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Relief drive delivers roofs to storm-hit Cebu families

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Eileen G. Mangubat January 14,2014 - 11:50 AM

Everybody just stepped up big time. – Jay Aldeguer, CEO of Islands Group

Find out what’s needed first before giving.

Work with partners who have the expertise that you don’t have.

Let storm survivors help themselves in the spirit of “bayanihan”.

Keep your promises and say thank you afterward.

These were some of the key lessons that organizers of the Cebu-based Roof for Relief campaign shared yesterday after nine weeks of a campaign to provide roofing sheets for more than 5,000 families in northern Cebu devastated by typhoon Yolanda.

Organizers of the Roof for Relief campaign Jay Aldeguer (left) of Island Group, Gawad Kalinga’s Toby Florendo and Edmund Liu of LH Foundation Inc. with a scale model of households in north Cebu that were able to restore their roofs after supertyphoon Yolanda. (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

“No one was really prepared for what happened to us,” said Jay Aldeguer, CEO of Islands Souvenirs, one of three prime movers in the donation drive that linked up with Gawad Kalinga after winding up relief work for another calamity, the Oct. 15 earthquake in Bohol.

“We thought we were done, then the typhoon came.”

What followed soon after was a hurried meeting to set new targets, reconnaisance of north Cebu towns, calls for volunteers and cash, and a “nightmare of logistics” to bring GI sheets and nails to far-flung barangays in 10 towns and Bogo City in time for Christmas.


Aldeguer said they saw serious operations to send food and water but realized that “the housing aspect of this crisis is overlooked.”

Building complete homes by Christmas was a tall order but putting a roof over their heads was “doable”, said Aldeguer.

Aldeguer, Edmund Liu of LH Foundation, and Gawad Kalinga Cebu’s Toby Florendo joined donors and volunteers yesterday in celebrating the moment to declare: “Our promise has been achieved because we got together.”


The private sector campaign raised P18.4 million in cash and pledges from 269 individual and corporate donors, working over the Christmas break to deliver roofing sheets to communities selected using an “80/80” criteria.

The barangays chosen were those with 80 percent storm damage and a population of 80 percent unable to afford the cost of rebuilding their homes.

Each family received a set of 8 pre-painted high quality GI sheets with nails and was given 20 days to install them.

This way “they are no longer victims, they have to move on and jumpstart their lives,” said Florendo.

Those who didn’t need as many GI sheets were encouraged to donate them to a neighbor or the local government, transfers which would be documented.

Backed by volunters of GK and various companies, the campaign was able to deliver roofing sheets to 11 barangays in 11 localities:
Barangay Dakit in Sogod, Managase in Tabogon, Marangog in Bogo City, Batad in San Remigio, Tigbawan in Tabuelan, Curva in Medellin, Bakhawan in Daanbantayan, Bongdio-

Proper in Borbon, Tamiao in Bantayan, Pooc in Sta. Fe, and Bunakan in Madridejos.

The delivery to Bantayan Island, set for January 9 was delayed by bad weather but all target families were issued their donation certificates, briefed and await the arrival of GI sheets already loaded on trucks.

Since the donation drive overshot their 5,000 roof-target and raised enough funds for 477 more roofs, the campaign will distribute another round to a town in Camotes islands, to complete the 12th northern Cebu town badly hit by the superstorm.

Following the GK principle of “walang iwanan” (nobody gets left behind), all households in the barangay were given roofing sheets.

“With the immediacy of the situation, we didn’t have the time to consider whether or not a home was partially damaged or otherwise. Everyone was a victim. We gave to everyone,” Florendo said in a press conference at the Cebu Sports Club in Cebu City.


GK set aside its usual program of rebuilding whole communities and houses to focus on providing roofing sheets and nails, which were immediately needed.

Florendo said it was key to promote “the spirit of bayanihan” and that the effect of having an entire community see each neighbor uplifted was priceless.

“The sense of community spirit is something you can’t measure,” he said.

Florendo said the campaign was a “tremendous endeavor” which started as a “small seed” even as he expressed hope that other efforts continue because the the actual need is much greater, with over 60,000 families affected by the storm in north Cebu.

The GI Sheets ordered from Puyat Steel in Metro Manila were thick, gauge 26 pre-colored sheets that would last 10 years, a quality assured by the manufacturer, one of only two ISO-certified plants in the country.

Aldeguer said the generosity of donors and volunteers was “overwhelming”.

“Everybody just stepped up big time,” he said.

Amidst skepticism from various quarters about the inadequacy of government and doubts whether the ambitious goals could be reached, volunteers worked “with a smile”, he said.

He gave much credit to the calm, expert handling of GK with their “pulse of what’s needed and sense of anticipation in a community” and dedicated volunters.

Liu, executive director of LH Foundation, called the campaign “one of the most fulfilling experiences” of his life.

He said volunteers hurdled many challenges.

“We went through a lot of tough moments. There were times when we asked ourselves, ‘what did we get ourselves into? We may have over committed oursevelves.’ There were anxious moments,” he said.

“The past three months have been one of the most painful and difficult. But our spirit as a people, as a nation, has never wavered,” he said.

He said he marvelled at the “tenacity” of GK volunteers, many of them 18 to 20 years old, “smiling” as they worked in deliveries and turnover ceremonies in remote sites.

A common lesson the three Roof for Relief leaders dwelled on: Be amazed by the power of volunteers and awakening the “bayanihan” spirit.

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TAGS: Cebu, Relief efforts, Storm, typhoon, Yolanda

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