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PAGCOR unveils two housing projects for Taal Volcano victims

PAGCOR Village
The completion of the PAGCOR Village in Taal, Batangas symbolizes the triumphant rise of the locals from the devastation caused by the eruption of Taal Volcano on January 12, 2020.

RESIDENTS from two Batangas towns who were displaced by the eruption of Taal Volcano four years ago now have the opportunity to rebuild their lives with the inauguration of two housing projects funded by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

The PAGCOR Village Housing projects in Balete and Taal were inaugurated on January 19 and 20, respectively, shortly after the fourth anniversary of the massive volcanic eruption on January 12, 2020.

PAGCOR Village
An aerial shot of the PAGCOR Village in Taal, Batangas.

The towns are among the six Batangas municipalities that each received Php30 million funding from the state gaming firm for the construction of permanent shelters for those who used to live in areas surrounding the volcano that have since been declared permanent danger zones by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).

The other recipients of the PAGCOR Village Project are the towns of Agoncillo, Lemery, San Nicolas and Mataas na Kahoy.

PAGCOR Village
The newly-constructed PAGCOR Village in Balete, Batangas provides locals who were displaced by the eruption of Taal Volcano with new and sturdy living spaces.

The newly completed housing units in Barangay Iba in Taal and Barangay Solis in Balete will benefit 200 families, including those who chose to stay temporarily with relatives in distant towns after their communities were buried in tons of volcanic ash.

Among the severely affected was the family of 32-year-old fisherman Alvin Cacao, a resident of Barangay Calawit in Balete town whose house was destroyed by the volcanic debris that rained down on their village.

“Wala po kaming nagawa nung pumutok ang bulkan kundi ang lumikas dahil nasira po ng mga bumagsak na abo ang aming bahay. Napilitan po kaming tumakbo sa pinakamalapit na evacuation center bago nagpasyang makipanuluyan sa isang kamag-anak sa Balete,” he recalled.

PAGCOR Village
(left photo) The interior of one of the housing units of the PAGCOR Village in the town of Balete. (right photo) Alvin Cacao and his family inspect the housing unit they will soon be moving in after being chosen as one of the beneficiaries of the PAGCOR Village project in Balete, Batangas.

More than four years later, Cacao could not believe he was holding the key to a new home they can call their own after the housing units were formally awarded to the selected recipients.

“Hindi po namin alam kung papaano kami magpapasalamat sa PAGCOR dahil hindi lang po nakatanggap ng bagong tahanan, nabigyan pa kami ng pagkakataong makapagsimulang muli ng panibagong buhay at magkaroon ng panibagong pag-asa,” said the father of two.

Balete Mayor Wilson Maralit said the PAGCOR Village in their town took a little longer to finish since they encountered roadblocks during its planning stage because Barangay Solis was initially included in the list of villages within the 14-kilometer danger zone.

“Napakarami po naming pinagdaanan bago naisakatuparan ang proyektong ito para sa mga mamamayang naapektuhan ng pagputok ng Bulkang Taal.

PAGCOR Village
Fisherman Alvin Cacao (2nd from right) and his family receive the symbolic key to their new home at the PAGCOR Village in Balete, Batangas. With them in the photo are PAGCOR VP for Corporate Social Responsibility Group Ramon Stephen Villaflor (extreme left), Balete Mayor Wilson Maralit (extreme right) and other local officials.

“At hindi po namin inaasahang ang PAGCOR pa ang makakatulong sa amin para magkaroon ng permanente at disenteng tahanan ang mga nasalanta ng nabanggit na kalamidad kaya’t taos-pusong pasasalamat po ang aming ipinapaabot sa pamunuan ng ahensya,” he said.

Meanwhile, during the inauguration of the PAGCOR housing project in Taal on January 20, Mayor Fulgencio Mercado recalled how the eruption forced almost 80 percent of the town’s residents to rely on generous organizations for help and temporary shelter.

“Napakarami po naming kababayan ang napilitang magpunta sa iba’t ibang lugar at nagpakupkop sa mga taong may mabubuting puso sapagkat nawasak ang kanilang mga bahay at ari-arian sa pagputok ng bulkan at sunud-sunod na paglindol.

“Nagkawatak-watak po ang aming mga kababayan at nalugmok po ang bayan ng Taal. Kaya’t ang pagkakabuo po ng PAGCOR Village dito sa aming bayan ay isang istorya ng pagkakalugmok, pananalig at pag-ahon,” he added.

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