The Philippines has one of the largest diaspora communities in the world, with around 10 million adults living or working abroad. CAFOD’s Digital Communications Manager, Michael Palacios, is one of them, and while he is unable to spend Christmas in Manila this year, a lantern in his family’s window in London means they will still feel at home this holiday season.
Maggie Mairura from Nottingham shares her experience of a recent visit the Philippines to meet communities to who were helped after a devastating Typhoon.
Having stayed overnight in Sorsogon, we were up early on Sunday morning and left at 6am in the pouring rain. Much to the annoyance of our companions, myself and Ged Edwards, who I was travelling with, sang some songs with ‘rain’ in the title! We were soon silenced by breakfast sandwiches and a hot drink!!
The two-hour journey took us south to the barangay (village) of Daganas, outside the town of Bulan. The roads were framed by rice fields, coconut and banana trees. In some parts, the roads were edged with bamboo houses and shops, with washing hanging out to dry. Once we turned off the main road, we continued a good 30 minutes along lanes which got narrower the higher we went, dogs nonchalantly lying in our path, moving at the very last minute, just to let us know who was boss. In parts, the lane turned to tracks and we eventually arrived at Daganas. We were warmly welcomed by barangay captain, Jimmy, who invited us into his office, just off the basketball court, the centre of the village.
As we sat with him I noticed a group of women outside, looking in through the window so I excused myself and went out to meet them. They were all very keen to show me their new houses and Medina escorted me up the steep steps to her home. She explained how her previous home, made from bamboo, had been destroyed during Typhoon Melor (Nona) in December 2015 and how she was now very happy with her sturdier new home.
She lived there with her husband and 5 of her 8 children. The three eldest were in Manila working in fast food restaurants and sending home essential financial support. We headed down the steps and one of the women caught my attention and off we went to see her pig. Anna was the recipient of the livelihood scheme and had been given a sow. Once a litter arrived she was required to ‘pass on the gift’ and give one of the piglets to her neighbour. We continued through the back lanes of the barangay passing a family washing their clothes, livestock of ducks, hens and turkeys scurrying around, pumps for drinking water and general water use. We then met Melanie who as well as having a new sturdier home also had a co-op (sari sari) shop, one of 3 in the barangay.
It was obvious that they were all very proud of their new homes and the means of providing for themselves and their families. There was also dignity in that they could provide not only for themselves but for their neighbours. As part of the programme after the typhoon, the community is encouraged to work together in self-help groups not only to sustain their community but also to be prepared for the eventual arrival of another typhoon! However, they felt more secure in the knowledge that their new homes would survive the next one. Wherever we travelled we saw large posters informing people that July was National Disaster Consciousness Month and that drills would be taking place nationwide. It certainly puts into perspective how we respond when we have a few flakes of snow!
As we made our way back to the minibus, the women began to ask me about my family and my work. I took out the photos I had brought for the trip and introduced them to my family. I had also taken some photos of our volunteers and I explained to them how our volunteers respond to emergency appeals and how we work through praying, giving and acting to support projects like the one here in Daganas. It was very humbling and moving to connect our volunteers with recipients of our appeals.
My overall experience of the emergency work and sustainable livelihood programmes is that NASSA/Caritas Philippines goes to communities that local and national government are not interested in – they go to those at the end of the tracks.
Sophie Allin is CAFOD’s Emergency Programme Manager for the Philippines. Since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines three years ago, she has seen communities rebuild their lives with the help of CAFOD’s local partners. Here she tells us what has been achieved with the generous donations of our supporters.
This November, we remember those who lost their lives three years ago to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. As communities brace themselves for new typhoons, we continue to support people to rebuild their lives and hopes.
Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on 8 November 2013. More than 6,000 people died and five million families lost their homes. On a recent visit, I met with some of the communities CAFOD has been working with over the last three years, thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
CAFOD, as part of The Climate Coalition, is leading a week of action on climate and energy. In this blog CAFOD volunteer Alice explains how the changing climate is affecting communities in the Philippines.
‘Climate change is a global issue…it really is a task for the whole world to take on and work together to counteract.’
My Step into the Gap year has come to an end, but is still playing a part in my life!
I spent some time during my year volunteering with CAFOD visiting CAFOD partners overseas to better understand how the changing climate is affecting people in communities where they work. The experience has really inspired me to continue volunteering.I heard about the Assumption Volunteers through CAFOD, and I’m now spending a year with them, and am volunteering for the environment office in the municipal government in the Philippines.
Ben McMullen is the Deputy Head of All Hallows Catholic High School in Preston. In April he ran the 2016 Virgin London Marathon for CAFOD in memory of his father, Vin McMullen. Just before the marathon, he spoke to Jade Till of CAFOD’s media team, about the inspiration from his father and the course that CAFOD continues to run through his life.
CAFOD’s been a part of my life since I was 10 years old. My dad, Vin McMullen, worked for CAFOD for 16 years, from 1981 – 1997. He was the very first regional organiser outside of London. His area was originally the north of England, and then eventually covered Salford, Shrewsbury, Liverpool, and Lancaster dioceses.
Eventually every diocese had a regional organiser so he covered Liverpool. All through my teenage years I volunteered. My dad was the one who set up the Christmas Fun Run in Liverpool in 1984, which still goes on.
My dad was away a lot, and when he came back, all of the photographs and video clips really raised my awareness of how other people have to live. He was particularly involved with the Philippines. He wrote a book which the geography department at my school still uses.
When I flew into the Philippines a few weeks after Typhoon Haiyan, I was shocked by the extent of the damage. The destruction in Tacloban was the worst I’ve ever seen – worse even than after the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. 170 mph winds and 25-foot waves had destroyed concrete buildings, overturned cars, and drowned thousands of people.
Catholics in England and Wales responded with great compassion to the typhoon, donating an amazing £5.4 million to CAFOD’s appeal. In the first weeks after the disaster, we worked with our Caritas partners to reach thousands of people, providing emergency support including clean water, food, shelter kits, hygiene facilities, and everyday household goods.
Over the longer term, the needs have changed. We have been working to provide more lasting assistance such as shelter and livelihoods and have been looking at how to reduce risks in case of another disaster.
Two years on, it is extremely encouraging to see that the work of the Church has helped so many thousands of people move into stronger homes, and find new ways of making a living. Our thoughts and prayers are with the many local aid workers, diocesan staff and volunteers in the Philippines whose tireless work has helped so many people to rebuild their lives.
As Pope Francis has pointed out, however, countries like the Philippines remain at great risk because of climate change. In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis reminded us that climate change is real, urgent and that it must be tackled. He also described the climate as “a common good, belonging to all and meant for all”. Continue reading “Philippines Typhoon: two years on”
Nick Harrop, World News Officer for CAFOD, writes:
Three weeks ago, Typhoon Koppu battered the Philippines. After making landfall near the town of Casiguran, the typhoon travelled slowly across Luzon island, ripping roofs off poorly constructed homes, cutting off power supplies, and flooding huge swathes of farmland. In some areas the storm dumped 130 cm of rain over just two days – more than twice as much rainfall as London experiences in an entire year.
During the typhoon, Luzon island was also hit by a magnitude 5.8 earthquake. In Britain, the quake would have dominated the front pages for weeks; we haven’t experienced a tremor that powerful since the year 1590. In the Philippines, it went virtually unreported.
To say that the Philippines is hit by a lot of disasters is an understatement. Koppu wasn’t the first typhoon to strike this year – it was the twelfth – and it wasn’t even the most powerful. There have also been more than a dozen deadly earthquakes in the country since the beginning of the 21st century, as well as floods, droughts and volcanic eruptions.
But no recent disaster has been more devastating than Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines on 8 November 2013. The so-called ‘super-typhoon’ was one of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall, tearing apart the lives of 14 million people and leaving five million homeless.
Caroline Grogan works in CAFOD’s Campaigns team. She recently met Fr Edu, a Goldman Environmental Prize winning activist who works for NASSA (Caritas Philippines).
I had never heard a priest and social and environmental activist speak before, so I was privileged to hear CAFOD partner Fr Edu at the Rebuilding Justice Event in London on Saturday. He was there to thank CAFOD supporters for their generous donations that helped people post-Typhoon Haiyan. He spoke about the widespread poverty across the country, where communities are made vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather and a changing climate.
Fr Edu became an environmental activist “by accident” when he stood up for the indigenous Mangyan community he was serving in Mindoro island. “Defending our land is a necessity,” he said, and standing in solidarity with people being forced off their land is imperative.
Fr Edu currently serves indigenous communities in a highland region of the Philippines. I was moved by his description of Filipino resilience as a a strong force which was “enabled by our faith. He is excited by Pope Francis’ ground-breaking encyclical on which he says asks us to put our “faith into action”.
It was extremely inspiring to hear about how he is motivated by love for God’s creation. Fr Edu reminded us that the organisation he leads – Caritas Philippines – means love. Fr Edu expressed this love in these words, “We should never sacrifice people and the environment for short-term benefit of the few.” Continue reading “My reflections of Rebuilding Justice, London”
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, from Manila in the Philippines, is President of CAFOD partner Caritas Internationalis. He reflects on Pope Francis’ encyclical and the devastating typhoon that hit his country in 2013.
I do not need to tell the people in my country that we are living in a time of crisis. When Typhoon Haiyan caused widespread devastation across the Philippines in November 2013, it was immaterial as to whether it was caused by climate change or not; people suffered and the poorest were hit hardest. In such times of crisis what should our response be?
Climate change affects the dignity of the most vulnerable
In the Encyclical Laudato Si’ released this week, Pope Francis acknowledges the seriousness of climate change and how it is affecting the dignity of the most vulnerable, as well as the harmony between humans and nature. In the light of the Gospel of Creation, he calls us all to urgently respond to protect the gift of creation and the richness of life. He challenges us all, governments, businesses and citizens, to look deep within ourselves and find a common answer reflecting all peoples’ voices, for the appropriate response is not an easy or simple issue to be solved. This is a deeply rooted problem, which goes to the heart of who we are and our values.
In line with his predecessors, Pope Francis is looking at the signs of the times that confront us. Laudato Si’ is a powerful and inspiring document calling us to a greater solidarity with the environment, a solidarity that binds the caring for people and caring for the environment. We must recalibrate our relationship with nature, the garden God has created for us, which we have looked upon as a subordinate to our desires and extracted from mercilessly without fear of the consequences.
The environmental crisis is affecting our brothers and sisters worldwide
“The wind was circulating fast and glass was flying everywhere,” says Flora Badanoy, 39. “The roof was blown off by the gale. It felt like there was an earthquake. We were terrified. Then the hwater started coming in, with a strong current. We opened the front door and more water came gushing in. I thought it was the end of our lives.”
The Guiuan peninsula in the Philippines was the very first place to be hit by Typhoon Haiyan, shortly after midnight on 8 November 2013. Winds of up to 170 mph struck the coast and huge waves swept in from the sea, flooding coastal villages like Flora’s.
“We were not expecting it to be a special typhoon,” says Flora. “The local officials told us we had to evacuate, but they didn’t say it would be so powerful. We were not warned that there would be floods. We’d heard there would be a ‘storm surge’, but we didn’t understand what the phrase meant. It wasn’t a phrase we used in our language.”