The city of Tacloban and surrounding towns remembered the deadly super typhoon that blew through the central Philippines a year ago Saturday with prayer services and other events. More than 7,300 people died or disappeared when typhoon Haiyan did its damage.
At the Holy Cross Memorial Park in the city’s north, a soloist fought back tears to get through a song whose lyrics remind the listeners they are not alone. The park is the site of a mass grave marked with small white crosses.
Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez honored the more than 2,000 who died in this city and said the city was motivated to pull together to build an even stronger community.
“They say the pain of the loss of the loved one never goes away," Romualdez said. "We learn to live with it but we take comfort that every one of us who survived that storm shares this pain together with our faith in God and in one another.”
Haiyan blew through with 315 kilometer per hour winds and tsunami-like storm surges that slapped against Tacloban and nearby towns. The storm destroyed more than a million homes and left millions of people without work.
Government and humanitarian agencies have focused their efforts on providing shelter for the survivors and helping them get work in fields different from what they had been doing.
In the town of Palo just south of Tacloban, hundreds turned out for a commemoration at another mass grave at the main cathedral.
On the cathedral grounds, the archbishop sprinkled holy water on scores of slate grave markers, each engraved with three names. Twenty-five-year-old Jonno Cuesta stood by a marker touching one name.
He lost his father in a storm surge. Cuesta says he still cannot accept the death of his father whom he says was a very good swimmer.
He says he is a fisherman like his father was. Now he has learned to do construction, make fishing nets and so many other skills so he can support the family because their Papa’s gone. He says they no longer have a breadwinner.
Cuesta says as the only son and the oldest among his siblings, he was very close to his father. He says his last memory of him was eating breakfast on the morning of the storm. The winds were so strong all they could eat were eggs, everything else would have blown away.