Nelson Lasacar was sitting in front of his daughter-in-law Rachel del Lumiguid and his grandchildren as they waited for a program to start in Brgy. Cogon Sur, Loon, Bohol. It was about the turn-over of the Core Shelter Program organized by Operation Sagip and the Municipality of Loon for Bohol Earthquake survivors in 2013.

His family experienced the 7.2 magnitude earthquake. He remembers it sharply. It was October 15, 2013. He said it felt like it was more than 7.2 magnitude. He said in Boholano, “The grounds were moving like this!” He showed his left hand and moved his fingers in a wave like motion that goes up and down.

“It was so scary and traumatizing. The aftershocks lasted for almost two hours,” Nelson recalled.

They were working on a rice field when it happened. Nelson said vehicles could not pass through the roads because of the uprooted trees and fallen rocks from the mountains. Rocks were formed as tall as a bungalow, it made the relief operation harder. People had to ride boats or walk long distances just to reach the stricken areas.

The earthquake tore their house down. Nelson and Rachel’s family had to live together in a tent house for three months. When they were given monetary assistance, Nelson used the money to buy pieces of plywood and roof to build their house since the tent was starting to dilapidate.

The program was short, simple yet meaningful. It was mounted on top of the hill, in front of the concrete houses lined up that overlooks the ocean. There was no stage where guests like Nelson, who gave a speech, can stand but a tent that served as a shade from the sun. The beams of the tent had balloons which children and even adults were fond of.

Nelson’s family going up to where the program was with the line of the housing units on their right

It was the day when Nelson, Rachel and 34 more families who live in temporary shelters and tent houses in the danger zones will get the keys of their new houses. Something they would call their own.

The ribbon cutting as Operation Sagip and partners start to turn-over the houses to the respective owners

Each house was built from concrete bricks with an area of 30 square meters. Inside are a sink, a toilet, and big windows. It will also be supplied with water and electricity.

Nelson opens the new door of their house with wife, and grandkids.

Nelson says, “This is where we will put the bedroom!”

The 36 houses were constructed from the donations given to Operation Sagip following the Bohol Earthquake. In partnership with the Municipality of Loon, the beneficiaries will also own the land where their houses are located.

“Sobra-sobrang kalipay! (I am very happy!)” Nelson said in Boholano. “I’ve seen the houses and they look so good! They are big and beautiful! We now feel safe with our new house because it is far from the sea,” he added. 

Rachel’s eldest, Cherry Jane checks out the window of their new house.

Rachel’s family will also have their own house. She said they are so excited especially her children and she’s pregnant with her third child. The new house and the baby are indeed two new blessings for them.

“We can live here all together!” Nelson kids his son’s family in Boholano as they visited their house at number 19. “Our house at number 13 can be our rest house instead!” The whole family went laughing, even the grandkids laughed at their Lolo’s joke.

Rachel with husband and kids in front of their new house. 

Just like Nelson’s family, everybody was happy as they opened their new doors; as if they were opening new opportunities. Everybody says a grateful ‘Thank you!’ in each time one passes by their house. Some even uttered that they no longer have to go abroad and work to buy a house for it is already in front of them.

Happy smiles from the beneficiaries, holding the keys to their new houses

The houses may just be empty structures at first but as each family start to move in, its emptiness becomes a home where each of them can start living a better life after the tragedy.

It might have taken five years to complete the housing units, but for the survivors, this is definitely worth the wait. 

Aside from turning-over 36 housing units, Operation Sagip also served 52,359 families or 261,795 individuals with relief packs in 24 municipalities following the earthquake. 
Different rehabilitation efforts were also implemented from building classrooms, distributing school supplies, constructing water facility, to giving school bakeries.

From the donations, Operation Sagip built 14 disaster-resilient classrooms. These are in Dauis Central Elementary School in Panglao (2 classrooms), Campao Oriental National High School in Getafe (3 classrooms), Nueva Esperanza Elementary School in Bien Unido (3 classrooms), Cabacungan Elementary School in Loon (2 classrooms), Panglao Elementary School in Panglao (2 classrooms), and Tubod Elementary School in Candijay (2 classrooms). Also, 4,000 students in 62 schools were given school bags with school supplies through its Gusto Kong Mag-aral Project last 2018 while Loboc Central Elementary School (Loboc), Santa Cruz Elementary School (Maribojoc), and Buenavista Elementary School (Buenavista) received the Nutri Pan de Kapamilya Project which included the capital, training, and equipment to start their school bakeries.

In addition, 500 families will benefit in the established water facility project in Brgy. Campao Oriental, Getafe.