SIPALAY CITY – A farmer whose house was washed away by Typhoon “Odette” and lost all his crops and carabao in a harrowing experience that nearly took his life thanked Vice President Leni Robredo on Saturday, February 5, for giving his family hope and a new lease on life.
Jimmy Cardinal, 54, of Purok Lubi, Barangay Gil Montilla, Sipalay City, was one of 250 families in southern Negros Occidental who received shelter starter kits from the vice president after having lost their homes to “Odette” on Dec. 17 and 18, 2021.
Robredo visited Purok Lubi, Barangay Gil Montilla in Sipalay City and Barangay Mambugsay in Cauayan in southern Negros Occidental Saturday to distribute the starter kits and meet with the typhoon victims.
She also met with the members of the Barangay 2 Small Fishermen’s Association in Sipalay City who are the recipients of livelihood assistance from her office.
Cardinal, 54, and his wife, Jenelyn, 34, have four children – Mark Anthony, 15, Arnel, 12, Jeny, 9 and Ivy 7.
Jimmy said his wife and children went to an evacuation center even before Typhoon Odette hit on December 17 because their barangay captain urged them to leave their homes.
He stayed at their house to watch their belongings but as the winds lashed and the waters rose he and their dog Brownie swam to higher ground. “I thought we would die,” Jimmy said.
When the waters subsided he found his house washed away, his crops destroyed and his carabao gone. Jimmy used to plant rice and squash, which he said were ready for harvest before the typhoon hit.
He thought it would be very difficult for him to rebuild a home for his family, having lost his means of livelihood. With the starter kit from the vice president construction has started on his new home, he said, with tears welling in his eyes.
Since the typhoon hit his family has been living like sardines in what was left of their old home, he said.
One resident of Purok Lubi died in the typhoon and another is missing.
Many residents of Purok Lubi had harrowing stories to tell of how their houses were washed away by the floods, how some nearly drowned, and how they lost their means of livelihood.
Jenelyn Cardinal, on behalf of all the shelter starter kit recipients in Gil Montilla, thanked Robredo for her help during her visit.
Robredo who visited Purok Lubi where Jimmy’s house was being rebuilt met with the residents whom volunteer architects provided with assembly guides for the shelter starter kits the vice president provided them.
The residents were taught how to build reinforced houses for typhoon resiliency to resist wind loads, and to prevent water penetration with a design prepared by the firm, CC Buencamino Architect.
They are training residents how to build such homes so they will have the knowledge to do so on their own in the future, Robredo said.
“This is not much that we are giving you but I hope it can help ease the burden you are facing now, with many of you having to start from scratch again,” she told the typhoon victims.
Robredo said the houses to be built by the recipients will be done in collaboration with the Negrense Volunteers for Change headed by Millie Kilayko and the United Architects of the Philippines.
She saw a NVC Facebook post that showed they were building houses for the typhoon victims and asked if the foundation could help her office with those they are building in southern Negros Occidental, Robredo said. NVC is the ground implementer that distributes the starter kit materials and is tasked to ensure that the 250 houses are built.
Robredo said this is not the first time she has partnered with NVC, they have worked together even when she was congresswoman in conducting feeding programs to address malnutrition.
The vice president also thanked Sipalay Mayor Gina Montilla Lizares for her support and partnership in providing a livelihood program to small fishermen in Sipalay City.
Nelma Sandoval of the Barangay 2 Small Fishermen’s Association said Robredo’s Office has provided them with P1.2 million for equipment for the production of value added products from their fish catch.
Robredo is the first presidential candidate since “Odette” hit who has actually visited Sipalay City to see the situation on the ground and deliver aid, said Lizares, who thanked the vice president for her help.
From Sipalay City the vice president traveled to Barangay Mambugsay in Cauayan town to turn over shelter starter kits to 45 families and was met by cheering supporters in pink.
Former Negros Occidental Gov. Rafael Coscolluela, provincial chair of the Robredo People’s Council, said a lot of people from the private sector provide aid for the typhoon victims through the vice president because they know that it will reach the people.
Shortly after the typhoon hit Negros Occidental he got a call from the Robredo asking for an update on the situation and asking how she could help, Coscolluela said.
Robredo visited Kabankalan City and Himamaylan City in Negros Occidental to deliver food assistance in December and left a team to visit other typhoon-hit areas to determine their needs, he said.
The vice president wanted to ensure that sturdier houses are built for the typhoon victims and tied up with NVC, because of its track record at delivering projects for the poor, he added.
Also receive housing materials from Robredo are 50 families from Kabankalan City, 45 from Hinoba-an and 30 families each from Candoni and Ilog towns, Coscolluela said.*