Team David’s Salon races for FPUA

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Remember, last February, Team David’s Salon participated in the Tigasin Ronda Norte, a 600 km bike course from Manila-Pasig to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Upon completion the team received Php 100,000 which they chose to donate to the France-Philippines United Action Foundation.

This course was actually just a warm-up for the team who is about to compete in the biggest challenge of their life. 3000 miles, 12 states, four rivers, three major mountains ranges, is what Team David’s Salon will be cycling through in taking part of Race Across America (RAAM). The race will start in Oceanside, California on June 17. The team has 9 days to reach the finish line in Annapolis, Maryland.

Impossible, you think? Nothing is for this first mixed relay team to represent Southeast Asia and the Philippines in the world’s toughest and longest time trial race. Team David’s Salon, is comprised of two males and two female cyclists: Guillaume D’Aboville, a Frenchman living in the Philippines for more than three decades, Colin and Carmela Pearson, a Filipino-British couple, and Vanessa Bandoy Hans, a young French-Filipina. They are strongly supported by David’s Salon, Inc., Fuji Haya Electric, and LS Korea.


More than just a test of strength, endurance, and team dynamics, team David’s Salon want to raise both awareness and funds for a cause. They chose to support France-Philippines United Action Foundation and our projects to help typhoon Haiyan’s victims. Even though it has been almost four years since its landfall, many are still living in extremely precarious conditions. Currently, FPUA is focused on building its third rehabilitation village in Bogo City, Northern Cebu which will benefit 46 families. The Foundation is committed to continue its mission to build resilient communities and provide safe, decent living for all. In line with this, FPUA also developed Health and Child Welfare programs for the communities.


We are so excited to follow them on their bikes! Stay tuned for more updates! Don’t forget to check our facebook page

Follow Team David’s Salon on their website, click  or on their facebook page

To support the team and the Foundation you may contact us through email at:


Updates: Construction on site 3 is closed to completion

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The rehabilitation site being built in barangay Cayang in Bogo city in northern Cebu is the third project of France-Philippines United Action Foundation. This project is part of a bigger program named “Building back better” which aimed to offer safe and resilient homes to communities affected and vulnerable to natural disasters.

As of end of January 2017, 6 units are already completed and 40 units are all at different level of construction. Some units have primers and are ready for topcoat, others are ready for painting when the days get dry and some are partially painted. There are also units ready for installation of roofing.

The rainy weather in Cebu in December 2016 and this January 2017 delayed the construction. As the roads were slippery and the field muddy, the construction moved slowly during this period.

The summer season about to start in the Philippines will be able to give the final kick to the construction of the remaining 40 units.The construction of the units should be completed by the first semester of 2017.


FP-UA is welcoming donations for the site development. In order for the beneficiary families to be able to move in, the Foundation needs funds to provide them with essential and basic needs such as electricity, water, and a set of simple furniture (bed, tables and chairs).

To raise the necessary funds, the Foundation is giving companies or organizations the opportunity to be part of our “Sponsor a Family” program. With a donation of Php 150 000, you will be able to allow one family to move to a safe and new home. The houses have been specially designed by a local architect and is unique at FPUA. The Hyperbolic Paraboloid House Design allow the houses to withstand up to intensity 8 earthquakes and 275-300 kilometer-per-hour winds.

Once completed, the village will also serve as a refuge for the surrounding communities like our two first site which were used as evacuation centers during the previous typhoons.

We would like to thank all our donors; companies, organizations, individual donors; who are contributing to improve lives of typhoon Haiyan victims by taking part of our project.

If you are interested to contribute to the “Sponsor a Family Program” and help victims of typhoon Haiyan to rebuild their lives in safe and secure houses, you may contact

Team David’s Salon raised Php 100,000 for FPUA

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This week-end, Team David’s Salon participated to the Ronda Norte 600, the first ride for a cause by Northern Cement Corporation organized by Trisports Solutions Inc.

On Sunday morning, the 6-woman/man team successfully completed the 600 km between Manila (Pasig) and Ilocos Norte (Pagudpud). They chose to donate the Php 100,000 raised, to support the France-Philippines United Action Foundation.


On the left: Team David’s Salon entering Laoag city in Ilocos Sur, on Sunday morning,On the right: Team is snacking at the last checkpoint before the finish line.

Team David’s Salon arrives at Pagudpud at 11:00am and concludes their TRN600 journey!

Thank you Team David’s Salon for choosing FP-UA Foundation, we look forward to follow you this June!

Stand by for more updates on the race !





Updates: more than 70% completion for the construction of houses on Site 3

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The houses being built on FP-UA’s Site 3 in Bogo City, barangay Cayang, north of Cebu Island, are getting closed to completion.

According to our NGO partner, Habitat for Humanity Philippines, as of end of November 2016, 2 units were already completed since the month of July 2016 and 44 units were all ongoing construction at various levels. The construction project is now at 73% accomplishment.

The construction of the units should be completed by the first quarter of 2017.

FP-UA is now welcoming donations for the site development. In order for the beneficiary families to be able to move in, the Foundation needs funds to provide them with essential and basic needs such as electricity, water, and a set of simple furniture (bed, tables and chairs).

To raise the necessary funds, the Foundation is offering companies or organizations to be part of our “Sponsor a Family” program. With a donation of Php 150 000, the companies or organizations will be able to allow one family to move to a disaster and earthquake resistant home. Once completed, the village will also serve as a refuge for the surrounding communities.

31 beneficiary families still need your help. The companies sponsoring our project will have their names and logos included in all our marketing collaterals and communication to the Filipino-French community about the project. The companies would also receive a photo of the sponsored family in front of their new house at the inauguration.

We would like to thank all our donors; companies, organizations, individual donors; who are contributing to improve lives of typhoon Haiyan victims by taking part of our project.

If you are interested to contribute to the “Sponsor a Family Program” and help victims of typhoon Haiyan to rebuild their lives in safe and secure houses, you may contact

Meet our Beneficiaries

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Last November 14, the French photographer Arthur Perset visited the villages of FP-UA in Cebu. He met some of the future beneficiaries of the site currently being built in Bogo City and listened to their stories. He also talked to the current beneficiaries of our very first village, the “French Village” in barangay Agujo in Daanbantayan where 76 families now live. Here are their stories.

Future beneficiary families from barangay Sambag in Bogo City

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Maximino from barangay Sambag in Bogo City in front of his current house. Barangay Sambag is a slum next to the sea. He has been selected to be relocated in the FP-UA relocation site

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Maximino and his dog inside his current homes.

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Richard, Nenette and their child Hyacint in front of their house in barangay Sambag. They have also been selected as one of the beneficiary families to be relocated to the FP-UA village.

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A home in barangay Sambag. This barangay has been identified for the selection of beneficiary families because of the poor conditions in which people live in there and its proximity to the sea. It is a “no-build zone” and a very dangerous area in times of typhoons.

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Another home in barangay Sambag, Bogo City.


Ongoing constructions in barangay Cayang in Bogo where the Foundation’s relocation project is located

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Future home being built

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Ongoing constructions. Once completed, the village will be composed of 46 homes as well as a multi-purpose center.

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Workers onsite.

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A worker on site.


Visit to the first rehabilitation village of FP-UA in Daanbantayan Municipality, also in the north of Cebu Island

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Menita and her children in their new house.

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Menita and her children in front of their new house in barangay Agujo in Daanbantayan

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Arlene and Nanay, two neighbours in the French Village in Daanbantayan.

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Neighbours chat in front of their houses in barangaya Agujo, Daanbantayan.

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Kids of the French village

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A mum and her kid in the French village.

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Ms Cuyos taking a stroll with her kid through the village.

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The French village in Daanbantayan. This village was inaugurated in November 2015.

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On the left side, the family Cuyos and on the right side, the family Fortunato.

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Analene visits her former village, which was very close to the sea.

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Analene visits her former village, which was very close to the sea.

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This is one of the homes in her former village.

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The village was very close to the sea. Most of the beneficiaries lost their homes there during typhoon Haiyan because of the storm surges.

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Analene in front of her former house.

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A street vendor parcours the French village, where Analene and her family have been relocated, looking for clients.

We would like to thank Arthur Perset for taking and sharing these photos.



The construction of the houses on Site 3 is nearly 50% complete

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The constructions on FP-UA’s Site 3 in Bogo City, north of Cebu Island, continue to make quick progress.

According to our NGO partner, Habitat for Humanity Philippines, as of the first week of August, the 46 units were all ongoing construction on different levels of accomplishments. Based on previous site evaluation (August 10), the construction project has now a general average of 49-50% accomplishment.

Construction activities were: wall coring, floor slab concreting, installation of forms & scaffolding’s, installation of electrical roughing-ins and excavation of septic vaults (tank).

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The main donor for this site is Cités-Unies France which is funding the construction of the 46 units. The construction of the units should be completed by the beginning of next year.

This village, once completed, will welcome 46 families former victims of typhoon Haiyan and still living in extremely precarious conditions in zones at risks (for example by the sea shore). Even though the typhoon swept through the Philippines nearly three years ago, its effects are still felt today with hundreds of families who lost their roofs still living in flimsy shelters that will unlikely stand the next impact.

Before handing the keys to the beneficiary families, FP-UA needs to find contributors to fund the site development (installation of water, electricity etc) in order to complete the project and for the beneficiary families to finally be able to move in their newly built houses.

The foundation has thus set up a “Sponsor a Family” program: with a donation of Php 150,000, a company or organisation can enable one of these families to move into one of these disaster and earthquake resistant homes. As of today, 12 families have been sponsored:

– SYD Conseil is sponsoring 1 family,

– a personal donation (wishing to stay anonymous) sponsoring 1 family,

– Pernod Ricard is sponsoring 5 families,

– Worldwide Food Distribution Limited is sponsoring 1 family,

– Maxime Lemaitre, Managing Director of Worldwide Food Distribution Limited, is sponsoring 1 family,

– DataOne Asia (Philippines) is sponsoring 1 family,

– Republic Cement is sponsoring 1 family,

– Megacem is sponsoring 1 family.

– the Wong Chu King Foundation will sponsor 1 family.

The FP-UA Foundation is thus looking for contributors to sponsor 34 additional beneficiary families. The companies sponsoring our project will have their names and logos included in all our marketing collaterals and communication to the Filipino-French community about the project. The company would also receive a photo of the sponsored family in front of their new house at the inauguration.

Once completed, the village will also serve as a refuge for the surrounding communities. In fact, our first two villages in Daanbantayan served as evacuation centres during the last storms in the region.

If you are interested to contribute to the “Sponsor a Family Program” and help victims of typhoon Haiyan to rebuild their lives in safe and secure houses, you can send an email to

French donors, Red Cross, Habitat come together for storm victims

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DAANBANTAYAN, Cebu—At least 200 families that were displaced by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) woke up to brand new homes almost two years to the day the killer storm devastated the Visayas.

It was a day of gladness as well as sadness as residents remembered what happened when Yolanda hit land on Nov. 8, 2013, destroying their homes and livelihood.

Fernanda Cuyos recalled that before the onslaught of the typhoon, her family—including two of their grandchildren, aged 3 and 7—evacuated to the extension campus of Cebu Technological University (CTU).

“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 anxious of typhoons, afraid that they might go through the same harrowing experience they had during the supertyphoon.

But not anymore.

Last Friday, they were welcomed to their typhoon-resilient houses from the France-Philippines United Action (FP-UA) Foundation in Barangay Agujo and Paypay, Daanbantayan, 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 is composed of 128 houses built on 1.3 hectares in Barangay Paypay donated by Elaine Corro, sister of Daanbantayan Mayor Augustus Corro, under a usufruct agreement. This means the beneficiaries have full rights to use the property but could not dispose of it.

The $1-million Red Cross Village was funded by Total, Sanofi, Caisse des Depots and the French Red Cross. It was implemented in cooperation with the Philippine Red Cross and 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 had hit Bohol and Cebu on Oct. 15, 2013, and 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 an intensity-8 earthquake and wind velocity of up to 275-km per hour.

Each house in the French Village has a floor area of 24 sqm and an allocation for a 10-sqm loft. The houses in the Red Cross Village have a floor area each of 30 sqm.

French Ambassador Thierry Mathou noted that the French Embassy organized the FP-UA to assist French private donors, nonprofit 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 less than two months after Yolanda, and the Red Cross started in May 2014.

The facilities of the Red Cross Village include a barangay health station and a day care center, a livelihood center and a Red Cross room.


Updates on our projects (As of July 2015)

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Site 1, barangay Agujo in Daanbantayan:

The construction of the 74 houses and the Multi-Purpose Center have been completed. The last phase needed is the site development (construction of concrete roads and sidewalks, drainage and water distribution system etc) in order for beneficiary families to move in.

Thanks to Lafarge and Megacem’s donations, the construction works for site development are now funded and the village will soon be completed.This last phase will be executed by SERGS Cooperative, a partner of Habitat for Humanity Philippines, and will take 2-3 months.

Site 1 in barangay Agujo, Daanbantayan

Site 2, barangay Paypay in Daanbantayan:

The construction of the 148 houses on Site 2 are well under way with 75% of the site now complete. The constructions of the multipurpose center and the clinic are expected to start this coming month (July). This site should be ready for turnover by September this year.

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Site 2 in barangay Paypay in Daanbantayan


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Work in progress on Site 2, barangay Paypay in Daanbantayan


Site 3, barangay Cayang in Bogo:

This site will comprise 100 houses, built on the same Hyperbolic Paraboloid house design as on Site 1, as well as a multipurpose center and a basket-ball court.

The first 46 houses of this projects will be funded by Cités-Unies France. FP-UA still needs to fund raise 30M pesos in order to cover the cost of the remaining 54 homes, the multipurpose center, a basket ball court as well as the cost of site development for this site.

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Site development sketch from Habitat for Humanity Philippines


If you would like to contribute to one of our projects, please don’t hesitate to contact us at


François Hollande announces the future conversion of FP-UA into the French Chamber Foundation

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Yesterday, French President François Hollande handed over a cheque to Dilip Vaswani, President of Total Philippines Corporation and Chairman of France-Philippines United Action (FP-UA), for the conversion of FP-UA into the French Chamber Foundation.

This happened during the Climate Change and Inclusive Growth Business Forum organised by the Makati Business Club.

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French President Hollande met with the Filipino and French business community, on February 26, to talk about the role of the private sector in climate change and inclusive growth.


Dilip Vaswani, Chairman of FP-UA, accepts a cheque from French President François Hollande for the creation of the French Chamber Foundation.

FP-UA was created back in November 2013 after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Visayas affecting about 14 million people and killing more than 6,000 people.

In the overall context, assistance from the French private sector—donations in cash and kind, mostly from large companies—had been significant but lacked coordination.

On November 15, 2013, the French Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Gilles Garachon, summoned representatives of leading French companies, in addition to those from the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur and the French Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, in order to exchange information on relief activities led by the French community. He suggested the creation of a coordination and communication comity lead by the French private sector which structure would be hosted and managed by the French Chamber of Commerce. Shortly after, on November 27 of 2013, France-Philippines United Action (FP-UA) was created.

Since then, FP-UA has been involved on two projects both located in Daanbantayan, North Cebu, which was badly damaged by the passage of typhoon Haiyan. Overall, 222 houses are being built along with 2 Multi-Purpose Centers and one clinic, targeting a total of at least 888 beneficiaries. The total budget in construction will exceed 1.4M USD thanks to donors including companies such as Total, Lafarge, Schneider, Sanofi, Caisse des Dépôts, Commanderie de Bordeaux, Megacem and Archetype. FP-UA also works with the NGOs Habitat for Humanity Philippines as well as the French and Philippines Red Cross that are implementing the projects on the ground.

A third site will soon be selected in Bogo city, also in North Cebu, for the erection of 50 units funded by Cités-Unies France.

On January 25, Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy of the French President for the Protection of the Planet, visited the two sites in Daanbantayan. He was deeply impressed with the unique structure of FP-UA which manages to gather different stakeholders for the same purpose; which is helping the victims of typhoon Haiyan. He thus promised that he would support their conversion into a foundation and would bring this matter to the highest level: the Elysée Palace.

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Nicolas Hulot posing in the middle of Site 1, in barangay Agujo, which is nearly complete. The 74 houses have been built and the Mluti-Purpose Center is now in construction.

The mission of the French Chamber Foundation, as announced by President Hollande, will be to engage companies to set up or strengthen their CSR & Disaster Responses initiatives as well as fostering partnerships between the members of the French Chamber and NGOs.


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Finally, the long, slow work of recovery can begin … a year after Yolanda

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TACLOBAN/MANILA, Philippines — Lorna Per, 19, was pregnant when super typhoon Yolanda’s powerful storm surge swept into Leyte, claiming her husband as he tried to protect her from being swept away.

“My world turned upside down. I still remember very well the dirty, murky water drowning my family and my neighbors. Many have died and been left homeless. How can one forget November 8?” Per said as she held back her tears, recalling the horrific day one year ago.

Yolanda affected 171 cities and municipalities in 14 provinces and six regions, destroying or damaging more than a million homes, leaving more than 6,000 people dead — at least by the official count — and a thousand more missing, and displacing some 4.1 million.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, in a report released in September, said Yolanda caused the largest displacement in the world last year.

Even as government, caught unprepared by the magnitude of the disaster, struggled to cobble together a credible response, the international community and aid organizations, both foreign and local, swiftly mobilized, sending huge amounts of aid and manpower as millions of dollars were pledged towards relief and recovery.

Despite this, a year on, progress on a large enough scale remains hard to come by in the provinces struck by Yolanda.

And for many, the search for loved ones lost to the storm continues even as they struggle to rebuild their lives and communities.

This is not to say no work has taken place.

Signs of recovery dot the landscape.

The Tacloban public market is bustling again a year since Yolanda (photo by Bernard Testa,

Yet this pales when one considers that a year after, close to 1 million people remain in makeshift shelters and bunkhouses “dangerously exposed to future typhoons,” as the international aid agency Oxfam noted in a report.

Thousands remain jobless or have yet to regain their means of livelihood, especially farmers and small fisherfolk.

In many places, the rubble from damaged homes and infrastructure has yet to be cleared.

Even the government has acknowledged that rehabilitation seems to be taking too long even if officials maintain that things are right where they expected them to be a year after Yolanda, given the complexity of the problems the country faces.


Rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson said the signing of the P167.9-billion Yolanda Comprehensive and Rehabilitation Plan by President Benigno Aquino III, 10 days before the first anniversary of the disaster, would help speed up the rehabilitation work.

The 8,000-page, eight-volume masterplan was submitted to Malacanang by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR), which Lacson heads, on August 1.

“It did not come out of thin air.  It was borne out of horizontal integration of national agencies that OPARR organized into five clusters each headed by a Cabinet Secretary and the vertical integration of data contributed by the different local government units across the Yolanda corridor,” and made possible through an innovative top-down/bottom up approach which was not tried before,” Lacson told

The plan lists the funding requirements for the following areas of work:

Infrastructure — P35,148,634,408
Social Services —  P26,406,233,815
Resettlement  —  P75,678,683,100
Livelihood —  P30,631,237,230

Lacson, a former senator and national police chief, lamented that many people see the rehabilitation effort as a half-empty glass.

“It’s ironic and unfortunate that what we hear from our fellow Filipinos within and outside the Yolanda corridor are negative commentaries and at times cruel criticisms,” even as “foreign observers like those from the United Nations, Asian Development Bank, and other international NGO’s who have had vast experiences in assisting rehabilitation efforts in other calamity stricken countries around the globe have consistently commended the rehabilitation and recovery efforts of the Philippine government as topping even Banda Aceh in Indonesia which is considered as the role model by the international community in reconstruction and rehabilitation.”

Lacson’s claim was backed by the Asian Development Bank which, in a recent forum, said rehabilitation efforts in Eastern Visayas were “moving faster” than that in in Aceh, Indonesia, when it was struck by an earthquake and tsunami 10 years ago

Stephen Groff, ADB vice president on East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, estimated that reconstruction in Yolanda-devastated areas could take four to five years, which he said is the usual amount of time it takes for areas in similar situations to recover.

A temporary shelter in Barangay Sto. Nino, Tacloban City (photo by Imelda Abano,

Continued support

Local and international aid organizations have pledged to continue supporting the rehabilitation process.

Luisa Carvalho, United Nations Country Team resident and humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines, said, “building back better will be a complex and long process, particularly the rehabilitation of human settlements and the restoration of livelihoods.”

The UN Humanitarian Country Team served roughly 3.7 million people with food assistance; 82,000 mothers given feeding counsel; 23,000 pregnant and lactating women with prenatal and postnatal care; almost 1 million people with rehabilitated water systems; 350,000 with new or rehabilitated latrines; 570,000 households with emergency shelter; 162,000 households with emergency employment; 102,000 people provided information on prevention and management of gender-based violence in emergencies; 20,101 young people provided with information and services on health and protection; and 100,000 farmers with agricultural seeds and tools.

These were done in partnership with national agencies, local governments, donors, private sector, and civil society.

Carvalho said 4,900 temporary learning spaces were created, 545,000 children received learning materials, and public health outbreaks were effectively prevented.

The French business community also reaffirmed its commitment to complete two reconstruction projects in Northern Cebu early next year.

The France-Philippines United Action, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, has built 74 disaster-resilient houses on a 5,488-square-meter site in Barangay Agujo, Daanbantayan, Cebu. The houses will be handed over to selected families before Christmas.

According to the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAITH,, the government’s online information portal for international calamity aid and assistance, total foreign aid pledged have reached P73.307 billion (P45.109 billion cash, P28.198 billion non-cash).

Of this amount, the government has received P17.248 billion broken down into: P1.195 billion, total cash received by government; P1.269 billion, total non-cash received by government; and, P14.760 billion total received by non-government organizations, multilateral groups, and others.

Aid too slow?

Given this huge amount of assistance, why then has help been slow in reaching survivors, lawmakers, especially those whose constituents were battered by the typhoon, have been asking.

“Judging from what I have been reading, there has been too much delay. Between the time of devastation and today, what we have seen thus far are plans and blueprints. The Executive must begin implementing,” Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao said.

With the rehabilitation masterplan finally approved, he said, government should now be making “bold moves” to show tangible benefits to the people, especially in terms of permanent housing and jobs.

AKO Bicol party-list Representative Rodel Batocabe stressed the need for improved response time and government agencies’ absorptive capacity to carry out the rehabilitation work.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, a staunch Palace ally and a stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party whose province was one of those that bore the brunt of the disaster, asked the Aquino administration to further intensify the programs for creating livelihood and permanent housing for the victims.

“The rehabilitation and reconstruction of public infrastructures are going on,” he said. “What should be given extra push are livelihood projects such as small agri-business, fishing, and farming, among others and resettlement.”

“Sadly the situation in the Yolanda areas has yet to normalize (and) a lot of the victims have yet to regain their footing as government’s best plans have yet to gain traction,” Abakada party-list Representative Jonathan dela Cruz said. “It will probably take sometime before the residents of the affected areas get back on their feet and move on.”

‘Another disaster’

But Gabriela party-list Representative Luz Ilagan described the government’s response as “another disaster.”

“From the very start, when politics reared its ugly head, the survivors were doomed,” she said.  “It’s been a year and yet many of the dead are not yet buried! Should that not have been the priority? Even the accounting of the casualties is a victim of P-Noy’s strange and stubborn refusal to accept the truth that the deaths reached more than 10,000.”

She described relief operations as selective and in disarray and said, “Only the valiant efforts of private groups saved the day.”

Proof of this “ineptitude and politicking,” she added, were the rotten relief goods that somehow ended up being distributed to survivors but for which no one has been punished.

Besides this, Ilagan said, “today, many survivors need counseling. Many have no income. The promised bunkhouses are cheap, flimsy and inadequate. They also suspiciously cost a lot. A dismal failure. Even with the appointment of a rehabilitation czar, what can he show as performance? Where did the billions of donations go?”

Makeshift homes rebuilt in a ‘no-build zone’ on the Tacloban shoreline (photo by Imelda Abano,

Restoring livelihood, providing safe shelter

While acknowledging there has been “substantial improvement” in infrastructure since Yolanda struck, Evardone said government needs to intensify its efforts to provide permanent and safe housing to survivors and restore their sources of livelihood.

Yolanda practically wiped out the coconut trees in the Eastern Visayas provinces it struck, depriving residents of their main source of living.

“Coconut trees do not grow in a month or two. It takes five to seven years to grow one. Meantime, what will the farmers do?” Evardone said in a phone interview.

The free vegetable seeds given to farmers as an alternative source of livelihood did not amount to much because of the lack of markets for their produce.

Nakatambak na iyong mga gulay nilaang problemahindi naman nila lahat maibentaMay pagkain nga silawala namang pera (The vegetables were already stocked but the problem is they could not sell it all. They had food but no money),” Evardone said.

And while the Philippine Coconut Authority distributed coconut seeds, many of these were of poor quality.

As for housing, Evardone said: “It’s easy to give them (survivors) GI sheets so they could build their homes, but their homes are still sitting in the same dangerous spots, vulnerable to another storm surge.”

Questions of land ownership, exacerbated by the destruction of property and records, and the lack of public land where the survivors can build new homes, are thorny matters that the government should be addressing, he stressed.

Evardone lamented that some unscrupulous landowners jacked up the prices of their properties on learning that government was interested in buying these.

Ground zero, Tacloban

Like Per, more than 25,000 people in Leyte’s capital, one of the worst hit by the disaster, continue to live in makeshift shelters, bunkhouses and tents as they try to rebuild their lives.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez said many lessons have been learned from the Yolanda experience, among these that collaboration between and among local government units and the national government is vital in the event of such disasters.

One of the ships swept ashore by super typhoon Yolanda in Barangay Anibong, Tacloban City. Work to dismantle the vessel is ongoing. (photo by Bernard Testa,

“In a disaster as enormous as Haiyan (Yolanda’s international name), there were competing priorities. Coordination and preparation are two important things we need to consider. The national government must understand that in the case of Tacloban City, I admit that there was a lack of manpower, lack of provision of services and emergency operations considering the big population of the city at that time,” Romualdez said.

Asked about the priorities of the local government now, Romualdez said they drafted a nine-year Tacloban master plan prioritizing a more resilient economy, sustainable environment, a holistic approach and planning in all agencies, integrating urban planning and sustainable programs.

Housing crisis 

According to the Tacloban master plan, the city already had a complex and growing housing problem long before Yolanda.

The previous housing backlog, estimated to be 17,859 households, worsened after the typhoon destroyed or damaged 54,231 houses in the city, at least 10,000 of these belonging to poor families and informal settlers living along coastal areas hit by the storm surge.

But to date, only 400 permanent houses have been constructed.

Aron Agner, camp manager of the bunkhouses provided by the National Housing Authority in Sagkahan for 315 families, or 1,457 people, said while the government has been providing relief goods and other basic services for the survivors, many of the families still complain of overcrowding, limited sanitation and lack of livelihood.

“We have been trying to address the needs of the families who are now living in bunkhouses but we admit that the assistance has not been enough, which is why some of them decided to go back to their houses in the coastal communities,” Agner said.

Although the national government imposed a 40-meter “no build zone” from the shoreline, many makeshift shelters, tents and houses have been rebuilt in these areas.

“We cannot blame those people as most of the families live in the fishing communities here. But eventually, they will be offered permanent housing to move them out of the danger zones,” Agner said.

Rebuilt houses and makeshift shelters in Barangay Anibong, Tacloban City beside a sign designating the area a ‘no-build zone.’ (photo by Bernard Testa,

The NHA is planning to construct about 205,393 permanent houses within the next few years.

“Rebuilding takes time,” Andrew Martin, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) in Tacloban, explained. “Most people prefer to have permanent houses, but it will take a long time so it is better to give them a better solution that is giving them an option to stay for a few months in bunk houses or transitional shelters.”

He stressed that the provision of basic services from various UN agencies and donors was considered in building the transitional houses, which are made of coco lumber. The provision of livelihood opportunities is for the local government to act on.

Blame game no more 

Mayor Romualdez admits that should another massive storm hit the city and nearby provinces again, the outcome could be much the same as Yolanda unless the local and national governments collaborate and a fuller understanding of disaster risk management is acquired.

“It will be very difficult for us to cope, but the good thing is we have learned our lessons and people are now more aware and it has created a culture of resilience,” Romualdez said. “This is not the time to point fingers or blame each other. I cannot avoid politics but I think we should push for good politics as our mandate and accountability is to the people we serve.”

The mayor said he had been pushing for the creation of a separate disaster agency to address disaster preparedness of cities and provinces, a place for scientific data bank, capacity building for local government units and an office focused on disaster efforts.

However, Gerry Arances of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice blasted the rehabilitation efforts in Yolanda-hit areas.

“After one year, without a clear people-centered rehabilitation plan, tens of thousands still living in tents and bunkhouses, no substantial economic activities and sustainable jobs, among others, we can fairly say that what the government has done is add more insult to injury for our kababayan who have suffered the wrath of typhoon Yolanda and are still continuously suffering (because of) the ineptness of this government,” Arances said.

Climate Walk for Yolanda

Climate Change Commissioner Naderev Sano, who has embarked on a 40-day “climate walk” dedicated to the victims of typhoon Yolanda with members of nongovernmental organizations under Aksyon Klima, said they hope to draw underscore the urgency of addressing climate change.

The group marched from Luneta in Manila and will end their long walk at the San Juanico Bridge in Tacloban City on November 8.

“The walk will also chronicle stories of the experiences of people on the ground facing climate impacts. After the walk, we will bring the voices of the most vulnerable to the international climate change negotiations in Lima, Peru in December to alarm the world on the devastating impacts of the changing climate in vulnerable countries like the Philippines,” Sano said.

“Climate change is the defining issue of our generation,” he stressed. “We will be measured by how we respond to this crisis. The world must find the courage and muster the political will to avert this crisis.”

An electric jeepney drives past a house under construction in Tacloban City. (photo by Bernard Testa,

Slowly but surely

Lacson said the combined efforts of the government and nongovernment sectors have resulted in the completion and still ongoing construction of more than 9,000 housing units, which he acknowledges is a “low 4.5 percent accomplishment for the resettlement cluster.”

Nevertheless, the rehabilitation czar explained, “This is not without a cogent reason. One of the biggest challenges that we face is finding suitable sites or multi-hazard free locations to resettle the big number of houses previously situated in the unsafe zones.”

Lacson said now that Aquino has given the go-signal to implement the master plan, the National Housing Authority is prepared to build all but 40,000 of the more than 200,000 housing units in safe zones for Yolanda survivors.

Completion of almost all the housing units is targeted by June 2016.

Lacson said he is also working to ensure zero leakage in the use of Yolanda funds through eMPATHY, or the Electronic Management Platform: Accountability and Transparency Hub for Yolanda.

“Consider this — a mere one per cent leakage from the P167 billion would translate into P1.67 billion in wasted taxpayers’ money,” he said.

He said eMPATHY will be a mechanism to capture and monitor all the 18,600 projects, programs and activities listed in the master plan from the time these are awarded to completion.

Completing about 80 percent of the rehabilitation plan by the end of the Aquino’s term in 2016 will be an achievement for Lacson.

“It is definitely realizable or can even be exceeded. Why? I will base my projection on the observations shared by foreign observers who saw and participated in other rehabilitation efforts in many parts of the world that were hit by similarly huge disasters,” he said.

“They are almost one in saying that the Philippine government is addressing the rehabilitation efforts at a much faster pace than what they saw and experienced in the other countries that they had been to,” Lacson added.

But for the hundreds of thousands of Yolanda survivors who remain without adequate shelter and livelihood one year after their lives were shattered, nothing can be fast enough.

Source: Interaksyon