A month after Typhoon Yolanda hit the core of Visayas, the aftermath of the unimaginable destruction it has caused is far from being a closed book. The rough journey to rehabilitation was just about to begin. This arduous task falls heavily upon the shoulders of the local chief executives of the affected areas. Being victims themselves, they do not only need a cascade of aid but also shared knowledge on where to begin and what to do.
On December 16 to 17, 2013, the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), Tabang Visayas, League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), Ateneo School of Government and Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership organized ‘Bangon Visayas’, a 2-day seminar-workshop that aims to help local chief executives of municipalities affected by Typhoon Yolanda rebuild and rehabilitate their communities. The event was attended by more than 50 mayors coming from Leyte, Samar, Cebu and Ilo Ilo, held at the Institute of Social Order, Ateneo de Manila University.
Sec. Ping Lacson delivers message on behalf of President Benigno Noynoy Aquino III
A gathering of 53 local government units from the Visayas
To start-up the event, Mayor Sandy Javier of Javier, Leyte and the President of LMP shared some words of encouragement during his opening remarks, “Siguro kaya tayo pinili ng nasa itaas, kasi alam Niyang kaya natin”. Rep. Leni Robredo of the 3rd District of Camarines Sur also welcomed the participants saying that this challenging time is the best time for cooperation among the national government, local governments, private sector and international institutions.
“Given the magnitude of destruction caused by Yolanda, there is a need for the public and the private sector to work together to help our fellow Filipinos. What is more inspiring is that even if many of our mayors here are victims themselves, they still go beyond their own difficulties to help their constituents in rebuilding their lives. These are the type of leaders that we need now, leaders who will set aside their own personal interests for the common good,” said Rep. Robredo who also announced the Jesse Robredo’s Tabangay program that aims to assist baranggays in Eastern Samar.
Stress self-assesment and learning from lessons of the past
The first session featured former Governor Rosette Lerias of Southern Leyte, who shared her experience with the Guinsangon Rehabilitation UN adapted master plan. It gave a detailed outlook on how to assess and plan for rehabilitation. This was followed by the ‘stress self-assessment’ conducted by Dr. Isabel Melgar of the Ateneo Pschology Department. She also gave the five intervention principles during disasters which were: promotion of sense of safety, calming, self and collective efficacy, connectedness and hope. The last session was primarily about needs assessment in terms of health, food security and reconstruction. Czarina Medina of ULAP facilitated this workshop.
“I am very happy that this event was organized. My town needs much help but our local government’s resources are very limited that is why I really took time to attend and ask our private sector partners for help. This will be a perfect Christmas gift for all of us,” said Mayor Nida Gabornes of Lawaan, Eastern Samar.
The first day was concluded by a dinner hosted by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III. Sec. Mar Roxas, Usec. Austere Panadero, Cong. Mel Sarmiento and Gov. Dominic Petilla of Leyte were also present in the said dinner. Sen. Guingona expressed his admiration for the courage and perseverance of the mayors. Sec. Roxas, on the other hand, narrated the recent and future actions of the national government with regard to supporting the rehabilitation efforts of the local government units.
Making public-private sector partnership work
The second day, hosted by Tabang Visayas, was all about networking and linking the needs of the local governments to the services that can be provided by the private sector and national government agencies. It was done through a ‘world café’ format, wherein the possible partners were divided into three clusters: health, food security, and shelter and rehabilitation. The mayor-participants were also split into groups where they separately had discussions with the organizations.
To officially end the event, Presidential Assistant on Rehabilitation and Recovery Sec. Panfilo Lacson delivered a message on behalf of President Benigno Aquino III addressed to the participants. He emphasized, during the open forum, his commitment to transparency in the planning and implementation of the rehabilitation effort. He urged the local leaders of the Yolanda-stricken areas to pitch in their own plans for the national government’s master plan.
Dubbed as the ‘strongest typhoon to hit land ever recorded’, Typhoon Yolanda was meant to be faced collectively. Lending out a helping hand is not an end in itself. Cooperation also includes the sharing of information, a system on which efforts could be synchronized to efficiently and effectively implement reconstruction and rehabilitation.
For those who would like to learn more about future activities of Bangon Visayas, you can get in touch with Czarina Medina at [email protected]