ILOILO CITY -- Iloilo province, particularly northern Iloilo, has become better five years after the onslaught of "Yolanda," the deadliest typhoon to hit the country on Nov. 8, 2013.
Recognizing the assistance poured by national government agencies, private groups, both local and foreign, and a number of philanthropic individuals, Provincial Administrator Raul Banias said the province has already recovered quite well, both in infrastructure and livelihood of the affected families.
“Five years ago, we were devastated but Ilonggos are very resilient and we have bounced back from the devastation of 'Yolanda'. Northern Iloilo has really become better now that if you happen to observe when you have been there, most of the houses of the residents have roofs made of iron,” Banias said in an interview Thursday.
Northern Iloilo covers the towns of Ajuy, Barotac Viejo, Lemery, Balasan, Batad, Carles, Concepcion, Estancia, Sara and San Dionisio.
According to Banias, many government agencies have diverted their priorities to the typhoon-affected areas in the province, bringing in a number of projects to restore what had been destroyed.
He noted that the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) of the Department of Agriculture prioritized the rehabilitation of roads damaged by the typhoon.
He recalled that the national government also allotted PHP41 billion for the resettlement of ‘Yolanda’-affected families in the province, which is continuously being implemented by the National Housing Authority’s (NHA) office here.
Just last month, he said, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), through its Restoration Assistance for Yolanda (RAY) program, also released some funds to the typhoon-hit villages of the province for the implementation of small projects, such as day care and health centers, multi-purpose buildings, and barangay halls.
Banias, however, could not recall the exact amount intended for these projects.
He also mentioned their immediate response to restore the livelihood of northern Iloilo’s fisherfolk.
Banias said they have launched the "Adopt a Fisherman" project, calling in donors to provide boats to affected fisherfolk.
He recognized the aid from international foreign government and non-government organizations (NGOs) and individuals, either financially or through material things.
“They have responded beyond our expectation,” Banias said.
He said the local NGO, One Meal Foundation, headed by Ilongga businesswoman and civic leader Teresa Chan, donated about 9,000 boats to fisherfolk in northern Iloilo worth PHP15,000 to PHP18,000 each or about PHP60 million in total.
“Up to now, these boats may have changed their color because fisherfolk have repainted them but there are still thousands of them operating and helping the fishermen in their daily needs,” he said. (PNA)