Coming to terms with the massive devastation brought by Super Typhoon Mangkhut, United Methodists in the Philippines are organizing and mobilizing to assist disaster-stricken communities.
Mangkhut, which struck the northern part of the Philippines on Sept.15, also triggered deadly landslides and caused severe flooding. At least 90 people have died, with dozens still missing. An earlier tropical storm, Karding, also brought flooding rains.
The Rev. Rodel Acdal, president of John Wesley College in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, said that the college gave financial assistance to its employees to rehabilitate or restore their homes ruined by the super typhoon, which is known as Ompong in the Philippines.
“John Wesley College gave PhP2,000 ($36.80) for each typhoon victim for roofing repair,” he reported.
The Rev. Homer Wesley O. Refuerzo, president of Wesley Divinity School at Wesleyan University-Philippines in Cabanatuan City, is chairman of “From Dusk Till Dawn,” a concert to be led by seminary students to raise funds for families in the Cagayan province affected by the disaster. The concert will be held Oct. 2 in front of the divinity school.
“We have students from Cagayan and whatever amount is raised will be in solidarity with the endeavor that President Acdal has started,” said Refuerzo.
Cagayan is one of the provinces hit hardest by Mangkhut. The typhoon made landfall in Baggao, the hometown of United Methodist Bishop Rodolfo Juan of the Davao Area.
In the denomination’s Middle Philippines Conference, church members in the Metropolitan District immediately brought relief assistance, led by United Methodist Men, to the Aurora District. The northern part of the province of Aurora was among the areas hit by the typhoon.
The Rev. Renelyn Mari-Fajardo, Metropolitan District superintendent, expressed her thanks to the local United Methodist churches that pooled their resources to provide relief items.
Those churches included United Methodist City Temple, Wesleyan 3rd, Macatbong, Wesleyan University and MIDPAC. Pong Arcilla led the United Methodist Men’s efforts.
“There are 165 bags to be distributed for the affected families in Nueva Ecija and Aurora District,” Mari-Fajardo said.
The Rev. Jayson Andrew Mallari, administrative pastor of Rose of Sharon United Methodist Church in Sta. Lucia Capas, Tarlac, said that as part of the celebration of the church’s anniversary, a special offering was intended for typhoon-devastated communities.
Kier Ocampo, ministries coordinator for the Baguio Episcopal Area, said that relief operations were underway there. “We are (in the) process of finalizing our request for the relief operations in the different areas.”
The Baguio Area disaster risk reduction and management program also was holding a training through Sept. 28.
Bishop Pedro M. Torio Jr. said that the training on community-based contingency planning is being rolled out for the second time. Delegates from the Pangasinan Philippines, Hundred Islands Philippines and Northwest Philippines conferences are participating.
After the super typhoon, the bishop said, experts were invited “to empower, equip and ready the delegates for the disaster risk reduction and management and contingency planning in the 29 chosen barangays (villages) of the Baguio Area.”
The Rev. Noel Paul Erana, Baguio Area disaster management coordinator, said that “being trained and equipped for disaster preparedness was a great start as we come to terms with the massive damage (from Mangkhut).” The first training occurred just before the typhoon hit the Philippines.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief has assisted with disaster preparedness in the Philippines to ensure that “the maximum number of people are prepared for a storm’s impact.”
After Mangkhut struck, UMCOR provided a $10,000 grant to address immediate needs in the provinces of Baguio hit the hardest as disaster management coordinators continued to assess the damages.
Liza A. Cortez, executive director of the Philippines Central Conference’s Asuncion Perez Memorial Center, also expressed her gratefulness to the steadfast partnership of The United Methodist Church with local communities in responding to flooding from a monsoon the month before Mangkhut.
She thanked families from the villages of Tumana and Lower Araneta in Marikina City “for accepting our humble token of love and solidarity. These are offerings from the people of The United Methodist Church in unity with your struggles on socio-economic distress further aggravated by the disaster brought by the recent massive flooding.”
Cortez led her team to provide help to the victims of floods in Marikina, joined by the Rev. Max Gabriel, the district superintendent. Each family was given a pail holding 10 kilos of rice, dried fish, mongo, cooking oil, sardines and a pack of biscuits.
Marikina City was the area hardest hit by floods caused by the southwest monsoon enhanced by Karding (Yagi), a tropical storm that struck Metro Manila a month before the super typhoon came.
Cortez said the pact between the church and the community has taught them the beauty of sharing, “Once again, Christ's love is alive inside and among us as confirmed by the beauty of sharing we witnessed.”
Mangiduyos is a United Methodist News Service correspondent based in the Philippines.
News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tennessee, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.