TACLOBAN CITY- Thousands of people lined in the streets and lighted candles, signaling the highlight of the second year marking the onslaught of supertyphoon “Yolanda” in this city.
For Carmelita Labanan and Roger Loterio, neighbors of Barangay 86 in San Jose district, they have different reasons why they joined the candle lighting ceremony held in the evening of November 8, this year.
For Labanan, 53, the candle that she offered is for her mother, Anastinia Moreno and stepfather Zacarias, both 79 who were killed due to the storm surge generated by Yolanda, considered the world’s strongest typhoon to make landfall.
“Wherever they are now, I am praying for the eternal repose of their souls,” Labanan said.
The remains of her mother was discovered 42 days after Yolanda hit the city on November 8, 2013 while that of her stepfather’s was recovered just three days after the massive storm.
Loterio, meantime, lit a candle to say his “thank you” for he and his family survived the onslaught of Yolanda.
“We lost everything. Our house was totally washed out but what was important was we all survived from Yolanda and this is more than enough to say our gratitude to the Lord and say thank you,” the 47 year father to five children said.
Official records disclosed that about 2,300 people from Tacloban were killed and 600 other missing due to Yolanda.
The lighting of candles, all 50,000 pieces, covered the streets of Tacloban and up to the nearby towns of Palo, Tanauan and Tolosa or a 24 kilometers stretch.
Candles started to be lined up in the streets at around 3 pm and the lighting of candles started at 6 pm.
Priests from the respective parishes of Tacloban, Palo, Tanauan and Tolosa blessed the candles first before they were lighted.
The thousands of people who gathered in the streets offered silent prayers and some with flowers to honor and remember the dead and at the same time, to thank God for surviving the onslaught.
Jude Acidre, of the lighting candle movement or the Yolanda candle lighting memorial, said that the activity was just a simple way to remember those who perished during Yolanda and for those who survived to express their gratitude that they managed to survive.
Mass graves in the towns of Palo located in Barangay San Joaquin and in Tanauan, located in Brgy. Calogcog and at the town proper, were also lighted with candles.
A memorial tablet, located in Sitio Alimasag, Brgy.88, San Jose, was also unveiled attended by Msgr. Alex Opiniano, Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, businessman Philip Romualdez and representatives of the embassies of the United States, Australia, Turkey and Indonesia.
The 3×4 feet tablet, made of brass, was placed in the area where he stage stood when Pope Francis held his papal Mass on January 17, this year.
The tablet was made in honor for the Pope’s visit who expressed his solidarity to the survivors of Yolanda and a reminder for the people who were killed due to the massive storm.
The mass grave at Holy Cross Cemetery in Brgy. Basper, Tacloban, was also blessed by Fr. Adrian Ladines of the Blessed Sacrament Church.
The activity ended with the release of about 500 lanterns at the Cancabato Bay along Magsaysay Boulevard at around 9 pm.
(JOEY A. GABIETA)