ORMOC CITY – A total of 188 families who were victims of the 6.5-magnitude earthquake that hit this city in 2017 have moved into their new homes in Ormoc Highlands Village in Brgy. Gaas.
A simple turnover rite was held at the site this October 23 attended by Mayor Richard Gomez, Vice Mayor Leo Carmelo Locsin Jr. and city councilors, including National Housing Authority (NHA) Leyte project manager Marilyn C. Lauzon.
Gomez asked the recipients to take good care of their homes which they will have the chance to own in 30 years. He added that together with his wife, Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, they will write NHA to give the houses for free to the recipients.
The mayor also said that the houses were bigger than the usual resettlement model, because it was the local government unit (LGU) of Ormoc that bought the land, and the savings generated on the part of the NHA developer was added to make the houses bigger.
Each unit of the rowhouses is 33 square meters with an 11 sq m loft, on a 50 sq m lot.
Since the property is owned by the LGU, Gomez also requested that the main roads are at least eight meters wide, and six meters wide on secondary roads. He explained to the recipients that this is to ensure that in case there is fire, fire trucks can easily get in the village.
NHA, on the other hand, will only cement six meters of the road as it is what is in their development plan.
Gomez said the LGU will cement the remaining two meters.
He also said that the rowhouses have ample parking spaces because he believes that sometime in the future, they might be able to own cars. However, he cautioned the recipients that they should only use the 50 square meters and not encroach on the sidewalks and the road.
Locsin, while inspecting a unit, also noted that the recipients can even modify the loft for more upper space.
Barangay councilor Rosalia Magno, a recipient who made the acceptance speech, cried as she recalled the earthquake that rocked their house in Sitio Maglahug, Brgy. Gaas.
She described their life then as “pobre pero haruray” (poor but comfortable), but it changed on July 6, 2017 when the earthquake struck at around 4:00 PM.
She recalls running outside their house and watched as it crumbled.
In the evening, together with neighbors, they were evacuated to the barangay poblacion where they slept on the cold road with a tarp for their floor under a hastily made tent. She thought they would never be able to recover.
However, she said, with the help of the LGU, the NHA and kind-hearted people who gave them relief when they needed it, they were able to recover. Now, she said, they had a “forever home.”
The cost of development of the Ormoc Highlands Village is PhP61 million.
Another 699 houses are being constructed in Brgy. Dolores for the relocation of earthquake victims from the villages of Lake Danao, Tongonan, and Milagro, totalling to PhP196 million. The LGU also purchased the land in Dolores.
To recall, the Ormoc Highlands is the same NHA housing project that became controversial after Gomez scolded the developer for using low quality hollow blocks. The situation was remedied, and the LGU’s engineering team was allowed to monitor the construction since Ormoc also has a stake in the village. (Ormoc CIO)
Photos courtesy of City Government of Ormoc