Mass graves of Yolanda victims blessed

Ricky Bautista (The Philippine Star) - November 8, 2015 - 9:00am

CATBALOGAN CITY, Philippines – Memorial markers were unveiled and candles were lighted yesterday in commemoration of the second anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda, which killed more than 7,000 people in Eastern Visayas.

Yolanda, the strongest typhoon on record, brought strong winds and whipped up storm surges that devastated Tacloban City and other areas.

The city government of Tacloban unveiled two memorial markers – one in the coastal village of Anibong where a ship was washed ashore by storm surge and another near the Tacloban Astrodome, which became the refuge for those who survived the deadly onslaught.

The ship, which was reportedly bought by the city government from a private company for P2 million, has not been removed and has become a symbol of the massive destruction brought by the typhoon in the area.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez said the ruins of the ship stand as a remembrance of the thousands of lives that perished in Tacloban two years ago.

Some 50,000 candles were lighted in Tacloban City, from the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport down to Barangay Nula-tula. Candles were also lighted in nearby towns of Tolosa, Tanauan and Palo.

The blessing of mass graves for Yolanda victims at the Holy Cross Memorial in Barangay Basper, Tacloban and a film showing entitled “Fields of Hope” in a mall in Palo highlighted the second anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda.

Six skeletal remains believed to have been victims of the typhoon were found in a village in Tacloban City this week.

“On Thursday, we found two remains. Four more skeletal remains were dug up on Saturday,” said Leo Bahin, chairman of Barangay 87.

Bahin said the remains were brought to a funeral parlor in the city.

Noy a no-show in Tacloban

President Aquino was a no-show in Tacloban City during the second anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda.

Aquino and members of the ruling Liberal Party did not attend the occasion despite an invitation sent to them.

The President instead issued an official statement asking the nation to offer prayers for the people who died when Yolanda struck Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013.

“God’s grace has enabled our country to ease the sufferings of those who lost everything to Yolanda, and reestablish communities that are once again working to have a safer and prosperous future,” Aquino said.

He again expressed gratitude to the international community for extending help to survivors of Yolanda.

“This would not have been possible without the world’s embrace of our people and the Filipinos’ generosity and sacrifice,” Aquino said.

“May the memory and lessons of that time inspire us to persevere in building back better and in living up to the solidarity, resilience and generosity of Filipinos demonstrated not only then, but in all times of challenge and adversity,” he added.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda was said to be attending the event in Tacloban but did not show up for unknown reason.

Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento arrived in Tacloban on Saturday to distribute patrol jeeps to police stations in the city.

“They were invited but I guess they have other schedules. We understand that,” United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial candidate Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said.

Opposition candidates attended the occasion.

Among them were UNA standard bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay, his running mate Sen.

Gregorio Honasan and senatorial bets Alma Moreno, Rey Langit, Princess Jacel Kiram, Getulio Napeñas and Allan Montaño.

In his speech, Binay lauded the resilience of the typhoon survivors.

Vice presidential aspirant Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino also attended the event.

During Yolanda’s first anniversary, President Aquino opted not to go to Tacloban and went instead to Guiuan, Eastern Samar, which was also devastated by the typhoon.

Mayor Romualdez had a rift with Aquino over the administration’s slow response and inaction following the onslaught of Yolanda.

Romualdez apologized to Aquino yesterday for the harsh words he had said. With Delon Porcalla

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