Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia, on November 8, 2013. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,268 people in our country alone.
The Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation – Integrated Development Center (JPIC-IDC) of the Philippine Southern Province of the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) were on the forefront of relief operations as they immediately tied up with our schools in the South due to our presence on the area. However, our giving of relief goods lasted only for around two weeks. On the third week after the Typhoon Yolanda, the JPIC-IDC started their house-building efforts. While many organizations and government agencies concentrated in the city (as proven by their larger-than-life tarpaulins), the JPIC-IDC concentrated in the remote areas of Leyte.
As of May 18, 2014, there have been a total of 3,032 houses being built in the far-flung barangays of the municipalities of Tolosa, Dulag, Dagami, Burawin, La Paz, Mayorga and Julita. When I first visited these places, I wondered how our SVD missionaries and our mission partners in the rehabilitation efforts discovered these areas. Going to the project areas seemed like eternity of rough roads as these adopted barangays are still very far from the highway.
The JPIC-IDC, Inc. is a faith-based Non-Government Organization (NGO), registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC Reg. No. C200100503) under the Philippine laws. The organization started with the efforts of the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) in strong partnership with Karl Kuebel Stiftung (KKS) of Germany. Its direction-setting body, the Board of Trustees is composed of seven persons representing varied sectors from the church, academe and private practice. For the past thirteen years, the organization has been implementing more than 15 projects in the areas of education, economic development, human and community development, and advocacy for women and children. The JPIC-IDC, Inc. was founded in 1999 by a group of catholic lay leaders, the SVDs and the Holy Spirit Sisters (SSpS).
Around May 8, JPIC-IDC extended their house-building efforts in Bantayan Island. The organization has been operating silently in the island for a decade through community organization with livelihood, scholarship, and cooperative development. It took 5 months before the organization helped this part of Northern Cebu due to the obvious minimal help felt in the area, especially in the remote areas.
As of June 4, 2014, 50 houses have been done, – a fast job well done as they envision creating 284 houses in Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu. That’s already a lot in a span of less than a month. I was also there during the turn-over of these houses. The recipients were very excited as they cleaned the surrounding for their transfer that evening. “We shall bring in rice and money first, as part of our entrance ritual,” one of the old woman recipients said.
The project extended even in the nearby Hilantagaan Island. When I visited the only high school at the island before the start of classes, only one room was renovated, and to be honest, it was not even completed since several windows were still not repaired. The school, by the way, received military-style tents for their students. But I wondered if students would like to stay in that kind of tent, especially under the scorching heat of the sun when the classes started.
JPIC-IDC immediately came to the rescue! Not only did our organization provided relief goods and school materials, we also volunteered to repair their school buildings.
And yes, we also have rehabilitation efforts in Bohol. On October 4, Fr. Tony Salas, SVD invited me for the turn-over of the model houses of the University of San Carlos to the residents of Brgy. Ubay in Tubigon, Bohol. The islet can be travelled via a small boat from Tubigon Pier for around 45 minutes. Indeed, it was a very small island! It has a total population of 251 people. Together with 4 other priests, we blest the houses to the delight of the residents. On a sidenote, a wheelchair was also given to a polio-victim mother in the area. She and her family was brought to tears. She is the only one in the island to have a wheelchair. The people even joked her: “do you have a driver’s license?”
November 8, 2014. Exactly one year after the typhoon Yolanda. JPIC-IDC have built close to 6,000 houses in Leyte, Bohol and Cebu. And the number is still counting. And they are doing it silently. May they forgive me for not remaining quiet on their heroic efforts.
Thanks to the many generous SVD mission offices in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, Technny and many others, local or foreign, who generously share funds for the rehabilitation efforts. Thank you also to our many mission partners who stood by our side. God bless you and may your gifts increase for God’s greater glory.
My special thanks also to my SVD confreres, who in way or the other, extended their talents, abilities, time, and resources. I am proud of you! As Fr. Eugene Docoy, SVD once said during the rehabilitation efforts: “We, the Divine Word Missionaries, in times of pain and difficulties, reaffirm our calling to be at the forefront whenever our services are called for. For this is the only way we make gospel values alive, real and dynamic to the people we vowed to serve.”
Many things are yet to be done,
Many efforts are still needed,
Thank you for being one with us!
May the heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all.
Take this as a blog post, not an official statement.
In the Divine Word,
Fr. Felmar Castrodes Fiel, SVD