Wheelchair-bound priest builds shelter for quake survivors?

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CATIGBIAN, Bohol, Feb. 22, 2015 — A retired priest who lost his ability to walk after a blood transfusion in 2004 builds core houses from his wheelchair for the magnitude 7.2 quake survivors in Bohol.

Fr. Fernando Po, an action priest despite his condition, with a help of a team, is constructing 12 more core houses for survivors in barangay Kang-iras in Catigbian town.

Quake survivors in Sandingan Island, Bohol build core houses together. (Photo: Tindog Bohol)

“We planned to construct only 10, but two couples came down asking [us] to build two more for them,” he said.

‘Behind the clouds village’

The site sits on the province’s highest point, which locals refer to as the “behind the clouds village,” Po said. But the roads are bad, and the previous typhoons had been a challenge to transport the construction materials.

“The core houses are one-room shelters that can accommodate a couple and three children,” he said.

One costs at least Php 10, 000, Po, who is fondly referred to by locals as “Fr. Dodong”, noted. The construction labor is supplied by the recipients themselves.

“It’s bayanihan (cooperation),” he said. “The 12 recipient families will build together core houses one at a time, until the targeted number is completed.”

Ten of the core houses are funded by friends in Australia, the two by his personal friends.

173 core houses

Aside from the ongoing project, Po had already constructed 173 core houses for survivors in different Bohol towns struck by the quake.

He built 41 core houses in Sandingan Island in Loon town; 20 in Catigbian; 10 in Tubigon; 70 in Maribojoc; 16 in Sagbayan; and 16 in Clarin.

The last two municipalities were the epicenter of the 7.2 quake that hit Bohol in 2013.

Po started building core houses for quake survivors in Bohol in May 2014.

Due to the bad weather and his condition, which required him to go in and out of hospital several times, he completed the construction of 138 core houses after six months in November last year.

His family has also provided quake survivors in Loon, Maribojoc, Clarin, and Sagbayan with relief goods, including medicine.

Po has handled three parishes in the United States before retiring due to his condition. (Oliver Samson/CBCPNews)

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