Security, privacy and a solid roof has one resident dancing for joy in Leyte

Published: 31 July 2014 15:55 CET

by Kate Marshall, IFRC

‘Samayaw ako hin kalipay!’ [I’m dancing for joy] Florentina Magayonis exclaims as she sways to her favourite Latino tune.

Florentina is showing off her dance moves in the recently completed Red Cross concrete and timber house she shares with her son in the barangay (village) of Capahuan, Tabontabon, Leyte.

The spritely 77-year-old gets up at the crack of dawn and takes a brisk walk to the rice fields. On the way home she pauses to gather okra beans and bitter melons. By the time she gets home her son, Laudino Marbello, is getting ready for work.

Laudino, 60, usually gets paid 100 pesos a day as a farm labourer. At this time of year he would normally be tilling the soil ready to plant rice. But as he has building experience, he took a part-time job with the Red Cross construction team in Tabontabon. All labourers are paid the equivalent of the minimum wage of 300 pesos a day.

Laudino and Florentina are among  the very first Red Cross shelter beneficiaries in Leyte. Their 24 sq m home boasts a separate indoor bathroom and toilet and outside septic tank – a rare luxury in a village where the average house only has an outside squat toilet with little or no protection from the elements.

"We’re very happy with the house as it has a strong concrete floor," explains Florentina, and Laudino nods in agreement. "Our old house had a leaky roof and a worn out bamboo floor and the latrine only had a bit of old tarp over it. Our new toilet is much better and we have enough space to have a bath in privacy."

Leyte has a target of 6,000 shelters and 9,000 households to receive shelter repair assistance (each household receives 10,000 pesos conditional cash to be spent on shelter material and 10 corrugated iron sheets). The SRA distributions will start in mid-August.  

In Tabontabon Municipality, more than 200 ‘core’ shelters have been built of the 865 household target.  Surrounding municipalities are at different stages of construction and CGI distribution.

IFRC shelters are termed ‘core’ because they have a concrete core structure that anchors the building to the ground. The timber upper frame and roof beams can easily be replaced if damaged in a typhoon or storm.

In nearby Mering,  it is easy to spot the new Red Cross houses dotted among the paddy fields. In contrast to the ones in Capahuan, they are sporting bright red CGI roofs.  

There is a real buzz in Mering as construction crews set to work hammering, mixing concrete, sawing and plastering.  Site foreman Edgar Bulagsac shows off his wall chart displaying the number of houses that have been completed or partially finished.

"The construction is faster now – it is taking us between four or five days to build a house," Edgar explains. "We’ve already finished 140 houses here and we’ve got a few more to go."

Meanwhile, back in Capahuan, Laudino has just finished painting the plywood walls. The shelter is beginning to look like a home.