Tuesday, October 9, 2012

UP-ALL Consultation on Flood Management Master Plan

Urban Poor Associates
25-A Mabuhay Street, Brgy. Central, Q.C.          Telefax: 4264118          Tel.: 4264119 / 4267615
Ref:  Princess Asuncion      Mobile phone: 09081967450     http://urbanpoorassociates.blogspot.com

09 October 2012. In line with the celebration of World Habitat Month, Urban Poor Alliance (UP-ALL) held a forum on the new government flood control master plan on Tuesday at the Audio-Visual Room of the Social Development Complex, Ateneo De Manila University Campus.

Engr. Lydia Aguilar, Technical Project Coordinator and Director Patrick Gatan, Head of Major Flood Control Projects of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) explained the plan. World Bank and Australian Aid, funder of the Flood control master plan were also represented. Professionals in housing and urban planning also took part in the event. Most of the 120 participants were urban poor leaders and NGOs working with the urban poor.

The flood control master plan will be one of the most expensive public works of the administration and it will involve relocating thousands of urban poor families in the course of implementing the plan.

UP-ALL a nationwide organization composed of POs, including riverside settlers and support NGOs, has been talking with the government, notable the Late Secretary Jesse Robredo, on the 50 billion fund for on-site/in-city/ near site relocation. Through this multi-sectoral consultation they engaged government to integrate the on-site housing project for estero dwellers.

Filomena Cinco, president of Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Legarda said, “This proposed flood control master plan arouses controversy among the poor as it will affect 773,000 informal settlers in the National Capital Region and 294,000 Laguna Lake settlers. This is a huge project that must involve urban poor settlers in planning. Just like our areas that are due for on-site housing. This kind of forum gave us venue to air our concerns. ”

After the DPWH presentation, at the meeting Jenny David of Alyansa ng mga Pamayanan sa Manggahan Floodway read the UP-All statement.

The statement read, “Kasama ng pamahalaan ang UP-ALL sa layuning maibsan ang pagbabaha sa Metro Manila. Hindi kami tutol sa kaunlaran na tinatanaw ng Metro Manila Flood Management Master ng Plan ng DPWH. Naniniwala kaming kung maisasakatuparan nang ayon sa plano at tamang proseso, ang mga proyektong inilatag ng DPWH ay hindi lamang makakapagbawas ng pagbabaha, makakapagliligtas din ang mga ito ng maraming buhay. Gayunpaman, bilang kumakatawan sa mga pamilya at komunidad sa mga tinagurian “danger areas” na target na linisin upang bigyang-daan ang mga nasabing proyekto, kami ay nagtatanong: may malinaw na bang plano para sa mga maaapektuhang pamilya?

The statement call for clear and acceptable plan for the affected families; concrete Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) for each community that needs to be relocated;  Identify areas for possible on-site development and  lands in the cities that can be used as in-city resettlement to avoid off-city relocation.


Friday, October 5, 2012

UPALL Consultation on Flood Management Master Plan

Urban Poor Associates
 25-A Mabuhay Street, Brgy. Central, Q.C.            Tel.: 4264118 / 4264119 / 4267615              Fax: 4264118
Ref:  Princess L. Asuncion          Mobile phone: 0908 1967450          http://urbanpoorassociates.blogspot.com
Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalist

As urban poor people celebrate World Habitat Month, Urban Poor Alliance (UP All) will organize a forum on the new government flood control master plan. It will take place on October 9, Tuesday 9:00AM-5:00PM at the Audio Visual Room of the Social Development Complex, Ateneo De Manila University Campus.

The flood control master plan will be one of the most expensive public works of the administration. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) identified a total of 735,000 informal settlers who will be affected by the project.

The forum will be attended by  five groups—government officials headed by the DPWH who will explain the plan and international aid groups; professionals in housing and urban planning , urban poor leaders; and NGOs working with  the urban poor will ask questions about the plan and make suggestions.

The forum aims to help people learn from one another and widen understanding of the problems—social, economic and political—that are inevitable in a project of such magnitude. It will also seek meaningful solutions or approaches possible in a win-win context. The meeting will issue a joint statement.

Date: October 9, 2012 (Tuesday)

Time: 9:00AM-5:00PM

Venue: Audio Visual Room of the Social Development Complex, Ateneo De Manila University Campus.

Please Cover.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The women of Pescador

By Denis Murphy
1:52 am | Monday, October 1st, 2012

he women of Pescador in Navotas attempt to stand straight up with their children, almost defiantly, we might say, in their world of poverty and abasement. It is hard not to talk dramatically about such women, even though hundreds of thousands of similarly poor women do it every day, and succeed to a great extent.

There were six of us—Fr. Jorge Anzorena, my wife Alice, Ate Cita Vendiola, Luz Sudueste, Benjo Raposa and myself. We wanted to see if our nongovernment organization could help the people there. We found small, thin women selling miserably little fish that looked more like strips of gum than something to eat.

The women must have been beautiful once, but now their faces are wrinkled and their teeth are missing. They are from the 150 or so families in the Pescador neighborhood who live in temporary housing along both sides of R-10.

They live in tents that are packed close together, worn and dirty on the outside. But inside the tents are clean, and all the space is carefully used. Some families have only three or four square meters, just enough room for a family-size bed, where their whole life of sleeping, eating, loving, studying and playing is carried out.

The families have been in this emergency housing for at least a year, since Typhoons “Pedring” and “Gener” and a community fire destroyed their old homes. How long should emergency housing last?

It’s a bad situation. The government promised some families space in a new tenement. Other families are willing to live on stilts in old fishponds in an area called Tanza. Maybe the people and the government can look into that possibility. A few years ago, the Pros Architects designed a village on stilts for the very same place. It can work. Haven’t tribal people lived graciously on stilts in the southern Philippines?

The women also hope the government will give them loans with which they can start small businesses, such as selling fish.

We had the impression that the women had done just about all they could do by themselves. We asked them what lessons they had learned that they could share with us. One of the leaders said, “We must go on and on, no matter what. Life must go on.” We asked, “Are you angry with God, perhaps?” Another woman said, “If God were not here taking care of us, we would not be here.”

It was a Saturday, so after a long talk the people invited Father Jorge to come back on Sunday and say Mass for them. He agreed, so on Sunday we were back and had a very simple, prayerful Mass in the middle of the tents. The altar was an old piece of plywood. A row of small girls sat in front, looking very intently at Father Jorge and myself. We were being judged. The adults stood behind, perhaps 50 all together, mostly women.

When the time came for the sermon. Benjo and Alice talked.

“Just encourage them,” Father Jorge whispered to Benjo. “Tell them God loves them and is very pleased with them. That’s enough.”

The women were very grateful. They thanked Father Jorge for having “noticed them” and for taking time to visit them. Maybe they hadn’t expected anyone’s attention in their lives. One older woman put her arms around him and cried softly.

The women may not be beautiful as they perhaps once were, but the children are, especially when they are pouring water over themselves and their young bodies gleam in the sunlight. They are beautiful, too, in their quiet moments: Long before the Mass started, a little girl seated on one of the chairs before us was telling her little brother to be quiet. “Sssshhh,” she told him with a very stern look. There was no one else around.
We had the impression the women live for their children.

These women are a good example of how God wants men and women to live in this world. It is described in the Prophet Micah (6:8): “Do good, love tenderly and walk humbly before your God.” There are many women like them among the poor. There are men, too, of course, but it is the women we met that weekend.

If the reader is fed up with the problems of Manila or feels somehow uneasy with or threatened by urban poor people, please visit Pescador and talk to the women. I think it will help. It helped us.

Denis Murphy works with the Urban Poor Associates (urbanpoorassociates@ymail.com).

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