Philippine churches care for quake survivors

By Maurice Malanes
Posted Feb 9, 2012

[Ecumenical News International] Churches in central Philippines have responded after a recent 6.9-magnitude earthquake that left 34 people dead, 52 injured, 71 missing and hundreds of families homeless.

“We invite all people of good will to pray for the survivors of this latest disaster in the Philippines as they deal with the trauma of loss and anxiety and as they rebuild their lives,” said Fr. Rex Reyes, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

“We join the efforts of all civic organizations in providing the necessary remedies to ease their pain and we invite you to share what you have that others may live,” he added.

Reyes made the appeal on 9 February after he met with local church leaders in Cebu (a major city in central Philippines) to assess the impact of the Feb. 6 quake, which, local government officials admit, caught residents totally unprepared.

“The affected families are in need of food, sleeping paraphernalia, bottled water and medicines,” said Reyes.

Worst hit by the quake was the island of Negros Oriental in central Philippines, where more than 14,000 families were affected. Many areas have become isolated because of quake-triggered landslides. Ten major bridges collapsed and three main roads were closed, said government reports.

A nursing mother told national television on Feb. 9 that food has become so scarce that they she would be lucky if she could find food like a banana to feed her family.

Many water systems were damaged so survivors need potable water, Fr. Edwin Laude of the Catholic diocese of San Carlos told CBCP News, the publication of the Catholic Bishops Conference. The price of gasoline also doubled, he said.

Despite being victims themselves, local church leaders and parishioners of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the Philippine Independent Church have mobilized to help assess the quake’s damage, solicit outside help and comfort the distressed, said Reyes. (PIC is a full-communion partner to the U.S.-based Episcopal Church.)

Undamaged church buildings of Roman Catholic, Protestant and evangelical churches also have served as refuge for many of those left homeless, reports said. Caritas-Philippines and World Vision were among aid organizations that immediately responded.