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PIA Press Release

Better lives now for relocated communities, says Saint Bernard mayor

By Bong Pedalino

Saint Bernard, Southern Leyte (17 February) -- Four years to the day after the tragic loss of more than 1,000 lives caused by a killer mudslide in barangay Guinsaugon here, survivors, who have since resettled in areas away from the danger zones declared by the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB), had moved on.

"There is big improvement, their lives are getting better," Saint Bernard Mayor Rico Rentuza told Monching Buyser, DYDM reporter, in a live situationer report from ground zero, or relatively near this specific spot, where a Holy Mass will be said at 9:00 today, followed with a brief program, to commemorate the tragedy.

Rentuza qualified his statement, saying that he was not merely referring to the shelter or housing component of the rehabilitation phase, but in other aspects as well.

He added that until now there are still so many people, organizations, and local government units (LGUs) reaching out to help the victims and the surviving families.

On February 17, 2006, a huge chunk of the 800-meter high Kan-abag mountain range gave in, crashing downward like an avalanche, after days of incessant rains by about mid-morning -- it was a sunny day when it happened -- burying the unsuspecting people of Guinsaugon village which is located right at the foot of the onrushing landslide, a direct hit.

Bishop Precioso Cantillas of the Diocese of Maasin will be the main celebrant for a solemn Mass to remember the souls of those who perished in the day-time disaster.

Incidentally, the Catholic Church today observes Ash Wednesday, ushering in the period of Lent, a time marked by introspection, or soul-searching,, and Priests traditionally put the sign of the Cross on foreheads of people attending any Mass today, with the exhortation to repent and believe in the Gospels.

A variation of the exhortation, the original one, in fact, states: Man, from ash thou hast come, to ash thou shall return.

Aside from the commemorative program which follows after the Mass, Mayor Rentuza said two projects funded by the provincial government, like the hanging bridge across the Lawigan river and road concreting leading from the junction in barangay Tambis I to ground zero, will be inaugurated by Gov. Damian Mercado and other provincial officials.

Congressman Roger Mercado was also seen attending the ceremonies today, along with some officials from Maasin City led by Mayor Maloney Samaco, and other municipal Mayors from other towns of the province. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]

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