When US President Barrack Obama assumed office in 2008, one of his plans was to implement a “Pivot to Asia” policy that aims to rebuild ties by shifting economic, diplomatic, and military sources from the US to Southeast Asian (SEA) nations. It finally took effect in 2011 and since then, SEA has seen a major increase of support and aid from the US.
This is true in the Philippines thanks to the continuous efforts of the US Embassy and its United States Agency for International Development (USAid). This month alone, US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg once again led the inauguration of a climate-resilient school building and health facility, as well as 100 new sari-sari stores in Tacloban City.
These projects are part of the US government’s more than P6.3 billion ($143-million) Typhoon Yolanda assistance projects, implemented through the Rebuild project of USAid.
Goldberg said, “The resilience, courage and determination of the people of Leyte to recover and build back better truly inspire all of us. The US government remains committed to restoring normalcy to the lives of affected families and we will continue to work closely with our friends in the Philippines to help rebuild this region better and stronger.”
The ambassador and USAid Deputy Mission Director Reed Aeschliman turned the school building over to the Department of Education (DepEd) and the City Government of Tacloban, represented by Department of Education (DepEd) Region 8 Director Dr. Luisa Yu, DepEd Tacloban City Division Superintendent Dr. Gorgonio Diaz, Mayor Alfred Romualdez of Tacloban City, and Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of the First District of Leyte.
Over 1,850 children and teachers in San Fernando Central School will benefit from the eight new classrooms.
The assistance also includes classroom furniture and teaching kits and is part of the US Government’s larger effort to construct and furnish more than 250 classrooms in Tacloban City and Leyte Province, which will benefit approximately 30,000 students.
Goldberg further inaugurated a two-story health facility at the Tacloban City Health office that will house a tuberculosis treatment clinic. Mayor Romualdez, Rep. Romualdez, Department of Health (DOH)-Region 8 Director Dr. Jose Llacuna Jr., and Tacloban City Health Officer Dr. Joedina Gumagay accepted the project on behalf of the government of the Philippines.
The new facility, and attendant medical equipment, will benefit about 39,000 residents from 45 barangays. A total of 12 health facilities will be constructed by the US government in partnership with DOH and local government units in areas devastated by Yolanda.
“The classrooms and health facilities are designed to be typhoon and earthquake-resilient and are capable of withstanding high velocity winds up to 360 kilometers per hour and an earthquake magnitude 8.5 on the Richter scale,” Aeschliman said.
To help restore the livelihoods of Yolanda survivors, Goldberg turned over 100 sari-sari stores to micro-entrepreneurs in Tacloban City and Palo, Leyte. These are among the 1,000 stores that will be constructed and restocked with inventory by USAid in partnership with American companies Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble (P&G).
Coca-Cola and P&G will train storeowners on basic store management to help ensure that they will be able to sustain their enterprises. USAid will also support business expansion by making microfinance available to eligible sari-sari storeowners. This will be facilitated through the P176-million ($4 million) Micro Enterprise Disaster Assistance Fund for Resiliency or the Midas Fund, a credit facility, which is implemented in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress.