Published: 11/19/13 - 9:24 a.m. | Updated: 11/19/13 - 1:28 p.m.
More than a week after Super Typhoon Yolanda turned Tacloban into a virtual waste land, scores of residents of the city, the capital of Leyte, opted to move out, some to nearby provinces like Cebu and some to Metro Manila, with everything they ever had reduced to debris. The majority, perhaps having no other choice, have started physically rebuilding their homes, mostly with their own hands.
If the destruction of the city was almost instantaneous, the task of rebuilding it would be painstakingly slow.
"There's no reason to live there," Rene "Butch" Meilly, president of the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF), said in live interview with Solar Daybreak anchors Amelyn Veloso and Claire Celdran on Tuesday, November 19.
"You've got to them jobs and an economic reason to live there. Once you have that, once you have money circulating in the economy, people will stay. And that's the role of the private sector,' Meilly added.
And that's where the PDRF comes in.
Private companies in various industries formed the PDRF shortly after Typhoon Ondoy gave Metro Manila a dose of widespread disaster.
Having visited Tacloban after the typhoon, Meilly realized that so much would have to be done to revive the city economy to give people there a reason for staying or returning.
"One idea," he said, "is to put up a Tacloban Development Fund, which would put some money, help people start their own businesses, and will encourage big companies to return to Tacloban and open business centers."
Another idea that should have immediate results is to revive the fishing industry, as this would also give residents food for their own consumption.
As Celdran pointed out, foreign aid would stop at some point and Tacloban residents, with the help perhaps of Filipinos elsewhere, would have to fend for themselves.
So another move is to get some money into the local economy and the goods to spend them on
Meilly pointed out that LandBank of the Philippines would be putting the first two operation ATMs in the city since the typhoon struck.
Meanwhile, the PDRF has been talking with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) about programs that would give city resident jobs or help them get started with their own businesses.
One obviously urgent need the UNDP and DSWD are paying people to clear the debris left by the typhoon, Meilly said.
"But you also need to spend the cash on something," he added.
So the PDRF has been encouraging manufacturers of consumer goods to go back to Tacloban.
Meanwhile, the group has also launched HelpPH, a global campaign for donations through mobile loads, aimed at funding programs for relief and reconstruction. Some 48 mobile carriers all over are partcipating in the campaign, according to Meilly.
Would the PDRF also try to get residents who left to move back? Celdran wanted to know.
"We have to give them a reason to move back to Tacloban," Meilly said, referring to those who had opted to move out after the typhoon. "For many people, it's an individual decision. If they're with their relatives, their families, they may not come back. They may decide to live here in Metro Manila or in Cebu or in other parts of Leyte and get a job there. But if private sector, working with the government, can give them a reason to go back, by reviving the economy in Tacloban... It's not just the people who left Tacloban, but the people from other islands who will go to Tacloban and help rebuild it, because they'll go there because there are jobs." - Solar News Online
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Pia Hontiveros, Chief Correspondent and anchor of Solar Network News and News.Ph, presents the Solar News and Current Affairs year-ender special: On the Cusp of Change. A deafening silence, not out of a loss for words but a grief that cannot be spoken, for thousands lost to a super typhoon ... A muted pain from a powerful tremor that violently shook the heart of the nation ... An unspeakable anger over pork barrel that fueled a political maelstrom ... These and other stories from the extraordinary challenging year that was.