UNCENSORED: Typhoon Ulysses

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By Manuel L. Morato

The typhoon battered both Southern and Northern Luzon.  It’s an unusual one that practically combed the entire Island of Luzon.  It just crept in on the towns and cities, with strong destructive wind and rain.

The Bicol Region, Quezon Province and the Province of Aurora were battered by no less than three typhoons in the months of October and November that inflicted so much destruction.  Southern Luzon was hit strongly by 3 typhoons since about mid-October.  But typhoon Ulysses spared no town and city in Southern Luzon, Central Luzon and Northern Luzon.  Like a witch riding on a broomstick, Ulysses simply swept Luzon including Metro Manila, Cavite, Batangas, Marikina, Quezon City, Pasig… which lingered for quite a while, with very strong wind.

I live on the fourth floor of my 4 storey building; and right next to me is a construction of a 22 storey building now on the 8th floor, half of which is on two residential lots and one lot is along Tomas Morato Avenue which is said to be commercial but the re-zoning specifically states as “medium” rise or up to the 7th floor.  How they were able to get an exemption, a “Special Permit” from the Quezon City Council then headed by Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte Alimurung is strange.  Ang lakas naman nila.

When I constructed my building in 1967, the zoning along the avenue was only up to 5 floors.  But with due respect to the neighborhood specially the residential area right behind, I went up only to the 4th floor, in deference to the residential neighborhood.   That was in 1967 to 1969 when I finished my building, named after my mother: Doña Consuelo Building.

Sobra naman talaga ang ginawa sa amin ng Quezon City Council, then headed by Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte Alimurung.

Ganyan pala sila dito sa Quezon City.  Maski may zoning na, pero may poder pa rin ang City Council baguhin for special friends.  All it takes is for the Vice Mayor to approve the request of an interested party.  Puwedeng bigyan ng 21, 22… storeys. 

Mantakin ninyo.  Logically, maybe hanggang sampo lamang for the medium zoning says up to 7 storeys.  But a “Special Permit” issued by the Vice Mayor supersedes the zoning.  At namimili sila kung sino ang bibigyan. 

These two buildings rising up to 21 and 22 storeys have received “special treatment” from the Quezon City Council for the property of my mother wherein our ancestral home stood was taken over by a group of landgrabbers, took over without our knowledge and was demolished against existing law, RA-10066.  The Register of Deeds had a participation in granting E Titles on the three lots in the name of my mother on the basis of falsified documents.  There is a pending Lis Pendens on those three lots of my mother and yet the construction goes on.  Why?

Halos magkaharap, this 22 storey building said to be owned by a Mr. Dexter Co.  Yet other messages reaching us say that it is owned by someone close to the Quezon City Hall.  Which is which?  Or who is who?  Itong dalawang projects na highrise buildings na magkaharap are first of its kind in our residential neighborhood.  We have been told that both belong to one family.

We never thought that this big problem would happen to my family.  My mother’s property was taken over by the Belmontes.  My youngest brother, Jose “Pepito” Morato is part of the illegal operation.  My three sisters and I ended up filing a case in Court.  They submitted the Deeds of Sale between the Belmontes and Jose L, Morato, something that caught us by surprise for the properties sold belong to us six children of my mother, yet the five of us together with my three sisters had no knowledge of the illegal transaction.

By the way, is it true that the issuance of E-Titles which is practiced in Quezon City has not been decided by the Supreme Court as to its legality? 

It’s a tool used by landgrabbers because it is easy to acquire which gives the semblance of ownership.  Tapos bahala na raw mag-kasuhan sa Korte hanggang makipag amicable settlement ang tunay na may-ari, meaning to say, mag-ubusan ng pera hanggang sumuko ang tunay na may-ari.

This is what we are being told by those who suffered the same tragedy we suffered from.  Ang dami na pala undergoing the same problem, nationwide.    

* * * * *

For quite some time, we have lost signals of Globe and Smart in our area as the two buildings rise.  I was told that a booster is needed to be put up in this residential area which was invaded, illegally, by 2 highrise buildings.  We’ve been told that concrete structures block the signals and that it is the duty of the now owners of these two highrise buildings who put up these two buildings without concern to our residential neighborhood to remedy the problem.  For the first time since the city was founded in 1939, terrible things started to happen and made our lives miserable during the Belmonte’s hold in Quezon City.  That includes the entire residential neighborhood whose lives have been totally disrupted as well.

Maybe greed is a disease that knows no decency whatsoever.  Kung ibang pamilya sana ang nakaupo sa poder sa Quezon City, hindi ito mangyayari sa amin.

You don’t know what happened to us that Thursday evening when the typhoon swept through Quezon City.  It was a nightmare.  The whole night, we kept watch as to what could happen.  It was a nightmare because of the crane on top of the building beside us that swung like it was going to fall from the 8th or 9th floor.

The tower crane scared us in the neighborhood; and more on us for it was only a few meters from my property; and on the other sides, residential two storey homes that were extremely put in danger.  There seems to be a great violation.  A highrise building must respect its immediate neighbor which in this case is a bungalow owned by Mrs. Lenny Alegado.  Dikit na dikit sa pader niya yong building. No easement of at least two meters.  Ang sabi nong mayroong alam, dapat daw may easement ng 2 to 4 meters when the next door neighbor is a residential house.  No such courtesy was given to her, nor to us. 

Dinikitan din ang bahay ng sister ko at ang bahay ni Dr. Cantos at bahay ng aking pamangkin.  Pati sa side ko, the 2 to 4 meter easement was not honored nor extended to us.  But our titles carry encumbrances that construction must observe 4 meters of easement to the immediate neighbor.

I don’t know for sure what we have been told that in order to go highrise in our residential neighborhood, the lot/s must total 1,200 square meters.  But my late mother’s property measures less, at 1,103 sq. mts.  Kaya kami sinagad kasi nabigyan na sila ng permit ni Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte Alimurung back in 2017; and we did not even know in the family for the property of my mother belongs to us, her six children not to only one.  The five of us are compulsory heirs.  It ended up with the youngest and we filed a case in court, said documents of “donation” and “Deed of Sale” submitted to the Court are falsified.  The “Donation” has the thumbmark of my late mother not in the presence of a notary public.  My mother was already bed-ridden.

We found ourselves with no other choice but to defend the honor of our mother who was not dealt with properly nor with honesty.  She was deceived.  No wonder towards the end of her life, I noticed sadness in her face.  There was evidently something wrong going on.  At 2:30 that early morning of May 31, 2002, I went to her bedroom to see how she was.  Humiga ako sa kama niya and I caressed her forehead.  She was wide awake and lucid.  I asked her: Mama, kumusta ka?  Ang sagot niya: Pareho lang hijo.  She kept her eyes closed while I caressed her forehead.  I stayed with her for about an hour.  I kissed her and I went back to my bedroom in my penthouse next door.

At about 7:00, I received a call that my mother had passed away, only about less than four hours after I left her room.

I rushed to her bedroom in her house next door and I saw her in bed with a priest giving the last rites on her; and funeral car in the driveway of her house.

Who arranged all that so early in the morning?  To this day, I have not been given an answer.  It left me thinking who did the arrangement?  The calling of the priest; the funeral car?  I yet have to find an answer.     

Would somebody from the City Hall of Quezon City and/or the DILG please speak out?  Please help clear this issue for the local governments are under the DILG.  While we already suffered an injustice, please honor the rights of our neighbors who might suffer the abuse we have suffered.

Please help us.  Can a local government unit be higher than the DILG?  Are the Local Government Units allowed with wanton abandon to do what they want without higher authority’s approval?

If so, to each his own pa ba ang pamamaraan sa ating bansa ngayon?  Thousands nationwide are suffering the same case of “landgrabbing” that we are undergoing.

Is there no national office we can ask for help?

The corruption in our country is at the Local Government Units or LGUs – on a grand scale – and the local officials are lording it over their particular fiefdom as if they own the town, municipality or city enriching themselves while they are in power.  Hindi ko nilalahat, pero ang dami ng nagre-report sa akin.

This attitude is contrary to what public service truly calls for.

Nakakalungkot na nagkaganito ang ilan ng ating public officials.  Hindi ko naman nilalahat, pero grabe ng pagpapahirap sa ating taong bayan.

There are Barangays that are dictated by the Mayor, the City Administrator.  So what’s the use.

Ever since the last Barangay Chairman we had in our neighborhood, no homeowners’ association was created to protect the residents’ interest.

That’s what happened to us; and sadly up to now, it seems that our present Barangay Chairman has not formed one.  Why?  Is it because of the two highrise buildings illegally going up in our residential neighborhood?

I pray she is not being dictated upon for the construction of these two highrise buildings with all its violation are going full steam.

For comments and suggestions email at mlmorato@yahoo.com

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