Urban Poor Ministry

Diocese of Kalookan, Kalookan City, Metro Manila, Philippines

Tuesday, October 09, 2007



Saturday, April 28, 2007

Can Anything Good come out from Navotas?

Dear Friends,

I am posting the article written by David Heimann, the director of AD Sodalitatem.(AD SODALITATEM seeks to promote the Church's teaching on Solidarity through prayer, education, and charitable giving to the poor in developing countries.) David Heimann is in his 365 days pilgrimage to visit different churches around the world. We are very priviledged to meet him in his visit to our parish the San Lorenzo Ruiz and Companion Martyrs in Navotas. Thank you David for writing an article about our parish which I am republishing here:

Can Anything Good Come from Navotas?

John 1:42 – “Can anything good come from Nazareth?

That line from scripture is often said very matter-of-factlly, but the depth behind the quotation is extremely significant. Nazareth was a place that stank of the fermented waste of forgotten ruin. Even a Cubs fan, for whom, hope springs eternal, would not dare to believe that “next year,” a savior could come from Nazareth. Imagine, if you will, the worst heaping decay of desperation that you can think of, and you have imagined Nazareth of 0 A.D.

Or Navotas today. Take your pick.

In the poorest part of the metropolitan area of Manila, there is a parish by the name of San Lorenzo de Ruiz, run by the Dominican Fathers. San Lorenzo is the first Filipino saint. In a parish area that I have measured to be one square kilometer, there are around 100,000 people living in conditions barely conceivable and barely livable. The people survive scratching for scraps of fish disregarded as trash in the nearby fish market. In Vietnam, I saw single room houses in which seven people lived. Cut down the size of the room in half, and that is a typical house for seven in Navotas. The streets reek from piss and waste. The tin roofs are ravished with rust from the powerful corrosiveness of sea-salt air. The fragile canopies can rarely last more than two or three years in these conditions. Forget the fact that I personally have no hot water with which to shower, there are no showers here, and the dirty, barefoot children, have an odor of the same stench that lingers in the streets, mold, fish, and dried blood from the recent butchering of a chicken. The narrow streets are barely wide enough to fit a coffin, which I think about because I peer into a home of a dead man where his casket now rests. There is no funeral home to hold the wake. His rotting corpse will accompany the six others who will sleep beside him tonight.

The stagnating sea water creeps up to the foot of the houses where roosters are caged. They are being taunted with isolation so they will be more aggressive in the evening sport of cock fighting. If this rooster wins, the owner will eat the spoils the next day. If there are any animal activists who are offended by this, I encourage you to come to Navatos, or even just to view my pictures. You’ll definitely be offended, but the cock fighting will be the least of your concerns, or should be.

This reclaimed land is below sea level, and has been reclaimed only to become a cist pool of vomit and garbage. I am easy fodder for the hungry vandals who glare at me in the rare, but imposing corridors, that open to 10 by 10 meters. They would devour everything I have were it not for my only armor, the presence of two priests in clerics, and five nuns in habits. No one will hurt the religious, nor their company. Infants run around naked. Skeletal cats peek out of crevices, and look to scavenge, less tomorrow they be the scavenged. This place is so poisonous, the people are spared the sickness of Malaria. The water is so polluted, Malaria cannot survive in it. I wish I was over-exaggerating, but its a true statement. Malaria can't live in the water here. Were it not for the angels living here, this would be hell.

The angels are the one’s brining hope. They are the successful fish traders who volunteer as Catechists in some of the five primary schools. (Just a note the AVERAGE class size in the primary school is 45 students, with each school having 4-5 classes of each grade level in each school. The angels are the Sisters of the Good News. A religious order from France, they live here in a mere “ministry of presence.” They live in a simple flat and play with the children of the street. Their important work is merely to make known to these people that they are still human, and very much loved by God. The Sisters also coordinate volunteers from France and Germany who live here and do the same. The only courage I have to communicate with one of these angels is the fact that she notices my Taize necklace, and we both put our hands to our hearts. At our feet, are children putting together a broken puzzle.

And there are the angels who serve the parish. The parish council, five professional catechists, the Dominican priests, and now the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help from South Korea. As I was visiting them here today, the sisters arrived to sign an agreement with the Dominican Prior Provincial Fr Edmund Nantes. (Just to clarify, he is the provincial of the priory, not the previous provincial.) This agreement gives a portion of the parish’s land to the religious community for ten years, free of charge, in exchange for a promise by the religious community to serve the parish.

And the parish truly celebrated their arrival. The school lined the streets with the students holding flags from the Philippines and South Korea. They sang songs on their arrival and the school marching band played along. Something good was happening here in Navotas.

I have pictures from today, and don’t let my words of despair frighten you from viewing them. First, download Google Earth onto your computer at www.googleearth.com, then click here to see Navotas and San Lorenzo de Ruiz parish. You will see a church building half constructed and stalling in that state due to lack of funds, you will still see a lot of happy children… I still maintain what I said last week. Photographers seriously have to work hard to get pictures of miserable children. Every time I pull out my camera I get smiles. That is, unless I’m quick. You will see the streets. You will see Fr. Allen, the pastor of the parish. You will see the Sisters of the Good News, and you will see the welcoming celebration of the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I did not create separate links for our stops, so scroll around the neighborhood in your Google Earth browser to find the pictures I took, and where they were taken.

What was happening in Navotas that was so good? Simple. A relationship was foraged. That’s all. An agreement between two religious communities who both promised to work together for the betterment of this community, and therefore, the world. What may evades us is why a simple agreement to work together is so important. We sometimes forget a simple truth, sin is merely the destruction of relationships, the relationships between us and God, and us and each other. If we want to counteract sin, then we must build (and reconcile) good relationships. When relationships of love are made, and confirmed, sin is defeated. That is why reception of Holy Communion is so important. When we receive communion, we celebrate that a relationship has been forged, between God, and us, and each other.

I was surprised that the parish was also encouraged by my presence. “What can I do?” I thought. “I am only a photographer and a storyteller.” I told them I would ask for help from parishes and schools in the United States, but could make no specific promises. I said, most of all, I would keep them in my prayers, as they seek to combat crippling poverty with simple love. “You renew my hope.” The pastor, Fr. Allen, told me. I hope this is true. Another relationship was forged as well today, between me and these heroes and heroines who dedicate their lives to work for the poor. I promised I would broadcast to the world that something good was happening in Navotas.

Now, the relationships that are being built in Navotas, extend to you.

I make a request of you. Not out of guilt. Not out of sorrow. But out of love, please keep the poor of Navotas in your prayers. Always look to where we, as a society, disregard others, and remember that it is the stone which the builder rejected, that has become the cornerstone. We can look to Navotas for the coming of salvation, and it happens through simple relationships, engaged in love.

I give you not my words, but the words of Fr. Edmund C. Nantes during today’s ceremony to close.

“We face a world in which poverty is caused by organized greed, and we who take pride in being called Christians, being called “Children of the Light,” should organize ourselves to counteract organized greed with organized care. And care not just for the soul, but also for the body, because this is what is close to the heart of Jesus. Children, soon you will take your final exams. But someday you will face the exam of the last day. And our great master wants us to have perfect scores, so he has given us everything we need to know to pass. He will ask us, “When I was hungry, did you feed me. When I was thirsty did you give me to drink.” Today, the heart of Jesus has placed the needs of this poor parish in the hands of the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help from Korea. May this solidarity between these two countries, and not just these two countries but the world, through the use of the internet, and Google Earth, see that this is good news! Good news is happening in this seemingly insignificant part of the world, similar to the insignificance of Bethlehem. Who could say that something good could come out of that place? But we thank God, because truly, something good is happening today in Navotas.”

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Issues of Road Widening and Impending Demolition in R-10

The Technical Assistance Organization of the Phils. (TAO-Phils.), an NGO composed of young architects and engineers, presents their findings about the dangers, challenges and suitability of living in Tanza as an alternative relocation. This meeting takes place in San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish last September 7. Various groups, NGO's and PO's attended.

Mang Ano discusses the alternative housing in Tanza, Navotas in view of the impending demolition in R-10.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Law that Favors Urban Poor

The law that favors urban poor

Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (Republic Act 7279) was signed into law by the then President Corazon C. Aquino on 24 March 1992. Four days later, the complete text of which was published simultaneously in two news broadsheets: Malaya and Manila Chronicle. UDHA became effective on 29 March 1992, and since then, the issue on housing for the poor was never the same again.

The said law, on one hand, fosters peopleБ─≥s participation in the so-called Б─°urban development process.Б─² For instance, it gives reason for the urban poor and homeless citizens to get involved in housing and resettlement issues. Why? Because the law simply guarantees security of land tenure for the socialized housing beneficiaries. Decent shelter is what UDHA hopes to provide among the underprivileged.

On the other hand, UDHA recognizes the important role of all local government units as implementors of socialized housing program. This is decentralization of power at its best. In other words, the LGUs will spell the success of the program depending on how they manage important details on social housing, livelihood programs, transport system, ecology, population, among others.

Besides, UDHA draws the private sector (i.e. developers) to participate in national shelter program by tapping its financial resources in exchange for several interesting incentives. Incentives range from simplification of requirements for developers to exemptions from several taxes. UDHA requires developers of proposed subdivision projects to set aside 20 percent of the total subdivision area for socialized housing.

The said law also acknowledges the participation of several government agencies, like National Housing Authority, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board; Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council; National Mapping Resource Information Authority; Land Management Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources; National Statistics Office; Department of Finance; Department of Trade and Industry; Department of Transportation and Communications; Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor; Philippine National Police; and others.

UDHA was originally written in English when both House Bill No. 34310 and Senate Bill No. 234 were consolidated into a law. No official Filipino translation of the law was released by the administration. But in this reference compilation, a Filipino translation written by Bobby Yatco is included. It is hoped that by doing so, the readers would somehow grasp salient provisions of the law. If by chance the translation inadvertently creates misunderstanding or doubt on the meaning of the text, the readers are advised to consult the English version. The UDHA English versionБ─≥s original meaning shall prevail.

To paraphrase Article 3, Chapter 1 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, ignorance of UDHA exempts no one from following it. Read, therefore, and be armed.

(from Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies, INC.)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Demolitions 3

Santa Quiteria sa Baesa Kalookan-300 pamilya ang naapektuhan ng demolisyon. Court of Order din ito talo rin sa kaso kaya pina demolish ng may ari ng lupa hindi kinikilala ng sheriff at ng mga pulis ang tamang proseso na ayon sa batas. R-A 7279 at walang relokasyon.

Nahati ang samahan sa dalawa, 35 lamang ang nakakuha ng financial assistance sa PCUP

Meeting sa parokya kasama ang mga apektado
Request financial assistance in PCUP
Dialogue sa UPAO Kalookan
Orientation sa UDHA

Nakalipat sila sa maayos na relokasyon sa Kalookan at nabigyan ng financial assistance sa PCUP na P 4,000 kada pamilya para sa down payment ng lupa

Pamasawata C3 Kalookan-25 pamilya na nademolish dahil sa proyekto ng DPWH na flood control at ang alok nilang relokasyon ay sa towerville sa Bulacan

Hindi naniniwala na may demolisyon

Pamunuan ang makikipag-usap sa DPWH at NHA

Harang sa demolisyon
Dialogue sa UPAO Kalookan
Dialogue kay Percival Chavez ng PCUP

Nademolish pa rin sila mahina ang loob sa pagpapahayag sa kanilang karapatan.

Demolitions 2

Marcelo NBBS Navotas Б─⌠ 700 pamilya ang maapektuhan ng Road Widening project ng DPWH, walang relokasyon at financial assistance ang kanilang alok na P15,000 at walang maayos na konsultasyon sa mga apektado

Hindi nagkakaisa ang mga apektado dahil sa mga sumusunod:

May NGOБ─≥s na nakaka impluwensya sa samahan
Hindi makapagdesisyon ng maayos ang pamunuan
Gusto nila in-city relocation walang suporta galling kay Mayor Toby

Dialogue with Dir. Gatan (DPWH), Mayor Toby Tiangco at Congressman Sandoval.
Organisa ng Samahan
Orientation sa UDHA
Street Mass ni Fr. Allan Lopez

Naantala ang kanilang demolisyon at nagkaroon ng maayos na pakikipagusap ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno sa mga apektado

Demolisyon sa Lourdes Market Tenant Association sa Malabon Б─⌠ 750 pamilya ang naapektuhan sa demolisyon. Ito ay private lot at natalo sila sa kaso kaya pina demolish ng may ari ng lupa at walang

Hindi maayos na pamunuan ng samahan dahil sa pangulo mismo ng samahan ay may pansariling interes.

б╥ Nag request ng financial assistance sa PCUP organisa sa mga apektado
б╥ Dialogue with Bishop Bacani
б╥ Orientation sa UDHA

Nakakuha ng financial assistance sa PCUP na P75,000 para sa livelihood nila

Tinanggap ng Bacani Foundation
Nanatili pa rin sila sa tabing ilog at kalsada

Gabriela Letre Malabon 90 pamilya ang naapektuhan ng demolisyon, private lot at natalo sa kaso ang mga tao kaya pina demolish sila ng may ari hinarass ang mga apektado ng sheriff at sapilitan na inilabas ng mga pulis ang mga tao sa kanilang bahay o pinapadlock kasama ang mga gamit nila. May mga nasaktan at nasugatan na mga apektado.

Tumayo sa tabing kalsada Minamadali na sila ni Mayor Oreta sa Malabon na alisin sa kalsada

Dialogue with Mayor Oreta at Percival Chavez sa PCUP
Naghanap ng relocation site na in-city

Nakakuha ng financial assistance sa PCUP na
P 7,00 bawat pamilya may target na in-city relocation. Tanza Navotas 3

Asague Extension sa Malabon. May 1500 na pamilya hinarass ng demolisyon ng sheriff at mga pulis court order din talo ang ilang pamilya na lumaban sa kaso ngunit gusto ng mga naghahabol ng lupa na lahatan ang pagpapaalis sa mga tao kahit hindi lumaban sa kaso.

Hindi pa sila handa na umalis sa kinatitirikan nila at umaasa na mananalo sa kaso.

Wala pa silang plano na paghahanda para sa kanilang permanenteng tirahan

Strateheya-Paano mapapahinto ang demolisyon?

File ng TRo
Mobilization sa munisipyo
Organisa sa mga apektado
Orientasyon sa kanilang karapatan
Nahinto ang demolisyon at sinuspende ng huwes ang order for demolition.


Accomplishments: Issues of Demolitions

7TH Street sa Kalookan
last September 2004
Б─⌠ 35 pamilya ang
apektado ng
demolisyon ang nag
demolish ay MMDA
walang relokasyon at
hindi sinunod ang
proseso ng UDHA.

Nagsariling baklas ng mga tao dahil sa takot

Hinarang ang MMDA at pinaliwanag ang karapatan ng mga apektado

Kinausap ang UPAO Kalookan at Mayor Echiverri
Pinababa sa area si P. Chavez chairman ng PCUP
Bumaba sa area si Fr. Allan Lopez
Suporta ang parish priest at PPC kawan Leaders.

Ang karamihan nanatili pa rin sila sa area ang iba naman ay kumuha ng in-city relocation sa Bagongbong Kalookan

- Technical Assistance Organization (TAO)
- Planning Resources Operating System (PROS)
- AMH Б─⌠ Philippines

- Mr. Rafaelito Chavez of Fil-Oil
- Mr. Percival Chavez of PCUP
- LGu of Navotas

Ang proyektong ito ay isang pamamaraan upang matulungan ang mga maralita sa Diocese ng Kalookan sa usapin ng kasiguraduhan ng paninirahan dahil ditto mayroon pang pamilya na nademolish sa Navotas na umaasa rin na matulungan sa ganitong pamamaraan ng UPM

Erlinda M. Arranchado
UPM Diocesan Coordinator

Mariano M. de Vera
UPM Diocesan Coordinator

UPM Diocesan Priest-In-Charge

Urban Poor Ministry

Urban Poor Ministry


Alternative in-city Relocation sa Barangay Tanza Navotas na may sukat na 1 hektarya sa halagang P700 per sq. meter at ang kabuuang halaga ay P 7 000,000 (seven million)

Proseso sa 1 hectare:

179 pamilya ang beneficiaries na mula sa Malabon at Navotas may down payment bawat pamilya na P 5600 na ang kabuuang halaga ay P1M at ang natitiran balance na P 5 000 000 (five million) ay huhulugan nila sa loob ng limang taon na may interes na 6% Diminishing balance. Ang may ari ng lupa ay si Mr. Mario Sioche.

Buwan ng February taong kasalukuyan nagkaroon ng MOA signing

Buwan ng March taong kasalukuyan nagkaroon ng survey

March 20, 2006 nagkaroon ng site blessing with Bishop Deogracias Iц╠eguez.

First week of April 2006 lilipat na ang mga beneficiaries sa site.

Urban Poor Ministry

Urban Poor Ministry

Urban Poor Ministry of the Diocese of Kalookan

Peace! This will be the official blog of the Urban Poor Ministry of the Diocese of Kalookan. We will be posting issues and concerns that UPM ministers and collaborators address on a regular basis. Some posts will be done in Filipino as reported by our collaborators. We hope though to translate these posts in English for worldwide readership.