DAANBANTAYAN, Cebu — It was a day of mixed emotions.
At least 200 families were all smiles as they were about to be welcomed into their new homes –almost two years after supertyphoon “Yolanda” made a third landfall and destroyed their houses and killed nine people.
But it was also a day of remembering what happened on Nov. 8, 2013 when strong winds came and brought fear into their hearts.
Fernanda Cuyos recalled that her family evacuated in the extension campus of the Cebu Technological University, along with two of their grandchildren, aged 3 and 7, before the onslaught.
“We were very scared. When Yolanda blew off the roof of the CTU gymnasium, we had to run to another building. After the typhoon passed, we checked our house and found that it was destroyed when two coconut trees fell on it,” said Cuyos.
Yolanda had made them fear typhoons–afraid that they would experience again what they went through during the supertyphoon.
But now, not anymore.
Last Friday, they received typhoon-resilient houses from the France-Philippines United Action (FP-UA) Foundation in Barangays Agujo and Paypay, Daanbantayan, about 147 kilometers north of Cebu City.
The two housing projects cost $1.5 million and were financed by leading French companies.
One of the villages, the Habitat French Village provides 76 disaster-resilient houses and a multipurpose center that were built on a 5,488-square meter property in Barangay Agujo that was donated by the Cebu provincial government.
The project was implemented in cooperation with the Habitat for Humanity Philippines.
The $500,000-funding for the French Village came from Republic Cement and Building Materials Inc. (formerly Lafarge), Schneider, Commanderie de Bordeaux, Megacem, Archetype, ParexGroup and ManilleBienvenue.
The Red Cross Village comprises of 128 houses built on a 1.3-hectare land in Barangay Paypay was donated by Elaine Corro, sister of Daanbantayan Mayor Augustus Corro, under a usufruct agreement.
This meant that the beneficiaries have the full right to use the property but could not dispose these.
The $1-million Red Cross Village was funded by Total, Sanofi, Caisse des Depots and French Red Cross. The housing project was implemented in cooperation with the Philippine Red Cross and the Habitat for Humanity Philippines.
Charlito Ayco, managing director and chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity Philippines, recalled daring Filipino architect Ed Florentino to come up with a design that was disaster-resilient, considering that a major earthquake hit Bohol and Cebu on October 15, 2013 and then less than a month later, Yolanda severely damaged the areas along its path.
Florentino used the hyperbolic paraboloid concept, which allows each house to withstand up to intensity 8 earthquake and wind velocity of up to 275 km per hour. Each house of the French Village has a floor area of 24 sq. m and an allocation for a 10-sq. m loft. The houses in the Red Cross Village have a floor area each of 30 sq. m.
French Ambassador Thierry Mathou noted that the French Embassy organized the FP-UA to assist French private donors, non-profit organizations and French agencies with their rehabilitation programs.
After Yolanda devastated central Philippines, then French Ambassador Gilles Garachon convened the representatives of leading French companies, the Conseiller du Commerce Exterieur and the French Chamber of Commerce to form the consortium.
Led by the French Chamber of Commerce, the FP-UA aimed to coordinate relief and rehabilitation projects initiated by the Filipino-French business community for the typhoon victims.
The consortium first focused on Daanbantayan, which was among the most affected areas by Yolanda.
Yolanda first made landfall at Guiuan, Eastern Samar at 4:40 a.m. on Nov. 8, 2013, then at Tolosa, Leyte at 7 a.m. and then Daanbantayan at 9:40 a.m.
Mayor Corro said the FP-UA was among the earliest to visit Daanbantayan and provided continued assistance to the town.
The construction of the French Village began in May 2014.
The facilities of the Red Cross Village include a barangay health station and day care center, a livelihood center and a Red Cross room.
It also has a 33-kilowatt photovoltaic solar power plant and a decentralized water treatment system.
The solar plant was installed through the efforts of the Red Cross and the Electricians Without Borders, a French non-government organization. It will provide public lighting and electricity for the multi-purpose hall, day care center, barangay health station and the livelihood center.
The barangay health station and day care center will cater to the needs of Barangay Paypay, which has a population of 3,124.
The livelihood center, which would be run by a local association of the users, will offer services such as battery charging as well as the use of refrigerators and stainless tables that farmers and fishermen could use to process food inside the center.
The FP-UA Foundation will also start another housing project at a third site, in Bogo City, also in northern Cebu.
The third village, which will be constructed on a 5,000 square-meter lot in Barangay Cayang, Bogo City, will be funded by the Cites Unies France (CUF), an urban organization based in Paris.
The organization will provide the funding for the construction of 46 houses with the same Hypar Model design built by Habitat for Humanity at Barangay Agujo, Daanbantayan.
Now, the survivors can feel safe again even if there is a threat of a coming typhoon. CDG