Balik Balay campaign raises P1M

By Aileen Garcia-Yap |January 20,2014 - 03:36 PM

Balikbayans enjoy a night of of music, dance and sharing at the Terraces during last Thursday’s Balik Cebu welcome dinner. (CDN PHOTO/ TONEE DESPOJO)

A “bahay kubo” was unveiled and carried on stage in a Sinulog welcome party for balikbayans,where P1 million in donations was raised to build bamboo cottages for typhoon Yolanda victims in north Cebu.

Over 300 guests attended the annual barrio fiesta-style dinner at the Ayala Terraces where the BalikBalay program was launched.

Some Japanese visitors came forward with an instant cash donation, followed by pledges of visiting Fil-Ams, who got to see a miniature model of the native cottage to be built through the “bayanihan spirit” of community residents.

In her call for support, Balik Cebu Committee chair Tetta Baad said the Nov. 8 storm had destroyed 80 percent to 90 percent of structures in barangay  Pilar in Camotes Islands, a place so remote few relief operations have reached it.

The dinner, hosted every January by Cebu Holdings Inc., welcomes balikbayans visiting Cebu for the Sinulog festival.  Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama nd CHI president Francis Monera spoke at the gathering, and later sang a duet.

It was a toned-down affair this year, with a dinner of native cuisine served like a “boodle feast” in native trays instead of the usual buffet in keeping with the post-disaster circumstances of the celebration.

Balik Cebu, with partners in CHI, and local governments of Cebu city and province, launched BalikBalay, a shelter program for typhoon Yolanda victims at P35,000 per nipa hut.

Baad announced the earlier donation of 10 nipa huts by CHI, and one each by the Department of Tourism, Balik Cebu volunteers and the Miss Cebu Charities.

As the evening wore on, balikbayans and tourists came forward to give cash or pledges.

At least P1 million was raised for 30 bahay kubo units to be built in the pilot area of barangay Esperanza, Pilar town in Camotes. The village was recommended by Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale. In a video presentation shown that night, Magpale said she witnessed the result of the storm’s devastation in “one of the poorest towns” of Cebu.

Among the donors were Engr. Romeo S. Jurani and his wife Nadia, a lawyer, who pledged three cottages or about P105,000.

The couple, who have attended previous Balik Cebu welcome dinners, belong to the Philippine Visyayan Society of Nevada.    They left for the US in 1975 to start a new life, carrying only two suitcases.   After enjoying successful careers, they set up a foundation that offers full scholarships to 20 college students enrolled in Cebu Institute of Technology, Romeo’s alma mater.

Their organization, the Philippine Visayan Society of Nevada, also pledged two nipa huts for BalikBalay during  dinner.

Members of the Japan Big Brother Assistance, came forward and handed a wrapped pack of money bills, given with a bow – their impromptu contribution through Yashuti Fujita, to support one bahay kubo.

The event caterer, Blackbeard’s Seafood Island, also pledged one nipa hut.

Another $2,000 was given by doctors of the Cebu Institute of Medicine for two nipa huts. Visitors from Seville in Spain donated 1,200 euros for two cottages, while balikbayans from Chicago pledged one nip hut.

A live band serenaded the crowd, before pageant beauties of Miss Cebu, fresh from their coronation night, made their first official appearance on stage.

By 9 p.m., a separate Handuman concert took center stage, with singers Girlie Lapinid, Dante Luzon, Dandan Ranillo, among others performing Cebuano songs.  Dances depicting scenes of Cebu history and “rebirth” from disaster through the Sinulog dance, weaved themes of fire, earth and water.

“Bangon Sugbuanon, kay kita kanunayng magmadaogon,” was the opening statement flashed on the screen.

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