Former settlers move into SMC-provided housing

The Philippine Star
Former settlers move into SMC-provided housing
Fr. Ramon Garcia blesses the house of a newly resettled family in Barangay San Nicolas in Bulakan, Bulacan on Oct. 2.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Former settlers of a municipality in Bulacan have moved into newly built homes provided to them by San Miguel Corp. (SMC).

Requests for house blessing from these settlers in Barangay Taliptip, Bulakan, Bulacan, have thus risen, according to the parish priest serving areas in and around the future site of the country’s largest and most modern international airport.

The development came after SMC’s early completion of new houses and lots for and distribution of financial assistance to the former settlers from Taliptip, most of whom used to live in shanties exposed to the elements, even as the private fish ponds they used to work for had long closed down.

Some 16 new houses were blessed recently in barangays Sta. Ana, Bambang, Tibig and San Nicolas and other nearby areas in Bulakan town, according to Fr. Ramon Garcia, parish priest of Nuestra Señora de Salambao Mission Parish in Obando.

Garcia, whose parish covers Taliptip, including Sitio Dapdap, Capol, Bunutan, Camansi, Kinse and Pariahan, admitted that there has been an overwhelming number of requests for house blessing from former Taliptip residents but he has had to limit these due to restrictions brought on by the pandemic.

For the houses he has blessed so far, the priest said his key takeaway from new homeowners is their sense of gratitude.

“The overwhelming feedback is being thankful first and foremost to God, pagsasalamat sa Diyos. Kaya po nagpa-bless ng bahay is to recognize God’s favor to them. Ito yung recognition na everything comes from God, kaya dapat sila magpa-bless, dapat sila magpasalamat,” he said.

“I also advised them to always be thankful, have faith and not lose hope and always believe in the grace of God,” he added.

Meanwhile, SMC credited the Diocese of Malolos for its role in the successful relocation of former Taliptip residents, who now also have better prospects for the future because of new job and livelihood opportunities provided by the company.

The company, which is investing some P740 billion to build the “game-changer” Manila International Airport project, said it was the diocese, headed by Archbishop Dennis Villarojo, that interceded for the settlers and communicated to the company their wishes.

“We promised Bishop Dennis Villarojo that we would prioritize helping Taliptip residents move to safer locations and have houses to call their own. We also said we would make sure they will have a better future. With guidance and support from Bishop Villarojo, we have been able to deliver on these promises, and we’re committed to continue taking care of residents from Taliptip,” SMC president Ramon S. Ang said.

After dialogues with residents, most of them preferred to avail themselves of financial assistance in order to build their own houses, even as SMC still provided relocation to titled houses and lots in safer areas in Bulacan, for those who chose this option.

“Many have completed construction of their new houses. A good number of former settlers have also gone back to their provinces to build their houses and start anew there. Some have used part of the financial assistance to put up small businesses, or send their children to school. We are in touch with them and we continue to monitor their progress,” Ang said.

Upon Villarojo’s instruction, SMC also distributed the appraised cash value of abandoned chapels in Sitio Pariyahan, Sitio Dapdap, Sitio Bunutan and Sitio Capol.

“We continue to seek the guidance of the good bishop in all our initiatives and we promise that we will continue to care for them and attend to their needs. Our support goes beyond financial assistance as we have launched skills and livelihood training programs in cooperation with (the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) to equip former Taliptip residents for jobs at the airport project, and to start their own livelihoods,” And said.

Villarojo has instructed Garcia to continue attending to the needs of parishioners who have moved to other areas but are still within his parochial jurisdiction.

SMC also works with the Diocese of Malolos, through Social Action Group, for the regular distribution of nutribuns to poor communities in Bulacan.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, SMC has mounted the largest food donation drive in the country, with donations reaching over half a billion pesos.

Recently, it initiated a new program to distribute energy- and nutrient-packed nutribuns to the poorest communities, utilizing its Petron gas stations as staging areas and enlisting the help of charitable institutions.

Since Sept. 22, SMC, through the Diocese of Malolos, has been distributing nutribuns in Sitio Tramo, Sto. Cristo in Pulilan, Bulacan; Lumang Bayan in Plaridel, Bulacan; Malolos, Bulacan; Dap-dap, riverside in Plaridel, Bulacan and Plaridel Dike in Plaridel, Bulacan.

Apart from Malolos, other pilot areas where SMC now distributes nutribuns are Caloocan, Tondo and Payatas in Metro Manila.

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