On that fateful day of November 8, 2013, Supertyphoon Yolanda swept through the entire Visayas leaving thousands of people dead, families homeless, and billions of pesos worth of damage to infrastructure and livelihood. The city of Tacloban, where the typhoon left its wrath the most, has been different since then. Though the city has now been built back, still there are a lot of things to be done considering that Region 8 was already second poorest region in the country a year prior to Yolanda.
Anibong Shipwreck Memorial
November 8, 2015 marks the 2nd anniversary of the devastation of Yolanda. Tacloban City started its 2-day commemoration with the unveiling of the Anibong Shipwreck Memorial. Residents and representatives of different government agencies and international organizations paid tribute to those who perished in the typhoon. This transpired during the Mass held in front of the memorial.
The MV Eva Jocelyn, which was anchored at the port during the typhoon, was pushed ashore by a 7-meter storm surge and winds of 370 km/hour, directly hitting Barangay Anibong and killing residents of the said barangay.
Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez emphasized that the nation should be united in the face of any disaster. He said, “As a remembrance for the thousands who perished throughout the city of Tacloban that day, the ship marks the genesis of our advocacy for resiliency and adaptation for a new order that will continue for generations to come.” He added, “Let this memorial remind us, not just leaders of the country, that in times of despair and of disaster, it is time to bring out the best of us, it is always time to unite; at the end of the day nasa iisang barko lang talaga tayo.”
Yolanda Memorial at the Tacloban City Astrodome
On the morning of November 8, 2015, City officials and residents started the commemorative walk from the City Hall going to the Tacloban City Astrodome. This concluded with the unveiling of the Yolanda Memorial at the grounds of the Astrodome. The Astrodome is considered to be the “ground zero” since plenty of dead bodies were found there after the typhoon. The Astrodome, serving as an evacuation center at that time, housed more than 8,000 people.
Mayor Romualdez said the Memorial is dedicated to the men, women and children who fought hard but unfortunately did not make it. He also thanked all who helped Tacloban back on its feet, including government agencies, non-government organizations (both national and international), and countries around the world. He elaborated that they have extended help not just in the city but to the rest of Yolanda-stricken areas.
Mayor Romualdez also thanked President Benigno C. Aquino III for providing assistance. He said, “We would like to thank the national leadership, including the President, for all the help given to the people. I want to say to all that sometimes, when we are in our most desperate times and moments, we do not bring out the best in us. Nakapagsalita kami ng maanghang na salita but in no given time are we ungrateful for help given to us. Pasensya na kung nakapagsalita ng maanghang. Kami po ay nasaktan dahil napakasakit talaga ng nangyari sa amin,” he said.
A Mass and blessing were also held at the graves of Yolanda victims at the Holy Cross Memorial Park in Basper, Tacloban City. The City likewise unveiled a commemorative tablet at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport as a remembrance of the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis when he visited the region in January 2015. Also, simultaneous lighting of candles was held along the main streets of Tacloban City, Palo, Tanauan and Tolosa from late afternoon until night time. The commemoration rituals ended with the releasing of sky lanterns and floating candles at the Balyu-an Park in downtown Tacloban City.
Ruel T. Bugnos, YPMO, NEDA VIII