Friday, June 30, 2006

PBSP hosted Partners’ Forum for Saint Bernard

PBSP held the Partners’ Forum on its Southern Leyte Rehabilitation Program (SLRP) last June 23, 2006 at the Petron Megaplaza, Makati City. The event was held in partnership with Petron Foundation, which also presented its Tulong Kapwa Program, also for Southern Leyte.

The Partners’ Forum was PBSP’s opportunity to present the relief operations conducted by the foundation with the support of its partners in both the business community and the government. Moreover, the SLRP was also presented, which is PBS’s long-term rehabilitation response to the victims of the landslide disaster in Barangay, Guinsaugon Saint Bernard.

PBSP’s main thrusts for Saint Bernard are the promotion of sustainable livelihood opportunities for the Guinsaugon families and the strengthening of the Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council (MDCC). Saint Bernard, as well as six other municipalities in the Province of Southern Leyte, have been experiencing land movements and flash floods. The creation of a strong MDCC is essential in responding to future disasters.

Aside from showcasing the different businesses and donor agencies that have so far given or pledged its support for Saint Bernard, PBSP engaged the participants of the forum to participate in the rehabilitation program in the areas of livelihood, education and other basic social services.

On the other hand, Ms. Marilou Erni, Executive Director of Petron Foundation, presented their Tulong Kapwa Program, which is also a model for taking collective action in relief operations and rehabilitation. Ms. Erni reported the implementation of the GK Energy Village in Barangay Fatima, Liloan, Southern Leyte – the relocation site of the families affected by the flashflood in the locality.

In her call to action, Hon. Maria Y Lim, Municipal Mayor of Saint Bernard, expressed her hope that the next time Saint Bernard would make it to the headlines, “it will be about our successful recovery from a great tragedy.”

For more information about PBSP’s SLRP, please contact the PBSP Visayas Regional Office at (032) 232-5270 or 232-5270, or email at jmcubijano@pbsp.org.ph or rlbandalan@pbsp.org.ph.

Monday, May 08, 2006

ABOUT SAINT BERNARD

The Municipality of Saint Bernard is part of the Province of Southern Leyte. Saint Bernard can be reached in four to five hours of land travel from either Ormoc City or Tacloban City. It has a total land area of 10,020 hectares comprising of 30 barangays.



With an annual growth rate of 1.57%, the total population of Saint Bernard is 26,736 composed of 5,456 households. It is predominantly agricultural with more than 3,870 households engaged in farming. Before the disaster, Guinsaugon is one of the more thickly populated barangays and the fourth highest earning community with incomes derived from production of abaca, coconut and rice.

Almost 70% of Saint Bernard’s total land area is devoted to agriculture. Approximately 1,500 hectares are utilized as rice plantations that yield 300,000 cavans per year. On the other hand, there are 3,029 hectares of coconut plantations that annually produce more than 2,500 metric tons of copra. Saint Bernard is also an abaca-producing town with 200 hectares devoted for the purpose.



Finally, other agricultural crops such as sweet potato (kamote), cassava, purple yam (gabi) and vegetables are produced and sold to local markets. To support the town’s agriculture-based activities, rice mills, rice dryers, warehouses, solar dryers, irrigation and credit facilities are operating. On the other hand, St. Bernard also has some coastal barangays. Unfortunately, soil erosion, use of farm inputs and pesticides, and use of fine fishing nets have adversely affected the marine resource.

In terms of commerce, the activities revolve around the operation of retail stores. Majority of the industries are small-scale agri-businesses while there are also machine shops, hollow block makers, furniture stores, balot producers and peñato (sugar-coated peanut delicacy) makers.



The land of Saint Bernard is unstable and prone to mass movement because more than 70% is made up of volcanic rocks and loose sediments. This geologic formation is also prevalent in other municipalities in Southern Leyte. Prior to the disaster in Guinsaugon, landslides have also been occurring in the neighboring municipalities of Bontoc, Liloan and San Francisco.

The highest elevation in Saint Bernard is Mount Kan-abag, which is 720 meters above sea level. Sprawling at the foot of this mountain range are the Lawigan River, the municipality’s widest and longest body of water, and the 13 barangays declared as danger zones. The fault zone cuts across the center of the municipality and traverses the length of the Lawigan River. This explains the dangers confronting the identified barangays and the disaster that struck Guinsaugon.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

THERE IS HOPE FOR SAINT BERNARD AND ITS PEOPLE


PBSP’s response to the Saint Bernard landslide disaster is the Southern Leyte Rehabilitation Program (SLRP) – a development strategy that would ensure the long-term economic and psychosocial survival of the communities directly affected or displaced by the landslide.




Consistent with PBSP’s flagship poverty reduction strategy, the Area Resource Management (ARM) Program, SLRP will create sustainable livelihood opportunities, provide basic social services, and promote ecological preservation and regeneration. Recognizing the very important role of the local government, PBSP will help strengthen the Saint Bernard Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council (MDCC), among its capabilities is its preparedness to respond and manage disasters and calamities.

Priority Activities
PBSP is working closely with the Provincial Government of Southern Leyte under the leadership of Gov. Rosette Lerias and the Municipal Government of Saint Bernard led by Mayor Maria Lim in implementing the SLRP. At present, several members of the business community have poured their support or expressed their commitment to help the people of Saint Bernard. PBSP, on the other hand, has been appointed by the Saint Bernard MDCC to be the lead agency for enterprise development and livelihood rehabilitation.



The priorities of the first phase of the SLRP are Guinsaugon, the barangay that was totally wiped out by the landslide, and five other adjacent barangays identified by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as hazard zones because the major and minor Philippine fault lines are traversing in their areas. These barangays are Ayahag, Hinabian, Magatas, Nueva Esperanza and Sug-angon. The relocation site for the families of Guinsaugon has already been identified, and the preparations for the permanent relocation are ongoing. The local government, on the other hand, is still working on the identification of other viable relocation areas.

Livelihood Rehabilitation
PBSP has classified sustainable livelihood activities for the people into four, namely: very short-term livelihood projects, short-term livelihood projects, medium-term livelihood projects, and long-term livelihood projects.



The very short term economic activities will ensure earnings after a two-week period. These are food processing (meat, fish and vegetables), cosmetology, crochet, production of souvenir or novelty items from waste products, decorative candle making, production of bamboo and abaca based gifts, toys and house wares, reflexology, concrete hollow blocks making and electronic or pasa load.

The short-term livelihood projects will ensure income earnings in one to six months. These are processing of virgin coconut oil, hand made paper making to support the bamboo and abaca based GTH, quilting, sewing, trisikad, food vending. Once the evacuees are resettled, projects like consumer or sari-sari store, bakery, mushroom culture, and broiler and quail egg production can be implemented. The beneficiaries will also be encouraged to start vermi composting (organic fertilizer) and home lot gardening using the FAITH Concept (Food Always in the Home). The vermi composting project can in fact be a community effort that would support solid waste management in the resettlements.

The medium-term economic activities will be engaged within six to twelve months. These are bamboo based furniture making, handicrafts, production of gifts, toys and house wares, ornamental plants raising, water station refilling and ice making project. Mariculture can also be introduced particularly for those households that will be relocated along the Saint Bernard Bay.

Finally, the long-term economic development activities are the skills training for young adults so that they would become employable or may be enabled to start their own businesses. Identified skills training are welding, masonry, carpentry, electricity, plumbing, cell phone and appliance repair.

In approaching these income-generating activities, PBSP will provide enterprise development and capability building trainings. Multi-purpose and productivity centers will also be established. Banking on the experiences of PBSP with trade fairs and wider market exposures, support will be given on enterprise development, market linkage, technical knowledge improvement, and participation in trade fairs and exhibits.

Social Services
The other aspect of the socio-economic system component is availability of basic social services. The identified basic social services are construction of an elementary school buildings, day care, health and trauma centers, establishment of a learning resource center with internet connectivity, electrification, and installation of potable water systems.

At present, the Guinsaugon families are trained to produce concrete hollow blocks that will be used in the construction of houses in the relocation area. The carpenters, masons and electricians who have lost their tools and equipments in the landslide can once again engage in construction activities with the new sets of tools that are to be provided, while the women will also be taught to engage in income-generating activities like food processing and production of gifts, toys and housewares, among others.

In the next two years, the 311 families of Guinsaugon will once again be productive. On the other hand, the households from the other barangays that need to be relocated will also engage in various livelihood initiatives that would ensure sustainable income.


For more information about
PBSP's Southern Leyte Rehabilitation Program,
please contact:

Philippine Business for Social Progress
Visayas Regional Office
4th Floor PLDT Building, Juan Luna Ave.
Mabolo, Cebu City 6000
Tel. No. (032) 232-5270 232-5283
Fax No. (032) 232-5286

Please look for:
Leo Dionisio H. Hilado, Jr.
Operations Group Director

Jessie M. Cubijano
Project Officer

Raymund L. Bandalan
Project Officer


Monday, March 27, 2006

Disaster Information

At approximately 10:45 in the morning on February 17, 2006, a massive landslide covered Barangay Guinsaugon, St. Bernard, Southern Leyte. The landslide, which was triggered by two weeks of continuous rainfall and earthquake, affected all 365 families in the farming village.




Before the disaster, Guinsaugon had a population of 1,789 persons and was among the more prosperous communties in the Municipality of St. Bernard because of the thriving abaca, coconut and rice production. The disaster made the future of Guinsaugon bleak as many families were either completely gone or left with just a few surviving members, while the vast farmlands that used to be the sources of income were covered with tons of mud and debris.

Of the 450-hectare total land area of Guinsaugon, 323 hectares were wiped out. More than 1,100 persons died, 972 of which are declared missing.

According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), twelve other barangays sorrounding Guinsaugon are also threatened because the major and minor fault lines are traversing the areas. Further, MGB pronounced that the occurence of disasters of similar nature and magnitude in St. Bernard is inevitable because the locality's geological formation is unstable thus prone to land movements.

At present, Guinsaugon is deemed unlivable, and the local government has already identified permanent relocation sites for the survivors as well as for the families in the adjacent barangays. Moreover, there are more than 3,000 evacuees are housed in schools and churches. Help is very much needed for the people of St. Bernard.