Built as a response to the problem of informal settler families (ISFs) who were also victims of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009, the Disiplina Village is the first in-city relocation site and public rental housing project for ISFs in the country. With the vision of benchmarking good quality housing units dedicated to building an empowered community with disaster-prepared and responsible homeowners, the city government of Valenzuela pushed for the construction of the biggest in-city relocation program in the country. With a total of 12.9 hectares, the Disiplina Villages in Ugong and Bignay accommodate more than 4,500 informal settler families, clearing up Valenzuela City from ISFs living in danger zones.
The Disiplina Villages are also complete communities – providing residents with access to schools, health centers, and even a city hall annex. Residents also have community vegetable farms for their consumption and additional income. A unique component of their program is the Home Space Agreeement which the LGU of Valenzuela City uses to instill discipline to its residents for long-lasting, more disaster-resilient communities with families that are well aware and prepared from impacts of natural calamities.
Background and Problem
Sufficient, proper and safe housing is a basic human right. In the case of many Filipinos, however, housing security has become a privilege more than a right. The problem of Informal Settler Families (ISFs) in the country, most especially in the Metropolitan Manila, has become more and more rampant through the years that more viable solutions are needed to be set forth. The onslaught of typhoon Ondoy in September 2009 posed a greater challenge for the national government to solve the problem of ISFs, particularly in the Metropolis.
In Valenzuela City alone, close to a thousand informal settler families living in danger zones, particularly those along the banks of TullahanRiver, have been affected. As an immediate response, the local government called on the private sector to help in providing them with better and safer living condition in a community they can call their own.
Solution and Impact
The overwhelming response of the private sector paved the way for the establishment of the only LGU-initiated housing project for the typhoon Ondoy victims, the Disiplina Village in Barangay Ugong. The Valenzuela City Government donated the 1.9 hectare property while the private sector helped build the units. The first implementation of this project has accorded some 890 ISFs with safer and more decent homes, quality basic services, values formation and other programs to restore human dignity. However, Disiplina Village Ugong was not enough to accommodate ISFs needing a disaster-resilient home. Through the 2015 Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS), Valenzuela City found out that there are still more than 3,000 ISFs in Valenzuela living in danger zones that need to be saved from imminent dangers due to their location and instability of their homes. As a response, The city government built the second Disiplina Village site, Disiplina Village Bignay (DVB).
The Disiplina Villages are the first in-city relocation sites that are complete communities. Disiplina Village Ugong has its own Day Care Center, high school and elementary school, and health facilities. Disiplina Village Bignay, on the other hand, with its own city hall annex or the Sentro ng Sama-SamangSerbisyo (3S Center) that has a health center, police community precinct, fire substation, barangay hall, daycare center, elementary school and high school. There is also an Activity center/covered court and mini park where residents can spend their leisure time and children their play time. The residents also started their own community vegetable farm for their own consumption and additional income.
The construction of the Disiplina Village Transport Terminal, Public Market and Chapel is underway. This is the biggest in-city public rental housing project in the country. With a PhP300 rental fee a month, it is considered as the lowest rental rate in the country, much lower compared to other public housing projects at about PhP 700 to PhP 3,000 or to a private apartment unit of the same floor area at about PhP 3,000 to PhP 4,000 a month. One unique component in the implementation of the program is the Home Space Agreement which binds the beneficiaries to the City Government’s policies and subjects them to the Eviction Guidelines. The said agreement is renewable yearly after a mid-year and year-end assessment. The Eviction Guidelines:
- That the residents take care of the units and no alteration should be
- That they maintain good relations with their neighbors
- That they comply faithfully with their obligations: least, utility bills,
- That they participate in the “sweat equity”
The beneficiary family’s sweat equity contribution, which includes partaking in the construction of the building units or site safekeeping and maintenance for at least 500 hours is one of the conditions for the availment of the housing units. With this, it is assured that only disciplined and cooperative residents who are ready to welcome change stay in the housing projects. Now with a total of 12.9 hectares, the Disiplina Villages Ugong and Bignayaccommodate more than 4,500 informal settler families, clearing up Valenzuela City from ISFs living in danger zones.
The success of the program is not only evident in the positive feedbacks that the city government of Valenzuela is receiving from its constituents and other localities but is also demonstrated by the following indicators: The birth of the Disiplina Village also ignited the participation of private sectors, non- government organizations and national government agencies. San Miguel Corporation (SMC), through its social development arm, San Miguel Foundation, Inc. (SMF), donated PhP 45 Million, at PhP 15 Million per year for the next three years, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility program to build more than 300 units. MERALCO, through its Corporate Social Responsibility arm, One Meralco Foundation, has partnered with the city government in providing energy to light the housing buildings. They have been lighting Disiplina Village since October of 2011. PhP 13.8 Million pipe-laying project in partnership with Maynilad was also completed in May 2012 for the Disiplina Village Ugong. Both villages have electricity and power connection. Moreover, Gawad Kalinga organized values formation programs, implementation of the community development plan and mentoring of the community leaders towards self-governance.
The National Housing Authority also came into the program and helped build over 250 more units in DV Ugong and the stretch of the Tullahan easement which covers barangays Malinta, Marulas, Gen. T. De Leon and Ugong that has been a home to almost 2,000 families has been cleared. A total of 1,806 ISFs from danger zones have already been relocated and are now living in safer and better homes with the remaining 2,757 to transfer in the coming months. With this, it is assured that all ISFs living in danger zones will have better communities and homes to live in. Through the efforts of the local government and the homeowners, six-year old DV- Ugong still looks newly-built compared to other housing projects which look dilapidated after only a couple of months.
Above all, the attitudes of the former informal settler beneficiaries have changed. From tragedy victims, they are now empowered model families living in model communities and a character village with disciplined residents. Their perception of themselves and their community has changed. Their outlook transformed from the typical “squatter” to “responsible and disciplined homeowners” attitude; from “walangpakialam” to “may pagsasamahan.” With ownership of the program instilled to the beneficiaries themselves, the Disiplina Villages are to remain model communities for once informal settler families in dangerous living conditions.