Davao Oriental wants to inspire Yolanda survivors

MOMENT OF SILENCE. Residents of Cateel, Davao Oriental observe a moment of silence on the first anniversary of Super Typhoon Pablo (Bopha), 4 December 2013. Photo by Karlos Manlupig/Rappler

MOMENT OF SILENCE. Residents of Cateel, Davao Oriental observe a moment of silence on the first anniversary of Super Typhoon Pablo (Bopha), 4 December 2013.

Photo by Karlos Manlupig/Rappler

CATEEL, Philippines – Exactly one year ago, uprooted trees, debris and dead bodies littered the streets of Cateel, Davao Oriental, after Super Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) made landfall in nearby Baganga town and devastated the entire province.

Today, workers are busy building new structures, including village centers, schools and houses.

At the town center of Cateel, residents, students, teachers, church leaders and government officials bowed their heads, some with tears in their eyes, to offer prayers for those who perished.

They also expressed that they are grateful for their second life.

At least 457 were killed while 3,020 were injured by Typhoon Pablo. More or less 64,032 families were affected while P5.846 billion worth of properties were damaged or destroyed.

Governor Corazon Malanyaon said the people of Davao Oriental have proven that they can bounce back despite the disaster brought by Pablo.

"While the destruction was unprecedented and seemingly difficult to overcome at that time, we cannot afford to be paralyzed by fear and agony. We cannot prolong our moment of grief and our period of commiseration. We cannot allow panic and disorder to rule. So many people and so much depends on our next moves on how fast we can respond to the crisis and as to how appropriate and adequate will be our responses," Malanyaon said.

"It is a matter of determination, attitude, and of course our spirituality," she added.

These characteristics, Malanyaon said, helped them handle the worst of times most especially in establishing order in a very chaotic situation.

EMPTY. The shell of a home in Cateel, Davao Oriental, damaged by Super Typhoon Pablo is pictured a year after the typhoon, 4 December 2013. Photo by Karlos Manlupig/Rappler

EMPTY. The shell of a home in Cateel, Davao Oriental, damaged by Super Typhoon Pablo is pictured a year after the typhoon, 4 December 2013.

Photo by Karlos Manlupig/Rappler

The experiences of the people of Davao Oriental and on how they handled the crisis would hopefully inspire those affected by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) to remain courageous in rebuilding their lives, Malanyaon said.

Presently, at least 5,359 families were provided with transition shelters through the help of various government agencies and donor organizations while the residents wait for their permanent shelters.

"These shelters not only provided our people with the most basic comforts of a home, but mainly protected them especially from health risks due to poor hygienic conditions in congested emergency shelters," Malanyaon said.

For the permanent shelters, at least 804 houses are already completed or are under construction, Malanyaon said.

Within a year, the entire province was also cleared of wreckage:  at least 256,772.5 cubic meters of debris were recovered and disposed from 40 barangays.

The clearing operation was able to employ 13,032 residents under the cash-for-work program; 40% were women.

SURVIVORS. Residents of Cateel, Davao Oriental infront of the town church during the commemoration of the first anniversary of Super Typhoon Pablo, 4 December 2013. Photo by Karlos Manlupig/Rappler

SURVIVORS. Residents of Cateel, Davao Oriental infront of the town church during the commemoration of the first anniversary of Super Typhoon Pablo, 4 December 2013.

Photo by Karlos Manlupig/Rappler

Malanyaon shared that the debris were maximized for livelihood projects including driftwood processing, rosaries from coconut beads, carpentry, and fiber-board processing.

The provincial government is currently working on making the agriculture sector more stable by providing the needs of the fishermen and farmers.

Important agricultural products including rice, cacao, palm oil, vegetables and coconuts are being supported by the government by providing subsidies. New fishing boats were also provided to at least 28 fisherfolk associations in the province.

"Our experience with super typhoon Pablo is indeed a defining moment for Davao Oriental. It has tried the extent of our courage, undaunted spirit and resiliency as a people. It has measured mankind's capacity for goodness and generosity. It has tested the foundation of our governance and leadership. And I am proud to say that we have stood up to the challenge," Malanyaon said. – Rappler.com