TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Yolanda survivors commemorated the third anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in a candlelighting memorial and tribute on Tuesday, November 8.
Jeff Manibay of One Tacloban said that the memorial is dedicated to the dead, especially those whose bodies were not recovered after the onslaught of the disaster.
“This is a memorial for those who were never recovered. It’s difficult to grieve when you don’t know where exactly you should grieve,” Manibay, who is also the head organizer of the event, stressed.
Manibay believes that the candlelight memorial will provide an alternative place for grieving to those who lost their loved ones.
One of those who lit candles was Jonabella Cinco, who had lost a close friend and 4 relatives. When asked about her experience on receiving the news of their deaths, she replied: “Nalaman ko nalang ilang buwan pgakatapos ng Yolanda. ‘Di ko naacept agad. Nagbakasakali pa akong baka nasa ibang lugar lang sila, buhay.”
(I learned the news about their death a few months after Yolanda. I didn’t accept it right away. I was hoping that they are just somewhere, still alive.)
Yeb Saño, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said the healing continues for the survivors.
“I feel that this is an important process for their (Yolanda survivors) healing and for all of us to continue healing our nation and the lives of people who were impacted by Yolanda. This event is something that people are looking forward to; a place to converge and just to express the continuing hope for the future," Saño said.
Continuing the fight
Saño told survivors that Yolanda should serve as a reminder to the world about the realities of climate change.
“Calamities as great as this are not just natural phenomena, they are caused by the bigger evils that we face. As those who are still living it is imperative to continue fighting for a better world," he remarked.
Allan Amistoso, Station Manager of Magic FM, hopes that through the memorial people will value disaster preparedness.
"There are lessons that we need to revive for the sake of future generations and we can only do that if we continue commemorating Yolanda. We are hoping that with the lessons of Yolanda, the policies of the government when it comes to disasters would be better," Amistoso added.
The resiliency of Taclobanons and all Yolanda survivors are evident three years after the devastation.
“I think there is that desire to always remind the survivors and the whole world that this is an important tragedy that we should forever etch in our hearts because we have learned many lessons from this. This is the tragedy that opened the eyes of many people around the world to the reality of climate change,” Saño said.
He concluded: “We admire their (Yolanda survivors) courage. We take inspiration from their strength and they have demonstrated a lot of lessons for us about the human spirit. It is imperative for the living to continue fighting for a better world and to ensure that justice is served.”
Media groups DYVL-Aksyon Radyo, PRTV, iFM, CAT Network, Leyte-Samar Express, Magic FM, and Thunder FM, together with Greenpeace Philippines organized the memorial. – With a report from Catherine Atienza/ Rappler.com