MANILA – The lessons learned from the tragic experience nine years after Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013 continue to guide the country’s response to calamities and highlight the Filipinos' capacity to unite and help one another during times of crises, Speaker Martin G. Romualdez said Monday.

“As we commemorate the ninth anniversary of Yolanda that battered the country, most especially Eastern Visayas, we honor and offer prayers to those who perished during this unfortunate event, as we raise our glasses to the brave souls, our first responders, who put the lives of others above their own during the onslaught of the super typhoon,” Romualdez said.

He stressed that ”this resilience is borne in part by the sacrifices of our first responders, our unity in the face of adversity, and our propensity for compassion toward our fellow citizens in times of calamities."

Yolanda, dubbed as a Category 5 typhoon and is one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded, levelled most of whatever structure was standing in Eastern Visayas in 2013. Romualdez, who represents Leyte, is from Tacloban, which has been hit hard by the super typhoon.

“While it is very difficult to forget the horrors we faced during Yolanda, the important thing is we learned from this harrowing experience. And if we learn from this tragedy, we continue to honor those who perished and those who willingly sacrificed their lives for the benefit of others,” Romualdez said.

According to the Speaker, Filipinos have fully recovered from Yolanda which he said is a testament to the Filipinos’ resiliency. “Whatever calamity we will face – and surely there will be in the future – we can overcome because of this resiliency and our sincere compassion toward our fellow Filipinos," he said.

The House of Representatives, led by Romualdez and other lawmakers, recently raised over PHP75 million in cash and in-kind donations both from congressmen and private donors for families affected by the recent Severe Tropical Storm Paeng.

The effort was also spearheaded by TINGOG Party-list Reps. Yedda Romualdez and Jude Avorque Acidre; House Committee on Appropriations chairman Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Zaldy Co; House Majority Leader Manuel Jose "Mannix" M. Dalipe; and other House leaders.

“Kaya malapit sa puso namin ang pagtulong sa panahon ng kalamidad, dahil kami mismo ay recipient ng nag-uumapaw na compassion mula sa maraming tumulong sa amin noong panahon ng Yolanda (Helping during calamities is close to our hearts, as we ourselves were recipients of the overflowing compassion from many who helped us during Yolanda). Compassion is what we Filipinos will never run out of,” Romualdez said.

“But the real heroes behind our recovery from every calamity are really our first responders and rescue workers. Sila ang nagri-risk ng kanilang buhay para sa kaligtasan ng iba (They are the ones who are risking their own life for other people’s safety). They are the true heart and soul of our resilience,” he added.

The lower house, in a resolution filed by Romualdez and other House leaders, also recently honored five rescue workers who died in the performance of their sworn duties.

They are Narciso Calayag Jr., Jerson Resurreccion, Marby Bartolome, George Agustin, and Troy Justin Agustin, who all perished while saving others during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Karding in Bulacan.

“They, our first responders and rescue workers, do not only put their lives on the line during calamities, but they also greatly help in the recovery and rehabilitation of calamity-affected areas. They are our unsung heroes and they all deserve all the recognition,” the Speaker said. (PNA)