Providing Courage and Hope for Filipino Saints
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Panay Island  June 2008 Amidst the raging winds of Typhoon Frank that brought destruction to many communities in June 2008, the Church heeded the call to serve and supplied the local Saints and the communities with the things they needed for survival.
Most Church leaders whose units were in the path of the typhoon quickly reported that the damage was minor and that no lives had been lost. Almost all units in the Visayas area were contacted, but on June 23, a day after the typhoon passed, local leaders in the Kalibo Philippines Stake still could not be reached via landline or cellular phones.
Response to a Need
As soon as a flight was available from the Roxas District to the neighboring province of Capiz, the Area Presidency sent people to visit Kalibo to assess the damage and make recommendations on how the Church could help.
On June 24, the Welfare Department representatives, Louie Costales and Elder Benson Misalucha, Area Seventy, landed in Roxas (about two hours east of Kalibo). They reported damaged roofs and fallen power lines. Roads were generally passable, and most stores were open. Jesus Olivare, Roxas Philippines Stake president, reported that two of his branches were still under flood waters, which rendered the area inaccessible. Under his direction supplies were purchased, and two rented vans were filled with 20 sacks of rice, boxes of sardines, corned beef, milk, and bottled water. Before he left for Kalibo, President Olivare was advised to purchase additional goods and supplies for his members needing help.
The town of Kalibo suffered extensive damage. Floodwaters and mud had reached as high as six feet in some areas, and overturned vehicles were stranded in the middle of muddied streets. Locals reported that muddy water came from their deforested mountains and combined with water from the sea because of high tide. The transmission towers of two major cellular phone carriers were down, and about 70 percent of the power lines were also damaged.
Winston Del Rosario, president of the Kalibo Philippines Stake, and five bishops from the stake were waiting for Elder Misalucha and Brother Costales at the stake center, which had about five inches of mud in the parking area. President Del Rosario suggested moving to another meetinghouse located on higher ground. Supplies were unloaded in the New Washington meetinghouse, where the stake members sorted and packed the items into smaller kits to be distributed to needy members.
Our Brother’s Keeper
After assistance had been extended to the members of the Church in the area, Elder Misalucha and Brother Costales continued their efforts in assessing community needs. Although the offices of the local welfare department had also been destroyed, the two found that a tent office had been set up on one dry area where the governor, congressman, and the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council were gathering reports from the 17 municipalities of the province. Elder Misalucha and Brother Costales introduced themselves and inquired how the Church could help. The reply was unanimous: drinking water.
Calls were made to nearby areas for bottled water, and 4,500 boxes (each with 36 bottles of 500 ml) were donated by the Church Humanitarian Service to the affected areas. President Del Rosario organized his members and the full-time missionaries of the Philippines Bacolod Mission under President Dany Daquioag as Helping Hands volunteers to help the governor’s office distribute the water.
Aklan provincial governor Carlito S. Marquez, the town mayors, and local officials of the affected areas who benefited from the assistance of the Church expressed their appreciation publicly for the generous donation. President Del Rosario later reported that the governor thanked the Church over the radio several times as one of the first organizations to extend help to his severely damaged province.