MARCHING BANDS, dancers in colorful costumes and young ladies clutching the image of the Child Jesus thumped their feet and performed to the beat of the drums in the streets of Tacloban city over the weekend.
Almost two years after Typhoon Haiyan devastated Leyte province in the central Philippines, killing thousands of people and destroying millions of dollars worth of property in the provincial capital of Tacloban, survivors celebrated “resilience” in the first city fiesta to be held since the typhoon.
“Resilience is seeing Taclobanons with their smiles back on their faces again,” said 18-year old Reena Vivienne Pineda, who was crowned “Miss Tacloban” on Saturday.
“Resiliency is about standing here again in the Astrodome celebrating life after Haiyan,” Pineda added.
In November 2013, cries for help and anguish were heard in the same venue when a storm surge brought by Haiyan killed at least 30 people who had sought shelter in the Astrodome.
But last weekend, some 5,000 people filled the arena to cheer the beauty pageant contestants and celebrate the city’s fiesta.
In the nearby city of Ormoc, Haidee Apuya, a 35-year old mother, said people have many reasons to be especially thankful during this year’s feast of the Child Jesus that is celebrated on Tuesday.
“We were scared during the typhoon, but thanks be to God, we made it,” said Apuya, adding that she and her friends would offer a Mass as well as prepare food for the festivities.
“We all welcome the return of our festival,” said 16-year old Zaira Margallo who, together with other volunteers, helped secure the parade in Tacloban this weekend.
“We wanted to show to the world that we have moved on from the disaster, while thankful of the help we received, and positive of our future with the guidance of our patron saint,” said Tacloban city council member Cristina Romualdez.
She said the return of this year’s grand Sangyaw (“to proclaim” in the Waray language) festival in Tacloban marks “the celebration of resiliency and recovery of the people after the typhoon”.
Read more here:
Originally published at UCA News, June 30, 2015.
Photo by Geoffrey Aparis Jr.