Tanauan, Leyte – To symbolize that normalcy is back in this town, a soft opening of the new town plaza and amphitheater was held on Saturday, November 8, after Typhoon Yolanda hit this municipality and damaged these vital structures here a year ago.
It was led by Municipal Mayor Pelagio Tecson, Jr. and attended by Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla.
They were in town to attend activities commemorating the first year anniversary of ‘Yolanda’.
Also present were Leyte Governor Dominico Petilla, Javier Mayor Sandy Javier, and Injap Group of Companies representative Hera Barrameda.
Injap, a private company based in the Philippines that through its subsidiary Mang Inasal Philippines, Inc. owns and operates fast food restaurants, funded the rehabilitation of the town plaza and the construction of the amphitheater.
The event started with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by the march of dignitaries towards the memorial ground and offering of flowers for all those who perished during the onslaught of ‘Yolanda’.
The memorial ground was once a mass grave but the local government decided to convert this into a memorial and placed all the names of those who died from the typhoon.
The site now paves the way for a more solemn commemoration every year.
Mayor Tecson, in his message of salutation, recalled the magnitude of devastation in their municipality but commended the resiliency of the townfolks.
“The typhoon may have been so strong yet it failed to break the spirit of the people,” Mayor Tecson said.
Since December, the local government already started providing shelter assistance to survivors with damaged houses.
Mayor Tecson said in a cheerful tone, “Dating nipa, ngayon yero na. (Before, [the roofs of the houses] were just nipa grass, now they’re galvanized sheets).”
He added that around 100 families have already been transferred to permanent shelters.
The local government, in partnership with the national government and non-government organizations (NGOs), is accelerating the construction of more permanent shelters.
He also happily announced that there had been 30% increase in the number of establishments operating in the town which are helping their economy to recover.
He said that rehabilitation efforts will continue to build a better Tanauan.
“The best way to remember our lost loved ones is to show them that we are moving forward,” the Mayor expressed.
As a symbol of that, the local officials and the heads of national agencies present released doves into the air, which was followed by the release other doves in the area.
No one left behind
For his part, Sec. Singson shared the good news on the approval of the Tacloban-Palo-Tanuan road dike project, which will serve as protection against another storm surge as high as four meters.
The other cabinet secretaries then gave words of encouragement to the people of the Tanauan.
Sec. Gazmin said, “We should continue to harness our spirits so we could rise amid many adversities. The national government, local government , NGOs, and foreign friends are behind you and working with you to build a stronger Tanauan and a stronger Leyte.”
Sec. Roxas then shared the ‘one government approach’ of the Aquino Administration emphasizing, ” Kahit gaano kahirap basta tulong-tulong, kaya natin. Walang iwanan (No matter how hard it is as long as we are together, we can do it. No one shall be left behind).”
The rehabilitation effort of the local government got praises from Mayor Javier.
He also thanked the cabinet members, saying, “Sila na binigay ang lahat, nagplano, nagpundar ng tulong na sobrang dami, kahit sila ay binabatikos (They planned and gave their full support and assistance to us despite being continuously criticized).” ###