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Building solid homes for secure futures: Maryknoll College 1976 gifts typhoon-proof homes to families in CamSur

With strong typhoons visiting the Philippines so often, our countrymen living in low lying and impoverished areas continue to sustain irreparable damage to their homes. Thanks to the selflessness and long term vision of the members of Maryknoll College Class 1976, selected families from Camarines Sur now have peace of mind that their houses and loved ones are safe and secure when the next typhoon season comes around.

Class representative Minda Garcia-Arcilla shares how Maryknoll College Class 1976 came together in response to typhoons Rolly and Ulysses, especially in making typhoon-proof homes for affected families a reality.

Maryknoll College Class of 1976 – Response to Typhoons Rolly & Ulysses

by Minda Garcia-Arcilla, College Class 1976

Photos of families who lost their homes and photos of the damaged areas where Typhoon Rolly made landfall awakened the Maryknoll Spirit of College Class 1976. We decided to have a fundraiser for the period November 3 to November 10. Aware that all of us are going through a rough ride due to the pandemic, no minimum amount was set for the monetary donations. But as more photos of the typhoon- hit Bicol were shared in our class Viber group, classmates started giving more. By November 5 we collected ₱26,000.00 which more than doubled the next day to ₱60,000. On November 7 it became ₱108,000.00, on November 8 ₱119,000.00, and on the final day November 10, the class raised the sum of ₱130,000.00. A total of 53 batchmates donated. Those who already committed to other relief efforts gave their support by praying for the class endeavor.

The appeal by Miriam Identity, Spirituality and Mission Office (MISMO) was shared with the class and so we decided to donate ₱25,000.00 thru MISMO for the relief efforts in Catanduanes. It was also our aim to support the social action arm of Miriam College. The deposit to MISMO thru Miriam College was done November 11, 2020.

For the bigger chunk of our collection (₱105,000) we decided to channel it to a longer term effort - the rehabilitation of homes in the Bicol region. Our main challenge was to find an organization with DIRECT links to the intended beneficiaries. Our conduit must be trustworthy, transparent and with a proven track record. With the help of our batchmate Angelita Gregorio-Medel who used to work for DSWD under Secretary Dinky Soliman, we found a very reliable grass roots organization highly recommended by other NGOs--- Saradit na Kristiyanong Komunidad SKK Farmers Corp. headed by Fr. Dawe Pilapit. “Saradit” is the Bicolano word for “small” or “little”.

SKK is a Farmers’ Cooperative in Libmanan, CamSur that was built out of partnership with CARITAS and the Department of Agriculture. The head of SKK is Fr. Granwell “Dawe” Pilapit, former Caritas Director of the Diocese of Libmanan and former Board Member of CODE NGO (a long standing confederation of NGOs across the country representing the Bicol Network Development NGOs). SKK has local leaders in the grassroots level, and has solid management and financial system. Fr. Dawe and SKK have links to both private and public sector groups and these groups have given positive feedback about SKK and Fr. Dawe.

We gave our donation to SKK on November 11 and SKK acknowledged our donation through an official receipt on November 13. From November 14 to November 30 our class was given regular updates by Fr. Dawe. The group showed us photos of the house that will be built under the rehabilitation program complete with the specifications.  Fr. Dawe says in a Facebook post, “Looking forward to building a new, stronger and typhoon-proof house for this family of solo mother on Monday under the BAHAYnihan Project. Thanks in advance to Tau Gamma Phi for the manpower, Fr. Weng Navera and PPC for the foods, Maryknoll College Class ’76 for sponsoring the house, SKKFC skilled workers, and other volunteers. Pusog na harong, pusog na tarabangan!” (Roughly translated to “a solid home, a solid togetherness”)

Last December 6, SKK and Fr. Dawe surprised our class with pictures of completed house # 1 sponsored by Maryknoll College Class of 1976. The house was also blessed morning of December 6 and turned over to the family beneficiary- the family of Myrna Templonuevo-San Jose.

Last December 5, the Maryknollers in Sydney (MIS) group - composed of about a dozen ladies from different Maryknoll batches – had their Christmas lunch. And over lunch they raised ₱26,550.00! Since there are two Maryknoll College Class ‘76 members in the MIS group who are aware of our class efforts, the Sydney group also decided to use Fr. Dawe and SKK as their conduit. Fr. Dawe agreed to add on the ₱26,550.00 from MIS to Maryknoll College ‘76’s donation to fund another house.  This will now be a joint project of Maryknoll College 1976 and Maryknollers in Sydney.

At present Maryknoll College Class of 1976 rehabilitation efforts in CamSur is not done. The completion of typhoon proof house # 1 further inspired us to do a little more. The toilet and water system are supposed to be the counterpart of the family beneficiary. The cost is ₱15,000.00. Our class plans to shoulder this additional cost so that house # 1, being the sample house, will be complete. Then we will ask Fr. Dawe to put in place a system where the family beneficiary will pay the P15,000.00 in affordable installments and the amount collected will serve as a revolving fund for future toilets and water system construction in the area. (And while I am writing this a group of AIM Classmates (MBM80) just texted to say they have raised funds for another house. A classmate also just called to say that her neighbor who belongs to Maryknoll High School 1963 sent P2,000.00. The lady wants to be part of the house project. Who wouldn’t be inspired?)

Since Maryknoll College Class of 1976 has “adopted” a family in Libmanan, CamSur by sponsoring their house, we are also planning to look into the educational needs of this family and provide educational assistance to the children.

When Typhoon Ulysses hit Luzon, our class decided to have Typhoon Fundraiser Part 2. On November 21, 2020, we were able to deposit ₱102,000.00 for the relief efforts of the Tanging Yaman Foundation. Tanging Yaman shared with us photos of their relief work in The Rizal and Cagayan areas.

Note: We will gladly assist any Maryknoll/Miriam Class who will be interested in sponsoring a house under the BAHAYnihan Project of Fr. Dawe. Please check “BAHAYnihan Project- Fr. Dawe“on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/grandwell.pitz). Please note that this is different from Vice President Leni Robredo’s Bahayanihan Project launched in Albay on December 13.

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Fr. Dawe warmly says of Maryknoll College 1976: “Your role and contribution is a very important ingredient to the realization of this BAHAYnihan". Truly, you have made a concrete, positive change in these families’ lives. Congratulations, Maryknoll College 1976 and thank you for being an inspiration to us all!

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