Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP141108: Remarks at Gawad Kalinga Community Palo, Leyte

Remarks by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
at the Handover of Shelter Units
to Gawad Kalinga Community 
8 November 2014
Barangay San Agustin, Palo, Leyte

• Mr Jose Luis Oquinena, Gawad Kalinga Executive Director
• Mr Kevin Caballero, Area Coordinator for Eastern Visayas
• Family beneficiaries of this Gawad Kalinga shelter recovery project here in Barangay San Agustin

Maayong hapon sa inyong tanan.
Good afternoon.

It has been 12 months since Typhoon Yolanda hit the province of Leyte and I remain humbled and inspired by the resiliency, courage and strength of Leytenos to rise up from this tragedy. You all have continued to forge on and rebuild your lives. I congratulate you for this effort.

Today, let me express the Australian Government’s continued commitment to assisting the Philippine Government in its recovery efforts in Typhoon Yolanda affected areas.

Shelter is a basic human need. It is critical to the recovery of affected families. A year after the typhoon, most affected families continue to need durable shelter solutions, especially away from danger zones.

The Australian response to Yolanda included provision of emergency, transitional and permanent shelter to affected families through the government, Red Cross and local non-government organizations like Gawad Kalinga and Catholic Relief Service.

We are proud to have partnered with Gawad Kalinga to contribute, in a small way, to securing the safety and restoring the dignity of 250 families affected by Typhoon Yolanda through this shelter recovery project.

First, I am glad to unveil this afternoon the four streets of the Gawad Kalinga Village here in Barangay San Agustin, namely Adelaide, Brisbane (my birthplace), Canberra (my current Australian home) and Townsville – names of cities in Australia. This list is essentially alphabetical – with the exception of Townsville, which is the port from which HMAS Tobruk sailed on its relief mission after Yolanda, and is also where I grew up. We have more Australian cities to share if you need more!

Second and more significantly, I am glad to hand over the initial shelter units to 12 family-beneficiaries from Barangay San Agustin.

You worked closely with Gawad Kalinga in building these units. I admire your bayanihan system, a uniquely Filipino tradition, which is a great way to build ownership of this shelter recovery project with family-beneficiaries and further contribute to building community cooperation and resilience. You can now see the result of your labour, and in fact live in it. With your help, I look forward to seeing the rest of the housing units completed through your bayanihan system.

To the families of:

• Paulito and Erlinda Leona
• Erlindo and Jonalyn Leona
• Israel and Rosemarie Pardilla
• Randy and Marivic Pilapil
• Warlito and Realyn Estrada
• Ruben, Jr and Jennilyn Moaña
• Vicente and Zenaida Amba
• Leo and Marilyn Margallo
• Roberto and Mary Jane Modesto
• Norma Montanejos
• Pedro and Maricel Modesto
• Ronilo and Rosil Orcida

- congratulations on being the first recipients of the completed shelter units. I hope this will help you in your continued journey to recovery.

To the teachers (and where would any of us be without the teachers who help shape our minds?), I hope that our small token of educational materials would help you in developing stronger literacy and skills of the San Agustin children.

To the children, I hope you enjoy your new bags. Study hard and stay in school so that you can achieve your dreams when you grow up.

Congratulations and thank you.