Pope holds Mass in rainy Tacloban

By Philip Pullella and Manuel Mogato, Reuters
Posted at 01/17/2015 10:18 AM


TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Storms greeted Pope Francis when he arrived in the central Philippines city of Tacloban on Saturday to pray for the dead and comfort survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, the country’s worst natural disaster that killed 6,300 people barely a year ago.

Tens of thousands of people wearing yellow raincoats cheered when Francis emerged from his plane in the coastal city of Tacloban 650 km (400 miles) southeast of Manila in steady rain and strong winds.

Francis began a Mass near Tacloban airport wearing a transparent yellow poncho over his vestments as heavy rain and strong winds lashed a large crowd of worshippers, who stood amid puddles in a mud-soaked field.

The storm was an eerie reminder of Haiyan, which hit the same area with 250 kph (155 mph) winds and created a seven-metre high storm surge, wiping out almost everything in its path when it swept ashore on Nov. 8, 2013.

Francis’s day trip to Leyte province gives him another opportunity to speak about climate change ahead of a major document on the environment he is due to issue in June.

The Pope will celebrate Mass at the airport and then see for himself the devastation wrought by Haiyan, the strongest storm to make landfall on record, when he goes to the nearby town of Palo to have lunch with survivors.


Speaking at the presidential palace on Friday, the Pope admired the “heroic strength, faith and resilience” shown by the Philippines as well as the solidarity people demonstrated after the typhoon.

The storm destroyed around 90 percent of the city of Tacloban in Leyte province. More than 14.5 million people were affected in six regions and 44 provinces. About one million people remain homeless.

The government estimates it needs almost 170 billion pesos ($3.8 billion) to rebuild the affected communities, including the construction of a four-metre high dike along the 27-km (17 miles) coastline to prevent a repeat of the disaster.

Nearly 3,000 victims are buried in the city’s almost half-hectare mass grave site. Hundreds are still unaccounted for.

Germanwatch, a think tank partly funded by the German government, said in a report last year the Philippines was the country hardest hit by extreme weather in 2013.

Francis waded into the climate change debate on Thursday, telling reporters that he believed that man was primarily responsible for climate change and that he hoped this year’s U.N. climate meeting in Paris would take a courageous stand to protect the environment.

The Pope said his long-awaited encyclical on the environment was almost finished and that he hoped it would be published in June, ahead of the U.N. conference in November.

“I don’t know if it is all (man’s fault) but the majority is. For the most part, it is man who continuously slaps down nature,” he told reporters on the way to Manila.

Those words were his clearest to date on climate change, which has sparked worldwide debate and even divided conservative and liberal Catholics, particularly in the United States.

“I think man has gone too far,” he said. “Thank God that today there are voices that are speaking out about this,” he said.


Pictures capturing the spirit of the Pope’s visit in Tacloban City




Pope tells ‘Yolanda’ survivors: I’m here to be with you

By Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 01/17/2015 11:01 AM | Updated as of 01/17/2015 11:07 AM


MANILA – Pope Francis flew to Tacloban City, Leyte on Saturday to celebrate Mass with thousands of survivors of super typhoon Yolanda and give them hope that all is not lost despite the tragedy.

Light rains, accompanied by strong winds, brought about by typhoon Amang did not dampen the spirit of the Pope, who is now on the third day of his visit to the Philippines, to hold Mass at the makeshift stage at the Tacloban Airport.

“When I saw from Rome the catastrophe, I felt that I had to be here,” the Pope said in his homily, in Spanish. “And on those very days, I decided to come here. I am here to be with you. A little bit late, I have to say, but I am here.”

Yolanda, the strongest and deadliest typhoon to hit land, struck the Philippines on November 8, 2013.

It claimed the lives of at least 6,300 people and injured 28,000 others. About 1,000 individuals remain missing over a year after the onslaught of the super typhoon.

Yolanda also came as the country was still reeling from the devastating effects of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol in October, and the siege of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga in September.

“‘Father,’ you might say to me, ‘I was let down because I lost so many things — my house, my livelihood — I have illness.’ It’s true if you would say that and I respect those sentiments,” Pope Francis said, addressing the thousands of Filipino faithful who braved the streets to hear his Mass.

“But Jesus there, nailed to the cross, from there, He does not let us down,” the Pope said, as some devotees started weeping openly while listening to the pontiff’s homily.

“There, He experienced all calamities that we experience… We have a Lord who is capable of crying with us, capable of walking with us, in the most difficult moments of life,” he added.

Most of the typhoon survivors might have, at one point in their lives, questioned the Lord why it was them who was struck by the tragedy, said the Pope.

Pope Francis did not attempt to offer any answers, admitting that he himself does not know how to respond to the question.

But he said the victims of the disaster must not lose hope and just continue to cling to the Lord.

“So many of you have lost everything. I don’t know what to say to you, but the Lord does know what to say to you. Some of you lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silence and walk with you all with my silent heart.”

“Many of you have asked the Lord, ‘Why, Lord?’ And to each of you to your heart, Christ responds from His heart upon the cross. I have no more words to say to you. Let us look to Christ. He is the Lord. He understands us because He underwent all the trials that we, that you, have experienced,” he said.

“In the moments when we have so much pain, when we no longer understand anything, all we can do is grab hold of her (Mary) hand firmly, and say ‘mom’ as a child says to her mother when he or she feels fear,” he added.

Pope Francis ended his homily by telling the crowd that they are not alone. They must strive to move forward together, he said.

“Please know that Jesus never lets you down. Please know that the love and tenderness of Mary never lets you down… Let us move forward, always forward, and walk together as brothers and sisters in the Lord, forward,” the Pope said.


Journey with ACN – Philippines

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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…

View original post 294 more words

Pope Francis Praises Typhoon Haiyan Survivors and Filipino Migrant Workers

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Our Sisters and Brothers Who Survived Yolanda Will Transform Us


This blog started with Yolanda. At first I wanted to write about stories by people whom I’ve met. The stories of workers I’ve talked to whose families were affected. I thought they were worth remembering and writing about. But as I had begun to talk with our neighbors, friends, classmates or a housemaid or houseboy about what they felt when they could no longer contact their parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents, uncles, aunties, friends – their loved ones – I could no longer write about them. I mean they were restless and clueless as to the whereabouts of their families. How can you even say a word to someone who was anguishing over the possibility that he may no longer have a family to go home to? You turn pale. You know you can never be in their shoes. When most of them are here in Manila to work, or study…

View original post 331 more words

Yolanda kids pay homage to the King of kings

glistening on the grass

The feast of the Epiphany, the manifestation of the Christ-Child to the world, is celebrated on the first Sunday after New Year’s day or on January 6. In many countries the exchange of gifts happens not on Christmas day but on the feast of Epiphany, following the example of the Magi who offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus.

Children (and even adults) look forward to receiving gifts, toys, surprises, and plenty of food during the holiday season. But hardly any of us think of what to give the birthday Celebrant himself. When they were asked what gift they will give Jesus, the children of Tacloban and Leyte said:

Lean Lean Bagares, 9 years old

I will give him thanks that I am still alive – in spite of the many storms that passed through our country.

james James Magdua, 10 years old

I will celebrate with the Noche Buena…

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