PALO, Leyte-In recognition of their contribution to the government-led recovery efforts after Leyte was leveled by supertyphoon “Yolanda” in 2013, the Department of Education-Leyte Division conferred awards to various non-governmental organizations and private individuals during this year’s “Pasidungog” recently held at Palo Municipal Building, this town.

“The angry howling winds and waves of supertyphoon Yolanda devastated a large number of schools over Leyte which consequently created the deep valleys of Leyte division. A problem to solve, a challenge to take, an opportunity to learn from and draw closer to people, community, and God. It is with this ‘valley’ that we feel and experience that we are truly blessed having you–our stakeholder and donors, who came to help and share resources,” said Ronelo Al Firmo, Leyte division schools superintendent, in his message.

“This valley helped us realize and see ourselves that ‘we are not alone’. Indeed this is a valley of overflowing blessings—of community of friends, and of community of support,” he added, referring to the countless “human, financial, and moral material” given by different aid groups and stakeholders to the schools division.

About a hundred organizations through their representatives, along with Leyte first district Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, Vice Governor Carlo Loreto and 24 municipal mayors in the province, attended the ceremony. “You rescued us so we can stand again firmly, heading to the direction where we set our department to go, to achieve its goals, targets and objectives,” Firmo said.

Some of the international humanitarian groups and individuals who were recognized during the event include Tzu Chi Foundation, Korean Army, Swiss Humanitarian Aid, Salvation Army, International Medical Corps, Habitat for Humanity, Intersos, Rotary Club of Neanderthal-Germany, Singapore Red Cross, German Helfi, Lion’s Club-Malaysia, Koji Imaizumi and Kazutoki Unez, UNHCR, among others.For the national and local organizations, they were Tacloban Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Operation Blessing, Tan Yan Kee Foundation, PASAR, RTR Medical Foundation, among others.

According to Fermo, aid groups and individuals who were given special awards during the event were those who have donated P100, 000 and above.
“DepEd was one of the biggest hit among our government sectors. More than 2,000 classrooms were destroyed in Leyte, and it is not easy to  rehabilitate all of them. With the combined efforts of many international organizations, the national government agencies and local government units, we are now about 60 percent in our recovery efforts,” said Gov. Petilla in an interview with Leyte Samar Daily Express. “This ‘Pasidungog’ is a very big event. They should be recognized,” he added. Petilla, however, said that giving of awards is not the end of their efforts. “January is a good year. With a new budget, we can pour more funds for the construction and repair of school buildings,” he pointed out. (RONALD O.REYES)