The historic town of Balangiga, Eastern Samar was once the site of a historic massacre to defend Philippine sovereignty. On September 28, 1901, locals attacked Americans with bolos (daggers) in what the United States considers “the bloodiest chapter” of its history in the Philippines.
On November 8, 2013, the town would experience the challenge of a generation: the arrival of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Mayor Viscuso de Lira sought to act early to save lives, ordering a forced evacuation on November 5.
Yet, on seeing the devastation to buildings and critical infrastructure, “the first thing that I thought was: how can we return the normalcy here in our town?” the Mayor remembers. “How can our damaged infrastructure be repaired?”
The municipal hall and civic center, close to the town’s historic sites, were badly damaged.
“Everything in the annex of our municipal building were destroyed,” Laura A. Macabuhay, a COMELEC employee says. “Including the roof, ceilings, and windows.”
With support from RAY DILG funds, the structure of the annex could then be repaired: serving as a key contribution to the functioning of these vital government services.
“The national government agencies occupying the annex building are the municipal trial court, public attorneys office, prosecutor, COMELEC, Commission on Audit, postal office, Department of Agrarian Reform and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.”
“The new annex building is more beautiful compared before. We have new walls, ceilings, and floor tiles: our comfort room was also renovated, so we are more comfortable. I am not worried anymore that our documents will be damaged, most especially during future typhoons,” Laura added.
Two days after the civic center was repaired, a large-scale event was held, marking a key moment in the municipality’s recovery.
“The Philippine Red Cross, with its Chairman Richard Gordon and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) conducted the turn-over of pabahay (shelter assistance) in Eastern Samar in which Balangiga was a recipient of 725 units,” Mayor Viscuso explains.
The rehabilitation of the public market is still under its initial stage.
“There is still a lot of things to be done to ensure the complete recovery of our municipality, but I am grateful because some of our infrastructures are functional to the town already,” Mayor Viscuso says.