AARON James Almadro had a promising career in a publishing company in Metro Manila, but he abandoned his dreams of making it big in the city and went back to his hometown in Palo, Leyte to take care of his septuagenarian parents.
That would be his last noble act for them.
Virgilio and Guadalupe Almadro were among the thousands killed when Super Typhoon Yolanda slammed into the Eastern Visayas on November 8, 2013.
After the typhoon left, Aaron searched for his parents.
“I walked for miles only to find out that they were dead. I took their bodies to a hotel, but since I left them there, I had no inkling as to where they were actually buried. They said it was in one of the mass graves there but I could no longer check,” Almadro told The Manila Times.
The loss of his parents was only the first of a string of misfortunes that he would face. Because the typhoon also destroyed their house, Aaron built a small shelter of nipa from donations raised by his friends in Manila.
He now stands to lose that nipa hut because of a government road-widening project.
“Our ancestral house is along San Salvador St., the national highway going to Ormoc City. It is now being taken care of by our cousins since we built our own house on our land beside it,” said Arron, adding that the land is covered by a valid title.
“Our concrete house got destroyed too and cannot be lived in, so I built a temporary mini hut beside it. If the [road]widening continues, 1.84 meters will be taken away from our lot, including the main foundations of the hut,” he said.
The government’s “build back better” strategy in rehabilitating areas hit by the super typhoon focuses on building permanent shelters for the victims. The Almadros and other residents covered by the plan, however, wonder why the road widening project should be given priority over house building.
“I am really disappointed, disillusioned, and furious at the government. Now they want to destroy it,” Almadro said.
Worse, he said, the notice of demolition from the Palo municipal government under Mayor Remedios Petilla did not mention any compensation for the lot.
“They didn’t even have the decency to inform us of the whole process: like the exact length of the road, the schedule of the project and other details. They haven’t even considered to think of alternatives like diversion roads or simply maximizing the road up to the drainage [canal]on either sides of the highway,” Almadro said.
He is worried that his lot would eventually be taken over by the government.
Almadro said about 100 families could be affected by the road project.
Malacañang has defended the local government’s move. Mayor Petilla is the mother of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that upon consultation with Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, it was explained that the local government was implementing its “right of way.”
“They continue to consult with local governments and other stakeholders,” the official said.
On his Facebook page, Almadro thanked his friends who shared their money to construct his house. He also apologized that their generosity will go to waste due to the project.
“Pasensiya na sa lahat ng nagdonate ng funds for me to build our mini hut, just received the last and final notice, gigibain na ‘to ng mag magagaling. And ironies of all ironies, icha-charge pa kame sa gagastusin nila sa paggiba sa mga bahay namin [sic],” said Aaron.
“According to the government, this is what we survivors need: wide asphalted roads,” he added.
Almadro said he is considering renting a room in Tacloban City where he could rebuild his life.