Tacloban City — In the afternoon of October 23, 2014, droves of teens and young adults headed to the Balyuan Grounds in Tacloban City despite gray skies, puddled pavements, and light but steady rain for Kabataan: Kasugbong Ha Pag-uswag (Youth: Partners in Development) – a youth jam for safe and resilient cities.
The youth jam, organized by the city government in collaboration with UN-Habitat and UNICEF, was a one-day series of activities designed for Tacloban’s youth to express themselves in terms of urban issues and needs relevant to them and what they felt empowered to do about these issues and needs.
Among the initial series of activities, which started around two in the afternoon, was Project DIY. Participants were told to bring old, worn-out items to be made over with a spread of various art and craft materials made available to them. Volunteer facilitators from Tacloban youth groups YHES and PYAP were at the ready to assist participants in painting and embellishing their old shoes, shirts, bags, and other knickknack just waiting for a new lease on life.
Sharing a tent with the Project DIY area was the Chika Muna Ball Pit.
“Chika muna” loosely translates to “let’s chat a while” and was a fun and casual way to engage the youth in a dialogue about questions and issues that the city’s youth groups themselves came up with, among which were the following:
What was your first greatest pleasure after Typhoon Haiyan? If you were a lawmaker, what law would you pass for the betterment of the family? What are top five things you wish you could do with your mother?
Some yards away under another tent, people were busily hunched over chalk and black board for the Photo Pledge Photobooth. People had their pictures taken – complete with wacky props and wigs – holding up black board signs on which they scribbled the small but personal efforts they promised to make for the betterment of their family, community, or city.
These tent activities went on until about four in the afternoon, after which a flash mob bust out of the crowd and started dancing to hiphop music throbbing from the sound system.
This signaled the start of the program and ABS-CBN’s Cholo Guy, the event’s emcee, urged people to start settling into the seats across the stage.
Mayor Alfred Romualdez, decked in a bright orange wind breaker, walked onto the stage sans umbrella to address the youth with a few words on resilience and the paradigm shift that was needed to thrive amid climate change. City councillor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez spoke next on the value and relevance of such youth-oriented events, stressing the youth’s role in securing Tacloban’s future. UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager Cristopher Rollo also took to the stage later on to discuss the youth’s role in resilience-building.
The most anticipated part of the event, however, was the unveiling of the freedom walls, where the event attendees were invited to grab a paint brush or marker and express themselves on the walls, guided by two fill-in-the-blank statements: “As a youth of Tacloban, what I need from my city is…” and “As a youth of Tacloban, I can help my city by…”
Student bands and dance troupes performed as work on the walls continued well into the damp sunset, proving that the youth want to be more than bystanders in their city’s development, and that if given the opportunity, they would gladly make themselves heard, seen, and understood rain or shine.
Roxas City, October 29 2014 — Last September 30, a team of homeowners’ association (HOA) officers and community mobilizers under the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) Community Mortgage Programme(CMP) in Cagayan de Oro (CdeO) flew to Roxas City for a learning event conducted by UN-Habitat. The two-day activity was aimed at priming the HOAs in their adoption of a community-driven post-disaster shelter recovery.
Thirteen HOA officers and three community mobilizers from various CdeO-based NGOs were taught on the “People’s Process”, which is the driving principle behind the recently launched Post-Yolanda Support for Safer Homes and Settlements Project being implemented in in the provinces of Capiz and Iloilo, particularly in the municipalities of Estancia, Panay, and Pontevedra and in Roxas City.
Having been successfully implemented in several countries, notably in Indonesia, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the People’s Process is strongly advocated by UN-Habitat Philippines in the project funded by the Government of Japan to sustain post-disaster recovery in the local context.
Accustomed to conventional contracting, the Kagayanons were introduced to the Community Contracting scheme employed in the project, where HOAs lead and manage the shelter rebuilding operations, from procurement of materials to overseeing the timely completion of houses. Further in the symposium, the delegates were oriented on the construction and financial management systems of the project.
‘Long, winding road’
The following day, the participants toured the typhoon-resilient pilot house launched last August 7 at Villa Carmel Phase II HOAI in Brgy. Baybay, Roxas City, and Pawa HOAI in, Panay—UN-Habitat’s biggest partner community yet, with 70 households eligible for shelter reconstruction.
The peak of the event, however, was the open forum which enabled delegates to air their frustrations with the encumbering ‘bureaucracies’ in offsite shelter recovery. Nearly three years have passed since Tropical Storm Washi (Sendong in the Philippines) but still, many of the internally-displaced are still treading the ‘long, winding road’ to a safer and better home. Some reported that this has inadvertently led to a major burnout among members and leaders, according to some.
Capiz HOAI officers present during the event also shared the challenges they’ve experienced in community-led rebuilding such as indifference among officers and members, arrears, and site issues, and the corresponding steps they took to overcome them.
As a fitting conclusion to the event, the participants did a SWOT analysis to help in the realization of their shared dream: to live in a safe, sustainable and resilient community.