Before a crowd of over a thousand local runners who joined the Freedom Run in Palo, Leyte on Saturday morning, Vice Mayor Bolingling Reposar said "Super typhoon Yolanda took not only our livelihood and all we had, but also the precious lives of our loved ones. Yet the faith, hope and dreams of every Leyteno never vanished. We rise again and continue to dream".
The Freedom Run is a symbol for the region getting back on its feet. It is one of the activities in I Am Free to Dream: Balik Sigla, Visayas! Palo residents, including those in evacuation centers, lined up as early as 2 a.m. on 3 May 2014 to participate in the run. Banners expressing the resilience of Leytenos were displayed in the 10K race route. "Life is still beautiful" and "To all who have extended their help in their own little ways, we will remember you big time" were written on banners lining the route. There was a lively atmosphere during the run. After the race, the participants listened to live music with singer Cathy Go and celebrated with the Run's winners.
"i am free to dream" as a slogan for the event is very apt for us. We have bigger dreams now, not only for our individual selves but for our entire community that inspire us to work harder," explained Reposar. "The Freedom Run is a way to show that our people are resilient, and that through everyone's efforts and with all the support that we received, we are restoring life to normalcy," he added.
In the afternoon, school supplies were distributed to 300 children in 2 different schools. The kids drew their dreams on balloons and later released the balloons to the sky. They also wrote thank you notes to those who donated notebooks, pencils and other school materials. "I'm excited to go back to school!," exclaimed 7 year-old Tyssna Palacio.
The activities were organized by the local government of Palo and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), a German liberal foundation. Also part of the program of Balik Sigla, Visayas were tree planting activities in Guinhangdan and building of transitional shelters in Mayorga with 15 international youth delegates of the Council of Asian Liberal and Democrats (CALD) from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Mongolia.
FNF had previously organized a Freedom Run in Palo on 28 April 2013. "You just have to admire the freedom loving energy of the people here. Yolanda devastated Leyte's infrastructure, but not the spirit of its people. One of the most difficult things to rebuild after a disaster is people's confidence to start over. The Freedom Run reinforces the message that things can go back to normal if you continue to dream and take up your own responsibility to achieve that dream," said FNF Country Director Jules Maaten.
I Am Free to Dream: Balik Sigla, Visayas! is in cooperation with IDEALS- Access to Benefits and Claims after Disaster, CALD, the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection, I Am For Peace, The German Embassy Manila, Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance & Ethical Leadership , and Project 100-100-100.
I am Free to Dream: Balik Sigla, Visayas - Freedom Run
Balik Sigla sa Eskwela
Tree Planting in Leyte