Philippines Typhoon – a personal account

Since shortly after Typhoon Haiyan swept through the central part of Philippines bringing death and destruction to thousands of Filipinos our SMA priests, led by the Superior, Fr Alan deGuzman and assisted by Fr Gus O’Driscoll, have been sending aid to two parishes badly affected by the typhoon. Last Sunday our priests and students gathered at the SMA Good Shepherd parish to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of our Founder, Bishop Melchior De Marion Bresillac. The following is part of an email Fr Gus sent us in relation to the Report given by Fr German Patiga SMA, whose home parish is one of the two the SMA are now supporting.

“Fr. German Patiga was with us, having arrived back on Saturday evening from his home in Leyte. He had many stories to relate of the situation of his family and his home place. As his home is a little more than a kilometre from the sea, they didn’t suffer the same destruction as other places. Roofs were ripped off the houses in his compound, some damage to the structures, and the water at knee level,  “but compared to the barangay / village where my cousins were living, we count ourselves fortunate”. About 130 died in that place, including some of his cousins. 

He related stories from two of his nephews; they were knocked over by the power of the waves near their house, and then carried along in the tidal flow. Totally helpless, they clung on to some pieces of wood, and finally ended up almost one kilometre away, near German’s own home, with all the clothes ripped from their bodies. They deem it a pure miracle how they survived. We have been reading so many stories like this on the newspapers, some were saved, others not.

Relief operations continue. We have packed another batch of relief goods, including 1,000 pairs of rubber slippers of various sizes, mosquito coils etc. We are just waiting for the transport to bring the goods to Leyte. (Editor’s note: we have since learnt that a truck with the relief goods left our Good Shepherd parish on Tuesday afternoon, Manila time).  

The focus of the relief operation has now shifted from the intensity of the first few weeks, sending water, food and clothing. There is now a concentration on responding to illnesses brought on by water-borne diseases, repairing of homes, re-building in places where homes have been completely destroyed, clinics, hospitals, churches etc. Counselling of those who have been traumatised and emotionally damaged is now a major task ahead.

Fr. German will return to his home town again next Monday to assess how our relief operation can be focused over the coming months. He will return here to the parish on 15 December, in time for the beginning of Simbang Gabi / Missa de Gallo, the great Filipino tradition of the pre-dawn novena of Masses – starts at 4.00 am on 16 December. Churches will be packed at that hour of the morning!

Grateful for your continued prayers and support.

To support the SMA relief work in Philippines click here.