leave from work to help his neighbors in construction. He is amazed by the teamwork he saw among the residents and Tzu Chi volunteers. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Rene Ermac, a resident of Rizal, talks about the dedication he saw from the volunteers of Tzu Chi in helping them to rebuild their lives. He also says that he get inspired by their humility and good hearts. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Housing recipients also prepare vegetarian meals, fruits, and drinks for all the people who graced the turn over ceremony.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】