For a brief period between October 1944 to February 1945, the city of Tacloban had become the temporary seat of the Commonwealth Government and temporary capital of the Philippines. The pronouncement signified the first victory of the Filipino and American troops led by General Douglas MacArthur, the first city to be liberated from the Japanese Occupation in the second world war.
For that brief period, Tacloban signified hope.
In recent times, Tacloban’s proud history is marred by calamity, namely the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) — one of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall across the Philippines’ central islands. Yolanda triggered the largest humanitarian crisis the Philippines has ever faced since World War II when it brought Category 5 hurricane winds and storm surges that flattened coastal areas, uprooted trees, and ravaged communities with floods.
Tacloban City suffered tremendous casualties and billions of pesos worth of damage to roads, business, and infrastructure. For a time, it had seemed hopeless. Now, nearly five years after the typhoon, Tacloban is making a comeback.
“In the long run, this tragedy only served to bolster the indomitable spirit of the Waray people,” the City of Tacloban wrote on its government Web site. “After a short period of mourning and sifting through the rubble, armed with an inventory of lessons learned from the Yolanda experience, Tacloban City promptly began the difficult recovery process, simultaneously reviewing its development plans for a resilient, sustainable, and vibrant future even in the face of new climate realities.”
With the generous partnership of development agencies such as the United States for International Development, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Tacloban is gaining back its lost momentum as one of the country’s fastest developing cities.
The revival is further being spurred by investors from the private sector. One of such investors is Wilcon Depot, which is opening its newest branch in Tacloban City today, its 42nd operating store in the country.
“Wilcon Depot Tacloban is our 42nd operating store with a total sales area of over 11,000 square meters,” Wilcon Senior Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Rosemarie Bosch-Ong told BusinessWorld.
“It is Wilcon’s fifth branch in Visayas region, our first in the Eastern Visayas. Like other Wilcon Depot stores, our Tacloban branch carries wide array of home building products under several categories such as Tiles, Sanitarywares, Plumbing, Furniture, Home Interior, Building Materials, Hardware, Electrical, Appliances and other DIY items. It also has our ABCDE (Architects Builders Contractors Designers Engineers) Lounge, a dedicated space where professionals can meet with their clients, conceptualize and create projects together inside the store,” she said.
Ms. Ong believes that the economic revitalization of Tacloban City will continue towards the foreseeable future. Due to the evident recovery efforts of the local government, she believes that the city is on track to become a booming investment hub in the Eastern Visayas region.
“Wilcon is privileged to be part of Tacloban’s fast, dynamic and growing economy. Tacloban City was recognized by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) as the Most Improved Highly Urbanized City of the Philippines in August 2017,” she said.
“As the city remains the center of trade and commerce, and the strategic hub in Eastern Visayas, Wilcon is committed to be Tacloban’s partner in building a more progressive and resilient city.”
A catalyst for redevelopment
Wilcon envisions to become a mobilizing force to further hasten the redevelopment of Tacloban City through the provision of home building solutions for the people of Tacloban.
“Wilcon recognizes Taclobanons’ actions in rebuilding their city. And Wilcon Depot extends its support to help Tacloban City in their endeavor to regain their status,” Ms. Ong said.
“The company believes its entry to the city will receive a positive feedback in which Wilcon can actively support and contribute in assisting the growth Tacloban’s economy. We are excited to have a shared success with them. Wilcon supports Tacloban City as it fulfills its vision in being a globally competitive, green and resilient city,” she added.
Through its newest branch, Wilcon aims to provide Filipino homeowners the capability to build, improve, and refine their homes for a sustainable and comfortable life through its extensive, innovative, efficient and high-grade products, as well as the company’s exceptional value-added services. With the opening of this new branch, Wilcon was also able to provide more than a hundred of jobs for local residents of Tacloban.
“With Wilcon’s commitment to establish its stores in key cities and localities in the Philippines, there’s no better time to be part of city’s efforts in infrastructure improvements, future proofing and building sustainable homes by providing high-quality and innovative products,” Ms. Ong said.
As Filipinos once more begin to believe that Tacloban City is a valuable place to live and do business, so too can the world. Tacloban once used to be a symbol of hope for the country’s future. It still can be.