BLESSING OF THE MASS GRAVE. A priest blesses the common grave of the victims of super typhoon Yolanda in Palo, Leyte. The province commemorated the 5th year anniversary of the monster typhoon on Thursday (November 8, 2018). (Photo by Roel Amazona)
PALO, Leyte -- Taking care of the environment, being good to fellowmen, and better relationship with God are at the center of the Roman Catholic’s message during the mass to commemorate the fifth year since Super Typhoon Yolanda (foreign name Haiyan) struck central Philippines.
The mass celebrated by Fr. Sonny Quijano were attended by families of casualties of the monster typhoon at the Metropolitan Palo Cathedral Thursday. Officials of Palo local government and Leyte provincial government were all present.
Quijano, in his homily, said as humans, everyone has the obligation to take care of the environment. “Development is good, but it should not be at the expense of Mother Nature.”
The devastation of “Yolanda” is one of the negative effects of human negligence to nature, which residents in the Eastern Visayas experienced “by suffering the saddest price of not only destruction of their properties, but also losing their family members and friends,” he said.
“Part of our sin is our destruction of the environment that is why we should lead in helping, cleaning and protecting it,” the priest added in his sermon.
“This is a challenge to us, but we can do this by doing simple acts, like picking up garbage or throwing our trash in garbage bin and by planting more trees.”
He also said communication between humankind must not be broken to prosper good relationship with others. “We don’t know when we are going to die that is why it is important that we always act and do good things for our brothers and sisters. It is proper for us to have good relationship with others and we do this through prayers and service,” he told mass goers.
The priest went on to remind parishioners to always have good relationships and continue having faith with God even with their busy schedules.
After the mass, a simple ceremony was held at the mass grave site within the compound of Palo Cathedral, the center of Catholic Church in Eastern Visayas.
Almost 500 residents of Palo were buried at the mass grave site. Family members offered candles and flowers at stones where names of those who perished are engraved.
The priest also blessed the common grave as rain showers started to pour.
Doves and a giant rosary made of white- and blue-colored balloons were released in the air.
Five years after the devastation of “Yolanda,” residents of Palo have started to move on, according to Palo Mayor Remedios Petilla.
“We have to move on, but we cannot put that aside as we always need to remember. I always tell the people that their departed loved ones will be at peace if they see those who survived are able to accept what happened,” Petilla said.
Around 1,050 residents of Palo died on November 8, 2013 while more than 100 residents are declared missing after the super typhoon.
Permanent houses have been provided to survivors both by the National Housing Authority (NHA) and private organizations.
Economically, the town is in rapid development due to the number of investors coming in after the super typhoon, said the mayor.
Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said the people affected by the super typhoon should sustain the recovery made after the catastrophe.
“Unlike other areas hit by apocalyptic devastation of natural disasters, what happened in Eastern Visayas after ‘Yolanda’ is inspiring because the region was able to recover fast through the help and effort of the people,” the governor said.
“This recovery was initiated by the people who were affected by ‘Yolanda’. We need to sustain this. It was a painful experience, we were shocked and traumatized, but we need to overcome it and move on. That is what we saw in our local economy, it became vibrant,” he added. (PNA)