More than 500 persons remain missing in Cagayan de Oro a year after Typhoon Sendong devastated the city on December 17, 2011.  Families who were left behind had nowhere to go to honor their loved ones who untimely passed away.  JCI Bai Lawanen, Mindanao’s first all-lady chapter of Junior Chamber International Philippines, considered the painful emptiness that these families were feeling. And voila! They conceptualized the JCI Sendong Memorial Wall Project.  A community project, that will serve as a sanctuary for the grieving families.

On the 8×12 feet size memorial wall, made of romblon marble, are etched names of those who died and still remain missing due to Sendong. This tribute will stand with honor and dignity at Gaston Park, fronting the Saint Augustine Church, this city.

JCI Sen. Gean Tulang-Cesar, Past President of the Chapter and Past National Vice President for JCI Northern Mindanao said, “It was a project that came about without considering the cost and the magnitude.  A fellow Past President in the chapter, JCI Sen. Gigi Go shared the same feeling.  And so even without the initial funding to start the construction, we chose to start building it despite the financial concerns.”  JCI Sen. Gean is the project chair of the said Memorial Wall.

While the construction of the memorial wall was ongoing, financial assistance slowly started pouring in. Fellow Kagay-anons here and abroad reached out to help, including private companies in the City such as CEPALCO and Limketkai Center; local politicians like Cong.  JV Ejercito; and fellow JCI Chapters like JCI Manila; some JCI Senators and other private individuals who share similar intention of having a place of serenity and refuge for families who were left behind.

And despite the political bickerings, the local government of City Mayor Vicente Emano did not turn his back on said project.  After all, he, too, believes that a project like this should be given utmost importance.

Come December 17, 2012, JCI Bai Lawanen together with Parasat Cable TV and ABS-CBN Northern Mindanao, will stage a series of events at Gaston Park to commemorate the First Year Anniversary of the Sendong tragedy. The Memorial Wall will be officially unveiled on that day at which hundreds of candles and flowers will adorn the memorial wall site. A special mass will follow the unveiling.  A concert at the park will thereafter ensue featuring inspirational songs from local artists like Ian Nuer, David Mercado, Arlyn Baqui, The DOT Singing Amabassadors, among others. Talents from ABS-CBN Cagayan de Oro will also be attending.

The public, especially the families of the victims, are especially encouraged and enjoined to come and honor their loved ones on that day. Activities start at 5pm. They are advised to make bring the whole family as special tributes will be made during the series of events.

photo by Gean T. Cesar

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