Refuge and Resilience: An ARCORES Home Rehabilitation Project Series

Story & Photos By: Georgene Quilaton-Tambiga

After decades of raising eight children, she finally landed a job as maintenance personnel of Colegio de Sto. Tomas-Recoletos (CST-R) in San Carlos City, Philippines in 2011. Her job order was then contractual and was commissioned by the school Parents & Teachers Association (PTA).

Then in 2020, after nearly ten years, she finally became a regular employee enjoying equal rights and benefits as the rest of the school’s workforce.

In December 2021, when typhoon Odette (International name: Rai) struck San Carlos City, her home, merely made out of light materials and erected beside the national highway on a government land, was severely damaged.

Victoria Salumag, 59, CST-R maintenance personnel, is the recipient of ARCORES International’s Home Rehabilitation Project that aims to help families build typhoon-and-disaster resilient homes.

Refuge During Flood

During the ocular inspections, Manang Vic (“Manang” is a Filipino polite name for the elderly women) showed how her family was not able to completely repair the damaged walls of her home after the typhoon and how her children and grandchildren make do with the one remaining room upstairs and the other one near their dining-living area. But she also gratefully showed how her husband and son were able to patch up the kitchen’s roofing using the four sheets of galvanized iron from ARCORES International’s first implementation of the rehabilitation project right after the typhoon struck.

Being on the highest point of Lower Hacienda Filomena, Barangay I, San Carlos City, Manang Vic’s home had always been a refuge for her neighbors during heavy rain and flooding. The area has been long declared as flood prone being just a few meters away from the river.

Building Anew

But that refuge is under threat of being relocated as the national government continues to expand the nautical highway. An engineer from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) disclosed that in the next fiscal year with new infrastructure projects to be rolled out, the Salumag home is under threat of getting demolished.

But with the solidarity of ARCORES, Manang Vic’s family is now building a sturdy home on a land that her husband’s clan owns through the collaboration of her children Lovely and Jake who are also contributing labor and materials to ensure that the new home will withstand the lashes of climate change and erratic weather patterns.

“Nagpasalamat ko sa ARCORES nga sa kadaghan sa angay pod tabangan, ako ang napili. Giampo nako ni nga grasya nga maabot unta kay hawaonon na baya kami.” (I thank ARCORES because I was selected to receive and collaborate in this project despite the fact that there are so many who also deserve to get help. I prayed for this blessing after learning that our house will soon be demolished.) Manang Vic expressed her gratefulness to ARCORES after the construction materials worth Php 100,000 (1,700 Euros, approx.) were finally delivered last February 17, 2023 through the CST-R Community Extension & Development Office (CEDO).

It is Manang’s hope to continue rendering service at CST-R, the Recollect educational center that opened different opportunities for her and her family. She is now excited to finally settle in a home with complete walls and roof that could withstand strong winds.

A Grateful Heart. Victoria Salumag, 59, is an ARCORES collaborator who is now building her typhoon-and-disaster resilient home.
Claiming It. (L-R) Manang Vic with Rev. Fr. Monday Benjamine Edobor, OAR, VP for Identity, Formation & Mission, and Rev. Fr. Excel Saycon, OAR, CEDO Director, claims the construction materials from the warehouse. 
Checking Phase. Fr. Edobor checks the delivered construction materials right on the site of Manang Vic’s new home.
Building a Strong Foundation. Just two weeks after the materials were brought on site, the concrete blocks are beginning to take the shape of solid walls.
The layout of the house begins to take shape.
ARCORES Delivers. Manang Vic, still wearing her CST-R working t-shirt, and her husband, Rufu, standing behind welcomes the CST-R CEDO team to the site of her home during the materials delivery.
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