IDPs vacate schools, transfer to Mampang transitory site

In preparation for the opening of classes on June 2,  spadework has been doubled-up to finish the construction of the transitory sites for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) temporarily housed at the elementary schools of Mampang and Arena Blanco.

Transferring to the temporary shelters are women Noraida, Dia and Repa.   They all came from the Cawa-cawa evacuation site and stayed at the Mamang Elementary School for almost 2 months.

With their belongings on board government  trucks, the seventy-nine (79) families from Mampang and Arena Blanco Elementary Schools moved in yesterday to the new Mampang Transitory site which is approximately 1.5 kilometers from the main city-road bordering both barangays.

The new site

Dia, who hails from the houses-on-stilt community of Mariki, relayed her excitement of settling in the new temporary site where they will be housed for a period of 6-10 months as projected by the City Government.

Excited ako na makalipat sa lugar na malapit sa dagat dahil marami akong pwede mapagkakakitaan ng hanapbuhay.  Pwede akong maglatu o magsigay” (I am excited to transfer as the place is near the sea where I could gather latu or shells for me to sell) Dia said.

The vast marshland lot owned by the City government of Zamboanga is situated in the southern part of the city overlooking the Basilan Strait.  ‘Bakawan’ or mangroves partly obscures the area from the open seafront.


The Department of Social Welfare and Development financed the construction of 10 bunkhouses in partnership with the 52nd Engineer Brigade of the 545th Construction Battallion of the AFP.  Total cost of the project is P10M.

Each bunkhouse has 24 rooms with each partition having a floor area of 8×12 feet.  Each room can accommodate a family of 5 members.

The bunkhouses are designed to adapt to wetland conditions that concrete posts were used to elevate the flooring.  Catwalks or boardwalks were part of the blueprint that would interconnect the bunkhouses.  Corrugated G.I. sheets and plyboards were used for the roofs and walls for a more-durable refuge for the IDPs.

Construction of latrines and wash areas is still on-going however, portalets are in-placed temporarily until the needed facilities are completed.

Water facilities as well as electricity lines were also installed.

As the family heads kept busy in the hauling of their luggages and other belongings, DSWD provided mosquito nets and food packs good for 2-3 days to ensure their food supply as they get settled into the new environment.    International Organization for Migration (IOM) also distributed new kettles and thermos jugs.

With more bunkhouses to be completed soon, the Shelter and Camp management clusters are now working on the transfer of IDPs from other schools like the Talon-Talon ES and more families from the Cawa-cawa site###

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DSWD reveals efforts on protection, assistance to IDPs

In response to negative reports received by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Regional Office IX in Zamboanga City gave clarifications regarding the plight of Zamboanga City Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

On cases of Prostitution

DSWD 9 Regional Director Zenaida Arevalo said that the Protection Cluster which was organized as early as September has been monitoring this issue. She said that when the cluster learned of these prostitution incidence, several efforts were done with the aim of bringing an end to this social problem and preventing further damage to the social arena. Efforts include identification of Barangay tanods for all 4 Zones in the Joaquin Enriquez Sports Complex who were organized and trained to monitor such cases. Coordination with the Philippine National Police has also been carried out to strengthen security on entrance and exit points at the JFESC during night time while coordination with TESDA and DOLE to provide skills training and cash-for-work to ensure that these women are provided with income-generating ventures.

“We cannot confirm that prostitution is really happening at the JFESC, as we neither the police have caught anyone engaging in such demeanor, however, we are not setting aside these reports and coordinated with the City Health Office. In initial interviews done by our social workers, we found out that these women are already sex workers when they were displaced by the Zamboanga crisis.” Director Arevalo said.

The Director further revealed that regular meetings are being done by the five (5) social workers assigned to these women for the rigid case management.

Past emergency response

DSWD reiterates that the situation in Zamboanga is already in the rehabilitation and recovery stage and post emergency response. This indicates that provision of emergency needs has ended which is usually good for only 2-4 weeks after a disaster.

“We have provided food supplies up to December last year with some of our humanitarian partners affording our IDPs with food supplies until March of this year. However, this is already way past the emergency phase and rehabilitation and recovery should already be observed for our IDPs to start things on their own”. The director said.

Transition homes

The DSWD Field Office IX said that there is no truth to the claims of some malicious reporters that ‘no transition sites have been prepared nor are there decent jobs made available’. Per records, todate there are 5 transitory sites with more being developed. About 6,700 individuals have already transferred to these areas, after the government have initiated the immediate decongestion of the JFESC and clearing of the Cawa-cawa boulevard. Humanitarian partners like the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Habitat for Humanity and the AFP 52nd Engineering Brigade has been helping in the construction of the bunkhouses and temporary shelters .

The Sustainable Livelihood Program unit (SLP) of the department in partnership with the Livelihood cluster members continually provide earning opportunities like the Food for work and Cash for Work programs. The project development workers have already started assessing individuals and groups for program requirements.###

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Love knows no place

Love knows no place.  Newly wed Faisal and Arpia, both IDPs, show off their prowess in performing the traditional dance, the “Pangalay” after their wedding ceremony in one of the evacuation centers in Zamboanga City.  The couple met at the Joaquin Enriquez Sports Complex at the height of the Zamboanga Crisis in September last year.  A two-day celebration shall be held according to the mother of the groom starting off at the Zamboanga East West Evac center where Faisal stays and to ensue at the JFESC where Arpia stays with her family.  The young bride will  join her husband as soon as festivities end###(04/22/14)

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DSWD conducts psychotherapy for kids in EC

As most experts would claim, in any tragic incident, children are the most affected individual.  Yet, oftentimes, their needs are disregarded due to their inability to express the need for intervention for  their feelings and emotions.

Prompted by concern for these ‘silent victims’, the camp management team of the Zamboanga East West Central School evacuation center organized a draw and tell activity last March 23.

Fifteen kids with ages 6-7 years old participated.  Most of them came from Rio Hondo and Mariki which were two of the six affected barangays.

Known to be the ‘silent victims’, these children witnessed the Zamboanga conflict in September last year after alleged troops of the Moro National Liberation Front assaulted some parts of the city.

The social workers who administered the activity revealed that the kids showed interest and were so active and participative during the session.

“Our instruction was for them to draw what’s in their minds but we were surprised when most of them sketched houses”, said  Airene Faustino, one of the social workers.

The team further revealed that during the ‘telling’ part, the kids divulged that they miss home but mentioned that “its magulo” (chaotic) in their place.

One of the kids, Anthony, also drew a house with persons apparently leaving the place and confirming this during the presentation.  In Samal dialect, he explained that the persons are his sister Angela, his parents and himself leaving their house on their way to ‘boulevard’.  (or Cawa-cawa which has become one of the evacuation sites)

Two of the participants drew airplanes and helicopters. When asked why, they uttered “Kasi yan ang nakita namin” (That is what we saw).

The team said they felt happy because despite the experiences of the participants the children could still express their thoughts in simple drawings with smiles on their faces.

The kids also enjoyed the icebreakers through poems and songs “Kumusta ka” and “Sampung Palaka”.

Psychotherapy through ‘draw and tell’ is generally applied to children encouraging release of thoughts, feelings and opinions based on experiences that are usually tragic.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) provided the materials like crayons, pencils and papers which were given as gifts to the kids after the activity.### (Airine Faustino and Narrabelle Bue)

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Badjao and Samal IDPs attend namewriting workshop

“Masaya kami dahil natuto kaming magsulat”, 38-year old Happia blurted shyly after showing her notebook with sketches of her basic writing skill.

Happia is just one of the 30 Samah and Badjao women who attended the mini-workshop on basic writing  last Sunday (April 5).

The workshop was for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) temporarily housed  at the Zamboanga EastWest Central School evacuation center  who were victims of the Zamboanga crisis in September last year.

Lani Espiritusanto, Camp Manager said that most of the IDPs who are Badjaos and Samals from Rio Hondo and Mariki expressed their interest to learn how to write especially their names.

Seeing the need and interest of these women, the team conducted the session last Sunday-April 5, right at the office of the Camp at the said school.

Notebooks and pencils were provided to the mostly-women participants.

Aljimar Amil, a volunteer who also assisted in the conduct of the workshop said that they received good feedback as more and more participants continue to arrive obviously interested.

“We find it beneficial not only for the IDPs but also for the agencies and humanitarian groups assisting them because we can ensure that the persons receiving the aid are the right people as thumbmarks can easily be duplicated” Amil said.

According to the team, there were instances where actual recipients complained to them of goods and services being claimed by unknown individuals who have posed or forged their thumbmarks.

Most of the unschooled IDPs would set their thumbmarks instead of their actual signatures  as they do not know how to put in writing their names.

Aya Dari, a housewife with 6 children in shares that she practice name writing everyday.  “Pagkatapos ko maglaba, nagprapraktis na akong magsulat at pasalamat ako na naturuan kami ng mga taga DSWD.”  Aya said.

The women revealed that next to writing, they also would want to learn simple math-solving process and also learning the alphabet.

Both women are looking forward to the follow-up session this Sunday where their homework will be asessed by the camp management team.###

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DSWD, City gov’t and partners dialogue with IDPs

Zamboanga City – With the aim of bridging communication gaps between service providers and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Zamboanga City, the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 9 (DSWD) with the City Government of Zamboanga and other organizations conducted series of information caravan (Infocar) in evacuations centers.

Said caravan is an initiative of the Communications Working Group (CWG) to further bring together the IDPs and all agencies involved in the recovery and rehabilitation effort in one forum where all issues and concerns will be properly ventilated.

Majority of the IDPs’ issues were on food, shelter and relocation, livelihood and other assistance.

DSWD Regional Director Zenaida Arevalo, who spoke personally to the IDPs, clarified that assistance by the department were not discontinued but  have been regulated as other non-government organizations have assured to implement programs such as Cash-for-Work (CFW) and Food-for-Work as (FFW).

Ang DSWD ay naka-focus ngayon sa mga transitory sites, dahil aming inaasam na mabawasan ang mga nakatira sa JFE Sports Complex nang matugunan at mapabuti ang kondisyon ng paninirahan doon.”  (Currently, DSWD is focused on the transitory sites as we are hoping to decongest the JFE Sports Complex to improve the living conditions in this area.)  Dir. Arevalo said, during the infocaravan at Talon-talon Elementary School last Saturday (March 14).

Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco gave a brief background on the Z3R efforts of the government.  It basically underscores the goal of building a better place for those affected by the crisis.

The Roadmap to recovery and rehabilitation (Z3R), approved by President Aquino last December 2013, aims for better housing and better communities for a better Zamboanga.

Planned house structures and services were presented by the City’s Planning Office and National Housing Authority. These include the Home Materials Assistance (HMA) program where clients can avail of construction materials of up to P30,000.  Said assistance shall be through a voucher that can be claimed at a local hardware.


No build zone

According to Col. Andrelino Colina of the Task Force Zamboanga, residents from Leja-leja, Layag-layag and Sumatra will no longer be allowed to reside in the said areas as these are being closely monitored by the authorities.

The officer appealed to the residents for their understanding on this matter saying that the ‘people’s safety is our priority’.  However, these residents are permitted to tend to their ‘seaweed farming’ during the day but will be asked to leave when nighttime comes.
An open forum at the end of the program, provided an opportunity for the IDPs to air more of their concerns which are being responded outrightly by the resource persons.

The CWG initiated the first infocar at JFE Sports Complex.  Same activity will also be done in other evacuation centers soon.

CWG is composed of DSWD, PIA, City Information Office, International Organization for Migration and other humanitarian organizations.###

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Preggies’ Day Out

Zamboanga City- Around 264 pregnant women, those with big bellies and those with hardly-noticeable ones,  started lining up for registration at the lobby of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Field Office here.

Aside from being heavy with babies in their wombs, another thing they have in common is being  ‘IDPs’ (Internally Displaced Persons).

These women were all victims of the Zamboanga crisis last year and who are all housed at the JFE Sports Complex.

DSWD, in line with the observance of the Women’s Month, invited these women for an activity dubbed as “Buntis Congress”.

With the theme, “Juana: Ang Tatag mo ay Tatag natin sa Pagbangon at Pagsulong”,  the month long celebration aims to highlight the strength and resilience of Filipino women who have shown courage and support after surpassing trials and difficulties brought about by the numerous calamities recently.

The Buntis Congress, held at Field Office’s conference room, aims to orient the participants on women’s health and other concerns related to childbirth and childcare.

Dr. Gracia Gacrama, in-house medical officer, discussed these topics.

An open forum, after the lecture, allowed for clarifications and sharing of pregnancy tips.

Participants who have prior experiences in childbirth identified must-dos for pregnant women.  These include good hygiene, eating a well-balanced-diet and ensuring daily light exercises.  Some of the women revealed that they have not availed of pre-natal consultations but promised to do so upon their return to the evacuation site.

Free medical services

Free medical services is assured for IDPs as mentioned by DSWD-FO IX Director Zenaida Arevalo, in her talk with the participants.

Libre po ang serbisyo para sa inyo ng ating Zamboanga City Medical Center.  Dalhin nyo po ang inyong access card na nagpapatunay na kayo po ay isang IDP” (Services at the Zamboanga City Medical Center are free for IDPs, just bring your access cards to prove that you are an IDP), Dir. Arevalo told the women.

Gift packs 

Gift packs containing baby/infant wear, a ‘malong’, canned goods, energy biscuits, a pair of slippers, sleeping mats and a hygiene kit were given to the participants.

Tzu-Chi Foundation also donated rice for these women with each bringing home with them 25 kilos of rice.

Eight-months pregnant Baraya Ismael, who is having her 16th child, appreciates much the gift.

“Malaking tulong talaga sa amin yung bigas, kaya masaya talaga ako na may iuuwi kami (This is a big help for us and I am happy to bring something home) Baraya said.

Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco, who paid a brief visit, led the women in a prayer for their babies.   She encouraged the women to regularly talk to their babies and to take good care of them as they are gifts from the Almighty.

We want you to have healthy babies and please take care of yourselves, too” the ladymayor said.###

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DSWD, SM launch farmers training program for Tigbalabag Pantawid benes

IMG_6502Some 50 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries in Zamboanga City were identified as recipients of SM Foundation’s Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Farmers Training Program.  The program, which was launched yesterday in Barangay Tigbalabag, this city aims to help families sustain their needs by educating small-time farmers on new effective technologies  that could help them grow organic fruits and vegetables in their own backyard.

DSWD IX Regional Director Zenaida L. Arevalo said that the project is one of the government’s public-private partnership (PPP) efforts.  “Considering the need for income-sustaining programs for our poor households, we believe that this is a good opportunity for our Pantawid benefiaries to learn something that would help them come up with earnings for their daily needs”.

Cristie Angeles, Asst. Vice President for SM Foundation said, “We want to help these families sustain their food and (to earn) a little money to alleviate themselves out of poverty”.  She added that this is the first time that SM Foundation has linked with a group from Zamboanga City, a non-SM area.  “But realizing the need of the people, we pursued with this effort”, Angeles explained.

“Scholars” as they are called, the program recipients were identified on the condition that they have an existing vacant lot measuring to at least 200 square meters where they could plant and apply what they have learned from their once-a-week meeting with their trainor.

A vacant lot adjacent to the Barangay Hall of Tigbalabag was turned into a Demo Farm where the scholars shall convene every Wednesday for the lecture and application.

The training, which started yesterday (Feb. 26), will extend for 13 weeks.  Sweet corn, honey dew and melons and common vegetables are some of the produce that they hope to harvest after the training program.

“There will be a mini-fair where the scholars will display their harvest on the day of the graduation and we have encouraged these scholars to complete their 13 sessions for them to receive a certificate from SM”, Arevalo said.  She added that those participants with more than 2 absences with no valid reason will be automatically excluded from the training program.

The Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan project is a joint effort of DSWD, DAR, SM Foundation and Harbest Agribusiness Corp. and the local government of Zamboanga City### (NZB)

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