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Preparedness the secret of Guiuan leadership

12:21 AM March 25, 2014

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.

Mayor Gonzales used to be the province’s vice governor. He has been recognized for his leadership, which was credited for Guiuan’s sustaining a fewer number of casualties despite being the first town on the path of “Yolanda” and thus bearing the supertyphoon’s full and strongest impact. Preparedness must have been his secret shield. Mayor Gonzales did great in protecting his flock.

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I agree that lessons on preparedness cannot be learned solely from books or from attending costly conventions in Metro Manila. Participation in fancy training must be discouraged, especially if the money to be spent is taken from the coffers of a province.

Iloilo’s local leaders should be taught prudent spending of public funds.

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Away from limelight and without fanfare, Mayor Gonzales just did his job. Kudos to the people of Guiuan for cooperating with their mayor before Yolanda hit the town.

Guiuan is among the prime tourist spots in Eastern Visayas. It is where Homonhon island, the first place in the Philippines where Magellan landed, is located. It can be accessed via land  from Tacloban. Aside from its historical appeal, it offers pristine beaches and seafood galore at very reasonable prices.

One summer a few years back, my kids and I had the privilege to explore Guiuan upon the invitation of friends. Of all people, we bumped into actor Jericho Rosales at Calicoan Surf Camp, one of the high-end resorts in that town. We learned that Rosales was a frequent guest spending his “surfing escapades” in the area.

It is sad indeed that the place was devastated by Yolanda. Despite the outpouring of support for the victims, the town is yet to recover, and survivors are yet to receive much-needed aid. Many of my friends there have kept their sufferings to themselves.

Being a native of Eastern Samar and having spent my entire childhood days in the province, which faces the Pacific Ocean, I can say our townspeople are used to experiencing several typhoons every year. Uprooted coconut trees are an ordinary sight for us after each typhoon. And we have risen from many devastating storms.

For many years now, our province has been identified as among the poorest provinces. Despite its vast agricultural lands, farmers cannot really do productive farming. We therefore rely on produce coming from Luzon and other nearby provinces.

It is my wish that after Yolanda, Guiuan and the 23 other towns of Eastern Samar will finally get the attention they long deserve.

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—BELEN DOCENA-ASUELO, [email protected]

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TAGS: Guiuan, Leyte, news, regions, Samar, Yolanda
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