Duterte lauds Tacloban’s resilience after ‘Yolanda’

TACLOBAN CITY — President Rodrigo R. Duterte lauded the people of this city and Leyte province for their resilience after Super Typhoon Yolanda’s devastation in 2013.

The President told the crowd gathered at the Balyuan Amphitheater Friday night for the Sangyaw Parade of Lights, that he was impressed when he saw the progress during his visit here in November 2016 and January 2017.

“I was really surprised na Leyte almost was back on its feet and the skyline was more pleasant to see. More buildings and all. So ‘yung resilience ninyo pati ‘yung swerte ninyo, baka nga talaga it’s a matter of (Your resilience, including your luck, perhaps it’s really a matter of), you know. But you have been blessed several times,” Duterte said.

“The progress we see today is a testament of the resilience, unity, and hope of the Taclobanons, which have been tried and tested by various challenges faced in the past years,” Duterte added.

“And I hope that God will continue to bless you as a people and itong mga Leyteño, kasali na ako, magiging parte ng importanteng tao sa Pilipinas (And I hope that God would continue to bless you as a people and these Leyteños, including myself, would become important people in the Philippines),” said the President, who repeatedly introduced himself as a native of Southern Leyte province.

Duterte recalled that he wept when he personally saw the sufferings of people in Leyte a few days after the monster typhoon struck in November 2013.

“I do not want to remind you of the sorrow and agony. But I’d like to tell you that the day after, I was here and all that I could — except of course to give instructions to the doctors and the unloading of the equipment and medicines, it was one of my saddest (moments) in my life,” he said.

“I never saw such magnitude of… Kaya nagastos ang luha ko dito siguro, mga dalawang panyo. Totoo. Literally, I was bleeding inside my heart (I never saw such magnitude of… Perhaps that is why my tears were spent, almost two handkerchiefs. It is true. Literally, I was bleeding inside my heart),” he said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez said then-Davao City mayor Duterte was the first local government official who came to help the typhoon victims.

Duterte was the guest of this year’s Sangyaw Festival themed “Happyesta Tacloban 2018″.

He said the gathering was the perfect opportunity to showcase the religious heritage of people and express passionate devotion to God.

“By preserving and passing on the heritage to the next generation, we not only safeguard our unique identity amidst these changing times, but also make development meaningful as we embrace the diversity of our society,” Duterte added.

The day’s highlight was the Sangyaw Parade of Lights featuring creatively decorated and brightly-lighted floats and dance contingents against the backdrop of the upbeat “Sangyaw Theme”.

Sangyaw, which means “to announce” is the name of the city’s festival. Then-first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, introduced the event in the late 1970s or early 1980s as a highlight of the city’s fiesta celebration. It was stopped after the People Power Revolution in 1986, which ended the Marcos regime.

In 2008, Imelda’s nephew, then-Tacloban mayor Alfred Romualdez revived the Sangyaw Festival as the highlight of fiesta celebrations. Sarwell Meniano/

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