Memorial Mass at Holy Cross Memorial Park, Tacloban City
November 8, 2014
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.
As we all gather here on this hallowed ground and blessed memorial, we honor every man, woman and child who perished in that calamity. We hold dear and near our fond memories of our departed.
They say, the pain of a loss of a loved one never goes away, we just learn to live with it. But we take comfort that every one of us who survived that storm, share this pain together. 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.
Together, we must take on the cudgels and accept the challenge so that we – and all future generations to come should never have to suffer through another Yolanda. Now is the time for us to rise up and work for the future of our children and our city.
The first responders – friends and allies from all over the world immediately came to our aid. Landing on the same shores in keeping with old promises never forgotten – to return to liberate us – this time from the helplessness in the aftermath of the wrath of Yolanda.
Our friends continue to help us rebuild from the sea of debris that our city was reduced to. We sleep soundly in the assurance that even the most powerful countries in the world call the Taclobanons – and the Filipinos, their friends.
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.
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”.
We believe that this “new normal” can be presented to our nation as a showcase or a model-in-progress given our Yolanda experience that we can share and impart lessons learned to others.
Our heritage, our culture, our religious faiths and even the basic precepts of humanity teach us the most fundamental and natural instinctive responses. To show compassion, kindness, comfort and care at a time of great disasters or tragedy – friend or foe. To behave otherwise is cruel, unjust and inhumane. It is our hope that every filipino – every human being, at a time of direst need should never again be treated with the misplaced anger, apathy, or indifference we suffered and still suffer though.
In the spirit of reconciliation and in our process of healing and moving forward, we must forgive all the wrongs done to our people, as we, too, ask forgiveness for our own shortcomings.
We offer this pledge before the graves of our loved ones and dedicate our resolve to their memory.
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.
It is our vision to make Tacloban City a livable city where every Taclobanon can sleep soundly in the safety and comfort of a humane shelter and live a decent quality of life to live up to its potential of infinite possibilities for progress and growth.
In the silence of our hearts, may this historic day be marked with posterity, never to be forgotten, never to be erased. May all who come this way remember, that on this piece of earth, the whole world converged to make Tacloban the template of a people’s firm resolve to rise above their sorrow and create the new landscape of their future.
Maraming salamat po. God bless our city and our people. Mabuhay ang Tacloban. Mabuhay ang bawat Pilipino.
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