Two years after Supertyphoon Yolanda, the people of Palo, Leyte look back with hope that they won’t experience that catastrophic chapter of their lives ever again. They are still in pain because they lost their loved ones but they have to stand up for themselves and move on. Though a lot has happened since then, never will they forget the sacrifices of their brothers and sisters who perished in the hands of the typhoon.

The local government of Palo organized a two-day activity last November 7-8 entitled; “Pagdumdum ug Paglaum: Duha ka tuig kahuman han Super Typhoon Yolanda ha Palo.” In the opening program on the eve of November 7, Mayor Remedios “Matin” L. Petilla thanked the national government for its assistance, the international non-government organizations, private sector, and everyone who have been helping Palo from the aftermath of the typhoon until today. She said that without their assistance, they may have seen a different Palo today. The night was filled with reminiscing as well as showcase of talents of the people of Palo. Multi-awarded poets and writers, namely: Merlie Alunan, Nemesio Baldeso and Voltaire Uyzon have also graced the night as they shared their masterpieces reflecting their experiences during and after the typhoon. The night ended with the lighting of candles for the victims of the typhoon.

In the early morning of November 8, a Mass was celebrated by Palo Archbishop John F. Du at the Palo Cathedral. It was attended by local officials including former Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico L. Petilla, and Mayor Petilla, together with survivors. Archbishop Du, in his homily, said “It is only by death that we realize how important life is. Life is just passing here on earth, it is just temporary and short.”

Families offered flowers for their departed loved ones who are buried in Palo Cathedral Memorial Mass Grave. A total of 300 bodies were laid to rest in this memorial. Another memorial named Eternal Flame Memorial Garden Common Graves located outside the parish of Barangay San Joaquin, has 317 bodies laid to rest. Balloons were also released up in the sky and breakfast immediately followed at the municipal hall.

Ruel T. Bugnos, YPMO, NEDA VIII