TACLOBAN CITY– Letecia Latorre, 40, has no knowledge to cut, carve, design objects made of wood or other objects, much more measuring precisely the door, windows and posts, activities in making a house.
But through sheer perseverance to acquire new skills and found a decent job, she along with 49 others, graduated as one of the 50 carpenters in basic carpentry and shelter construction organized and funded by the International Labor Organization (ILO) recently.

The skills-training was in cooperation with the Operation Compassion Philippines and the Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU) main campus. The training allowed them to gain on the job-training while also constructing temporary shelters in New Kawayan, Tacloban City. It also gave them financial literacy and basic business management to further enhance their employability said Lawrence Jeff Johnson, country head of ILO during the awarding of certificates of training. “Sadto di ak maaram na pagiging karpintero, dapat ngay an maaram ka hin mathematics kay igsakto ang sukol han kada himuon mo nga poste, hamba ug uban pa. Yana ngani maaram na ako magsarotso ngan mag gamit hin martilyo,” Latorre said.

Latorre, a mother of eight children, is a resident of Barangay 88, San Jose district, Tacloban where nearly 1,000 residents were killed when supertyphoon Yolanda made its landfall more than a year ago.
Latorre used to sell “kakanin” before Yolanda struck bust since stopped due to lack of money. She then grabbed the opportunity to join the training. Her husband works as a foreman if he is not working as tricycle driver. The rest of the graduates are also from the said village, 28 men and 22 women. It is a gender fair selection.

The collaboration of ILO, EVSU and OCP is one way of empowering the typhoon-hit communities to build back better, said Johnson. “I am happy to see women who graduate here. I also have daughters. This is to inculcate to the men and women all over, that given a chance, the female can also do male jobs which were former inclusive for the male for a long time,” Johnson said.

EVSU president Dominador Aguirre, Jr. expressed his elation that the ILO partners with the university by providing teachers-trainors in the program. The chance to build back better after the strongest typhoon to hit Tacloban City, is a big blessing, Aguirre added. “The Eastern Visayas State University is hoping for the success of every one,” said Aguirre. Rolando Cucio of Operation Compassion addressed the graduates that with their skills, they could apply these in finding jobs. “Continue to dream for a better life. Just because you are supertyphoon Yolanda survivors, it doesn’t give you an entitlement that people should help you because you are victims. It’s been a year, it is time to move on and do our part,” Cucio said. (VICKY C. ARNAIZ)