GIVING HOPE, BUILDING HOMES: VP Leni Robredo’s BAHAYANIHAN Partnership with the University of Nueva
Paul Michael Romer, the 2018 Nobel Prize awardee for Economics said that a “crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” It should be an opportunity and a catalyst for change. Bicol is a paradise for typhoons. In the last quarter of 2020, a parade of typhoons- Rolly, Quinta and Ulysses found their way to the region wrecking homes and crops especially in Camarines Sur and Albay exacerbating the already difficult situation due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Bicolanos are known for their resiliency to rise after every crisis. This is because of the many generous individuals and organizations who immediately respond to help those who had been displaced. The University of Nueva Caceres aims to bring the University closer to the community it serves by using the knowledge of the University to give solutions to needs of these communities. Thus, the University immediately accepted the partnership offered by the Office of the Vice President Leni Robredo to work together to permanently relocate families who live in coastal barangays of Lupi, Camarines Sur who are in constant threat of ocean surge and typhoons to a safer and higher ground.
Under this partnership, over a hundred new houses will rise on safer land for residents of Lupi, Camarines Sur, under the BAHAYanihan initiative of the Office of Vice President Leni Robredo, in partnership with the University of Nueva Caceres—through the Research, Extension and Linkages Department, the College of Engineering and Architecture—and the local government of Lupi, led by UNC alumna Hon. Mayor Lilian “Gagay” Matamorosa.
The beneficiaries of the 119 housing units are residents in the danger zone along the Poblacion Riverbanks, who were displaced anew following the devastation of successive typhoons that hit the Bicol Region in November 2020. Construction has begun in early January 2021, and is expected to be completed within a three-month period. In the true spirit of “bayanihan”, the residents themselves are part of construction efforts.
This initiative is yet another showcase of the power of collaboration with the private sector. BAHAYanihan is funded through the help of many Filipinos who pitched in through the online donation drive launched by the Kaya Natin Movement, as well as other private donors. The housing design was thoroughly planned by UNC’s Architecture Department, while the construction of the houses is supervised and managed by the Engineering Department, notably by volunteers from Civil Engineering faculty members and students. The Research Center of UNC helped identify household members who will undergo training in masonry and carpentry works. To ensure the sustainability of the initiative, the University Extension Department will also provide a series of livelihood trainings to help the families start over.
The LGU Lupi, under Mayor Gagay’s leadership, drives the volunteer workforce in the ongoing construction. “We are very fortunate to have this project realized with the help of UNC. This project is a holistic approach to create sustainable living and supports economic and community growth,” she emphasized.
This collaborative project is just one of the innovative ways that the University of Nueva Caceres is doing to bring the university within reach and bounds of the community through the Towns and Gowns approach with LGUs. Utilizing the university’s research and knowledge will lead to concrete solutions to community needs. This is exactly what the partnership is first thought of and is evolving into. This is indeed a fulfilling endeavor of collaboration and partnership, and more empowering, since this is a manifestation of Filipinos extending help to fellow kababayans in giving them the hope of owning a place which they can now call home.