Day 20: Rising from the Storm

Just 6 months before Typhoon Haiyan leveled Tacloban City leaving the city’s more than 200,000 residents homeless and traumatized, Mayor Alfred Romualdez was reelected. There was much debate in the weeks leading up to the election, of whether or not re-election of the current Mayor would benefit the city or if a fresh start was needed to improve growth and development of the region.

When the ballots were counted, the Mayor came out on top yet again, though there remained mixed feelings throughout the city in the months leading up to Typhoon Haiyan. However, when faced with a calamity of literally epic proportions, the Mayor has stood his ground. As a survivor himself, he has helped lead the city back to life. He has exuded strength in the most difficult times. He has shown Tacloban City, the world, and all those who have ever questioned his ability to lead honestly determined by the love for his city, that he will not give up on his people.

Tacloban City Hall featured thank you banners.

Tacloban City Hall

The challenges faced by the leaders of the cities, towns, and villages that were destroyed on November 8th are immense. But on the One Year Anniversary, Mayor Romualdez stood before the world and most importantly his city.

To remember the loss:

The 8th of November, the year 2013. May we always remember a year ago today, as that fateful day from which we rose stronger, built better and cared deeper. May that day be forever written in our hearts.

When Yolanda, known internationally as Haiyan – the strongest and fiercest storm surge in recent history struck and devastated our city and our region, we lost not only our homes and humble possessions. We lost mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters, grandparents, cousins, neighbors, co-workers, best friends, family, and friends alike.

To unite survivors:

With our faith in god and in one another, together we can transform our pain and suffering into strength, motivation and inspiration for a better tomorrow to honor and give meaning to the thousands of lives lost.

Yolanda4

To give thanks:

In an overwhelming display of unity, charity and generosity at a time of adversity, we were witness to the convergence of people, regardless of race, creed and beliefs, working together to help others at a time of grief and suffering. Whatever we accomplished in the year that was, is a truthful testimony of a sincere concerted humanitarian effort.

No words are enough to express how eternally grateful and appreciative we are of the love and generosity we have received. Our lives have been touched and changed for the better by your help. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. We say thank you not only those who are here commemorating this day with us but also to the entire Philippines and the entire world who prayed for our safety, rallied for our cause and sent help in every way possible.

To start again:

Today, Tacloban city commits itself to the formation of what we call – the new normal of our lives: transforming our dreams into the reality of a new township now taking shape; redefining resiliency to mean communities designed, built and lived in as humane habitats with access to water, power, education, health and other basic social services that we can now call “our new home”.

Mayor

To inspire hope for the future:

To the people of Tacloban, I am humbled to be called your mayor and honored to have been given a chance to serve a people who have shown to the entire Philippines and the entire world their admirable strength and resilience in the face of individual tragedies; their quiet courage to carry on despite their losses; their firm determination to make Tacloban a better city after the deluge.

As survivors, we take on this impetus of building forward towards the ideal – transcending all barriers and giving meaning to the only thing worth living for. Yolanda has taught us that there is nothing more precious than human life – which once lost can never be brought back to life. As we rebuild, our bottom line has been made clear: to value life and give meaning to living.

To read Mayor Romualdez’s speech in full click here.

Help Tacloban Rebuild. Start a Fundraiser. Learn more here.

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