Manila, 19 November 2014-- Collaborative efforts between local government units, international and national organizations, and UN agencies held sway on November 8 to commemorate the first anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines). UN-Habitat participated in the commemorative events in the cities of Ormoc, Roxas, and Tacloban and the municipalities of Estancia and Guiuan.

The earliest activity kicked off at Guiuan, a municipality in Eastern Samar which was first hit along the super typhoon’s path.  The observance activities, which were dubbed “An Pagkamarig-on Han Mga Guiuananon” (the Resilience of the Guiuananons), started on November 3 with various workshops. The events culminated in the procession and solidarity night on November 7. After the town-wide procession, Guiuan residents converged to participate in the presentation of the Guiuan Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan. The presentation was followed by cultural presentations on recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction. The highlight of the solidarity night was the lighting ceremony at 2:30 am, when Guiuan residents lit candles and torches to represent the 118 casualties and missing caused by the deadly typhoon.

In the port city of Ormoc, people gathered at the city stage for prayers and a series of memorial ceremonies that included church bell ringing, blowing of horns, releasing of doves and white balloons, and the launch of a motorcade both in remembrance of the city’s departed and as a symbol of the city’s resilient spirit and hope. 

Over on Panay Island, activities running from Estancia in Iloilo Province to several parts of Roxas City in Capiz Province included a photo exhibit by various humanitarian and development agencies documenting their post-Haiyan work, a volunteer day for the construction of a multipurpose center in one of the communities badly hit by the typhoon, and a turnover of a number of corehouses to beneficiary households as output of the ongoing Post-Yolanda Support for Safer Homes and Settlements (a joint project of UN-Habitat, the Government of Japan, and several local government partners).

In Tacloban City, which carries the highest number of deaths from Haiyan, a commemorative walk from the city astrodome and through the city streets was followed by a candlelight memorial where thousands of candles were lit to cover over 10 kilometers in distance from the airport to the village of Nula Tula. In the afternoon, 500 commemorative sky lanterns were launched at the Balyuan Grounds, followed by a concert by the city’s bands and musicians and activities from several organizations’ booths