(Eagle News Service) — The Iglesia Ni Cristo is scheduled to inaugurate tomorrow, January 23, its housing and livelihood projects for survivors of typhoon Yolanda in Alangalang, Leyte, a few kilometers from Tacloban City.
Barely 10 months since the groundbreaking of Sitio New Era, envisioned as a model community nestled on top of a mountain aptly called barangay Langit, it now has some 500 concrete housing units completed and ready for occupancy.
Another 500 housing units are also set to be built in the area, where livelihood facilities have also been set up for the benefit of the survivors of the strongest typhoon on record in the Philippines.
It was only on March 14 last year that INC Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo came to the site to lead the groundbreaking ceremonies for Sitio New Era, which was aptly named to embody the hopes for a new beginning for survivors of the typhoon who want to get back on their own feet in rebuilding their lives.
This happened just a month after the Feb. 15, 2014 Worldwide Walk for Yolanda survivors of the INC, a walk-for-a-cause participated in by more than half a million of its members from all over the world, set in multiple venues, including Roxas Boulevard in Manila.
The charity walk also set two Guinness records. One was for the largest charity walk in a single venue which was in its Manila site, along the scenic Roxas Boulevard where 175,509 participants made it to the finish line. The second was for the largest charity walk done within 24 hours in multiple venues with 519,221 participants that set a new Guinness record category. All the participants who registered and donated money were members of the church.
The funds generated by the activity were used primarily for the construction of the housing facilities in Sitio New Era as well as in the acquisition of equipment for the eco-farming community.
Phase two of the housing project will also benefit Yolanda survivors who are not members of the INC, said INC general auditor, minister Glicerio B. Santos Jr., who also spearheads the Felix Y. Manalo foundation, a non-profit organization that handles the relief-giving and other charitable works of the INC worldwide.
One of its signature projects called “My Countrymen, My Brethren” or “Kabayan Ko, Kapatid Ko” involves medical and relief missions for the needy, including those affected by calamities all over the world.
Such activities were conducted by the INC, through the FYM Foundation, in the Yolanda-affected areas immediately after the typhoon hit central Philippines.
But more than the giving of food aid to typhoon survivors, Santos said that the INC Church Administration led by Bro. Manalo wanted to provide the brethren permanent housing in a safe place and jobs to help them recover from the tragedy.
“This was initiated by Bro. Eduardo because he wanted the brethren with no jobs to have their own means of livelihood. Because that is the main problem of people not just here, but all over the world. That is why the Church Administration is helping members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo to have a stable and reliable source of income,” Santos said during the initial groundbreaking ceremonies last year.
“This explains our commitment to build resettlements like these,” he said, noting that there are now a total of eight model eco-farming communities which the INC had already set up throughout the country. These are in Agusan del Sur, Cavite, Rizal, San Miguel and Obando in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, and Isabela.
Santos clarified that the Church does not accept cash donations from non-INC members, and has in fact turned down several offers of cash donations from outside sources.
“All these are being realized because of God’s help. God is guiding the Church Administration, and He is the One making all these happen,” he concluded.