Early New Year present for six Filipino families by Jaime K Pimentel

SIX Filipino families celebrated the New Year early, officially moving into six spanking-new homes in Sydney’s inner-west late December 2010 as tenants of Kapitbahayan housing cooperative.

Four two-storey and two single-storey townhouses in a compound at Robertson Street, Merrylands, NSW went to the families of Nick and Dory Meissner, Nilda Ruiz and daughter, Steve and Flor Barton, Jun and Carmelita Batongbacal, Leonardo and Delia Purisima, and Larry and Marina Valencia.

A turnover ceremony featured a blessing of the townhouses by Catholic chaplain Father Raul del Prado, speeches by Federal MP for Werriwa Laurie Ferguson, NSW Roads and Transport and Western Sydney Development Minister David Borger, Common Equity NSW chief executive Ian Sinnett, and MTC Work Solutions Parramatta consultant Allan Huang, followed by lunch and entertainment.

Kapitbahayan president Ruben Amores kicked off the turnover with a welcome address, after which (his wife) Cen Amores led the program of activities over a two-hour celebration.

The Kapitbahayan Co-operative Limited is a housing provider operating within the NSW Government’s Community Housing Program. It currently manages 11 townhouses, with 12 more on the drawing boards. It is managed voluntarily by the Filipino-Australian tenants.

Kapitbahayan leases, manages and maintains rental accommodations for families and individuals unable to acquire their own house. These tenant-members voluntarily perform the various management and organisational functions of the cooperative.

The cooperative was organised and registered under Cooperative Act 1992 at the Registry of Co-operatives and Associations in 1995 and received its first houses in Auburn in October 1997.

”Kapitbahayan” is the Filipino word for ”neighbourhood.” Mr Amores adds: ”But more than the physical proximity of houses, Kapitbahayan exemplifies the social qualities of a traditional Filipino neighbourhood where there is an abundance of community support, sharing of resources and democratic decision-making.”

He further announced that six one-bedroom and four two-bedroom townhouses were now ready for occupancy in Leumeah, in Sydney’s southwest, for people 55 years old and above and those with disabilities.