ASIA – Philippines

Rebuilding after Typhoon Haiyan

“Haiyan” – or in the Philippines, “Yolanda” – are beautiful sounding names for what was in fact one of the greatest natural disasters of recent times.


Just over a year ago this Typhoon unleashed its full fury on the coast of the Philippines, sweeping over 6,000 people to their deaths in its wake and devastating everything in its path. Even the Filipinos, who are generally accustomed to such natural disasters, had never experienced a cyclone of this destructive force before. Almost nothing could withstand the Typhoon, which swept across the islands, initially generating wind speeds in excess of 200 miles an hour.

According to UN figures more than 11 million people were affected by the storm, and many of them were rendered homeless. Thousands have lost all they possessed – including even the tools they need to work their fields, the boats they depended on for fishing, the livestock by which they earned their living, the factories where they worked, their tractors, motor vehicles, bicycles, etc. Thousands more lost family members and friends – yet not their faith and their hope.

Since then the people have been struggling to get back on their feet and rebuild their ruined homes and churches. One of the many devastated buildings was the church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in the diocese of Borongang, on Guiuan, a small island in the Eastern Philippines — which was the first to be struck by Typhoon Haiyan.

© Aid to the Church in Need
© Aid to the Church in Need

Waves of 16 to 20 feet (5-6 m) were recorded here. Of the once wonderfully beautiful church that had stood there since the 1760s there is now nothing left but ruins. With one gust, the Typhoon tore off the roof and smashed in the walls of the church. At the same time the interior furnishings were destroyed. There is no possibility of rebuilding this beautiful church now, and so Bishop Lope C Robredillo has decided to build a new church in an architectural style similar to the original one.

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ACN is offering to contribute $209,000 CAN towards the cost of building this new church in Guiuan. Not only will this be a sign of solidarity with the deeply religious people who have lost everything, but at the same time it will encourage them to remain in their home region and not move to Manila, as so many others have done – where for most of them only a life of misery and destitution awaits.


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