SAN JOSE DEL MONTE City, Bulacan, September 22, 2014—Manila Archbishop Luís Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle recently led the groundbreaking ceremony of a Church-funded housing project set to rise in Barangay Muzon, San José del Monte City, Bulacan, which aims to benefit poor employees of his archdiocese.
Tagle shared that this endeavor by Domus Mariae Foundation Inc., the social housing arm of the Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM), is in keeping with the Catholic Church’s social apostolate which ministers to the needy.
“Poverty comes in many forms, that is why we have feeding programs for the hungry, education for the unlettered … One face of poverty now is the problem of homelessness, and that is what this housing project seeks to address in its own little way,” said Tagle.
According to the prelate, the Church considers Domus Mariae Village II more of a mission than a project
Shelter for the homeless
“To quote Pope Francis, we’re neither a government agency nor an NGO [non-government agency] in disguise. At first glance, we are just doing what NGOs and the government are doing. … But first of all our motivation is spiritual, pastoral, and missionary,” he explained.
The new housing project covers an area of 4,000 square meters and costs roughly P31 million to build.
Domus Mariae executive director Fr. Carlos V. Reyes said the project will be completed within two years and will cover 73 beneficiaries.
Each 50 square meter unit costs P620,000, payable through Pagibig housing loan for a 25-year amortization period.
“We cannot overemphasize the need to address this urgent concern for urban housing, especially in the light of many who continue to be displaced by natural and man-made disasters and calamities. Millions of Filipinos have no roof above their heads, or a shelter to protect them from the elements. Some lived in depraved conditions not worthy of the dignity of God’s children,” Tagle told CBCPNews.
Founded in February 1983 by then Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal L. Sin, Domus Mariae was envisioned to provide low-cost housing for the poor.
Its mission is to help and promote shelter to the homeless and landless families in the slums of Metro Manila, which is a major concern for Church and state.
Recognizing the right of everyone to decent shelter, the Church joined the government in addressing the country’s urban housing problem.
It is in this spirit that the Domus Mariae was incorporated as a non-stock, non-profit organization in February 24, 1983 to provide socialized housing for needy families.
Domus Mariae’s first project is the Saarland Village I in Barrio Cupang, Antipolo City, a one-hectare land donated by the Orosa family, which was developed in 1983 for 110 landless/homeless families from San Andres Bukid, Manila.
Saarland Village I was followed by Saarland Village II Phase I, also in Antipolo, which was completed in 1986; Caritas Village, Novaliches (1988) whose 34 unit row-houses were awarded to 17 Caritas Manila and Domus Mariae employees, and 17 Vietnamese immigrants sponsored by the Center for Assistance To Displaced Persons.
Saarland Village II Phase II (1991) benefited mostly Archdiocesan employees and squatter families from San Andres Bukid, Sta. Ana, and Pandacan, Manila.
Also in 1991, the foundation entered into a joint-venture agreement with the National Housing Authority (NHA) to develop Domus Mariae Condominium I, consisting of 2 condominium building of 88 units each located behind the Holy Family Parish in San Andres Bukid.
Its beneficiaries were mostly members of the Nagkakaisang Lakas ng San Andres Bukid organized by Msgr. Melchor David.
Other Domus Mariae projects include the Taguig Relocation Center (1993) in Tipas; the Domus Mariae Condominium III (1995) also beside the Holy Family Parish in San Andres Bukid; the 74 unit five-storey medium-rise Domus Mariae Condominium III (2007) built on the 580 square meter piece of land owned by the Archdiocese of Manila in Ducepec St., Paco, Manila; the Calauan Laguna Relocation Center (2010); Northville in Marilao, Bulacan; the Handicapped Center within the Caritas Compound; and the paving and concreting of the Caritas Manila Segunda Mana Bodega.
In 1998, the foundation lent P3.9 M to the Payatas Scavengers Homeowners Association used to buy a three-hectare piece of land in Rodriguez, Rizal for the relocation of more than 300 families from the Payatas dumpsite.
Because of what it has accomplished for the poor, Tagle called Domus Mariae “the Archdiocese’s little contribution towards helping the least of our brothers and sisters”. (Raymond A. Sebastián with reports from Lloyd Ranque/PCUP)