100 families need new housesBy Connie E. Fernandez
CEBU CITY—At least 100 families from five coastal towns in MacArthur town in Eastern Samar are asking for help after their houses were either destroyed or damaged by the earthquake that shook Eastern Visayas on Aug. 31.
The tremor destroyed 36 houses and damaged 66 others in Barangays 2, 5, 6, 7 and Sta. Cruz in MacArthur, the worst-hit municipality in Eastern Samar.
Mayor Jaime Ty told the Inquirer in a phone interview that his people were seeking construction materials from the national government so they can rebuild their houses.
A fifth-class municipality (annual income: P15 million-P25 million), MacArthur doesn’t have enough funds to shoulder the entire cost of rebuilding the people’s houses, Ty said.
So far, the local government has distributed 2,500 shingles to families who lost their houses, the mayor said.
More roofing materials would be ordered after officials complete an assessment of the damage left by the quake.
There has been talk about the possibility of relocating the families, but they are pleading that they be allowed to rebuild their homes where they stood before the quake, he added.
He said the people didn’t want to live far from their fishing areas, their source of livelihood.
“They have been living there for years. It is unfortunate that this (earthquake) happened,” Ty said.
The people who lost their houses are temporarily staying in the houses of their relatives, he said.
Others are occupying tents made of tarpaulin materials that were earlier distributed by Plan Philippines.
Many other families have remained in their damaged houses because they don’t have any other place to go, the mayor said.
Jose Barcil, 42, a fisherman of Barangay 2 who also works as a utility worker of the municipal government, is staying with his wife, Marife, and four children in their shanty that no longer has walls.
He expressed fears that their hut would collapse anytime because it had tilted when the quake occurred.
“We know that it is dangerous to stay in the house, but ma’am, we have nowhere else to go,” Barcil said in a phone interview with the Inquirer on Wednesday.
He said he had to forgo the birthday celebration of his eldest son, John Marco, who turned 8 on Saturday, because the family’s attention is fixed on having their house repaired.
Barcil said his family used to cook noodles and treat John Marco’s friends to snacks during his birthday.
Now, the family cannot afford even the simplest of meals because whatever savings they have are reserved for repairing the house, he said.
He said he would ask a hardware store near his community to give him plywood on credit.
Barcil earns P5,000 a month as utility worker of the municipal government, which is barely enough to meet the needs of his family. He has four children—John Marco, 8; John Michael, 6; John Rey, 3; and Jane Muriel, 1.
Christina Balean and her husband, Ronaldo, also refused to leave their damaged house because it is close to their places of work.
The couple built a house near the shore in Barangay 7. Christina works as a barangay secretary while Ronaldo is a pedicab driver.
Christina said their children are now staying with her mother to keep them safe just in case their already tilting house collapses.
Even amid the aftershocks, she said the family was refusing to leave the house because they have nowhere to go.