A YEAR after they launched the fund-raising program Balik Balay, organizers of the Balik Cebu group announced they will begin the construction of 50 nipa huts in Esperanza, Pilar, Camotes this month.
“The resettlement area in Esperanza, which can accommodate up to 100 nipa huts, was purchased last December. With that, we will embark on the groundbreaking and construction of the 50 nipa huts as soon as possible,” said Tetta Baad, chairperson of the Cebu City Tourism Council (CCTC) and Balik Cebu.
According to Baad, the groundbreaking was initially scheduled last Jan. 4, but bad weather limited access to Pilar, Camotes, so the ceremony was postponed.
Every year for the past 14 years, Balik Cebu, which is a program under the CCTC, has rolled out the red carpet to welcome balikbayans. Last January 2014, the organization embarked on a major campaign to help survivors whose homes were wrecked by super typhoon Yolanda last Nov. 8, 2013.
The Balik Cebu committee received tremendous financial support from the balikbayans, who expressed willingness to help typhoon survivors rebuild their homes, Baad said. For each 15-square-meter nipa hut, donors had to raise at least P35,000.
Donations are still welcome for the next 50 houses.
The Balik Cebu committee launched last Thursday the Balik Cebu Booth located near the concierge counter of Ayala Center Cebu. The booth, which is open from Jan. 8 to 18, allows balikbayans and tourists to purchase tickets for the Balik Cebu Homecoming Dinner on Jan. 15 at The Terraces, seats at the Sinulog Grandstand during the parade on Jan. 18, or reserve a slot to tour the province during the Suroy-Suroy Sugbo.
Baad said they expect to welcome more than 200 balikbayans who will come home next week to pay homage to Sto. Niño and join the Sinulog festivities.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 10, 2015.