Over 100 ‘Yolanda’-hit families continue to live in rooms the size of 2 ‘ping pong’ tables

BASEY, Samar – More than three years after super typhoon Yolanda pummeled this coastal town, more than a hundred families remain in bunkhouses, which were built as emergency shelters after the 2013 disaster. Each family lives in a room with a standard area of 8.64 square meters, similar to the size of two table tennis or “ping pong” tables.

Jap Cabuboy, whose family has been living in a bunkhouse in Canmanila village for three years, said they envy other Yolanda-hit families who have already transferred to permanent houses

“It’s our dream, and we have been waiting for it. We are willing to wait until the time when the government tells us to transfer to our new home. Most of us here feel bad on the very slow response of (concerned) government agencies,” said Cabuboy, whose wife works as an Overseas Filipino Worker.

The bunkhouses are located along the national highway in a local government-owned lot.

Melissa Eracho, who shares a room with a friend, expressed the same sentiment for the dilapidating bunkhouses.

“Some of our friends have decided to return back to our old places along river banks and coastal communities, classified as danger zones,” Eracho said. “I hope President Rodrigo Duterte will check our condition so he can help us.”

The bunkhouse built by the Department of Public Works and Highways in Yolanda-hit provinces in Eastern visayas in late 2013 is divided into 24 rooms to accommodate more families.

The bunkhouses are made of corrugated sheets, plywoods and coco lumber. Each bunkhouse has four toilets, two bathrooms and a kitchen.

Basey Mayor Igmedio Ponferrada said those who remained in emergency shelters in Canmanila are recipients of housing projects funded by the Diocese of Calbayog, United Nations Development Programme and Ledesma Foundation.

The mayor said hundreds of families remain in coastal communities while waiting for the completion of housing units being built by the National Housing Authority (NHA).

The NHA contractors have started building houses in Basey only last year, which is why all projects are still ongoing, according to Ponferrada.

“Looking for the site where to construct the house was one of the major hindrances. Adding up to the delay is the long list of requirements,” the mayor added.

Construction is ongoing for 3,000 permanent housing units in three sites in this town.

“We also want the permanent houses to be done as soon as possible because we have been spending a lot for electricity bill and daily water supply to the bunkhouses,” the mayor told PNA.

Basey town is about 24 kilometers northeast of Tacloban, the regional capital. On Nov. 8, 2013, the town was one of the places heavily devastated by super typhoon Yolanda, leaving more than 200 people dead. Roel Amazona/PNA-northboundasia.com