THE UNIVERSITY’S housing project in Villasis, Pangasinan, a Dominican mission in the North, was finally inaugurated last Dec. 13, 2013.

UST Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. and Urdaneta Archbishop Jacinto Jose, an alumnus, led the blessing of 40 houses under the Simbahayan project, “Bahay Mo, Mula sa Puso Ko,” which aims to help the victims displaced by typhoon “Pepeng.”

The typhoon hit Northern Luzon last October 2009, which caused massive floods, destroyed P27.297 billion worth of infrastructure and agricultural resources, damaged 61,869 houses, and affected seven municipalities in Pangasinan, according to the report of National Risk Reduction Management Council.

Jose was the first to propose to Simbahayan such project, which is the first and only construction project of the foundation as of now. Majority of the projects of Simbahayan involve training, technical support, and capability building for chosen partner communities in the country.

Project Architect and College of Architecture Dean John Joseph Fernandez said during the house blessing’s thanksgiving program that additional facilities would also be built as part of the project’s second phase. It will include a stable road network, electricity and water system, perimeter fence, landscape design, and a playground.

However, Simbahayan Director Marielyn Quintana said UST only focused on the phase one of the project, the construction of houses, but it is still open to continue its help to Diocese of Urdaneta for the phase two.

“The [playground to be] constructed by the NSTP (National Service Training Program) is just an additional. If in case, later on, the University would like to continue the other amenities provided in the plan, then we could work on that,” Quintana said.

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Dagohoy also acknowledged the contribution of students in the construction of houses and the development of the community.

“Ang project pong ito ay pinagpawisan ng aming mga estudyante. Kaya kung may karangalan ay dapat rin nating isama ang mga estudyanteng nagpupunta rito,” he said.

In his homily, Jose urged the beneficiaries of the project to show their gratitude for the help given to them by taking good care of what they received.

“[M]agpasalamat tayo. Ang kongkretong [pagpapakita] ninyo na nagpapasalamat kayo ay i-share ‘yung biyaya na natatanggap ninyo,” he said.

Norma Galicia, 58, one of the beneficiaries, said the project is a big benefit for them because her family had only been renting a house for two years after the devastation of their area, including their house.

“Hindi namin [masukat] ang saya namin kasi talagang ilang taon ko na itong hinihiling sa Panginoon,” she said.

Faculty of Engineering and College of Architecture students were involved in making the technical plans for the project, while NSTP students took part in the construction and painting of the houses.

The project started during the Quadricentennial celebration in 2011, under Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. The project costs a total of P3.2 million, donated by Thomasian alumni and other organizations.

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