Tacloban City—“No more tears in our eyes, as the tragedy has made us stronger, but we still cry in our hearts— for many things lost—not only buildings, houses, and properties—but lost lives, lost courage, lost hopes,” Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Romualdez said as the city remembers Super Typhoon ‘‘Yolanda’’ that devastated the city on Nov. 8, 2013.
It has been five years, and the city has since stood up and underwent the painful process of rebuilding. But Romualdez said the rebuilding and the healing process are far from over.
“We have moved on and forward. We have proven our resilience to the world. But we will never forget so that it does not happen again,” added Romualdez, who at that time was a city councilor.
The mayor’s own house was washed away by the worst storm surge that swallowed parts of Tacloban, including the historical Leyte Park Hotel.
“But though we were victims ourselves, we first had to retrieve the bodies of dead Taclobanons littering the whole area. It was heartbreaking,” said Romualdez
The mayor recalled that then-Secretary Mar Roxas gave her and her children a ride in the army truck.
“I and my children almost died when the flood washed away our house. The good secretary was immediately there to save us. I don’t know if I thanked him already, but thank you,” said Romualdez.
The mayor also thanked the international community which sent relief goods from the first day. She also sent her deep gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte, who was then the mayor of Davao City, for his unsolicited help, a day after Yolanda struck.
“Mayor Duterte brought with him his whole City Health Office—doctors, nurses, paramedics,—medical equipment and supplies, truckloads of relief goods, and a cash donation of two million pesos!” she said.
Super typhoon Yolanda affected a total of 8,065,019 persons (1,686,098 families; 7,904 barangays and 409 municipalities), and left 6,300 dead, 1,061 missing, and 28,689 injured.
In a commemoration event on November 8, former Governor Imee Marcos, former Senator BongBong Marcos, and former Representative of the 1st District of Leyte Martin Romualdez were present, as Taclobanons gathered at the 120-square-meter Yolanda Shipwreck Memorial Park to release sky lanterns and light candles.
“I wanted to spend time with the Taclobanons in San Jose, on my birthday and on this special day that we remember Yolanda. Tindog Tacloban! Bilib po ako sa inyo,” said Imee.
In a speech, Mayor Romualdez said, “To the volunteers, local and international NGOs, LGU officials, good public servants from the
national government, and to everyone who has a good and helping heart, may you always have a strength and power to help the needy ones, now and in the future. To our friends and loved ones who left us during Yolanda, you will always be missed and remembered. You are our inspiration to continue moving on and live the most of our lives.”