FOR 24-year old Maria Lou Mendoyos, life has always been a challenge and a difficult daily struggle.
She left school when she was just in Grade 4 due to poverty, got pregnant when she was 17 and went on to live her life mostly on hand to mouth existence.
As if that was enough, on November 8, 2013 she thought that it was the end of the world as she lost their house and all their belongings when super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) made landfall in their barangay in Bogo City, Cebu.
While still barely recovering from the typhoon’s onslaught, she lost her 6-month-old baby due to blood infection.
A year after the disaster, Maria Lou and her family still has no decent house to call their own.
She and her two children, aged 6 and 2, and husband Arvie Crisostomo, a tricycle driver, live in a makeshift wooden animal cage in a no-build zone. But that will change today.
Mendoyos and her family are among the first beneficiaries of the housing project spearheaded by retail and property giant SM Prime through SM Cares, its corporate social responsibility arm.
The houses located in Barangay Polombato, Bogo City, will be turned over today to family-beneficiaries who will receive for free their disaster-resilient houses at the first SM Cares Housing Village, one of the badly-hit areas during Yolanda’s onslaught.
SM is building 1,000 homes in the Visayas for poor families displaced by the super typhoon, especially those still living in no-build zones and high-risk areas.
It has been made possible through the help of people who donated around P200 million to build the houses that were designed to withstand calamities and above the requirements of the existing Building Code and mandated standards.
Each house is made of pre-cast walls and roofs, which can withstand winds accompanying a Category 5 super typhoon without any major material damages.
The houses also have heat resistant painted roofing to help lower interior temperature and increase energy efficiency.
The windows and doors are made of aluminum frame and PVC to provide a high level of resistance to corrosion, rot, chipping, fading, insect assault, discoloration, and severe conditions.
The village will have utilities and basic amenities like street-lights, community center and basketball court. Community and livelihood development programs will also be conducted in each village to make the project more sustainable for the residents.
Aside from Bogo, SM Cares Housing Villages will also rise in Concepcion, Iloilo and cities of Ormoc and Tacloban, in Leyte. All villages will have 200 houses each, with the exception of Tacloban which will have 400 houses.