Pabahay ni Maria & Garment Production Lifted Up BECs: MIP, Las Pinas

Mary Immaculate Parish identified one of the basic needs of their BECs in Emmaus long time ago and this need has been successfully addressed. And in 2007, this need has been provided once again to the BECs in St. Markville and Wondeland; i.e. housing.

  • PABAHAY NI MARIA

Mary Immaculate Parish, also known as “Natures Church” is a parish entrusted to the Focolare Movement. The parish was handled by Father Pierino Rogliardi, an Italian who served as the parish priest more than twenty (20) years. He was very committed to serve the poorest of the poor in his parish.

When Fr. Pierino retired, Fr. Fidel G. Fabile was assigned to take his place. Fr. Fidel conscientiously continued Fr. Pierino’s projects, most significantly was the housing project called “Emmaus”. The parish received the Serviam Award from Archdiocese of Manila for being actively involved in the service of the poor.

In 2007, a fire of unknown origin razed to ground the houses in the De La Cruz compound along Marcos Alvarez Road. 300 plus families lost their houses. Among them were 30 houses belonging to the members of BEC (Basic Ecclesial Communities) of the parish.

Fr. Fidel, immediately formed an Ad Hoc Committee to address how the parish can concretely help the BEC members. After a series of meetings and with a regular weekly meeting with the BEC families, the Ad Hoc Committee with the approval of the BEC families initiated a spiritual formation program. This laid the groundwork for spiritual transformation which affirmed once more their dignity as human persons created in the image and likeness of God. From here came the realization that they need houses to rest their heads.

And so, the “Pabahay ni Maria” was born. The mechanics were mutually agreed upon by the Ad Hoc Committee and the BEC members with the blessing of Fr. Fidel.

The “Alay Kalakal” became a distinct feature of the Pabahay ni Maria Project. The Ad Hoc Committee through the Alay Kay Maria coordinators divided the whole parish into clusters and assigned drop off stations where parishioners can go to donate their “kalakal” or scraps such as newspapers, empty bottles, old/defective appliances, plastic containers and other items that can be sold.

The outpouring of support and generosity of the parishioners were overwhelming. This led to the immediate construction of the first three model houses. (The De La Cruz Compound is now known as Wonderland and St. Mark Compound).

In one of the Focolare Mariapolis in Tagaytay (a three–day gathering of people from all walks of life to experience living the commandment of Jesus on reciprocal love), members of the BEC of Mary Immaculate Parish Shared the culture of sharing showcased in the “Pabahay ni Maria”. Touched and awed in the Gospel truly alive in the Pabahay ni Maria, a group in the audience gave a generous donation.

“Pabahay ni Maria” is a concrete way of living the culture of “Bayanihan”. It is being practiced in building houses through “Alay Kalakal”.

To date, twenty – six houses have been built; the construction of the twenty – seventh house is under way. They believe that in due time the completion of the targeted thirty houses will be done by the grace of God though the powerful intercession of the Blessed Mother Mary Immaculate; by Fr. Fidel’s effective leadership and by the active support of the beneficiaries (BECs), through sharing their time in collecting scraps in assigned areas in the neighborhood.

· Pabahay ni Maria Beneficiaries

Twenty six (26) beneficiaries are already enjoying their houses and very thankful for the “Pabahay ni Maria Project”. Some beneficiaries have shared their stories:

1. Nida Vallaran, 53 years old, live at Blk.3 Lt. 1, Wonderland Homes, Marcos Alvarez, Las Pinas. She is a parish worker in garment production, BEC member and a fire victim in March 15, 2007.

After the fire incident, she and her family members have stayed in the parish office for three weeks and they finally recovered within three months. Her house was built through Fr. Fidel and DSWD financial help. Fr. Fidel gave her P4,500.00 and DSWD sponsored P5,000.00, a total of P9,500.00, to pay the equity of lot. Basically, they don’t owned their house and lot, after the fire incident, the Urban Poor Office of the City Government of Las Pinas have talked to the land owners, to sell their lot to the fire victims, and so, they acquired a lot by paying the equity shouldered by their sponsors. Estimatedly, fifteen million (15M) was the total lot loan for all beneficiaries. They had MOA signing in their place.

“Alay Kalakal para sa Pabahay ni Maria” was established, to help further the fire victims in building their houses, in their acquired lots. The Board of Directors in the Parish talked about how they can help the fire victims, and Alay Kalakal is the best way to raise fund for their houses construction. The kalakal earnings definitely proceed to the construction materials. The beneficiaries do the “kalakal” collection, and so, Sis. Nida is actively involved in “Alay Kalakal para sa Pabahay ni Maria Project”.

 

2. Josie Guevarra, live at Wonderland Homes, Marcos Alvarez, Las Pinas City. She is married with 4 children (1 gay and 3 girls). She is Parish worker as Supervisor in Garment Production, BEC member, she owned sari-sari store in her house.

She said, her house was lost but rebuilt through “Pabahay ni Maria”. Luckily, she is a BEC member because all beneficiaries of “Pabahay ni Maria” are BEC members. Her house was blessed in February 14, on Fr. Fidel’s birthday. She will just pay monthly amortization of P550.00; i.e. for 25 years, will attend prayer meeting in the parish every Tuesday at 9:00a.m.; do “Alay Kalakal” and join parish activities of any parish organizations. The impact of “Pabahay ni Maria” to her family is like a “swerte”! They acquired house and lot.

3. Susana F. Serote, live at Blk. 1 Lt. 2, Wonderland Homes, Marcos Alvarez, Talon 1, Las Pinas. She is married with 5 children (3 girls and 2 boys). She is a vendor (selling longanisa, tocino, ham, hotdog, etc in the neighborhood). Every Sunday at 6:30 p.m., she will serve in the Holy Mass as Collector.

Sis. Susana was a member of “Word of Life” in 1994, known as BEC nowadays. She has shared that their common activities in BEC are gift giving on Christmas, etc.When the fire happened in 2007, her family and other families of BEC members rushed to the parish and there they received immediate help, such as food consumption, etc. And the major help that they received was building of their house. The impact of the “Pabahay ni Maria” is that, they live joyfully because they can sleep well and their lives really changed for the better.

4. Diane Arcenal, live at Blk. 6 Lt. 7, St. Markville, Marcos Alvarez, Las Pinas City. She is married with one girl and four boys. She is Parish worker as Fulltime BEC Over-all Area Coordinator.

She is a member of BEC since 2003 and eventually became a BEC leader. The consolation to all their hardship due to fire incident was a house and lot blessing.They acquired it through “Pabahay ni Maria”, as the beneficiary. Their house and lot was blessed on April 4, 2010, on her husband’s birthday. The impact of “Pabahay ni Maria” in their lives are very strong because she became more close to God/Church. Her family is attending masses already and there is no problem if it rains, no drops of water from the ceiling anymore. She said, as BEC leader, she tried to manage any problem well. She opted to become a role model to others and to bring more people closer to God.

· GARMENT PRODUCTION

One of the significant BEC projects accomplished by Mary Immaculate Parish Livelihood Association Inc. (MIPLAI) was the “Poverty Free Zone Program”, in which they received grant from the government (DOLE) amounting to one million pesos (P1M), for the poverty alleviation project in March 2006. The project initiated by Bro. Ed Hernandez (Member of Parish Execom) and Dona Caacbay (Parish BEC Coordinator). DOLE is their partner in this project not just a sponsor. MIPLAI have applied accreditation to Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) as one of DOLE requirements for grant. They provided them (DOLE) project proposal, beneficiaries’ profile, MOA for partnership, liquidation and monthly financial report. The grant was used in the garment project which has 10 workers. They allocated the fund for the building of “Kapitbahayanan Center” in March 2006. The “Kapitbahayanan Center” is the place for the garment production. Also, they allocated the fund for garment operation and machineries.

The garment workers are all BEC members. They are all receiving P3,000.00 compensation monthly and profit sharing annually.The garment production team composed of three (3) Administration office staff and seven (7) laborers.

Their common job orders are school uniforms, repairs, etc. Most likely, job orders are seasonal. And so, they looked other option to get job orders. They tied-up with Avon. They do Avon bag initial operation; i.e. lining sewing. The operation with Avon lasted for two (2) years only. The project earnings go for evangelization (30%), profit sharing (30%) and operation expansion (40%).

The garment production team has a time for bible sharing. They usually share the Word of God at 3:00 p.m. weekly, facilitated by Josie Guevarra and Leticia Marquez. Moreover, every Tuesday at 9:00am, the garment production team and other BEC members are attending Gospel sharing facilitated by Fr. Fidel Fabile. Since the garment production is in the vicinity of the parish, the laborers are likely attending evening mass after work.

The impact of the livelihood program in the lives of the BEC members is good enough to access employment assistance, earn money and live a better life. They gained self-confidence, acquired skills (cutting/sewing) and bounded their lives in the Words of God – key to uplift the standard of their living.

· LEARNINGS AND INSIGHTS FROM BEC EXPERIENCE:

1. Three hundred plus (300+) fire victims have been experienced struggle in recovery (material lost, emotional pain and spiritual dryness), nonetheless, the graces from God poured out to them. Meals and relief goods are common immediate help provided for the victims, but a house and lot are rare opportunity received by the fire victims, normally evacuation center and/or temporary shelters are good enough for them to recover from tragedy. “Pabahay ni Maria” extended extreme help for the fire victims, long term help was given to them.

There are almost twenty seven families lifted up their standard of living due to provision of a house and lot. They are no longer squatters, they are now homeowners and a community bounded in the Word of God. “Alay Kalakal” is good way to make the beneficiaries actively involved helping themselves and others in the same situation. In life, always hope for the best to come – “Pabahay ni Maria” help poor families and brings out the best in them.

2. Mary Immaculate Parish is in one (1) hectare lot and they make their lot productive by providing livelihood programs within their vicinity such as Kapitbahayanan Center (Garment Production), etc. They make the land productive as well as the Basic Ecclesial Communities.

3. The remarkable partnership w/ DOLE in poverty alleviation through livelihood program was made possible. Most likely, it’s a significant way of communion (koinoia), sense of mission (missio) and renewal (aggiornamento) of spirit and personhood among the beneficiaries. “The word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

References:

1. BEC-NCR General Assembly: BEC Report of Diocese of Paranaque, Sept. 29, 2012, Immaculate Conception Parish, Pasig City

2. Write-up: Pabahay ni Maria by Nitz

3. Interviews: Dona Caacbay, Dian Arcinal, Nida Vallaran, etal.