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Hell On Earth: The BASECO Compound’s Lost Dreams

January 18, 2010

Erica Joy Valdez will never live out the dreams every 5 year girl has:

finishing school, earning a living for her, and perhaps helping her other siblings through school, and yes, meeting a kind man and settling down to make a life of her own.

Erica was trapped in that two-hour-long fire that raged yet again through the 53-hectare abandoned Bataan Shipyard and Engineering Corporation (BASECO) in Tondo.

Like Erica the BASECO  compound once held dreams, large dreams: of being the country’s main shipbuilding facility, one equipped to build sea-going vessels likelt manned by own world class seafarers flying our tri-color proud and rounding the globe.

But the BASECO dream has long died, and now last Saturday’s inferno has not just destroyed 500 shanties and left 4,000 families homeless but has claimed the young life of  Erica Joy Valdez

The 53-hectare (130-acre) BASECO compound has been ravaged by huge fires in the last ten years:  a 2002 blaze left some 15,000 residents homeless, and a 2004 fire razed shanties of 25,000 people.

There is a Gawad Kalinga village in the compound and Pres. Arroyo even periodically does PR photo-opp visits there. There’s even a Malacanang-appointed board of directors that ‘administers’ token programs there.

But life has never changed for the better and the shantytown is always a blazing tragedy waiting to happen.

Will the new administration Filipinos will elect on May 10 bring change to the hell-on-earth life of the people of BASECO Compound?

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