Tacloban City is a frequent destination of iCSC, specially our Program team. At the heart of Tacloban is where our solar facility was built as the flagship of the project, RE-Charge Tacloban. Although iCSC found a second home in Tacloban, it’s my first time to see the city that survived super typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda last November 2013 and recently affected by the Typhoon Hagupit or Ruby last December 6, 2014, closer, more personal.
And yes, a year after, Yolanda still have marks left in the city. Manong Chester, the taxi driver, would pin point houses and well-known structures in the area that were submerged by the storm surge as we traverse the streets of Tacloban.
The busy streets of downtown Tacloban greeted me despite some closed stores because it’s church day, Sunday. I checked-in at the Primrose Hotel—the hotel’s name reminds me of a sci-fi film character from a recent trilogy book adaptation.
All is good here in Tacloban, until I received a message that my flight back home to Manila on December 17 was cancelled due to the upcoming reconstruction of the Daniel Romualdez Airport in from December 16 to 21. Nevertheless, the news was not enough to dampen my high spirit.
So, what am I doing here in Tacloban? Despite the bad news, I’m here to enjoy my stay and work for the next days.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Region VIII is just a tricycle ride from the hotel and is next to the University of the Philippines (UP) College Tacloban. I was first introduced to the Assistant Regional Director Ismael Aya-ay. We had a brief conversation on what the work I’m up to here in Tacloban while waiting for National Director Herman Ongkiko to arrive. According to ARD Aya-ay, Region VIII is the highly financially-organized Agrarian Reform Communities Project II (ARCP) site. Region VIII has a total of seventy six (76) approved sub-projects in the Province of Leyte, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, and Samar. The total project cost of these sub-projects amounted to 177.07 Million Pesos at the end of the third quarter.
We are expecting Director Ongkiko to have landed this afternoon to join us in the meeting but apparently he wasn’t able to come due to the cancellation of flights. The afternoon meeting was supposed to be a regional planning for the ARCP’s project on hunger and poverty. But due to the absence of Director Ongkiko and most of the participants, ARD Aya-ay and his team decided to come up with a small group discussion on the project budget.
Before the discussion ARD Aya-ay asked me to share to the group my work and my purpose here in Tacloban. ARC Aya-ay wanted to introduce me directly to the people who will be assisting me on my fieldwork. It was an impromptu sharing of a simplified version of the Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative (AFAI) work. I wasn’t surprised about the feedback from the participants as they would say “napaka technical naman” (it’s too technical). By this time, I’m used to getting that first impression.
The coordination on the local tracking of ARCP projects for the next day had become easier because ARD Aya-ay simply assigned Engineer Ellen Gavina, program manager of ARCP projects in Leyte, to do all the necessary arrangements needed for the fieldwork, the LGUs to talk to talk to, and the documents needed.
We agreed to visit the Farm-to-Market Road in Palo, Leyte and the Potable Water System project in Tolosa, Leyte. However, Engr. Gavina’s colleagues also recommended visiting the ARCP projects in Javier, Leyte. According to them the best practices of ARCP are found in the municipality of Javier. ARD Aya-ay and Engr. Parayno said that the trip would not be a problem because these LGUs are next to each other. We just have to leave by 8:30 in the morning.
Its three o’clock in the afternoon. I finally had the time off to visit our solar facility in Burgos Street to meet our Associate for Special Programs Teddy Arellano, the staff, and the French interns. And for an additional treat, Teddy and Kuya Roel drove me across the San Juanico Bridge. Tomorrow’s another day of work and field visit.