YOLANDA COMMEMORATION. Activities have been lined up as the city government of Tacloban observes the fifth anniversary of Yolanda’s onslaught on Thursday(November 8). Photo shows the Yolanda Memorial Monument, located inside the premises of Tacloban Convention Center, where the names of over 2,200 people from the city who perished during the onslaught were etched.

Now on its fifth year

By: Joey Gabieta

TACLOBAN CITY- A memorial mass and a commemorative program will highlight this year’s fifth anniversary of the onslaught of super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ this Thursday (November 8) as more than 3,000 families in the city continue to live in areas declared as danger zones as they wait to be awarded of their new houses by the government.
City Mayor Cristina Romualdez will lead city officials, guests and residents of this city in the commemoration of the onslaught of Yolanda, the world’s strongest typhoon to hit inland that killed more than 2,200 people of the city and practically leveled Tacloban to the grounds.
A commemorative run, dubbed as “Yolandalagan” will kick off the program which will start at 3 am at the grounds of the Tacloban Convention Center or astrodome.
At 8 am, a Holy Mass will be held at the Santo Niño Church, which sustained major damaged due to Yolanda.
The commemorative program will be held at 3 pm at the astrodome which served as temporary shelter to more than 8,000 people at the time the city was pummeled by Yolanda.
Among the guests for the commemorative program are Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Dino who will read a message from President Rodrigo Duterte during the event; Senator Cynthia Villar, former presidential assistant for political affairs Francis Tolentino, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, former senator Bongbong Marcos, and French Embassy officials.
Former mayor Alfred Romualdez, who was the chief executive at that time, is also to join the commemorative program.
Mayor Romualdez, who signed an executive order suspending classes and works in the city on that day, will lead in the laying of wreaths at the Yolanda Memorial, located inside the compound of the astrodome, where names of those who perished during the onslaught of Yolanda were written.
The commemoration will be ended with a candle-light event along the streets of the city to start at 6 pm to be followed by Yolanda Sundown Memorial at 9 pm sponsored by the office of Leyte Rep. Yedda Romualdez.
While it has been five years since Tacloban was pummeled by Yolanda, thousands of families who totally lost their houses have yet to be given their own houses at the identified relocation sites.
Based on the records of the City Housing and Community Development (CHCD), of the identified 14,433 families who need to be relocated, the government through the National Housing Authority still need to transfer 3,621 families who are still living at their old houses which are located in the coastal areas now declared as danger zones.
And while there are already 10,821 families awarded of their new houses, several of these families chose not to occupy these units.
And one of them is Albeth Moreno,48, who is the current secretary of their village in Brgy.89, San Jose district.
She was awarded a housing unit in Guadalupe Heights 2 December, 2016 but only ‘visits’ the unit every weekend or if her schedule permits.
“My work as a barangay secretary demand that I should always be in our barangay hall to attend the needs of my barangay mates. That is why, we still live here and we just repair our house,” the mother of three children said.
She said that in due time, they would relocate to their new house as she was aware that there is an order from both the NHA and the city government to demolish their houses once they were awarded of their units as these are located within areas declared by the government as danger zones. (with HENRY JAMES, CITY INFORMATION OFFICE)