Bunkhouse is Jell-O and can never be Creme Brulee

‘Bunkouse’ according to Webster is


Mr. Singson’s insistence that the bunkhouses are up to standard is correct, for the simple fact that the word used for this shelter component of the Rehab Project post- Yolanda is ‘bunkhouse’.

When I first heard of this word used by the Project, I said, bunkhouse? Bunkhouse! What do they mean bunkhouse?  Because, having worked in mining communities, I know what a bunkhouse is.  Bunkhouse is where the workers at the bottom of the industry’s production line, the miners, live.  What does it look like?  Exactly like what’s shown in the news.  Exactly the meaning provided by Webster: rough, simple, sleeping quarters.  That is a bunkhouse.

But then going back to my question what do they mean by bunkhouse?  It behooves me why the choice from among the range of shelter types as the unit to be built under the Project.  Why this particular housing label?  Why this particular shelter type given the national government’s acknowledged mission of building back better? 

I’m reminded of the line, Creme Brulee can never be Jell-O, uttered by Julia’s character in the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding. Similarly, a bunkhouse can never be for people who are not poor; which goes to say that by the standard of the nonpoor, the Creme Brulees if you like, the bunkhouse is Jell-O, substandard.  But Jell-O would argue that it is quite comfortable being one, thank you. Get this play of meanings, just because of the use of a particular word or label over another? Julia’s character says this serves to create a delusion.

In the days immediately following Yolanda/Haiyan, the nation was astir with the debate over PAGASA’s use of the term ‘storm surge’ which, many insisted, locals were not familiar with.  Only a couple of months afterward, now, we’re seeing a repeat of the pratice and on the same population!

To make matters worse, how could a bunkhouse, a rough simple sleeping quarters of 8.64 sq.m., the size of two pingpong tables, temporary at that, cost PHP900,000 (around USD21,500)?  Creme Brulee is affronted and complaining, because now Jell-O costs the same as or much more than it does!  Jell-O on the other hand is furiously questioning how come it’s labelled as Creme Brulee when everything inside and on it’s exterior is not.  Man!

A 2- or 3-classroom bungalow type building, permanent, of concrete, and well fimished,  sponsored by I/NGOs only costs PHP300,000, and that’s built by private contractors.

Back to the public’s question: why a PHP900,000 bunkhouse? If the Project has the budget to spend this Bruleeish amount, how come it didn’t build a unit better than the bunkhouse? My god, donors and volunteers gave to the relief and rehabilitaion happily, generously, and with compassion. The public, taxpayers here and abroad, want an explanation, else, yes, raze it down and charge the rebuilding of decent shelter to whoever among the public officials is/are accountable.


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