Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale with the Balik Cebu Committee chair Tetta Baad lead the groundbreaking ceremony last February 12 for the Balik Balay Project at Barangay Esperanza, Pilar,Camotes.
The Vice Governor personally asked Tetta Baad to put in assistance for Barangay Esperanza in Pilar, Camotes through the help of Balik Cebu Commission, which is under Cebu City Tourism Commission.
Provincial Tourism Officer Grace Paulino said Pilar is one of the potential places for tourism industry with their clean and clear seawater and white beaches.
However, Pilar, which is near Leyte, is among the most devastated areas after typhoon Yolanda hit the country in 2013. Providing aid for Pilar residents was difficult because of inaccessibility. It takes strong will to face the huge waves when crossing from Camotes Island to Pilar in a pump boat.
Last year, Baad announced that the first beneficiary of the campaign is one of the barangay in Pilar, Camotes.
The campaign of Balik Balay is to urge balikbayans who come yearly to celebrate Sinulog to give donations for the Yolanda-devastated communities. The year-long fundraising activity aims to collect sufficient amount to be able to build houses for the affected households in the barangay.
Balik Balay’s sustainability master plan is not just to build nipa huts but also to provide one septic tank for every 10 houses, sewage treatment plan in which the waste water will be converted for organic use, and garden plots for every household that could be a source of livelihood.
Balik Balay is also plotting a community center for a tourism livelihood project with the women in the community managing it. Tourists, instead of staying at hotels, can stay in the center and they will be provided with necessary needs like blankets and food, among others. While the mothers are assigned to take care of the visitors, the young people will be trained to be tour guides. In a way, the community will be able to produce a community business that will benefit them.
They also assigned a volunteer worker to coordinate and monitor until everything is finished.
“Nindot kaayo ni nga proyekto kay dili ra nga mubarog inyong mga bag-ong balay, naay plano. Adunay klaro ug han-ay nga pagplano (This is a very good project. We will not just build your houses. There is a clear and organized master plan that is laid out for the community),” Magpale said.
The lot where the new community will be built was purchased with funds through the Office the Vice Governor.
There were 73 identified Yolanda-affected households that need to be transferred to the Balik Balay community. These households were mostly built in the no-build zones or danger zones.
Pilar Municipal Mayor Jesus Fernandez Jr., Barangay Captain of Esperanza Jaime Dindo and Paulino were also present during the groundbreaking ceremony.
Newly-crowned Ms. Cebu 2015 Wynonah Buot came to represent Miss Cebu Charities as one of the donor for the project.