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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Coping, barely

MASS GRAVE. Some 2,600 bodies are buried in this mass grave at the Holy Cross Gardens in Barangay Basper, Tacloban City. Yesterday, the City Government held its memorial mass here, which was followed by a blessing of the mass grave. (SUN.STAR FOTO/RIANNE TECSON)

TACLOBAN City--Uncertainty continues to grip some survivors of Yolanda, one year after the super typhoon tore through a huge part of Eastern Visayas.

Many businesses have reopened and there are survivors who are due to move to permanent homes soon, but many are also still living in tents or bunkhouses, or uncertain about how to provide for their family if ever they get relocated.

The P167.86-billion Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan had recently been approved but Mayor Alfred Romualdez lamented that the City wasn’t given a copy of the plan.

Romualdez said it would’ve been better if they knew what President Benigno Aquino III had approved.

“That way, we can offer whatever we can to help, and give whatever we can,” he said before yesterday’s memorial rites at the mass grave at the Holy Cross Gardens in Barangay Basper.

Aside from the mass, other Yolanda commemorative activities yesterday included the one-minute ringing of church bells and a candle-lighting ceremony.

Apprehension

Fisherfolk at the Fisherman’s Village in Barangay San Jose who have been given bunkhouses at a resettlement camp in Barangay Caibaan prefer to go back to their old community, even if it means staying in tents or homes made of other people’s housing materials that were blown away during the typhoon.

The resettlement camp is eight kilometers from the Fisherman’s Village but Loreta Cabanganan, 64, goes there every chance she has to watch over her grandchildren while her son goes fishing.

Mylene Regis’s family also relies on her husband’s catch, which is why she is apprehensive about moving to Babatngon, a town 15 kilometers north of Tacloban City.

As it is now, Regis said they end up spending more because she has to spend for the fare of her husband when he goes out to fish and for her children when they go to school.

Lourdes Lisondra, who lives in a shanty a few meters away from where a ship has been washed ashore, was more frank when asked how she is coping.

“Sinungaling man yan sila, sila ni P-Noy (They are all liars, including President Aquino),” said Lisondra, who said that she hasn’t been informed ever about where she and her neighbors would be relocated.

Politics later

Amid the political squabble that has somehow muddled efforts to help survivors, Romualdez said he would rather deal with political issues later.

During the memorial mass, no National Government officials were around, except for Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Romualdez’s cousin. Also present were Marcos’s mother, Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos; diplomats; and officials of local and international nongovernment organizations.

Senator Marcos later sent a tweet to Sun.Star Cebu saying he was disappointed to find that no National Government officials attended the memorial rites here.

Asked about what he thought about the recovery and reconstruction, the senator said: Very little, very late.
‘Tribute of triumph’

In his homily, Palo Archbishop John Du thanked everyone who worked together to create “a storm surge of love and effort to restore Tacloban.”

“Yolanda left us homeless but not hopeless... We are survivors, not victims,” Du said.

In his message after the mass, Romualdez said they are working to make Tacloban a template of a people’s firm resolve to rise amid tragedies.

He also said he hopes Filipinos will not experience the “misplaced apathy and indifference that we suffered and still suffer.”
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