Faith groups help Philippine flood survivors recover

By Maurice Malanes
Posted Aug 13, 2012

[Ecumenical News International] Faith groups are responding as survivors of massive flooding in Manila and surrounding regions in the Philippines seek to rebuild their lives.

Barely recovering from the devastation of Typhoon Saola, the country was battered by the Southwest Monsoon from Aug. 6-8, which brought torrential rains, affecting two million people, according to ACT Alliance, the Geneva-based coordinator of faith-based relief. The death toll stood at 60 as of 10 August, according to the Philippine government’s disaster coordinator.

Since 1,500 villages and 30 cities were flooded, about 293,000 people as of 10 August were in evacuation centers, most of them public schools and churches. Another 246,000 were displaced and are staying with relatives and friends, ACT Alliance reported.

ACT (Action by Churches Together) members in the Philippines, including Christian Aid, United Methodist Committee on Relief and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) have distributed food packs and clothing.

Among the many church people responding was lay leader Marites Balacuit in Baguio City, about 250 kilometers north of Manila, who learned that some families had to evacuate their homes and take shelter at the Marikina Christian Fellowship (MCF) in Marikina, south of the city.

“Some friends immediately responded and donated some [money], which survivors badly need to buy food such as hot soup,” Balacuit told ENInews. Balacuit is one of the leaders of the Christian Couples’ Endeavor, an organization of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines-Baguio.

“Survivors still need food, medicines and kitchen utensils,” MCF Pastor Armignon Romero Poja told ENInews. “We need to help survivors rebuild their lives as many of them were contract daily wage earners who were not able to work for four days.”

The NCCP, which groups 10 mainline Protestant churches, posted on Aug. 8 an appeal for help. Individuals sent food such as instant noodles, according to a Facebook post from Ariel Siagan, a NCCP disaster-response staffer. The Philippine Bible Society also responded with a monetary donation.