After more than five years of living in wooden houses built on bamboo stilts, the Bajaus in Puntod, Alaska Mambaling, Cebu City will soon reside in concrete, socialized houses through the Bajau Integrated Area Development Project (BIAD-P), a partnership project of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), Cebu City Government, University of San Carlos-College of Architecture and Fine Arts, Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and partners from Kortrijk, Belgium and Haarlemmermeer, The Netherlands.
The BIAD-P aims to transform the Bajaus into a progressive, self-reliant community through the process of social mobilization and community development.
BIAD-P proponents broke ground on the 140-hectare Bajau site at Sitio Puntod, Alaska Mambaling last Aug. 1. This site will house 153 Badjau households or approximately 918 individuals in Alaska Mambaling.
Cebu City officials headed by Mayor Michael Rama, Councilor Margot Osmeña, and Councilor Alvin Dizon; Consul Enrique Benedicto, honorary consul of Belgium; local government unit of Mambaling; partners; and students joined the Bajau community as they witnessed the groundbreaking, which signalled the official implementation of the BIAD-P.
In his message, Rama stressed the need for cooperation to make Cebu City more progressive. He also encouraged the Bajaus to learn the Cebuano language so that they can be better understood, thus, contribute to the unity among Cebuanos and Bajaus.
Volunteers from Cebu City’s sister cities in Haarlemmermeer, The Netherlands and Kortrijk, Belgium, who are delegates of the 21-day Multi-city Youth eXchange program, helped in the construction of two pilot quadrant houses using the Inter-locking Compressed Earth Blocks (ICEB) technology. They also participated in other activities on social and sustainable development like coastal clean-up, ICEB production, mat weaving, pearl accessories making, and boat painting. They had a four-day immersion in the Bajau community.
For her part, Ma. Christina Aboitiz, executive committee chair of RAFI, lauded the efforts and persistence of Sister Evelyn Flanagan, Presentation Sisters Coordinator, in helping the Bajaus in Cebu.