News / Asia

Church, Charities Prove Crucial in Philippines Recovery

Church, Charities Prove Crucial in Philippines Recoveryi
X
November 17, 2013 9:46 PM
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.
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, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs