Hawaii Lawmaker’s Emotional Visit to the Philippines

p. Mizuno, Sophia Mae Paltingca, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominic Petilla, May Mizuno
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p. Mizuno, Sophia Mae Paltingca, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominic Petilla, May Mizuno
p. Mizuno, Sophia Mae Paltingca, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominic Petilla, May Mizuno

HONOLULU– Vice Speaker John M. Mizuno is currently in the Philippines visiting relatives and government officials while assisting the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation (GK) in the location of two sites where GK plans to build two villages. One village will be built in Bohol where a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck on October 19, 2013 and one in Leyte, which was devastated by super typhoon Yolanda.

On Tuesday, May 27th, Vice Speaker Mizuno and his wife May Besario Mizuno met with their niece Sophia Mae Paltingca of Barugo Town, Leyte, Mayor Alfred Romualdez of Tacloban City and Governor Leopoldo Dominic Petilla of Leyte.  The meetings were useful in discussing a future site for a village for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).


Sophia Mae, a 17-year-old college student provides, “It was nice to see my uncle and auntie and meet with Governor Petilla today.  It was also emotional to join uncle and auntie on their site visits to areas hard struck by typhoon Yolanda.  However, I am glad they are working to help our people in rebuilding homes and lives. After surviving such an epic calamity I now hope to graduate from college and become a high school teacher, because I got a second chance in life and want to make a positive difference for children.”

May Besario Mizuno added, “The meetings and site visits are essential if we are to fulfill our promise to build two villages for the victims of super typhoon Haiyan and the earthquake victims in Bohol. It was nice to have our niece Sophia Mae with us to understand the process and meet with so many victims. The completion of the villages will display the fruits of our labor for COVO.”

Funds were raised in Hawaii by the Congress of Visayan Organizations (COVO) through various activities, such as concerts and the selling of T-shirts. COVO president is May Besario Mizuno, wife of the Vice Speaker. Last month a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between COVO and GK-USA committing a dollar-for-dollar match with funds raised by COVO to build two villages with a minimum of 20 houses that will bear the name “COVO Aloha GK USA Village”.

Vice Speaker Mizuno provides, “It was a little emotional for all of us today. Meeting with our niece Sophia Mae, Mayor Romualdez and Governor Petilla, discussing the details of super typhoon Yolanda, making site visits to devastated areas and trying to keep the focus on rebuilding efforts. At the end of the day I was so proud of my wife’s and COVO’s efforts to help the victims and seeing how positive Sophia Mae was despite being a survivor of such a catastrophic typhoon.  I think resilient would best describe the people affected by typhoon Yolanda.”

On Thursday, May 29th Vice Speaker Mizuno and May Besario Mizuno will be visiting Bohol and make a site visit for a possible second village.