News / Asia

Church, Charities Prove Crucial in Philippines Recovery

Church, Charities Prove Crucial in Philippines Recoveryi
X
November 17, 2013
The Philippines paused to pray Sunday, nine days after one of the worst recorded storms devastated the central part of the country, killing thousands of people. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Leyte island where churches and charities, such as Catholic Relief Services, are critical hubs for relief and recovery.
TEXT SIZE - +
— The Philippines paused to pray Sunday, nine days after one of the worst recorded storms devastated the central part of the country, killing thousands of people.  In many of the affected areas churches and charities serve as critical hubs for relief and recovery.

In this devout Catholic country typhoon survivors are filling damaged churches, looking not only for shelter, but solace.  It is a trying time for priests and nuns, viewed as community leaders, now taking on the overwhelming task of helping distribute aid while trying to make sense of it all.

The Philippine people have maintained their faith despite repeatedly enduring disasters of biblical proportions, according to the pastor of this Ormoc church, Father Gilbert Urbina.

“Scriptures describe apocalyptic times in terms of the natural calamities, floods, volcanic eruptions, wars and what the scripture says is we need to be prepared for all this to persevere, these are trying times, have faith,” said Father Urbina.

At the heavily damaged cathedral in Palo, a town just south of Tacloban, also flattened by the typhoon winds, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the 83-year-old Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., led mass. 

Speaking to VOA later in the day in Ormoc, he acknowledged some traumatized survivors might initially find scripture inadequate.

“I think it is probably not, right at the beginning, because at the beginning everyone is hurting so.  And they lost so many, they lost so many friends and family.  And they do not know why God is doing this to us.  Well, in a real sense we say it is not that God is doing this to us, he is allowing these things to happen, probably for a greater cause,” said the cardinal.

Whatever the cause, a sudden effect is a global outpouring of good will. Among those at the forefront of the civic response: Catholic charities, on the ground in some of the worst-hit communities.

Martha Skretteberg, secretary general of Caritas Norway, said they are coordinating closely with local Catholic churches.  

“The people run to the church at the first [chance] in order to get protection, in order to get food, some help.”

Many who lost their homes in Ormoc were relocated to the area after a 1991 typhoon-generated flash flood destroyed their community.  Now they have to decide whether to try to rebuild here or move on again.

With her grandchildren hovering about, a 72-year-old widow, Demetria Omega, is hoping to sell some fruit and vegetables. She borrowed $25 to start a modest store in what remains of her residence. Most of her home blew away in the storm.
 
“I do not even have a place to lie down to sleep, I have to sleep sitting.  I move aside my fruit and vegetables and place on the stand a [plastic] mat that I use as my roof during the day.”
 
Hers is one of 5,000 households the priest at the damaged church down the road now struggles to provide the barest necessities for body and soul.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Resigns

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JON DOE
November 17, 2013 7:58 PM
largest group of catholics in all of asia. they've been supporting the catholic church for hundreds of years.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid