Their bright smiles matched the bright sunny colors of the two-storey structures.
The beneficiaries of Barangay Pajo, Daanbantayan, Cebu had a lot of reasons to smile on the day of the Unity Village turnover. More than one year after Typhoon Yolanda whipped through central Philippines and washed away everything they had, they were going to receive new homes.
Recently, CEMEX turned over the first batch of newly built houses to the typhoon-affected families of Daanbantayan. Officials of CEMEX Philippines, its foundation, Gawad Kalinga, and the Municipality of Daanbantayan led the ceremonial turnover of the 44 houses.
“Thank you very much for all the help. You have touched our lives more than what we can express,” said Meralyn Basalio, one of the Unity Village beneficiaries, in dialect.
“CEMEX has emotional and professional ties with Cebu because the Apo Cement Plant is also in this province. Cebu is part of the CEMEX family. It’s a natural choice for us to help rebuild this place,” said Pedro Palomino, CEMEX Philippines country president.
Now that these rows of two-storey houses of the Unity Village in Daanbantayan are turned over, it would now be the beneficiaries’ chance to take over— putting the finishing touches on their new homes and investing their own sweat equity as part of Gawad Kalinga’s values formation initiative.
“This practice of ‘sharing’ the cost of rebuilding makes the process more meaningful as the families make their personal investment of hard work in building their new home,” said Megi Garcia, CEMEX Philippines corporate social responsibility officer.
It was literally a labor of love as residents put in their time in helping the professional construction workers by giving them water to stave off the heat and fatigue, helping carry finishing materials, and painting walls. Last year, CEMEX H.E.R.O (Help. Engage. Reach. Out.) employee volunteers also pitched in their own labor of love by going on site to help the workers.
Beyond basic shelter
At the beginning of the Build Unity program, CEMEX conducted assessments to evaluate the needs of the Municipality of Daanbantayan and realized that they had to go beyond the building of basic shelter.
Among the findings was that dengue has the highest rate of mortality among children in Daanbantayan primarily because of late diagnosis. CEMEX donated a Hematology Analyzer and a Chemistry Analyzer to the Daanbantayan Health Center that would help in the early detection of dengue fever among young children.
“The rebuilding process is not just about putting together the physical materials needed for construction of a new home but it is also about uniting and uplifting the spirits of the families affected by the typhoon. CEMEX is here to support the communities until they are able to get back on their feet again,” said Chito Maniago, CEMEX Philippines Foundation executive director.
CEMEX has adopted Yolanda-affected communities in Bogo, Daanbantayan, Medellin, and San Remigio in northern Cebu to become beneficiaries of CEMEX’s Build Unity rehabilitation program. The program, which is funded by donations from CEMEX business units worldwide, aims to build Unity Villages that will house families of Yolanda survivors.
CEMEX Philippines is the manufacturer of the eco-labeled cement brands in the country including Island Portland Cement, Palitada King, Rizal Portland Super, Rizal Masonry Cement, APO Portland Premium, APO Portland Cement, APO Masonry Cement, and APO Pozzolan.