Victims hold protests ahead of fourth Yolanda anniversary

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Tacloban City (CNN Philippines, November 8) — Victims of super typhoon Yolanda protested alleged anomalies in typhoon housing projects on Tuesday, a day before the deadly storm's fourth anniversary.

Around a hundred beneficiaries trooped to the National Housing Authority's (NHA) regional office to protest the slow and substandard housing units built for Yolanda victims in Eastern Samar.

Protesters called for the prosecution of NHA contractors. They said despite the long wait, some housing units built for the victims are substandard and may put the beneficiaries at risk.

They added, NHA continues to solicit applicants for the housing project even as the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development found substandard materials were used to construct the units.

The NHA has targeted the construction of 205,128 units for Yolanda survivors in Eastern Visayas, as well as other regions affected by the storm.

Peasants from Northern Samar are also scheduled to protest on Wednesday the government's slow rehabilitation efforts.

In a press release, the Northern Samar Small Farmers Association (NSSFA) said instead of providing "decent" help, the government has intimidated farmers and deployed military troops in the hinterlands of their province instead.

November 8 marks four years since the typhoon -- one of the strongest storms recorded in history-- devastated Samar and Leyte and left thousands dead.

Tacloban holds Commemoration

The government of Tacloban, meanwhile, held a commemoration ceremony for the typhoon's victims Tuesday.

The city government of Tacloban, led by Tacloban Mayor Cristina Romualdez and her husband former mayor Alfred Romualdez, joined thousands of Taclobanons at the Anibong Yolanda Memorial to remember those who died from the super typhoon.

In her message after the mass, Romualdez said what happened during Yolanda should serve as a  lesson in handling disasters not only for Taclobanons, but also for the country.

"Kung nangyari nga ito noon, malaking leksyon ito sa ating lahat, hindi lang sa ating mga taga-Tacloban (Now that we've seen this, it's a big lesson for all of us, not just for Taloban) but a lesson for the whole nation, on how to handle this kind of... not only storm, earthquake and the like because nga prone ang ating bansa sa ganyan (because our country is prone to disasters)," Mayor Romualdez said.

On Wednesday, the day of Yolanda's anniversary, the city will hold another program commemorating the tragedy.

It will start with a 4-kilometer commemorative walk from the City Hall ground of Tacloban to Tacloban City Astrodome.

Other activities in the program include performances, a candle-lighting activity, and the release of Sky Lanterns at night.

Undersecretary Wendel Avisado, Presidential Assistant on Yolanda Rehabilitation, will also read a message from President Rodrigo Duterte during the event.

Yolanda four years later

Speaking to CNN Philippines Sociologist Nicole Curato, who is studying recovery efforts in the area, emphasized that disaster rehabilitation is an "uneven" process.

She said while there has been a lot of progress in disaster recovery since the typhoon struck, it may not be felt in all sectors immediately.

"Disaster recovery is always an uneven experience," Curato told CNN Philippines' Newsroom, recounting how she has monitored significants developments in downtown Tacloban while still seeing many disaster-affected communities make do with "precarious living arrangements."

"The message here is while there has been a lot of progress in disaster recover, it has been fairly uneven," she said

However, she also commends how the commemoration theme this year, "Padayon Tacloban," highlights the importance of resilience in the face of such disasters.

"There was a lot of celebration on the resilience of the people of Tacloban-- on how the entire recovery process has been really driven by the people.

Curato said most of the successful rehabilitation projects in Tacloban have been driven by the survivors themselves.

"I couldn't overstate how important that is because it's the survivors themselves that need to take charge of their own recovery," she said.