King of Sweden quietly returns to Tacloban to check on projects
TACLOBAN CITY—Almost two years after he last visited this city to see for himself the utter devastation caused by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan), King Carl Gustaf XVI of Sweden was impressed by the improvements he saw on his return last weekend.
From the plane, there was a tremendous change. The last time I came, it was very gray and now its green, the King said.
Gustaf first visited Tacloban—ground zero of the strongest typhoon ever to make landfall in recent history—on Jan. 26, 2014, two and a half months after the deadly storm that claimed over 6,000 lives. He was the first royal to visit.
Then, the King went to the Boys Scout building on M.H. del Pilar Street here which was destroyed by a storm surge to distribute uniforms after learning that many of the scouts had lost their uniforms during the typhoon.
All his engagements at the time were open to media coverage unlike this visit.
Gustaf asked that this visit be kept private except for a 30-minute press briefing at the Daniel Z. Romualdez airport on his arrival after 9 a.m. on Saturday morning on a private plane.
He said he wanted to check on the progress of the construction of a two-story Boy Scouts of the Philippines-Leyte Council building.
The building will not only be used for boy scout activities but also during times of disaster.
During the briefing, the King stressed the importance of teaching the young the value of protecting the environment.
(The) scout movement is one of the world’s oldest environmental movements; we help educate people on climate change, he said.
After the briefing, Gustaf unveiled a marker on the new boy scout building which will be completed next year.
The King, who is honorary chair of the World Scout Foundation, donated P7 million toward the building construction.
He also met with the parents of the boy scouts who were beneficiaries of a livelihood project he had sponsored. The families were given carabaos and sari-sari stores.
Beached ship memorial
The King was also scheduled to visit a memorial park in Anibong district where the centerpiece is the bow of the cargo ship that was beached at the height of Yolanda’s fury.
The King was scheduled to return to Manila at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Welcoming King Gustaf to Tacloban were provincial officials led by Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Petilla.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, the national president of the Boys Scout of the Philippines, was not around although the organizing committee had earlier said he was to accompany the King to Tacloban.
According to Binay’s spokesperson, Joey Salgado, the Vice President had scheduled another activity as the King’s visit to Tacloban was never part of his itinerary.
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