TACLOBAN CITY- This city devastated by supertyphoon Yolanda close to eight months now marked its annual fiesta on June 30 honoring its patron, Santo Ni o de Tacloban, for giving them a new lease of life.
And it is just right so, said typhoon victim Marites Magno, 26 who together with her husband, Joey,29 and three children live in a makeshift located inside the Rizal Park, where a makeshift of the Santo Niño Church was erected.
The church, located front of the park named after the country’s national hero, suffered major damages with almost all of its roofs blown away during the November 8, 2013 onslaught of Yolanda to this city.
“While we are still living under this condition, I think it is just right so to celebrate our fiesta not only with a mass but even a parade honoring our Senior Santo Niño. He allowed us to survive from the devastation of Yolanda and this is more than enough for us to celebrate and observe our fiesta,” Magno said.
She heard the three-hour Pontifical Mass presided by Archbishop John Du, attended by other priests from the various dioceses in the region, local officials and residents and visitors of the city, from their temporary house together with nine other families who still remain without homes of their own.
Archbishop Du of the archdiocese of Palo in Leyte, said that the people of the city and the rest of Eastern Visayas, should be thankful to the Holy Child, patron of Tacloban, for having survived Yolanda.
He also said that the celebration of the fiesta, held close to eight months ago, was not only a celebration of renewing one’s faith to God, but appeared to be a sign that “Tacloban has started to rise again.”
“Tacloban has started to rise again but always remember that only the love of God will make this happen,” the archbishop said.
“After the typhoon, God is giving us a challenge…but it is for us to rebuild from within and not from the outside,” he added in his homily, as he said that the time of dole outs is over but rebuilding one’s life should be one’s concern.
The government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development continues to provide food assistance to typhoon victims especially those living in tents and bunk houses. There are close to 4,000 families in Tacloban alone living in tents and bunk houses.
During his homily, Du asked the faithful to pray for the more than 2,000 people who died during the onslaught of Yolanda in Tacloban which is celebrating its 125th annual fiesta this year.
On June 28 and 29, thousands of people witnessed the presentations of contingents joining the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals and Sangyaw Festival.
Among the participating contingents of the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals were coming from Bacolod City (Masskara Festival) and Cebu (Sinulog Festival).
The Buyugan Festival of Abuyog was the lone participating contingent from Leyte.
Meantime, 11 contingents coming from barangays, schools and organizations joined the Sangyaw Festival.
And unlike previous years, this year’s editions of both festivals dispense the competition aspect among participating contingents.
Andrew Geoffrey Martin, deputy of sub-office of the UN-OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) said that the celebration of Tacloban fiesta was a testament that the city of more than 220,000 people is slowly recovering from Yolanda’s wrath.
“It shows the resiliency of the people. I’ve seen lots of disasters across the world, (but) you have the greatest achievement (in terms of recovery).Seven months ago, you can see smiling faces; you can see the Taclobanons spirit. We have to move forward and this (celebration) is part of the process of moving forward,” Martin said.
Lawyer Jenny Manibay, city administrator, said that the celebration is a “thanksgiving of life.”
“But we will never forget what happened to us seven months ago,” Manibay stressed.
Go Tec Ching, president of the Tacloban-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the celebration of the fiesta was a proof that Tacloban is on its way to recovery.
“This marks a start of our recovery from Yolanda and I hope this will be sustained for the good of our people,” he said.
On June 28, the Robinsons Place reopened a proof that the management has still the confidence of Tacloban as a viable market.
Records from the City Licenses Office, out of the more than 12,900 business establishments that operated in Tacloban before Yolanda, only 2,803 of them have so far reopened for business generating 11,996 employment and income of P63.11 million for the city government in terms of taxes.