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SMC partners with Valenzuela gov’t to build homes for informal settlers

By Arlie O. Calalo
05/03/2011 [ tribune.net.ph ]
The San Miguel Corp. (SMC), one of the biggest beverage conglomerates in Southeast East Asia, has responded to the call of Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian to help build some 300 homes for informal settlers who live in dangerous zones in the city.
Gatchalian said those who will benefit from the project which will be established at Disiplina Village in Barangay Ugong are mainly informal settler families living near Tullahan River.
According to the city government, the SMC has tapped its social development arm, the San Miguel Foundation Inc. (SMFI), to spearhead its mission in providing shelters for flood victims by Typhoon “Ondoy” as the first beneficiaries in Disiplina Village.
The city chief executive confirmed with Tribune that he sealed off the commitment made by SMC through a memorandum of agreement (MoA) he signed with SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang and Dakilang Handog Foundation Inc. chairman Dee Hua Gatchalian held recently at the company’s headquarters in Pasig City.
Other signatories present to express their all-out support were SMF Board of Trustees chairman and SMC vice president for Corporate Affairs Ramon Santiago and San Miguel Brewery Inc. president Roberto Huang.
Gatchalian, led key city officials in accompanying top SMC executives of San Miguel Brewery subsidiary head Huang, was with SMC executive vice president Keisuke Nishimura, and San Miguel Foundation executive director Camille Buenaventura at Disiplina Village to check the area where clusters of buildings to house the indigents are to be built.
The mayor showed them the scope of work to be done and the resources the community needs for their dreams to become a reality.
The momentum gained with the entry of SMC is the latest among the string of corporate donorships in developing the 1.9-hectare community in Barangay Ugong which is expected to accommodate 900 families in 16-unit of 56 cluster buildings.
SMC, which is the leader in wide range of business interests, operates the San Miguel Polo Brewery (formerly called Balintawak Beer Brewery), along MacArthur Highway in Barangay Marulas. It is the oldest among the five breweries owned and operated by the company in the country.
Recently, the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation constructed the first 3 cluster buildings which were turned over to the first 46 priority family beneficiaries, who were mostly victims of Ondoy in 2009 at Disiplina Village.
“These lucky families about 900 of them whose homes were either partially or totally lost by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 will be awarded with homes,” the mayor said, adding that the project was the first initiative in the country to address the devastating impact of the typhoon not only in Valenzuela, but also nationwide.
Gatchalian said it was in accordance with the national government’s pledge to find permanent homes for more than half a million informal settlers in the metropolis, particularly those living in danger-prone areas, such as riverbanks, esteros, waterways, under the bridges, roadways or sidewalks and aqueducts.
On the inauguration of the housing units, the mayor said “no one should call you squatters because you are now legitimate homeowners. You can now leave your worries behind, especially during rainy days when the rain threatens to raise the river’s water level. You are now safe here in your new homes.”
For his part, Win’s younger brother and 1st District Rep. Rex Gatchalian reminded the beneficiaries that the reason why the housing project is pushing through is because of the beneficiary themselves.
“We draw from your strength in facing the catastrophes like the Typhoon Ondoy to be of better service to you,” the Valenzuela lawmaker said.
Talking in behalf of other beneficiaries, Liberty Agno said they were thankful and felt indebted by the help extended to them by the city government and other concerned sectors.
Now, we would no longer live along the banks of Tullahan River where most of us live for more than 50 years already, she said.
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