200 houses in the works for ‘Sendong’ victimsPhilippine Daily Inquirer
Berjaya Phils., a local unit of Malaysian conglomerate Berjaya Group, broke ground last week with Gawad Kalinga (GK) for the 200 houses it had donated to Tropical Storm “Sendong” victims in Cagayan de Oro.
The houses will be built on land provided by the city headed by Mayor Vicente Emano. The community will be called Berjaya GK Village, Berjaya said in a press statement.
A typical house with 22 square meters built up plus a provision for loft sits on a 35-sq m lot. All the units will be given to beneficiaries, chosen from a list prepared by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, for free.
Paul Soo, Berjaya country head, said at the groundbreaking ceremonies that all the units should be ready for turnover by May to allow the beneficiaries to return to normal life soonest.
“Our chairman, Tan Sri Dato´ Seri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, believes that housing is the most needed by the affected families because it gives them a new beginning and hope,” Soo said.
He added that Berjaya has no business presence at all in Visayas and Mindanao. “It was actually him who called me when he saw the news reports on Sendong last December and gave instructions to help the victims return to normal life by giving them houses they can be resettled in soonest,” Soo said.
He added that Berjaya, the first foreign company to donate houses to Sendong victims in the city, gave the donation top priority that documentation with GK and the release of the funds were completed in a week’s time.
Berjaya Phils employs around 800 people and comprises Luzon-based businesses such as Papa John’s Pizza, Berjaya Hotel on Makati Avenue, the Philippine Gaming Management Corporation, Friendster, Loadcentral and Money Online. Berjaya was the first Malaysian group to heavily invest in the Philippines way back in 1994.
Mayor Emano thanked Soo and Berjaya for the donation, calling the houses “the most colorful and beautiful” he had seen.
He promised to fast-track the installation of water and electric services to the village to make life for the beneficiaries as comfortable as possible.
Luis Oquinena, GK executive director, said of the project: “We will make history here,” adding that the houses are something the beneficiaries can be proud of.
GK volunteers immediately went to work after the groundbreaking, aware that they have a tight deadline to finish 200 units in three months’ time.