By Rey Anthony Chiu | 01:05 PM March 13, 2022

In the aftermath of the disaster that hit Bohol exactly nine days before Christmas, San Miguel town simply could not just stare at the devastation, arms akimbo, and breast-beat.

While the pandemic already strained several local government unit’s resources, the typhoon’s swath of destruction was enough to send them sulking in helplessness, San Miguel simply could not just pout and hop into the helplessness bandwagon, without even giving out a fight.

In this town, super typhoon Odette left a massive trail of devastation measured in 3,783 houses totally destroyed and another 2,859 houses partially damaged, according to Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council’s Shelter Cluster in their post Odette damage assessment report.

“When our people lived in tents and makeshift houses, they are vulnerable to rain and heat, more so with diseases. With their farms and livelihood severely impacted by the devastating winds and rain, without income, it is beyond their means to rebuild their houses, with food and other life essentials suddenly getting into their top priority,” San Miguel Mayor Virgilio Mendez shared.

While other local government units ran out of ideas, Mayor Mendez, whose term as town chief executive has been marked by a sterling performance of innovations in leadership, community empowerment and altering the townscapes with critical infrastructure that fuels sustainable development, said “we cannot simply close our eyes and ignore the situation.”

With funds practically scraped from rock bottom, San Miguel partnered with the local catholic church the Sint Michael the Archangel parish through Fr. Enrico Cortes, Balay sa Gugma apostolate along with kind-hearted individuals and local and international help groups.

“The plan was to provide immediate temporary but progressive shelters to families who are currently living in makeshift houses,” the mayor who used to head the country’s leading investigation agency summed.

Not just relying on foreign and bigtime local donors for help, San Miguel, along with the local church launched BAlay Reconstruction from Odette’s Ground Zero (BAROG) San Miguel, and counted on the goodwill of the local residents who, even when they are poor, still tried to help.

Beginning on day one, which incidentally was a day after the storm when some LGUs still gathered their thoughts on their rehabilitation plans, San Miguel was already recruiting local carpenters to form the local pool of workers for the restoration.

“It is hard, because we know the carpenters too are victims, but local authorities convinced them that standing together is much better than working alone,” LGU officials added.

And to make sure that they come up with something tangible for a period of time, the town adopted a foolproof scheme.

“We grouped the carpenters into teams and asked them if they could render their services so we could build a good number of new houses every month,” Analyn Estella, who works and coordinates the town’s outreach works pointed out.

The LGU accordingly asked concerned national government agencies if they could keep the storm-ravaged and fallen trees to be sawn into lumber for local house repair and construction.

“We purchased 8 chain saw machines and started convincing owners to give their fallen trees so we could cut them for the lumber needs of our rehabilitation,” Mayor Mendez excitedly shared. That way, we were able to clear road obstructions fast and we had enough lumber to start our rehabilitation,” the mayor intoned.

The local chief executive said as long as “we do not transport the salvaged lumber, we utilized fallen trees for our rehabilitation needs, we never had problems with lumber for our needs.”

“All chain saw operators are given free meals, if for them to work fulltime, and salvage coconut trees that could pose a potential risk for nesting beetles which can attack remaining coconut population,” an emergency responder of the town added.

And then came Balay sa Gugma, and the Philippine Relief and Disaster Services, which came with the local church, we started an ambitious plan to build as much as 2,000 transitionary dwellings.

We had a very good data management system and anyone who would come in to help, we can readily provide the areas for cooperation and possible partnership, considering that the LGU have scarce funds to finance all, the mayor said.

In fact, to raise more funds, the project BAROG ventured into t-shirts, where from every P300.00 t-shirt purchased, huge part of the amount goes to but more materials like galvanized iron roofing, Estella said.

Last week, we were able to hit the 750 houses built and are to complete another 250 houses anytime soon, thanks to our carpenters and well-meaning citizens, local and international donors, Estella added.

Everyone who comes in is welcome, and we have the list of priority barangays where the most damage happened, so they will know how they can help.

Be part of this once-in-your-lifetime project, our people badly need you, anything form cash or kind like lumber, nails, galvanized iron, amakan, sawn rejects and other construction logistics and supplies.

For their transparent and forward-looking project, lately San Miguel hosted national and international organizations which gave us construction materials, GI sheets and even construction kits, Mayor Mendez shared.

Still a long way from providing every totally damaged home-owners their new homes to keep them dry from the rains, local volunteers said they just might be able to get the attention of the different charity institutions, both local and international, who could speed up their project and help them attain their vision of a San Miguel Standing as One.

With the people now with houses, then they just could start working anew, to regain their dignity levelled off and blown away by the in-dignifying wrath of life’s rotten deal.

Barog San Miguel is at Barog San Miguel on facebook. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

By Bohol Island News

Your reliable source of news and content in the island and the rest of Central Visayas and Mindanao.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.