Visitors’ support sought for Pilar

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

ORGANIZERS of a welcome party for balikbayan families tonight will be urged to support a fund-raising campaign to give shelter to typhoon Yolanda survivors, starting with a far-flung community in Pilar, Camotes.

The Balik Cebu Committee welcomed at least 182 balikbayans from California, Texas and Las Vegas in the United States, who arrived in the Mactan Cebu International Airport yesterday for the Sinulog.

Tetta Baad, chairperson of the Balik Cebu committee, said the difference in this year’s activity is that Balik Cebu is responding to the call to help those who survived the super typhoon last Nov. 8.


“We are launching Balik Balay, which is a fund-raising campaign to raise money for shelter for typhoon survivors, initially in Barangay Esperanza, Pilar, Camotes,” said Baad. This will be at the welcome party tonight in The Terraces of Ayala Center.

The other Cebu leaders who welcomed the balikbayans were Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Rowena Montecillo, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 Director Ahmed Cuizon and former DOT 7 director Patria Aurora Roa.

“We are responding also to the request of Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale to help the people Pilar who lost their houses to the typhoon. Pilar did not receive much relief because it is so remote,” Baad said.

Balik Balay organizers plan to help the survivors build nipa huts or payag, with a floor area of 15 square meters and a batalan, which is a part of traditional houses where water is typically stored and the washing done.

“This conforms to the UN (United Nations) standard of a habitable dwelling, which is 12 square meters, even a little bigger than that,” Baad said.

An estimated 90,000 households in northern Cebu were affected when super typhoon Yolanda struck the Visayas last Nov. 8, leaving more than 6,000 dead and some four million persons displaced.

“If the money continues to pour in, we will help with the self-sufficiency and environmental program also, like giving them starter kits with vegetable seedlings or teaching them how to make fertilizers out of compost,” she added.

Anyone who wants to help, not just balikbayans, is welcome to do so, said Baad.

“We are looking for partners among NGOs (non-government organizations) who can be our counterpart in the field who will actually supervise the project,” Baad added.

Vice Governor Magpale, a member of Balik Cebu for 13 years now, said that the Provincial Government will help move the housing materials to Pilar town.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 16, 2014.

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