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400 families receive new homes in Tacloban

“Our presence today is a clear manifestation of shared love, a demonstration of the resounding response to the call of Pope Francis to experience God’s mercy by performing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy—to give shelter to the homeless, food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, counsel to those in doubt or in despair, and comfort to the afflicted. Renewed hope is shared to the beneficiaries. May the Holy Spirit hover over the community, and peace and hope ever renewed in mercy. Hope is there when everyone cares.”


This was the central message of the invocation led by Father Filomeno O. Borgueta, JCD, during the turnover of 400 homes at the SM Cares CFC ANCOP Canada Pope Francis Community in Tacloban, Leyte last April 16, 2016.


Hans Sy, President & Chief Operating Officer of SM Prime Holdings, together with His Excellency Archbishop John Du of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Palo (RCAP); Ambassador of Canada to the Philippines Neil Reeder; Mayor Alfred Romualdez; Mrs. Yedda Romualdez, representing Cong. Martin Romualdez; ANCOP President Jimmy Ilagan; ANCOP Canada Head Ricky Cuenca; and Julian Payne of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce witnessed the awarding of the houses to the families who were among the survivors of typhoon Yolanda.


The community, situated in Bgy. New Kawayan, overlooks the ocean and the city. Dr. Violeta Perez donated the lot to the Archdiocese even before Yolanda came.


In his welcome remarks, Mayor Romualdez expressed appreciation for the project and assured the community of the support of the local government in helping maintain what he called the stakeholders’ “investments” in his city—that of empowering the people.


The first 10 profiled home partners were awarded with a certificate and the keys to their houses.


Archbishop John Du could not hide his joy over the completion of the project. He said, “I am very happy that this dream has now been realized. We laid the foundation at this site last December 2014, and I have since wanted to see this dream come true.”


“We thank all our donors, especially the donors of this land,” the prelate added. “Our dream then was to establish housing for the poor. But we do not have money to build the project. But through all of you who sponsored these homes, this is realized.”


The workers encountered many difficulties at the site, but the help of everybody in order to facilitate the completion of the Pope Francis Community made things easy. The Archbishop added, “I know the hardship of the people who have been here since Day 1. We pray for everyone, especially the home partners, to work together.” In his final note, Archbishop Du shared, “As we concretely experienced God’s mercy and compassion, we have truly known how blessed we are. The love of God is indeed stronger than any calamity we experience.” The archbishop exhorted the home partners and the community workers to not let differences divide, but rather, be always united in their dealings with one another.


Jimmy Ilagan, President of ANCOP Global Foundation Inc., expressed his gratitude to SM Cares and the RCAP for giving ANCOP the opportunity to bring its brand of community development to the project.


“We are humbled by the trust reposed on us to help the people not just build their homes but build a community through the promotion of good values and the witness of volunteerism and cooperation,” Ilagan added.


Ilagan likewise thanked SM Foundation and SM Cares for appointing CFC ANCOP to handle the soft programs that will be implemented in the community. Ilagan articulated CFC ANCOP’s commitment to deploy its army of Christ-centered servants (in the Couples for Christ) to promote values formation, programs for the youth, the kids and their parents, as well as provide programs for livelihood and other capacity-building programs.


“This partnership gives a signal to the world that great things can be done by ordinary people as long as everyone has a singular focus—the genuine desire to bring new hope to those who thought all hope was lost; new life to those who thought their lives ended on November 8, 2013; and a renewed faith to those who felt God has abandoned them,” Ilagan said.


ANCOP Canada Head Ricky Cuenca gave the response from the donors’ side. He revealed: “Before Yolanda happened, we didn’t even know each other. We went our own individual businesses. But after typhoon Yolanda changed the lives of our brethren in Tacloban, somehow, we all ceased this to-each-his-own attitude and everyone jumped in to help.”


Cuenca added, “I believe that in our own little way, we have become extensions of God’s love to our brethren here in Tacloban. The houses we see here are not just shelters but symbols of love and hope for our brethren. We just have one request: please take care of this community. These homes are manifestations of love from all our donors. We may not be able to thank them all individually, but please promise to pray for each and every one of them.”


Promoting sports as a way of life for the residents of the Pope Francis Community, the owners of Global Port headed by Mikee Romero donated a basketball court and community center.


The Ambassador of Canada to the Philippines, Neil Reeder, likewise shared how he and his wife Irene had flown to Tacloban a day after the typhoon struck, bringing with them food and financial assistance from the Canadian government.


“Now we come back and see all the good work that’s been done,” Amb. Reeder added. “Many of us in Canada have family ties in the Philippines, and so the Canadian government has truly contributed to helping your people. You’ve gone through a very difficult situation, and I want us all to celebrate today your ability to bounce back.”


The turnover of the 400 homes, 100 of which came from ANCOP Canada, was truly a cause for rejoicing. Beyond the ceremonial ribbon cutting, the blessing of the houses and sports facilities, and unveiling of the marker of the Pope Francis Community, it is the renewed hope in the hearts of the home partners that was most celebrated. (CFC Global Comm)

Added on Tuesday, May 24, 2016


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