Aerial photo of Guiuan devastation immediately after super-typhoon Yolanda. (Photo courtesy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines)

Guiuan News – Residents: construction of P1.4M Yolanda memorial ill-timed

GUIUAN NEWS, EASTERN SAMAR – Residents of this municipality facing the Pacific Ocean are wondering whether the more than one million pesos recently allocated by their municipal officials for a monument memorializing the onslaught of typhoon Yolanda, could be better used to help its victims rehabilitate and recover in their lives.

Guiuan mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzales, who said that the fund would be sourced out by a supposed “realignment” from the municipality’s development fund, disclosed that the monument is for those who perished at the height of Typhoon Yolanda. The Sanggunian will determine where it will be constructed. “I authorized them to decide where the memorial should be erected,” said Gonzalez in an interview.

The decision to erect a monument on the Yolanda crisis event however drew mixed reactions from people who think that “the money could honour more the memory of those who died during the typhoon if it will be invested in disaster risk reduction programs that can save the lives of the survivors of the tragedy”.

“It is a mistake and the local officials will just waste needed money that could fund livelihood projects for the people who lost not only family members but their homes and livelihood”, said Mano Eufrocinio, an elderly man who said he was lucky to dodge death at his advanced age when super-typhoon Yolanda came. “Life is harder this time and I now wonder if I was indeed fortunate to have survived with this kind of economic suffering”, he quipped.

Under the planned construction of a monument, certain remains from the old Immaculate Conception church of Guiuan and of people who perished during ‘Yolanda’ will be placed along with messages from various sectors or groups.

 “I don’t want that what happened during Typhoon Yolanda will be forgotten. This memorial will make people remember that Guiuan was where typhoon Yolanda made its first landfall,” said Mayor Gonzalez.

The mayor is hoping that the monument will help educate the public on the effects of climate change. More than 100 residents of Guiuan died at the height of the disaster as it entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility on November 8, 2013.