By Perla G. Lena
TACLOBAN CITY, Feb 16 (PNA) — Taclobanons may continue to mourn for the loss of members of their families who perished at the height of Yolanda but this will not prevent them from moving on with their lives and show to the world how brave they are for having conquered the strongest typhoon ever recorded in history.
The almost half-full Tacloban City Convention Center roared with applause when Mayor Alfred Romualdez declared the people of Eastern Visayas heroes for having faced the wrath of the typhoon with a wind velocity of 378-kilometer per hour (kph) based on pronouncement of experts from Ateneo and University of the Philippines.
He said that there is no truth to information that this part of the country was not prepared. In fact, Eastern Visayas was very much prepared for Yolanda.
As he disclosed that the city government is now working on a master (rehab) plan with the help of international community, he denied rumors that Tacloban will be transferred to other locations.
He clarified that less than 20 percent of the city was affected by Yolanda that will be strengthened to ensure the safety of the people in the area.
Romualdez exhorted his constituents to gain strength by keeping in their minds and hearts the memories of their lost loved ones and show to the whole world what they can do with the help they are getting from the international community.
“We will show them that we will be empowered and we will bring a stronger city and most of all we will build now a stronger family. We will show them the real and true image of a Taclobanon,” he said.
Sunday’s gathering kicked off with a thanksgiving service capped by a candle-lighting and blessing ceremony by Fr. Amadeo Alvero of the Archdiocese of Palo Social Action Center.
In his homily, Fr Alvero urged Taclobanons to remember that there is “a bright future ahead of us” if everyone should “work together and united to stand up and rebuild Tacloban.”
“Indeed 100 days have passed and we have seen improvements. And we must continue to improve, slowly and gradually,” he stated.
He also shared that while the hearts of Taclobanons are “beating with gratitude always and forever” to the untiring support extended by various organizations, yet it is not forever that they should depend on the help of others.
“Indeed we were victims because of Yolanda but we should not remain victims. We should become survivors and as we were saviors also. There is a reason why we survived. We should also be ready to help others who are in need,” he stressed.
Adding color to the commemoration program was the rendition of an inspirational song ‘Shout to the Lord’ by First Lady and Councilor Cristina G. Romualdez and the Tacloban City choir.
The first lady said that it was the song that she sung while she and her children were struggling to keep themselves afloat when their residence was hit by the storm surge of Yolanda.
Meanwhile, Punong Barangay Reinfredo E. Celis of Brgy. 88 recalled how he lost his wife after struggling to survive for about one hour and 30 minutes along with 26 others who sought shelter at their neighbor’s house during the height of the typhoon.
His wife was hit by the storm surge, he said. After the water has receded he saw his wife already dead just beside the spot where he was standing. He also lost 24 of his constituents.
Celis said that as early as November 5, they already advised their constituents to transfer to evacuation centers due to a coming storm. Only that they have no idea as to what a storm surge is all about.
Amid the devastations caused by Yolanda, he expressed his gratitude to the international community that was quick to come to their aid.
Atty. Lila Aquitania, chief of staff of Mayor Romualdez, meantime, revealed that to date some 2,787 cadavers have been retrieved and 731 are still missing in Tacloban. (PNA)