Romualdezes honor first responders in 'Yolanda' onslaught

Published November 7, 2021, 6:05 PM

by Manila Bulletin

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez of Leyte and Tingog Partylist Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez honored the brave early responders during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda that devastated Tacloban City and Eastern Visayas eight years ago.

As the nation remembers the eight-year Yolanda anniversary on Monday, November 8, the Romualdez couple also offered prayers for Yolanda victims, stressing they should not be forgotten as their deaths raised awareness on disaster management and prevention not only in the country, but in the entire world.

The Romualdezes are among the principal authors of House Bill 5989 or the measure seeking to create the Department of Disaster Resilience, which the House of Representatives on September 22 last year passed the measure on third and final reading. The proposal is pending in the Senate.

“Eight years ago, we, in Tacloban and other parts of the Visayas islands, experienced up close the horrors brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda. Hindi madaling burahin sa puso at isipan ang sakit na dulot ng nasabing bagyo (It’s not easy to erase in our heart and think of the pain brought by the said typhoon). We still grieve as we remember our fallen brothers and sisters,” said Romualdez, Leyte 1st District congressman and chairman of the House Committee on Rules, recalling the massive destruction caused by Yolanda, one of the world’s most powerful typhoons in recent history.

“We always pray for our departed loved ones, for blessings on all dear to us, for peace in our homes and communities, and for the strength to move on and rise again,” said Rep. Yedda, chairperson of the House Committee on the Welfare of Children.

“We will never forget November 8 and we will never forget the friends and family we lost. We will never forget the pain and grief. We will always remember the courage and selflessness of those who come to our side.”

“That is why every 8th of November is a date we will hold sacred, when we recall how one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, struck our home region, leaving tens of thousands of people dead and missing, millions homeless and livelihoods destroyed. It was the worst of times, the adversities we will always keep in our hearts,” the House partylist leader added.

The Romualdezes gave their salute to all the first responders, including local and international donors who selflessly and bravely answered the call to protect people and properties despite risking their own safety.

The Romualdez couple said the first responders took part and contributed to the recovery and rehabilitation efforts of the communities affected by Yolanda and provided comfort and hope to the victims amidst the devastation.

According to the couple, the people of Region VIII have remained undeterred in looking to the future with greater confidence and rebuilding once more their homes and lives.

“What eases the pain partly is the collective effort exerted by our fellow Filipinos to help us get back on our feet. Hindi po namin makakalimutan ang lahat ng kabutihan na ipinakita ninyo (We will never forget all the goodness you have shown us),” Leyte solon Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, added.

“For a moment, Filipinos have shown to the world what ’malasakit’ means to us as a people. May this trait of empathy continue to burn in our hearts as we all strive to build a better future for our people. Muli, maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat (Again, thank you very much to all of you).”

For her part, Rep. Yedda Romualdez thanked all the volunteers, especially President Rodrigo Duterte, who was then Davao City mayor, for coming to Yolanda-hit areas and providing help.

“We salute those who have helped the city devastated by Yolanda, Every year, we remember the affected communities and honor the memory of thousands of lives who were lost in the tragedy. We are eternally grateful for the heroism, kindness and generosity with so many countless volunteers, donors and partners who have helped in saving lives, comforted us in our pain and grief and rebuilt our homes and communities,” she said.

“A truly borderless world has pulled us on our feet. In what was thought ‘to be a time of weakness, the Filipino people showed our greatest strength: our unmatched resilience and unfailing optimism that comes from our deep faith in God. Indeed, the Filipino people are truly stronger than a super typhoon,” House Majority Leader Romualdez, a lawyer from the University of the Philippines and president of the Philippine Constitution Association, stressed.

“In that time of our greatest need, the whole world embraced us and helped us rise again from the ashes and debris left by the strongest typhoon in recorded human history. Our cry for help was heard across the world and after the day that typhoon came, the world rushed to our aid to bring relief and hope in a sea of utter destruction, an outpouring of support from every race and nation.”

Rep. Yedda Romualdez also thanked the Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha or NYK Line of Japan for being one of the first responders in Tacloban City.

“For the information of everyone, NYK Line was one of those who immediately provided us with help after the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda, in November 2013,” she said.

Last Friday, the partylist congresswoman said NYK Line, Japan’s biggest and oldest shipping company, donated 1,700 reams of A4 bond papers and 10 units of Fuji printers to three schools in Leyte namely Leyte National High School, San Jose National High School and Greendale Residences National High School.

Majority Leader Romualdez also cited Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines for its “cash-for-work” program, which temporarily employed thousands of residents of Tacloban City and conducted a free eye cataract operation to more than 100 patients.

He said the program helped to stimulate the local economy in Tacloban immediately after Yolanda hit Eastern Visayas and other parts of the country where each worker was paid P500 per day in clearing the debris.

“This group has been really providing life-saving assistance and they are very quiet in helping my constituents,” added the Leyte lawmaker.

“The local economy benefited and was boosted by the cash-for-work program of the Tzu Chi Foundation. We are blessed to have them in our rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts.”

Through the cash-for-work program of the Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines, residents cleaned their respective communities which were filled with piles of debris brought by Yolanda. (Melvin Sarangay)