Post by Katie Olson-Kenny, MURP candidate ’15, who is in the Philippines
At the beginning of August, I arrived on Linapacan, a small municipality in northern Palawan. This barangay (village) San Miguel has a population estimated around 3,000 persons, though it feels closer to 300. I was the token town foreigner and, lucky for me, everyone was very welcoming and kind, including the Mayor’s household with whom I stayed.
One day I went for a walk and ran into the municipal head of disaster risk reduction, whom I had just met the day before. Sir Freddy invited me into his home to meet his family and see the view from his balcony. Here is a picture of Linapacan at dusk.
Beyond San Miguel’s small community area, the rest of the land is lush and undeveloped. While utilities such as electricity, running water, and Internet are extremely limited, the main concerns are its lack of safe water access, inadequate health resources, and controversial resettlement housing post-Typhoon Yolanda. Households are resisting relocation away from the coast, instead prioritizing proximity to their livelihoods (fishing) over safer zones.
These are some of the temporary housing units along the coast.
My internship with the Partnership for Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA) placed me in the Office of the Municipal Planning and Development Council (MPDC). PHILSSA is in the beginning stages of implementing a two-year project spanning livelihood recovery, resettlement housing, and community project grants. I had opportunities to engage in aspects of the livelihood program, but my formal assignment was to compile a socio-economic profile for the municipality, describing its current conditions, post-Yolanda. This will highlight areas for potential community projects, and provide a basis for PHILSSA’s project grants.