Canada helps Bohol bounce back
I had the honor to recently make my first trip to Bohol and visit humanitarian assistance projects being developed with the assistance of Canada and others following the tragic 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the province last October. The visit was also an opportunity to highlight the good work of Rotarians from both countries that are benefiting Bohol. I also saw some of the many ecotourism wonders found in the province, and had a taste of the famed hospitality Boholanos are well known for.
On Panglao Island, I witnessed the official turnover of educational materials and medical supplies donated by Rotary World Help from Vancouver. More than 20 computer sets—desktops and laptops—as well as foodstuff and school and medical supplies sent over by Rotarians were donated to the people of Panglao. Mayor Nila Montero, herself a Rotarian, was on hand to receive the contributions. Under this program, Rotarians in Canada have sent over 70 containers of goods to the Philippines.
There are long-lasting bonds between Boholanos and Canadians. Many Boholanos now call Canada home, with strong community associations across the country.
After the Bohol earthquake, Canada was one of the first countries to pledge assistance. We provided C$1 million, or approximately P40 million, to various humanitarian organizations striving to meet the needs of those affected.
This included World Vision, which received P10 million for its progressive core shelter project in Maribojoc, one of the most damaged towns. Along with Gov. Edgardo Chatto, I visited a number of the new 30-square-meter homes designed locally and supported by Canada, Oxfam and the National Housing Authority.
I joined Governor Chatto, Mayor Leoncio Evasco and World Vision Philippines chair Liwayway Vinzons Chato in handing out certificates of entitlement for these homes to more than 500 families. It was a touching ceremony and a critical moment in the lives of those who were so impacted by the tragedy.
Other assistance Canada provided included P10 million to Unicef, benefiting more than 340,000 persons, and providing assistance for water, health and sanitation cluster coordination, mobile water treatment units, and rehabilitation of water source and supply systems.
The International Federation of the Red Cross also received P10 million from Canada to address emergency needs by providing shelter assistance, psychosocial support and emergency healthcare. The amount of P10 million was also given to the Center for International Studies and Cooperation to distribute hygiene kits and cash-for-work programs, and for assistance to women’s livelihood. This assistance helped thousands of residents in the towns of Tubigon and Catigbian.
Canada’s humanitarian assistance is the latest in a long history of development partnership with Bohol. Bohol has been a partner in various projects funded by Canada, including the Canadian Executive Service Organization Business Advisory Services Project that provided advice to startups such as the Bohol Bee Farm and Loboc River Cruise, which today are very successful enterprises. Canada also financially supported the Loboc Children’s Choir, vocational training facilities for the deaf in Tagbilaran City and small livelihood enterprises in the municipalities of Jagna and Antequera.
Today, Bohol benefits from Canadian funding to help strengthen local governments and improve capacity in tourism management, and for staff training in the hotel sector, through a joint Canada-Asian Development Bank program. We have also funded a common service facility for women through our successful GREAT Women project.
Canada hopes that these projects continue to impact positively upon the lives of Boholanos and help ensure greater opportunity and a brighter future for all.
Neil Reeder is Canada’s ambassador to the Philippines.