Women behind the success of relief, rehabilitation efforts

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

CEBU CITY - Behind the success of the relief and rehabilitation efforts for the earthquake and typhoon survivors last year were women who extended their time, skills and resources to address the needs of others.

Two of them are May Elizabeth Segura-Ybañez, the executive director of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), and Tetta Baad, chair of the Cebu City Tourism Commission (CCTC) and the Balik Cebu group.

Applying her 30 years of experience in development work, Ybañez became one of the lead mobilizers of CCCI’s collaborations with various local and foreign groups.


Lasting help

The efforts, mainly known as part of the Bangon SugBohol and Bangon Cebu campaign, for the earthquake and typhoon survivors, respectively, quickly generated about P4 million, excluding the relief goods gathered in various donation drives.

The amount was pooled from corporate, group and individual donations. Ybañez said that CCCI made sure the goods were immediately delivered to the affected areas, with the help of various organizations and shipping companies.

However, relief efforts to help the disaster survivors did not stop there.

MAY ELIZABETH SEGURA-YBAÑEZ, executive director of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says the livelihood assistance CCCI offered in partnership with different organizations included help for the local fi shing, poultry and tourism industries. (Allan Cuizon)

“We are working on the livelihood aspect. We don’t just want them to bring back their livelihood, but more so, to elevate it and make it better,” she said.

The livelihood assistance CCCI offered in partnership with different organizations included help for the local fishing, poultry and tourism

Group effort

Of the funds generated for the typhoon and earthquake survivors, Ybañez said that roughly half went to livelihood assistance.

“My role is to mobilize the resources and institutions,” she said. “It’s a group effort actually…to address many kinds of needs—medical, transportation, logistics. Anything we could do, we would do, not because we have the money, but because we have connections. Everybody helped. No one refused to help.”

At one point, Ybañez recalled, the CCCI reached out to the Department of Social Wel-fare and Development (DSWD) and offered to handle the inventory of northern Cebu’s share of relief goods, so these could reach the affected communities faster.

“The National Government was paralyzed at the start… but the Provincial Government has been very responsive,” she said.

Through dialogues, Ybañez and her team obtained some of the goods and delivered these to northern Cebu, where 15 local governments were badly affected by typhoon Yolanda.

Balik Cebu

Like Ybañez, Cebu City Tourism Commission (CCTC) and Balik Cebu chairperson Tetta Baad also had her share of challenges in extending help to the calamity survivors.

Balik Cebu, which was supposed to roll out the first 20 nipa huts or bahay kubo in Sitio Esperanza in Pilar, Camotes under its Balik Balay campaign this month, has not pushed through with it yet.

This family of the landowner whose property they wanted as a relocation site reportedly called off the sale. The land in question stretches 5,000 square meters, where 100 huts were supposed to be built.

Although there is a relocation site in Poblacion, Pilar, Baad said the intended beneficiaries in Esperanza cannot afford to leave their sitio.

With the changes, Baad intends to present an alternative plan where the affected residents of Poblacion in Pilar will be the beneficiaries, to be relocated within the barangay.

Balik Cebu, which is under the CCTC, earlier announced its plans to build 100 dwellings in the style of the bahay kubo in Sitio Esperanza, Pilar.

The Balik Balay campaign was officially launched during the Balik Cebu welcome party last January 16, during the Sinulog.

To date, Balik Cebu has generated P1.2 million, good for about 40 houses. Each house will have a floor area of 18 square meters.


Baad said that Balik Cebu chose the nipa hut or bahay kubo because of its versatility. It is well suited to the tropical heat and is raised on stilts to protect the occupants from floods.

It has also been tested to survive earthquakes, with its system of posts allowing it to sway with the tremors. When there is imminent danger, like
landslides, a kubo can easily be transferred to other locations, she added.

Esperanza was chosen as the beneficiary of Balik Cebu in response to the request of Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, said Baad.

Asked about what they learned from their efforts to help, these women leaders highlighted in separate interviews with Sun.Star Cebu the importance of collaboration.

Ybanez also cited the “nurturing spirit of women” that played a big role during the relief efforts.

“Women are very meticulous,” she said. And the work required in bringing urgently needed supplies to the quake- and typhoon-ravaged communities required the juggling of numerous details.

Baad noted that the calamities, aside from showing the “bayanihan” spirit present in everyone, has also opened opportunities.

“(I hope what had happened) will not just offer a new beginning,” she said, “but a right beginning.” (Sun.Star Cebu/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 31, 2014.

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