Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Devastation in the Philippines

Imagine you are responsible for a major international event that is about to begin outside your own nation. Then imagine that while you are away you lose your home to a massive storm that decimates your entire home town, and you can't reach your two young sons who were in the home.  
Dr. Ligaya Acosta

This is what our own Dr. Ligaya Acosta has confronted over the last three days after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. Brian Clowes and I just arrived in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia to join Ligaya for Human Life International's Asia-Pacific Congress (ASPAC) on Faith, Life and Family that she has been organizing for the past several months. Ligaya's story is still unfolding, but her faith and courage -- well known to supporters of HLI -- are incredible. Here is what she wrote to HLI staff early Monday morning: 

I just learned today very sadly, that our house in Tacloban was also "washed out." The good news, however, is my two sons are alive, thank GOD!

Since there is still no communication lines to Tacloban -- except for a government-setup center, my elder son had to walk a long way from our home to the worst hit downtown area to be able to send a very short text message to her sister: "House is gone but we're alive....need supplies."

I know this is another test for me and my family. I thank GOD though for the gift of faith ... I know that He will always provide for His children ...

We are still very blessed though -- others not only lost their homes, but many members of their family as well. The destruction in my home city of Tacloban is a nightmare, and now I read from the news there is chaos as people scramble for food and water. They don't even have shelter, as all the evacuation centers were washed out by the 15-foot surge from the sea which caused unimaginable destruction.

My daughter in Manila, so concerned for her brothers, left last night from Manila by land for the long road trip to Tacloban to fetch her brothers and bring them to Manila.There is practically no food and water, and news reports say that trucks of relief goods going there have been hijacked by people on the way who also suffered massive destruction. Both the adjacent provinces of Samar and Leyte (where Tacloban is) suffered so much, but Tacloban is the worst hit due to the typhoon surge. Tacloban has been declared in a state of emergency and hundreds of soldiers I learned have been sent to the area.

I have not lost my faith, but please keep us in your prayers, and all those similarly affected. Even if my family will be starting all over again, I never doubt the Lord's generosity.
Dr. Rene Bullecer

We are grateful that Ligaya's sons survived the almost unbelievably powerful storm, even though their home is gone, like the rest of the city of Tacloban. Gratefully, Cebu, where HLI Philippines Director Dr. Rene Bullecer lives, and which was also affected by the storm, did not take the direct hit, though there is still much damage. His home and office did suffer damage from the earthquake only weeks ago, so difficulties are piling on top of one another for many of the faithful in the Philippines.

Today Ligaya sent another note to headquarters with an update: 

Please let me share my overwhelming joy and gratefulness to the LORD that for the first time since the horrendous typhoon in Tacloban, I was able to talk to my sons. We were all crying with joy, even as they narrated their ordeal, and described the destruction of our house. My youngest daughter is also a heroine for her courageous rescue of my sons. They were in a friend's house and they will leave for Manila tomorrow, by land. Please help me pray for their safe trip to Manila.

Please may I request for a thanksgiving Mass to be offered at HLI in behalf of my family, as well as continued prayers for us and especially for the many other suffering people in my country.

It would take GOD's miracle for Tacloban to rise again, and even if my sons survived, my heart bleeds for the millions of other victims who have nowhere to go or who don't even know where to get their next meal, and who don't even have roofs over their heads. I am learning that relatives perished from the calamity, as well as many friends. There is so much we don't know ... we are in dire need of prayers and help.

Again, I THANK YOU MOST SINCERELY from the deepest recesses of my heart for all your prayers and inspiring support.

Such faith and gratitude in such a difficult time. We are grateful that Ligaya had family close by who can make the difficult trek to Tacloban to help her sons, and that so far they are ok. But it is true that untold thousands have died, and millions more are in shock -- mourning, even as they try to survive and help others.  
Fr. Boquet with Rene and Ligaya
We cannot be there, but we can most certainly pray. Pray that the survivors can be strengthened and consoled, and that relief can get to those in need without delay. Pray that a spirit of generosity and collaboration reigns rather than despair and violence. And pray that those who are bringing aid do not exasperate the situation with anti-life "help" for those in a desperate situation.

And please give what you can. HLI is not a humanitarian aid organization, but our friends at the Knights of Columbus are taking donations for humanitarian relief in the Philippines and restoration of venerable Catholic sites.

And, along with your prayers, you can help Ligaya and Rene to get their lives and their important pro-life work in the Philippines back on track by giving as generously as you can to HLI here.

Rosaries, Holy Masses, Chaplets of Divine Mercy, fasting -- every prayer and sacrifice is needed in spiritual solidarity with our Filipino brothers and sisters at this time! Rene is already out helping people, and Ligaya will leave as soon as she can safely return home. Please keep them, their families, and all Filipinos close to your heart as this brave nation picks up the pieces and begins to rebuild.

Thank you for your prayers and generosity.    

Sincerely yours in Christ, 

Fr Boquet Sig-transparent  
Father Shenan J. Boquet
President, Human Life International