Love and Resilience

An average bahay kubo or nipa hut can last for 20 years. The marriage of Tatay Magdalino and Nanay Sidora Polinar has now outlived their house for the third time. This time, their house is now as resilient to disasters as their marriage.

In photo: Tatay and Nanay sitting in their finished house, repaired with the help of their neighbors (ACCORD)
An average bahay kubo or nipa hut can last for 20 years. For 61 years, or thrice the lifespan of the average nipa hut, Tatay Magdalino and Nanay Sidora Polinar have been together.

They live in Barangay Nahawan, a small agricultural and coastal community in the town of Clarin in Bohol. Tatay earned his keep working in the fields, while Nanay did the laundry of well-off families in the area. Things were not easy, but they at least they had each other.

But what the couple did not have was children. They could not conceive. “Paeta ning way bata (It’s very hard to have no children),” utters Tatay. As they grew older, this became more and more apparent. Tatay has high blood pressure in addition to his arthritis which made walking almost unbearable. Nanay developed cataract on her left eye, but because Tatay could no longer leave the house, she has to work for both of them. At 70 years old, Nanay goes around their barangay looking for any available odd jobs. When she gets home, she tends to a small garden of vegetables which helps them get through one day at a time.

8:00 AM, October 15, 2013. Nanay was discussing with her neighbour how fast changes in their surroundings are happening. Tatay was finally getting the hang of his arthritis as he walked around their house.  It was then that Nanay felt the ground hurling itself around. Shocked by the sheer power of the earthquake unfolding, Nanay still managed to call out Tatay’s name even if she could not see him. It was the longest thirty seconds of their lives.

What they saw after all the shaking stopped was even more heartbreaking. Everything was destroyed. Their house, the only thing they had, was now no more than a pile of wood and rubble. They wondered what would happen to them now.

It was then that the couple were chosen as beneficiaries for ACCORD and CARE Nederland’s shelter recovery assistance, supported by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO). At this time, Tatay literally could not leave his bed anymore to help with the repairs. Consistent with their commitment to support the most vulnerable, CARE and ACCORD mobilized the community to help. Their neighbors patiently rebuilt the couple’s house part by part, allowing Nanay to not only attend to Tatay’s needs but also participate in project’s activities such as stakeholders’ meetings and trainings.

With their house now completed, Nanay happily shares, “We are no longer afraid of our house collapsing on us when it rains. We are grateful for all the help we’ve received.” Repairs were done in compliance with Building Back Safer techniques to ensure that rebuilt houses are more resilient than before.

Their marriage has now outlived their house for the third time. As always, there is nowhere to go for them but forward. Nanay plans to follow through with her promise to herself and to the Almighty: to take care of Tatay as he had taken care of her when they were younger. The good old days are just as fresh today for them. Despite the challenges, every day with each other is a good new day.