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Prime Town Phase 1 in barangay Pago, Tanauan, Leyte looks like a new community bustling with life. There are sarisari stores and barbecue stalls in every corner. Several pedicabs as well as bicycles are parked outside the houses. Children are enjoying the colorful slide, seesaw and swings in the playground. Right next to the playground is a livelihood center — a hall with a veranda — where people usually congregate for trainings. The center is run by Gawad Kalinga and several private sector partners.

Several women are hard at work in the vegetable gardens behind the center where they grow rows of pinakbet and chopsuey vegetables as well as lettuce and peppers. Their gardening work every morning and afternoon is something that the women look forward to everyday as a “relaxing time”. While the husbands, most of whom are fishermen, leave the gardening work to the women, they can be relied on to help out when needed (such as putting up trellises for climbing vegetables).

Resettled Typhoon Yolanda survivors from the coastal barangay of San Roque in Tanauan populate Prime Town Phase 1. Construction of more than half — 199 housing units (measuring 22 sq m each) — of 381 houses has been completed. Between 98-110 houses are now occupied.

“When Typhoon Ruby passed by Leyte (in December 2014), we were already living here and were not worried at all,” says Emelda Navarro, a fish vendor who now lives in the resettlement site.

The local government units (provincial and municipal) helped to organize 17 residents as active members of Prime Town Phase 1 into the Seasider Integrated Compact Farmers’ Association (SICFA), which is now registered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The association was trained by the Department of Agriculture on vegetable farming and, in February 2015, they were given vegetable seeds to start planting. The LGUs provided them with fertilizer and mulching materials to prevent weeds.

The association sold their first harvest to the community for P14,700. Since then, the gardens’ produce of fresh and organically grown vegetables have always sold out. Five percent of the harvest also takes care of the land lease, an agreement they entered into for three years.

“We did not know anything about gardening before. We have always lived on the seaside. But now we have a vegetable garden that provides sustenance for our families,” says Marissa Solidad, treasurer of SICFA.
The gardens’ earnings give the association a revolving fund they can borrow from for their urgent needs and emergencies. The women also plan to develop proposals for improving their vegetable gardens as well as exploring other livelihood opportunities in the coming days.[/fusion_text]

For updates on Typhoon Yolanda permanent housing program, visit http://yolanda.neda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/NHA1.pdf