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RGS-TRA Mission Team to Marabut, Samar

Submitted by: regina
On: 13/04/2014

A group from the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) and the Tagaytay Religious Association (TRA) went to Barangay Odoc-Ferreras, Marabut, Samar to help survivors of the Yolanda supertyphoon.

File Photo: Sr. Emma, right, with the first group that went to Samar in November 2013. 
 

Sr. Carmelita Arenas RGS, Sr. Emma Marzan RGS, Sr. Jane Baniel MSDM, Sr. Antoinette,SCJM & Rev. Jundie Sumagaysay were in Samar April 2-6, 2014 to be with survivors for catechism, relief operations, to help provide livelihood programs and to continue to listen to the stories of how people try to help themselves during and after the disaster.

Please read below for details:

Day 1 (April 2): A warm welcome by the Benedictines & the SVD-SSpS Family:   Our travel to Tacloban was   delayed, due to trouble on Tacloban runway.  It was worse for Sr. Emma, on another flight that was rerouted to Cebu& returned to Manila. The team made it to Tacloban, Leyte.  Sr. Anna Maria Raca, OSB provided us with a suite at the Divine Word Hospital for an overnight stay.  We met with Sr. Clare, SSpS at the Divine Word College, now Liceo Verbum Dei.Both sisters told stories of the havoc on the hospital, which continued its services despite the ruins due to the many wounded victims of the typhoon. The flood waters reached the college & the guards helped the SSpS sisters to the hospital for safety. Rev. Jundie’s classmate, Fr. Dennis, toured us around Tacloban’s devastated areas & told of his task to supervise & do hands on rehabilitation of their areas. He recounted how the SVD's hosted so many volunteers coming in to help, with the hotels destroyed.  The storm surge dumped so much furniture & all sorts of garbage within their gates. They told of the remarkable help of 200 religious, seminarian & lay people helping the clear up the area, distributed relief & shared whatever open space in the college to sleep with mosquitos to harangue them.   The SVD’s marveled at their organized & effective assistance.  The RGS-TRA team thanked the SVD Fathers for their warm hospitality. We met too the SVD missionaries from South Africa & Botswana.  Tragedy truly brought people together; withhope ignited. 

 

Day 2 (April 3):  Exposure Day at the SSpS Area.  Earlier, Sr. Carme picked up Sr. Emma at the airport. After a brief meeting with Sr. Anna Maria at the hospital,Sr. Clare took us to Baranggay 89 & 90.  The sisters provided the fisher folks with first batch of 40 boats of the 120 pledged boats. We saw the different stages of the boat making by the 4 Surigao boat makers, noting the many names of the parts, the difference between the wooden & the fiberglass.The sisters got the materials from Surigao& the plywood from Catbalogan. The sisters distributed 28 pedicabs made in Cebu, costing Php 15 thousand.  Feeding program included 1000 kids in the areas. We saw them play, laugh, sing & then with their bowls, waited for the soup or porridge; while the adults did bead making. We said goodbye to Sr. Clare in her make shift house.   

 

After consulting with the Holy Spirit sisters, the boat makers& shown the location of the 3 trading centers, we hurried to canvass the materials. But caught in the lunch break, we decided to go to Marabut. We waited for 2 hours for the next trip to Guion.  After a fast winding drive, we beheld the beauty of the rock formations in the sea.  Our host family greeted us at the waiting shed.  After dinner, it was a never ending consultation with the host family on the assistance given them:  No one in Odoc received the Php 10 thousand. But in Ferreras, a number of the fisher folk received Php 10 thousand from ICRC & some fishing materials from BFAR but no boat & no motor

 

Day 3(April 4):  The team joined the women in dawn rosary, with bible reflection & sharing.  After breakfast, we walked around the two barangays.  Two boats came in with no catch.  It was a day of waiting for transportation to go to Marabut town, to request for a truck from the mayor & to go to Catbalogan which they said had all the materials at a cheaper price.  Nothing materialized. Barangay Ferreras was busy hosting the visiting medical mission team.  We decided to meet with the Odoc fisher folk& made a simple family- livelihood survey.  More consultation on the details of boat making &possible resources.  More computations. More questions.  Kleir, BEC parish coordinator came to visit the group & received the bibles, catechism, rosaries with guides for the Sta. Rita chapel.  Sr. Jane, Sr. Antoinette & Rev. Jundie met the children, dividing them into two groups:  Kinder to Gr. 3 & Gr 4 to grade 7.  Rosaries with guides were distributed; the children were given biscuits& candies for snacks.

 The team also met the people & listened to their stories. Sr. Jane had an hour session on group organizing. Rev. Jundie introduced the story of St. Pedro Calungsod; & each youth received  the comics copy of his life story.

 

That afternoon, with the arrival of the tricycle, we visited Fr. Romeo’s parish but he was out.  We saw his ruined church & the list on the board of the 33 barangays& sitios he served.  Wethen proceeded tomeet theboat maker& saw the beautiful hard wood boat he was making.More negotiations & business clinched. We thenwent to another barangay to meet the lady owner of the truck needed for Tacloban material.  The lady agreed.  Tired from the half day wait & the afternoon drive, we decided to go for a night dip in the sea.  Under the moon light trail on the sea, we carefully treaded the rocky shore & sat in the warm sea, gazing at the stars. We walked back home via the highway to the twin barangays of Odoc-Ferreras. 

 

Day 4(April 5):Sr. Carme & Sr. Emma together with Reynaldo, our host, made the early trip to Tacloban.  At 7:00 am, the city was still quiet, with eateries still closed.  After a hasty breakfast, we met the Dy Family & their incredible story of devotion to Mother Foundres of the Good Shepherd St. Mary Euphrasia.  Thus, Grace Trading offered us complete detailed prices for the boat making materials.   They shared the horror of losing safety & securityin Yolanda’s assault of the city.  But what pained the family, all born Taclobanos, was the looting of the people.  They were down they wanted to give up.  But the workers said they would stay with them to push the business again.  The family agreed.   One sister shared of how they opened their house to the many volunteers who came to help.  They asked her” Are you not afraid of losing things with all these people around.” She said “nothing really mattered, not things, not possessions.  Life & relationships seems to be the essence of living.”She related the story of the water pump.

           After Yolanda, the pump had blackish& foul smelling water.  But the neighbors needed water.          She had it tested for scistosomiasis.  Finding none, she allowed the people, the neighbors to use   the pump.  The more it gave to the people; the water became pure & clear, with no foul odor.           Her insight:  Isn’t  that how we are,  human beings, mired in our sinfulness &weakness, we learn       to give          & give & suddenly we find ourselves purified, clear, & smelling good. (Isn’t that a   beautiful theology of the water pump)?

 

The Dy family kindly invited us to a good lunch at a restaurant.   But more surprising was the outpouring of stories.  We listened& marveled at this instant connection of peoples. With the materials completed, Reynaldothen transported them to a truck to deliver them to Odoc. We proceeded to buy the rest of the materials from the Marabut hardware to help the local business as well.  We were so happy with the first batch of materials. 

 

The three who were left behind joined the dawn rosary, & had bible reflection & sharing. They took a boat ride to the rock formations in the middle of the sea.  They stepped on the rock island & saw the pool, Mary’s statue in the natural rock grotto & even saw a sea snake huddled in a hole.  In the afternoon, they met with another set of children for catechism, games & sharing. At 3, they were offered a free ride to reach the lay leaders for bibleorientation inPinamitingan.   .

 

Having heard of the death of a fisherman, 44 year old, leaving a wife & 6 kids, we visited the family. 

- Sr. Carmelita Arenas RGS