Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Running Priest Consecrates Estero People During Mama Mary’s birthday
September 8, 2010
Over 200 urban poor people living along esteros joined Fr. Robert Reyes today in Brgy. 412 Legarda St. Estero De San Miguel, Manila for the celebration of Mama Mary’s birthday. The running priest brought with him the Cart of Mary, popularly known as “Kariton ni Maria, Kariton ng Maralita,” which is now in its 11th year. This Cart of Mary is a constant reminder to the poor that they are not alone in times of misery.
Fr. Reyes consecrated estero residents living in Estero de San Sebastian and Estero De San Miguel, asking the Virgin Mary to act on the people’s prayer that the government imposes a three to four month moratorium on demolition and approves their proposed on-site development. Estero people posted their prayers on the cart of Mary using colorful paper.
According to Urban Poor Associates (UPA) studies there are 80,000 families living along the waterways who are in danger of being evicted. These estero residents had sought the help of Palafox Architects to create a housing design, which can be built along esteros without interfering with the rehabilitation of the waterways. Today’s activity the people say will not only strengthen their faith and camaraderie but also their resolve to resist eviction in a non violent way and to press for their housing rights.
Fr. Reyes, a spiritual adviser of UPA, said, “this celebration calls on the government agencies involved in the cleaning of waterways to find the appropriate and sensible solution to a perceived problem.”
“The estero people propose a solution to the government that does not need to throw them in distant places. The people believe that the government can adopt it. I am one with them in calling on the government to listen to them and to consider that their housing proposal could be an answer to the overdue land and housing problem in the country,” he added.
UPA believes that this housing proposal can be done in our country just as it has been done along the stretch of Bangkok Bang Bua Canal, where about 3, 400 families benefited from slum upgrading. The Bangkok Canal peoples’ networks demonstrated to the city that these canal-side communities are not polluters but are an important asset to the city, and they developed a long-term comprehensive solution to problems of land and housing in Thai Cities.
For her part, Felomina Cinco, president of Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Legarda and residing along the stretch of Estero de San Miguel said, “For the past weeks, we were negotiating with different government agencies including the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) but it seems that our housing proposal fell on deaf ears. My prayer to our Virgin Mary is that we will be saved from the looming demolition and that we could live here along the esteros until our old age.”
The group is also anticipating a meeting with Pres. Noynoy Aquino this month to listen to the problems of estero dwellers who are his neighbors outside Malacañang Palace. They hope that P-Noy will support their housing proposal. -30-