November 2014

GK Canada Donations Funding 106 Houses

Gawad Kalinga Philippines is constructing a total of 106 houses for the survivors of typhoon Haiyan in the province of Leyte and Iloilo from donations coursed through Gawad Kalinga (to give care) Canada, GK Philippines executive director Jose Luis Oquinena said in his report one year after the strongest typhoon on record struck Central Visayas, Philippines.

Oquinena was in Toronto to report on the Canadian donations coursed through the charitable organization GK Canada during the “Haiyan: A Year After Updates” gathering held on Nov. 15 at the Glenview Presbyterian Church in Toronto, ON.  Typhoon Haiyan resulted to 6,300 deaths and left 28,689 injured. It affected 16 million people, of which 4.1 million were displaced. A total of 1.14 million houses were also damaged, the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada web page showed. 

Beyond numbers, Oquinena shared the inspiring heroism of volunteers, on the ground workers, who rendered selfless service to give hope to Haiyan survivors in rebuilding their lives.

From donations pooled from the global community, Oquinena said the resources will fund a total of 2,923 houses, 70 percent of which are under construction and 684 have been completed. An anti-hunger program called “Kusina ng Kalinga” (Kitchen of Care) has been started in Alang-alang, Leyte and feeds 3,652 children daily while 797 fishing boats have been distributed across the Visayan islands. GK’s goals for 2015 include building 3000 more houses, opening more kitchens to feed 50,000 children, and the building of 700 fishing boats by June, 2015, he said.  

Early this year 1.7 million volunteers joined the Bayani (Heroes) Challenge to “bring hope and a clear message of “Walang Iwanan” (no one gets left behind) in Haiyan affected areas,” Oquinena said adding that they are encouraging volunteers to sustain the efforts with the goal of involving 6,000 villages by June, 2015. Launched in 2006, the Bayani Challenge has become an annual gathering of volunteers to build homes, repair schools, conduct health missions, and hold tree planting and activities with children, among others. 

He noted that 2013 was an extraordinary year because tragedy struck one after the other in the Visayas and Mindanao areas which displaced thousands of people. Apart from typhoon Haiyan, a strong earthquake in Bohol, Visayas and an armed conflict in Mindanao displaced thousands of people. However, Oquinena noted that amid these tragedies Filipinos have shown solidarity that no one will get left behind.

The GK executive director also mentioned some challenges that GK is facing in the rebuilding efforts. He cited the availability of suitable land for relocation, site development, logistics and local politics as challenges to reconstruction. Furthermore, he said, local stakeholders have different priorities and preferences.  

Meanwhile, Oquinena said that the GK Canada sponsored project of providing potable water and community store in GK SeaBreeze, Cagayan de Oro has been delayed because the water supply in the area was cut off. They now have to drill underground within the site to complete the project. On the other hand, the building of three houses for typhoon Pablo victims in Cateel, Davao Oriental is now 50 percent complete, he said. 

For the GK Canada sponsored projects in 2013, GK has completed 32 houses, held a values formation program for children and initiated a food processing and livelihood program in the village of Tuntugin-Putho, Oquinena said. 

Canadian Senator Tobias Enverga presented a certificate of recognition to GK Canada citing the importance of continuing the efforts of working together “to provide a swift and meaningful response” to those affected by natural calamities. The Canadian government was quick to mobilize the Disaster Assistance Response Team after the storm to help the humanitarian crisis in the Philippines.  

Philippine Consul General Junever Mahilum-West also attended the gathering along with GK Canada donors, board of directors and volunteers. 
For inquiries about volunteering, making a donation or joining a GK Tour /Bayani Challenge please e-mail
Seated (from left) Cheryl Cantonjos, Maripi Leynes, Elvie Tan, Philippine Consul General Junever Mahilum-West, GK Executive Director Luis Oquinena, Agnes Manasan, Evelyn Pagkalinawan, Ting Pacis. Standing (from left) Jose Querubin, Jimmy Nagallo, Pidoy Pacis, Francis Rementilla, Amir Billones, Raffy Fabregas and Alice Herrera.* (Wilfred Tangid photo)