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Requests for house blessing from former settlers in Brgy. Taliptip, Bulakan, Bulacan, have risen, according to the parish priest serving areas in and around the future site of the country’s largest, most modern international airport--as former settlers move in to newly-built homes provided to them by San Miguel Corporation (SMC).

This comes after SMC’s early completion of new house-and-lots for, and distribution of financial assistance to, the former settlers from Taliptip--most of whom used to live in shanties exposed to the elements, even as private fish ponds they used to work for had long closed down.

According to Fr. Ramon Garcia, parish priest of Nuestra Senora de Salambao Mission Parish in Obando, some 16 new houses were blessed recently in barangays Sta. Ana, Bambang, Tibig, and San Nicolas and other nearby areas in Bulakan town.

The priest, whose parish covers Taliptip, including Sitio Dapdap, Capol, Bunutan, Camansi, Kinse, and Pariahan, admitted that there has been an overwhelming number of requests for house blessing from former Taliptip residents but he has had to limit these due to restrictions brought on by the pandemic.

For the houses he has blessed so far, Fr. Garcia said that his key takeaway from new homeowners is their sense of gratitude.

“The overwhelming feedback is being thankful first and foremost to God, pagsasalamat sa Diyos. Kaya po nagpabless ng bahay is to recognize God’s fervor to them. Ito yung recognition na everything comes from God, kaya dapat sila magpa-bless, dapat sila magpasalamat,” Fr. Garcia said.

“Ipinapayo ko rin sa kanila po na laging magpapasalamat, dapat magtiwala, huwag mawawalan ng pag-asa at laging maniwala sa grasya ng Diyos.”

Meanwhile, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) credited the Diocese of Malolos for its role in the successful relocation of former Taliptip residents, who now also have better prospects for the future because of new job and livelihood opportunities provided by the company.

The company, which is investing some P740 billion to build the “game-changer” Manila International Airport project, said that it was the Diocese, headed by Archbishop Dennis Villarojo, that interceded for the settlers and communicated to the company their wishes.

“We promised Bishop Dennis Villarojo that we would prioritize helping Taliptip residents move to safer locations and have houses to call their own. We also said we would make sure they will have a better future. With guidance and support from Bishop Villarojo, we have been able to deliver on these promises, and we’re committed to continue taking care of residents from Taliptip,” said SMC president Ramon S. Ang.

After dialogues with residents, most preferred to avail of financial assistance in order to build their own houses, even as SMC still provided relocation to titled house and lots in safer areas in Bulacan, for those who chose this option.

“Many have completed construction of their new houses. A good number of former settlers have also gone back to their provinces to build their houses and start anew there. Some have used part of the financial assistance to put up small businesses, or send their children to school. We are in touch with them and we continue to monitor their progress,” Ang said.

Upon the Bishop Villarojo’s instruction, SMC also distributed the appraised cash value of abandoned chapels in Sitio Pariyahan, Sitio Dapdap, Sitio Bunutan, and Sitio Capol.

“We continue to seek the guidance of the good bishop in all our initiatives and we promise that we will continue to care for them and attend to their needs. Our support goes beyond financial assistance as we have launched skills and livelihood training programs in cooperation with TESDA to equip former Taliptip residents for jobs at the airport project, and to start their own livelihoods,” And said.

Meanwhile, Bishop Villarojo has instructed Fr. Garcia to continue attending to the needs of parishioners who have moved in other areas but are still within his parochial jurisdiction.

SMC also works with the Diocese of Malolos, through Social Action Group, for the regular distribution of nutribuns to poor communities in Bulacan.

Since the start of the pandemic, SMC has mounted the largest food donation drive in the country, with donations reaching over half a billion pesos. Recently, it initiated a new program to distribute energy- and nutrient-packed nutribuns to the poorest communities, utilizing its Petron gas stations as staging areas and enlisting the help of charitable institutions.

Since Sept. 22, SMC, through the Diocese of Malolos, has distributed nutribuns in Sitio Tramo, Sto Cristo in Pulilan, Bulacan; Lumang Bayan in Plaridel, Bulacan; Malolos, Bulacan; Dap-dap, riverside in Plaridel, Bulacan; and Plaridel Dike in Plaridel, Bulacan.

Apart from Malolos, other pilot areas where SMC now distributes nutribuns are Caloocan, Tondo, and Payatas.

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