They did not win in any lottery but the survivors of the recent Yolanda storm surge in Tacloban, Leyte province are now enjoying series of golden opportunities being offered by Mayor Jose “Nonong” Ricafrente of Rosario, Cavite province.

Ricafrente told The Manila Times that 96 families or about 400 individuals were transported from Tacloban on November 15, 2013 and were adopted by the local government here, given free housing, medical and hospitalization services and scholarships, which were normally offered only to Rosario residents.

Now the mayor is also giving them livelihood training in rag-making. Ricafrente buys the raw materials (retazos or cloth left-overs) from the Export Processing Zone Authority in Rosario for P9 per kilo and the Yolanda victims turn them into various rag finished products, some of which sell for up to P100 for a set of three pieces.

Rhodora Abeto, a livelihood coordinator and a Yolanda survivor herself, said they are now producing 170 colorful products, such as bags made from rags, that are being sold in various markets here, with some corporations placing orders for 1,000 pieces.

Melinda Garcia, a social welfare officer, said the survivor-trainees prefer to work rather than permanently depend on dole-outs or alms. Garcia added that the survivors have no plans to return to Tacloban because “there is no house to live in, no food to eat and no job to find.”

Ricafrente said he will not be surprised if Rosario becomes the rag-making capital of the Philippines because he noted that this early, there is already a big demand for the products of the Yolanda victims. “By May this year, we will hold a Rag-making Festival at the Rosario municipal plaza,” he added.