General Trias, Cavite—Once the cradle of the Philippine revolution, the province of Cavite has become part of a different type of mass movement, as droves of blue collar workers head there in search of jobs and affordable housing.
The newcomers are attracted by job openings in the many factories making shoes, garments, auto parts, and computer chips, which have chosen to set up shop in Cavite because it is close to Metro Manila. The provincial government is spearheading efforts to provide a better living environment for these workers through its support for the ambitious Pamayanang Maliksi Cavite Mass Housing Project. Cavite's first such housing project, it broke ground in March 2008 on 53 hectares in General Trias. When complete, it will offer 4,834 low-cost housing units.
Riza Ferrer, 30, works in Imus City, Cavite, at a garment factory that exports children's clothes to the United States. She moved into her new house in August 2008 with her husband, their 5-yearold daughter, and her brother-in-law. She pays a monthly amortization rate of just 2,365 pesos (P) ($51), payable over 20 years—only slightly higher than the rent in her old boarding house. As the first worker from her factory to buy a house, she aroused the curiosity of coworkers who were also interested in owning a home.
Analyn Rillera, 28, works in a Japanese-owned spare auto-parts factory in Dasmariñas town and has just moved into a new housing unit with her husband and mother. She hopes to start a new family in their new home.
The typical duplex unit in the project costs P400,000 ($8,600), payable at P2,150 ($46) monthly over 25 years, with no down payment and no collateral. Each house has a floor area of 22.6 square meters (m2) and a lot area of 48 m2. Larger-single attached units with a floor area of 30 m2 and a lot area of 60 m2 cost P400,000 ($8,700), or P2,800 a month.
"This was conceptualized by our governor, Erineo Maliksi, to answer the housing needs of our people of Cavite, which is growing rapidly, for the less fortunate, and low-income residents of the province. It is one of his flagship projects," said provincial administrator Aristides Velazco The provincial government is spearheading the project in partnership with developer R-II Builders, with P400 million ($8.6 million) in funding from ADB's Development of Poor Urban Communities Sector Project. The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the Development Bank of the Philippines are coexecutors.
Buyers are attracted by the spacious roads similar to those found in more affluent neighborhoods; amenities such as a clubhouse and playground for each of the five clusters of houses; and ready drainage, water, and power connections. A public school is also being built on the site.
At least 1 in 10 of the current crop of home buyers is a provincial government employee, since the site is just 10 kilometers away from the capital. Factory workers make up half of buyers; employees outside the export processing zones comprise a third; and the rest are teachers, military personnel, the self-employed, and overseas Filipino workers who buy the homes for their families. Most homeowners make P6,000 to P15,000 ($129 to $322) monthly, and all are regularly employed and members of the Home Development Mutual Fund. Also known as Pag- Ibig, the fund gives people across the country access to housing loans at 6% interest per year.
Ferrer and Rillera enthuse about the simple application requirements and quick processing of their papers by the Provincial Housing Development and Management Office. Ferrer's application took only 2 months, while Rillera's took 3 months. They also appreciate the quality and convenience of their new homes. "I liked this right away because it is beautifully built. There is fresh air and it is not crowded at all," said Ferrer. "In our former home, it was humid and the houses were cramped. We had to pump our own water." ADB's $30-million concessional loan to the project is coursed through the Development Bank of the Philippines. The project also provides microcredit to improve the income and quality of life of the urban poor outside Metro Manila. There are other similar project sites in Angeles City, Butuan City, and Tarlac province.
In Cavite, provincial employees wear T-shirts with the slogan "Be part of the revolution"—a reference to the province's many heroes and historical landmarks. With ADB support, decent affordable housing may be just that, since it improves the lives of the working poor.