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Tacloban Today: Moving on Through Hope and Education

Tacloban Today: Moving on Through Hope and Education

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November 8, 2013 will always be remembered as the day the country stood still. An unprecedented typhoon— the strongest recorded not just in the Philippines but also one of the strongest in the world—pounded on the Eastern Visayas. The day turned into night and what happened next shocked the rest of the world with images of dead bodies and wiped out towns that people thought could only be seen in movies. To this day, Tacloban and the rest of the provinces hit by typhoon Yolanda are still picking up the pieces and struggling to bring normalcy back to their lives. The fight for survival might have pushed Taclobanons to the edge, but it also certainly showed that the human spirit knows how to fight back. An outpour of help came from different parts of the country and the rest of the world— in the form of cash donations, goods, and services. Many expressed support and joined hands to help the victims rebuild their lives. The locals are well aware that they need to move on for the sake of their future, and that much of it rests on those who have been most traumatized by the tragedy – the children.  

The Filipinos’ culture of bayanihan

The fight for survival has become so daunting for the children that, understandably, continuing their education seemed almost far-fetched. How exactly do you go to class when you no longer have a school? How do you find the motivation to continue when you have seen the bodies of your dead friends and loved ones right across the street? Thankfully, many golden hearts have not given up. Three years after the tragedy, the Kapuso Village Integrated School (KVIS), a project spearheaded by the GMA Kapuso and partners such as Hanabishi, was officially turned over to the local officials of Brgy. Sto Niño, Tacloban last August 26, 2016. KVIS has 24 classrooms in 3 buildings which will initially cater Kinder to Grade 6. The high school will be open to the public in 2017.   Rommel Abeto, KVIS appointed School Head, is overjoyed. In the aftermath of the typhoon, he recalls how he and several representatives from the Department of Education visited the remaining families to encourage children to go to school again and inform them of their available options, as part of the rehabilitation efforts. Initially, they had to make do with makeshift classrooms that members of the community created themselves, in a bayanihan effort to keep life moving for their young. This has helped them conduct classes for the past couple of years. He’s happy that the new school will be more spacious and conducive to learning, and will hopefully encourage more young people to go back to school.

Inspiring stories of hope

It is this kind of spirit and love for fellowmen that has kept the hope of many Taclobanons alive, like Elaine Ogaya, 11 years old, whose family had to take shelter in a church during the peak of the typhoon. They were comforted by the thought that angels were guiding over them, and over the next few days, real life angels helped them pull through with the kindness of the many volunteers who provided them with food and temporary shelter. For James Patrick Balanay, 11, he remembered how had to literally hold on to a school shelter for dear life as typhoon Yolanda raged on and debris were falling everywhere. They had to survive several days without food, water, and the trauma of seeing many relatives, neighbors, and friends fall and die. But as a school saved his life, this new school has also given him hope to reach for his dream of being an engineer when he grows up. [caption id="attachment_30565" align="alignleft" width="634"] Elaine and her new found friend Morth in front of their new school[/caption] “Dapat nyong tandaan na ang pinakamagandang paraan para makaahon sa kahirapan ang inyong mga anak ay ang makapagtapos sila ng kanilang pag-aaral,” Mel Tiangco, the GMA Kapuso Foundation Ambassador, emphasized during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. In keeping with their pledge to extend 1M worth of support annually to communities affected by Yolanda, Hanabishi also donated ceiling fans, water dispensers, and stand fans for the newly-built school. These passionate acts of community-building have kept hope alive in the aftermath of the typhoon, and it is still at work up to now. These only underscore the strength of will that has driven the locals to never give up, and believe that even if the whole world thought it was the end; to them it is only the beginning.        

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