L-R) Ms. Frencher B. Albarico, a third year BS in Agricultural Engineering student, and Dr. Teofanes A. Patindol, Associate Professor of the College of Forestry and Environmental Science, sharing their experiences as Super Typhoon Yolanda survivors.

BAYBAY CITY, Leyte —The Visayas State University (VSU) Main Campus joined the whole constituents of Eastern Visayas in commemorating the 1st Typhoon Yolanda Anniversary through a simple commemorative program after the Holy Mass offered for the victims of the Super Typhoon Yolanda that hit and devastated the lives and properties of thousands of dwellers regardless of status in Region 8 in the morning of November 8, 2013. The program was held in the morning of November 11, 2014 at the VSU Convention Hall.

The Holy Mass was offered for the victims of the said tragedy and the families that were left behind who until now are still struggling to recover from the onslaught of the typhoon. Rev. Fr. Bryan Flandez, Assistant Parish Priest of the Holy Spirit Parish, as celebrant, emphasized in his homily to continuously pray for the victims especially those who were left by their loved ones for them to move forward and face all challenges that may come their way. He also reiterated that the Holy Mass was offered to the souls of the victims as he promised to hold a mass in Tacloban which he did not fulfill because of some unavoidable circumstances. He relayed that while in his solitude, somebody called his name and he was reminded of what he promised. Thus he offered personally the mass to the souls of the victims.

Right after the mass, a short program followed which highlighted a video presentation on the VSU Yolanda Experience and Initiatives to Build Better facilitated by the Institute for Strategic Research and Development Studies (ISRDS). The video show was a compilation of photographs and videos taken by some VSU faculty and staff, and those from the ABS-CBN specifically in its program "Faylon Ngayon."

A very touching sharing of experiences of Yolanda survivors spiced up the celebration. Ms. Frencher B. Albarico, a third year BS in Agricultural Engineering student, shared her personal and chronological experience of the typhoon and relayed how her family fought just to survive from the disaster. Moreover, Dr. Teofanes A. Patindol, Associate Professor of the College of Forestry and Environmental Science, though suffering from the ordeal of the typhoon, comically shared his personal account brought about by the wrath of the tragedy. The audience was entertained by his presentation and learned moral values from his experience.

On the other hand, Dr. Edgardo E. Tulin, VP for Instruction, talked about the VSU initiatives in the relief and rehabilitation work. He acknowledged the different individuals, organizations, and institutions here and abroad who unselfishly shared their blessings through monetary and in-kind donations intended for the victims of the typhoon that were channeled through the VSU Task Force Yolanda. He also mentioned the number of beneficiaries of the donations from the VSU Main Campus and those from the satellite campuses.

Likewise, Ms. Alren C. Tisbe of Christian Aid-ATM-VSU Hub, shared how they distributed the relief goods to the victims. She also expressed her fulfillment for the noble deeds of the group's members as they shared their blessings to the needy.

Some individuals also shared some of their initiatives in post-disaster reconstruction. Among those who shared include: Dr. Marcelo Quevedo of PhilRootcrops, Dr. Eutiquio Sudaria of the National Coconut Research Center, Dr. Buenaventura Dargantes of ISRDS, and Mr. Rei Panaligan of Christian Aid-ATM.

On behalf of VSU President Jose L. Bacusmo, Dr. Roberto C. Guarte, VP for Administration and Finance, relayed that the VSU President was overwhelmed with the concerted efforts exerted by the different individuals and organization/institutions in responding to the immediate call for help to the victims of the Super Typhoon Yolanda. Though the calamity brought tremendous sufferings to the victims who are mostly from Region 8, but we should not forget that it also brought some positive results in our lives as it rekindled our close family ties and our concerns with other people who are not related to us by blood.

As what Dr. Bacusmo had said, "The strongest recorded typhoon in history which resulted to much loss of lives and properties in Leyte, including VSU. The experience brought home the reality of climate change to the University and the need to understand this new normal, need to build better, and how VSU can contribute to this challenge." —vsu.edu.ph