Guba is a Hiligaynon word used to describe something as either destroyed or damaged. At the time when typhoon Yolanda ravaged the Western Visayan countryside last November 13, 2013, one could say that the thousands of houses unlucky enough to lay on its path were rendered guba.
Curiously, there is a village in the municipality of Pontevedra, Capiz called Barangay Guba. Just like all other barangays in the province, the village suffered heavily in terms of the number of houses damaged, as though being called Barangay Guba is not enough. Thus, within two years after the typhoon, non-government organizations mobilized their resources to rehabilitate, as well as, strengthen affected communities like Guba, hand in hand with the national government as it works its way towards “building back better.”
As part of its “Post-Yolanda Support for Safer Homes and Settlements,” the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) initiated the construction of permanent houses in Iloilo and Capiz on August 2014. Supporting this initiative were the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC). The Government of Japan also provided funding support totaling some $2.5 million.
The result of this intervention was the construction of communities such as Belle Village III in Barangay Guba. The village consists of 50 one-storey houses with blue-painted roofs and exterior walls. Each was constructed using concrete and bamboo, providing for a perfect balance between protection and adequate ventilation. Aside from creating a comfortable living space for beneficiary families, the houses also serve a functional purpose within the community during dire times.
“At the height of typhoon Ruby, the people from the other barangays used the houses as makeshift evacuation centers,” said Grazelle Grace B. Mayo, an official from the municipal government of Pontevedra. She acknowledged the efforts of UN Habitat and other stakeholders in providing affected families with permanent houses and lots which the beneficiaries acquired via the community mortgage program of the SHFC.
Now, Barangay Guba is a thriving community complete with water and electricity. The members of its homeowners’ association have also put up a community garden and established their own sources of income to pay off their mortgages. In effect, the people in Belle Village III have learned to look out for each other and rediscover the essence of bayanihan in times of need.
Through NGOs such as UN Habitat coordinating effectively with national and international partners, small communities such as Baragay Guba have become safer and stronger than ever before.
So, now may be the right time to change the village’s name. How does Barangay Tibay sound? (Yolanda PMO/Reyshimar Arguelles)###