By Francisco C. Cabanatan
Having breached my 60s and salad days, and, “like an island surrounded by death,” I find that my ultimate goal now is to be remembered beyond my lifetime. As the Jewish saying goes, “The only dead are those who have been forgotten.”
INQUIRER’S March 19 editorial, “Junket,” suggested that local leaders skip “costly” disaster-related conventions and, instead, just “trek to Guiuan (Eastern Samar) and learn from someone like (Mayor Christopher) Gonzales.”
This is to commend my fellow Estehanon (a Waray term for people from Eastern Samar) Christopher Gonzales, mayor of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, who was cited in the March 19 editorial for refusing to go on junket at the local government’s expense.
When Super Typhoon “Yolanda” smashed into central Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013, the first town it devastated was Guiuan in Eastern Samar. Like Tacloban and other places that stood in the megahowler’s path, Guiuan was nearly wiped off the map. One week later, the Wall Street Journal reported that Guiuan “looks like the aftermath of a bombing… Miles of smashed coconut trees roll up a beach that now looks more like a garbage dump. Heaps of mangled concrete, wood and steel line every street. The only vehicles moving are motorbikes, with three-wheeled auto rickshaws and cars mostly idle for lack of fuel. People queue for hours in long lines for food, fuel and to make a free, one-minute satellite call to relatives.”
By Conrado de Quiros
That was an uplifting story we had last week about the women of Guiuan pulling themselves up by their bootstraps (Front Page, 2/27/14). Written by Danny Petilla, it told of how several women in one of the worst-hit places in Samar had refused to repose their fate in the kindness of strangers, also called relief-givers, but had banded together to form a small lending network. By means of which they have been able to support small businesses like sari-sari stores, selling fish, and making shell craft.