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Catanduanes folks are particularly inspired by President Rodrigo Duterte’s prompt visit right after the weather permitted him to do so after villainous Typhoon Nina battered their province on Christmas day.
He came to personally commiserate and share their misery and inspire them to move on. My Catandunganon friend told me they are particularly mindful of Digong’s gesture because Catanduanes is seldom visited by Presidents of the republic.
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Typhoon Nina is now gone but the misery it inflicted on thousands of Filipino families robbed of their joyful traditional Christmas celebrations by stranding them in seaports or forcing them to spend their Noche Buena in cramped evacuation centers, will long be remembered. Rather than be saddled by its painful reminders, however, let’s use the tragic memories to strengthen our resolve to move on ahead.
Nina, which closely rivaled 2013 Supertyphoon Yolanda in ferocity, made its first landfall in Bato, Catanduanes, then made seven other landfalls in other Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Mimaropa and Eastern Visayas provinces within 24 hours. It left behind massive destructions to public infrastructures, transport facilities, farm crops, private homes and a few lives.
With sustained winds of up to 130 kph and gustinesss of up to 215 kph, Nina disrupted power supply in provinces on Christmas eve and onwards dislocated hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in the countrysides and travelers. Now adding to their misery is the absence of electricity in their communities.
Apparently most hard hit in Bicol are southern Catanduanes where landslides along the circumferential highway of the island province have virtually isolated towns from one another, as well as Camarines Sur.
Interestingly, as reported by local officials in some provinces, if not for their forced evacuation, many of their kababayans refused to abandon their Christmas celebrations and wanted to go home before the storm hit. The following day, despite the rains still pouring and gusty winds blowing, many of them started trooping home and were dismayed to find their shelters destroyed.
With Nina now gone and with no new typhoon expected to his the country before New Year, priority attention must now focus on prevention of outbreak of illnesses, rehabilitation of damaged infrastructures and recovery assistance for the victims. Concerned agencies in this regard are the Departments of Health (DoH), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Agriculture (DA). (Johnny Dayang)