Samar youth orchestra in papal Mass – built to “touch life through music”

CKY orchestra playing Carl Bordeos

Contributed photo of Christ the King College Youth Symphony Orchestra in concert. From Carl Bordeos

The coordinator of a youth symphony orchestra in Samar province, Central Philippines, northwest of where Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) first hit land last year says the young musicians are gearing up to play in Pope Francis’ Mass at Luneta Park on Jan. 18.

Carl Bordeos, coordinator of the 60-member Christ the King College Youth Symphony Orchestra, from Calbayog, Samar, said his group is scheduled to arrive in Manila by January 9, for the general rehearsal with the choir on the 10th & 17th.

In his story of the orchestra sent to Catholic in Asia, Bordeos called the young musicians “missionaries of classical music”. 

Read on to know about this section of the orchestra for the Papal Mass.

Young Musicians from Samar to perform during Pope Francis’ mass in Luneta

By: Carl Jamie Simple S. Bordeos

The 60-member CHRIST THE KING COLLEGE YOUTH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (CKC YSO) from the City of Calbayog in Samar will join other instrumentalists from Manila to provide music in one of the Eucharistic Celebrations when Pope Francis visits the country come January 2015. These young musicians from Samar Island, given the special privilege to perform in the papal mass in Luneta, are high school & college students of the Christ the King College, a Franciscan educational institution.

IEC Palma crucifix NJ Viehland

Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu (left) / NJ Viehland Photos

Musical Journey & History

It was Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu Archdiocese who conceptualized the group when he was still bishop in the Diocese of Calbayog in 2005. Through the efforts of Fr. Prisco A. Cajes, OFM, the former CKC President, and the Calbayognons in the United States headed by Walter Rumohr and Tomas Gomez who donated most of the musical instruments, the CKC-YSO was inaugurated during the Solemnity of the Christ the King on November 25, 2007.

After a 5-month rigorous training of the first members by Fr. Marlowe A. Rosales, OFM, its Music Director and Conductor, the first concert was launched at the Poor Clare Monastery in Calbayog City. Since then, it has developed into a dynamic group performing in different places in the country. To date, it has performed at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA); New Port Mall of Resorts World Manila; Century Park Hotel; Concert at the Park at the Open-air Auditorium, Rizal Park-Manila; Sabin Resort Hotel in Ormoc City; outreach concerts in far-flung barangays in Calbayog City; and at the Paco Catholic School for the Pondo ng Pinoy upon the invitation of His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, DD.

CKC Youth Orchestra mash up Carl Bordeos

Contributed by Carl Bordeos

Sharing the Gift of Music

Funds raised from the concerts have also financed the Share God’s Gift of Music Program, which comprises the scholarships, values formation and music training of the young-member musicians, upgrade and maintenance of the musical instruments, and outreach concerts in far-flung communities.

Since 2007 and up to the present, Fr. Marlowe seemed marvelous and successful in training the youth of Samar. In fact, two particular life stories of its members were featured in Mel and Joey of GMA-7 last December 12, 2010; an article ‘Youth and Music’ written by a Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist last December 13, 2009; ‘Trip to Samar’ written by a travel writer for an online website-based in California, USA; another article ‘Franciscan Friar honored for Music that touches lives’ featured in [CathNews Philippines].

Touching Lives Through Music

Two (2) inspiring stories of its members were featured on national TV: one, was about an orchestra member, who, because of one of CKC-YSO concerts in Manila, met her mom after 10 long years; and, an orchestra member who planned to stop his studies to work for a bakery store in Catbalogan, Samar. Because of the priest-missionary’s encouragement and help, the young man continues his studies. Fr. Marlowe promised to keep him as a student scholar of CKC-YSO.

Because of these as well as other inspiring stories of the orchestra members, the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP, city council) of Calbayog passed a resolution in 2010 declaring Fr. Marlowe as ‘Adopted Son of Calbayog City’ for his dedication and zealous service in developing the orchestra.

In addition, the resolution says“, the City gratefully recognizes and appreciates Fr. Marlowe A. Rosales’ vital contributions to our youths for sharing his knowledge and skills in music, thus bringing pride and honor to the city….”

The Missionaries of Classical Music

The CKC-YSO has not only entertained people in big cities like Manila, Cebu, Tacloban, and Dumaguete. They also have visited remote barangays (barrios) through their music outreach program, bringing the orchestral music closer to the rural folks, who may not have the opportunity to experience it.

Profile of CKC YSO’s Music Director

Born in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental, on October 16, 1972 to parents Nestor R. Rosales and Erma A. Rosales, Father Rosales graduated in 2001 from Conservatory of Music of the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas (UST) with 2 degrees, Bachelor of Music in Music Education and in Conducting.

His previous assignments were at Saint Francis School in La Libertad, Negros Oriental (Central Philippines) in 2002, as Parochial Vicar of San Vicente Parish in Cebu City in 2003, and in Saint Mary of the Angels Parish in Santa Teresita in Cagayan Valley (northern Philippines) in 2004. In all these places, he organized choirs of high school students.

Currently, he is serving as Missionary of the Franciscan Province of San Pedro Bautista on Samar Island fulfilling his great mission for the youth, touching their lives through the music of his orchestra.

‘Put an end to the fossil fuel era,’ say bishops at climate conference

Marikina, NJ Viehland

Flooding in Marikina City during Habagat / NJ Viehland photos

A group of bishops attending an international climate-change conference in Peru called upon the international community “to keep the global temperature increase below 1.5 degree Celsius, relative to pre-industrial levels, in order to protect frontline communities suffering from the impacts of climate change.”

“Central to this is to put an end to the fossil fuel era, phasing out fossil fuel emissions and phasing in 100% renewables with sustainable energy access for all,” the bishops said.

X FABC group picture

Xth FABC Plenary Assembly, Dec. 2012, Xuan Loc, Vietnam / NJ Viehland Photos

The nine bishops include representatives of the Latin American Bishops Conference (CELAM), the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC), and the French and Brazilian bishops’ conferences.

“We express…

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CBCP President to Catholic churches, schools: shelter refugees of looming typhoon

Hagupit JTWC image

JTWC image  http://www.usno.navy.mil/JTWC/

Typhoon Hagupit with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph on Wednesday afternoon and gustiness up to 184 mph, has been reported approaching the same area in central Philippines battered by Super Typhoon Haiyan Nov. 8 last year.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center of the U.S. Navy forecasts further strengthening of the storm with sustained winds possibly peaking at 185 mph.

As of Wednesday afternoon it was located about 148 nautical miles north-northeast of Koror in Palau.

As priests and parish workers reported over Church-run radio Veritas 846 that some rain had started in the Philippines eastern coastal communities in Samar and Leyte provinces, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), appealed to government to start evacuation and avoid disaster.

Archbishop Villegas also appealed to Catholic churches and schools to open up to refugees seeking shelter from the storm.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan (right) /NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan (right) / NJ Viehland Photos

Following is the full text of the CBCP president’s letter on looming typhoon Hagupit.

My brothers and sisters in Christ:

Meteorologists inform us that HAGUPIT is now a super-typhoon and most predict that it will make land-fall over the very same areas hard-hit by Yolanda.  The CNN resident meteorologist has just characterized it as the strongest of super-typhoon this year.

Let us all first pray, and the Filipinos far from the danger-zone are asked nevertheless to join the entire nation for those in harm’s way.

I plead with government officials and NGOs to commence evacuation now.  To wait any longer may be disastrous.  There is no such thing as an excess of caution, especially when faced with a danger so severe.

I appeal to our Catholic churches and schools to open their doors to refugees and those badly in need of shelter, particularly those already displaced by Yolanda.  I request only that evacuees remember the sacred character of the churches they occupy, should they do so.

Together with my brother-bishops, I commend the entire nation to the mercy, love and providence of our Father.

Lord, spare our land from this typhoon!

December 4, 2014

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

CBCP President

Thanksgiving : one year after deadly typhoon

Baby Israel by Emylou Antigua

“My little Israel . . . blessing from God . . .” wrote Haiyan survivor Emylou Antigua on her Facebook account / contributed by Emylou Antigua)

Emylou Antigua has a happy reminder of the devastating typhoon that battered the central Philippines a little over a year ago: her son, named for the Israeli medical team that helped deliver him.

American Jewish Pins toys JDC photo

Danny Pins, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee chief financial officer for Africa and Asia region distributing toys and food to children in northern Cebu, Philippines. (Courtesy of JDC)

For Chief Financial Officer Danny Pins of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee his group’s response to Haiyan is “personally rewarding.”

Catholic mom, Jewish financial officer – what they are grateful for in their experience related to typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda…

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Pope Francis to visit PH Jan. 15-19, 2015 after Sri Lanka – Cardinal Tagle

Pope Francis addressed the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization speaking publicly in English for the first time in a video message screened at the end of the closing Mass Oct. 18, 2013 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Pope Francis addressed the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization speaking publicly in English for the first time in a video message screened at the end of the closing Mass Oct. 18, 2013 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

MANILA – Pope Francis will visit the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19.

Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila announced the schedule of the visit in a press briefing Tuesday at the Manila archdiocese headquarters in Intramuros.“Accepting the invitation of the Civil Authority and the bishops, His Holiness, Pope Francis, will make an apostolic visit to Sri Lanka from January 12 to 15 and to the Philippines from January 15 to 19, 2015,” Cardinal Tagle said.Following the cardinal’s announcement, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. welcomed the news of the pope’s visit, especially since it will mark the 20th anniversary of the World Youth Day in the country in 1995.

“President Aquino is calling on all concerned government offices and the citizenry to work closely with the papal visit committee in ensuring the success of the apostolic visit of Pope Francis,” Coloma added. He said the president designated Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. as the government’s lead person for the visit.

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CBCP Document : Pastoral Letter to Prepare for 2015 Papal Visit

Pope Francis addressed the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization speaking publicly in English for the first time in a video message screened at the end of the closing Mass Oct. 18, 2013 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Pope Francis addressed the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization speaking publicly in English for the first time in a video message screened at the end of the closing Mass Oct. 18, 2013 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines officially announced Pope Francis’ visit to the country next year and recommended ways for Filipinos to prepare for the visit spiritually and socially, in the spirit of “mercy and compassion” underlying the visit.

Following is the full text of the document issued July 7 in Manila …

 

A Nation of Mercy and Compassion

Miserando atque Eligendo (Lowly but Chosen)

Pastoral Letter to Prepare the People of God for the Apostolic Visit of Pope Francis

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan walks back to the plenary hall at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center after a break in the 2012 plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines which he now serves as President. - NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan walks back to the plenary hall at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center after a break in the 2012 plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines which he now serves as President. – NJ Viehland Photos

MY dear people of God:

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Philippines officially announces the visit of the Holy Father, Pope Francis to the Philippines, God willing at the beginning of next year, 2015. His visit carries a message of pastoral love, mercy and compassion from a Pope with the scent of a Good Shepherd (cf. John 10). Even though, this will be the fourth papal visit to our nation, for Pope Francis he will be the third Pope to visit our country. As the Successor to the Chair of Peter, the Holy Father is coming to strengthen his brothers and sisters (cf. Luke 22:32).

The underlying spirit of this Papal visit is the theme of “mercy and compassion” the cherished ideals of Jesus. In this regard, Matthew 9:36 tells us that Jesus “seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” In this context, Pope Francis comes to revive our “drooping spirit” and to lead us to greener pastures (cf. Psalm 23). Hence, he is bringing to us “the joy of the gospel” enshrined in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.

Usually, our first reaction to the news of a papal visit is understandably one of euphoria and thanksgiving. The excitement of seeing Pope Francis in the Philippines is rising as the year 2015 gets nearer. However, we must prepare the nation to receive the Holy Father by setting our minds and hearts in communion with our dear Pope Francis, the messenger of peace, love, and the apostle of the poor. Our compassionate shepherd comes to show his deep concern for our people who have gone through devastating calamities, especially in the Visayas. He comes to confirm us in our faith as we face the challenges of witnessing to the Joy of the Gospel in the midst of our trials.

This is an eloquent way of showing mercy and compassion. Accordingly, in his Apostolic Exhortation, he has already voiced this concern in these words: “some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting” (Evangelii Gaudium 54). And the Pope comes to bring hope to our excluded Philippines. He brings a message to the poor among us.

A PEOPLE EAGER TO WELCOME

Let us allow Pope Francis himself to prepare us for his visit. How? The guiding motto of our dear Pope Francis is Miserando atque eligendo (meaning ‘lowly but chosen’). The literal translation from Latin is ‘by having mercy, by choosing him’. We can equally adapt this to be the motto of our nation as well. Though we are lowly among the nations, yet we have been chosen to receive the blessings of the Vicar of Christ. In this regard, Pope Francis reminds us that “the Church must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel” (Evangelii Gaudium 114).

Consistent with this, the Holy Father has clearly laid out his wish that the main objective of his visit is to bring Christ’s compassion for our suffering people still struggling to rise from the devastations wrought by the earthquake and typhoon that hit the Visayas.

This demand of Pope Francis is also consistent with Daniel 4:24 (NAB) which says: “Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” Accordingly, it is not the logistics, security and infrastructure that best prepare us for the papal visit. Let us be like Pope Francis in his humility and his compassion. Let us make his apostolic journey of mercy to be ours even before he arrives.

A POPE RICH IN MERCY

In connection with the recent canonization of Saint John Paul II, and the remarkable emphasis Pope Francis has been giving to this particular element in Christian life, may we choose MERCY, incarnated, embodied, symbolized in the poor amongst us, to be placed at the center of this spiritual preparation for the papal visit.

It was Saint John Paul II who wrote deeply and movingly of God Our Father as “Dives in Misericordia”. In that profound encyclical, “mercy” was his name for God. Pope Francis, from the first days of his pontificate, has been preaching insistently and passionately on God’s constant and untiring mercy, and on the primacy of the Church’s mission of mercy and compassion in the world of our time.

It is noteworthy that perhaps the first major doctrinal-spiritual book of Pope Francis, which has been published in English bears the title, “The Church of Mercy”. The book “presents the heart of his teaching on the most fundamental themes of his vision of a new way of being Church.”

In it, the Holy Father asks: “Are we a Church that really calls and welcomes sinners with open arms, that gives courage and hope, or are we a Church closed in on herself? … Are we a Church which is a house for everyone, where all can be renewed, transformed, sanctified by God’s love, the strongest and the weakest, sinners, the indifferent, those who feel discouraged or lost? … Are we a Church where the face of God dwells, where one cares for the other, where one prays for the other?”

EMBRACING THE MERCY OF GOD

From Pope Francis’ teaching, two aspects of mercy may be singled out.

First, the mercy and the patience of God toward sinners are made manifest in Jesus. Jesus is “the visible face of the mercy of God.” As the Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, “God is there always, always waiting for us; he never grows tired. Jesus shows us the merciful patience of God.” And “this patience of God calls forth in us the courage to return to him, however many the sins and mistakes there may be in our lives.” Like Thomas in the gospel, “we too can enter into the wounds of Jesus; we can actually touch him. This happens every time we receive the sacraments with faith.” “It is there, in the wounds of Jesus, that we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of his Heart.”

Secondly, we encounter Jesus in living out his own compassion and mercy towards our bothers and sisters in need and poverty, in suffering, loneliness, in hopelessness. “To meet the living God we must tenderly kiss the wounds of Jesus in our hungry people, in the sick and in imprisoned brothers and sisters. Study, meditation and mortification are not enough to have us encounter the living Christ. Like the apostle Thomas, our life will only be changed when we touch Christ’s wounds present in the poor, the sick and the needy. The path to our encounter with Jesus is his wounds. There is no other.” (Pope Francis, 3 July 2013)

A question then arises. In our Christian lives, where may we in fact draw the profound spirituality of mercy that can truly help us prepare spiritually for the papal visit? “They will look upon him whom they have pierced” (John 19: 37, NAB). The Fourth Gospel, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote, sums up the whole Christian spirituality. In this great image we see the whole story of our salvation in Jesus. We see God’s faithful love and mercy shining forth from the Cross. And we see the human response to that merciful love also in the pierced Heart of Christ.

A PEOPLE RICH IN MERCY

The most distinctive way to prepare spiritually for the coming of Pope Francis is for the Philippines to become a people rich in mercy. Let us make mercy our national identity. Trust in God’s mercy is part and parcel of our traditional Filipino Christian culture. Let us make the practice of mercy our gift to the Pope when he comes to visit us.

Concretely, in this period of preparation for the visit of Pope Francis, we are bidden to turn to the fountain of all mercy, Jesus, and encounter the Divine Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And having received such mercy we in turn practice acts of mercy.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: “The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbour in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting, are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all of these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.” (CCC 2447)

At the societal level, let us also not forget to address justice and mercy issues in the root causes of poverty and inequality in our country – such as the protection of the environment, the completion of agrarian reform, and the continuing challenges of good governance, peace-building, and inclusive growth for all.

A PREPARATION RICH IN MERCY

Mother sleeps with her toddler during a break from selling outside the convent of Sisters of St. Claire in Quezon City. NJ Viehland Photos

Mother sleeps with her toddler during a break from selling outside the convent of Sisters of St. Claire in Quezon City. NJ Viehland Photos

We encourage you our dear people to resolve to make an act of mercy every day.

You can reach out to a lonely stranger. You can tell the story of Jesus to a child eager to understand and feel the love of God. You can advise a confused co-worker. You can forgive someone who has wronged you.

You can give food to a hungry beggar. You can contribute to building homes for the typhoon victims. You can visit those in jail or prison. You can visit the charity ward of hospitals, drug rehabilitation centers, homes for the elderly and orphanages. You can condole with the grieving families whose loved ones just died. You can give alms to the poor.

You can show mercy by making it a habit to say “please”, “thank you” or a kind word of appreciation. Refraining from cursing and using hurting words is an act of mercy. Being polite to the children and infants, to the sick and the elderly are great acts of mercy.

As we prepare for the coming of the Pope we are asked to have more access to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and encourage our priests to increase their availability and visibility at the confessional, and turn earnestly to fervent participation in the Eucharistic sacrifice and even spend more time in Eucharistic adoration and to zealously be involved in making our Basic Ecclesial Communities and other faith-communities as venues for mercy and reconciliation. Let us prepare to see the Pope by reviving personal and family prayer. Pope Francis has challenged us to restore family prayer and devotion in our homes.

All of this opens to, nourishes, and sustains in our lives the gift of Mercy from the Heart of Jesus! May our Shrines of Divine Mercy be the source of inspiration and strength for our families.

When the Pope comes, he will bring with him the message of the mercy and compassion of God. When he meets us, may he see in us a people touched by the mercy of God, living out the compassion of God, a people truly rich in mercy and compassion and grateful to those who have shown mercy to us especially after various calamities hit our country.

May Mary, Our Mother of Mercy prepare us to meet Jesus in Pope Francis!

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, July 7, 2014

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
CBCP President
7 July 2014

Caritas Manila, Ryan Cayabyab & foundations team up in “tribute to people’s faith”

In pictures

Caritas Manila Chairman Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila and Executive Director Father Anton Pascual (left) with renowned composer-musician and papal awardee Ryan Cayabyab and Esther Santos, President of PLDT-Smart Foundation present "RISE! Rebuild from the Ruins" benefit concert they organized to support Caritas Manila's rehabilitation of churches and chapels destroyed by Haiyan in Samar and Leyte provinces. By NJ Viehland.

Caritas Manila Chairman Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila and Executive Director Father Anton Pascual (left) with renowned composer-musician and papal awardee Ryan Cayabyab and Esther Santos, President of PLDT-Smart Foundation present “RISE! Rebuild from the Ruins” benefit concert they organized to support Caritas Manila’s rehabilitation of churches and chapels destroyed by Haiyan in Samar and Leyte provinces. By NJ Viehland.

Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila was saying Mass in typhoon ravaged Palo cathedral at the close of the archdiocese’s diamond jubilee celebration last November when he witnessed with admiration the “unshakable faith” of people amidst suffering.

This, Cardinal Tagle told a press conference on Friday, was what the fund raising concert of sacred music of renowned composer and musician Ryan Cayabyab called “Rise! Rebuilding from the Ruins” on June 11 hopes to recognize. 

Cardinal Tagle recalled his Mass last year inside the church whose roof had been blown away by typhoon Haiyan. People just covered the top of the church with tarpauline material so when rain poured during Cardinal Tagle’s Mass, people and things inside got wet.

“At the end of my homily the wind blew. It rained and people panicked. They seemed allergic to the wind,” Cardinal Tagle told journalists, artists, co-organizers and partners for the concert. “One thing I appreciated was people stayed through the rain and finished the Mass,” added the cardinal who chairs the Board of Caritas Manila. 

“This is the church – the building – but this is also the living church which stays firm even when the roof blows away,” Cardinal Tagle remembers thinking to himself.

He said the “effort to rebuild the buildings made of stone and steel and iron sheets is actually not only a tribute to God or to the faith, but also a tribute to the living community and their living faith.”

Organizers, talents and supporters of the upcoming concert to be held in Manila Cathedral are also paying tribute to the physical church that serves as refuge, sanctuaries, evacuation centers and dormitories in times of crises like Haiyan, locally named Yolanda, Cardinal Tagle said.

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Musician-composer Ryan Cayabyab is 60 years old and he has his "Philippines senior's card" to show journalists and guests at the May 30 press con at Arzobispado de Manila, in Intramuros to prove it. To show gratitude for his talent and to "give back to the church", Cayabyab is working with Caritas Manila, which is also celebrating it's 60th anniversary this year, to stage the June 11 benefit concert "RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins" at the Manila Cathedral that aims to raise 20 million pesos to help rebuild 20 churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar devastated by Yolanda (Haiyan). - NJ Viehland Photos

Musician-composer Ryan Cayabyab is 60 years old and he has his “Philippines senior’s card” to show journalists and guests at the May 30 press con at Arzobispado de Manila, in Intramuros to prove it. To show gratitude for his talent and to “give back to the church”, Cayabyab is working with Caritas Manila, which is also celebrating it’s 60th anniversary this year, to stage the June 11 benefit concert “RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins” at the Manila Cathedral that aims to raise 20 million pesos to help rebuild 20 churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar devastated by Yolanda (Haiyan). – NJ Viehland Photos

 

Ryan Cayabyab singers perform at press con at Arzobispado for RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins, a benefit concert of sacred music on june 12 at Manila Cathedral to raise funds for reconstruction of churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar destroyed by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). - by NJ Viehland

Ryan Cayabyab singers perform at press con at Arzobispado for RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins, a benefit concert of sacred music on june 12 at Manila Cathedral to raise funds for reconstruction of churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar destroyed by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). – by NJ Viehland

 

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Haiyan survivor Mark Anthony Lacanaria who joined People Surge alliance of typhoon survivors told Catholic In Asia in Manila in April how he survived the "super typhoon" that flattened communities in Leyte, central Philippines last Nov. 8, 2013. NJ Viehland Photos

Haiyan survivor Mark Anthony Lacanaria who joined People Surge alliance of typhoon survivors told Catholic In Asia in Manila in April how he survived the “super typhoon” that flattened communities in Leyte, central Philippines last Nov. 8, 2013. NJ Viehland Photos

“Kuya” is the Filipino term of respect for older brother. Big brother was what Mark Anthony Lacanaria felt he had to do well last Nov. 8 when news reports and local leaders announced a “super typhoon” was underway.

On his trip to Manila with People Surge alliance of Haiyan victims preparing to meet Cardinal Luis Tagle in April, Lacanaria told Catholic In Asia the ordeal his family and community of Diit, Tacloban City, went through before, during and after typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which left his community in shambles. His story follows: (translated from Tagalog)

My family

We are five siblings – orphans – and I’m the eldest so I felt responsible for everyone’s safety. Two days before the typhoon our barangay (village) was preparing for the super typhoon. I asked my younger siblings on the eve of the typhoon to help me tie down the roof so that at least there will be some “yero” (galvanized iron) left should the wind get vicious. As it turned out the typhoon would not just come after our roof, but ate up our whole house!

We’ve experienced many typhoons before in my 30 years in this world, but nothing with this strength of the wind and this severe flooding.

My wife is a DH (domestic helper) in Malaysia. Our daughter was in Guiuan (Samar) where my in-laws live.

Preparing for Yolanda (Haiyan)

On the eve of the projected arrival of the typhoon, many residents left their houses for higher ground. Many others didn’t want to leave their property.

Past 5 a.m. Nov. 8, I told my siblings to cook noodles so we can feed the children (nieces/nephews) breakfast before the typhoon came. After we ate, I sent away my younger siblings and three of my nephews and nieces to a house not far from ours but on higher ground. Four of us brothers stayed behind with my pregnant sister who was worried about leaving her belongings.

Saving my family

Wind came first. It was powerful and sounded like a machine was ripping off the galvanized iron from our roof. Around 7:30-8:00 a.m. was when the water came into our house. It was as if a fireman pointed his hose at our front door and turned on his power hose. Water gushed in, only it was black. In a few minutes we were swimming out through my bedroom window, one behind each other.

When we looked back in just a matter of minutes and about 3 feet way the water had swallowed our house. It really didn’t matter that many of us were good in swimming. We just stayed steady and allowed ourselves to flow with the tide because if you tried to swim, you might hit what was under water – iron roofing of houses, broken glass, huge posts with nails, so we couldn’t swim.

Our youngest sibling got cut by yero because when he kicked to swim he hit something.We were dragged by the water to a huge mango tree so we hung on to its branches and watched our whole barangay disappear under the water. My brothers and pregnant sister began crying.

We managed to float past the tall wall of a warehouse near our house so it blocked the water from coming so fast at us. We got lucky with that wall. Four pairs of us floated around, including a couple whose wife was also very pregnant, and an elderly man who was yelling at the top of his lungs, but we couldn’t hear him at first because the wind was very loud. In the beginning I wondered whether we had been dragged to sea because I swallowed water several times and it was really salty. It wasn’t rain water.

When we got to the tree, I told my sister to clasp the tree. She wanted me to go back for her children, but I told her, later on. The water had not completely subsided.When it did it left so many bodies scattered around our community. People began crying.

Bigger family

We gathered together wherever we were those of us who survived. I saw a man and his sons Christian and Alwin. Alwin  grew so pale after having blood ooze out of a cut on his arm from flying roofing material. One of the sons is only 2 years old.

The children were in a house that was on higher ground but they still had to climb up into the ceiling They squeezed in there, eight families. When I saw them after the flood, I was just so grateful that the ceiling didn’t collapse. They were all wet and very scared. I just left them there first.

Our village

I climbed a nearby hill farther from the seaside. I looked down and saw from our barangay to the downtown areas. It was like everything was swept away.

Our barangay is Diit. It is a slaughterhouse for cattle. We live near a slaughterhouse. The meat from there is sold in the market. I used to work there. My parents worked there too. So all the dead were scattered around the grounds – carabao, cattle, pigs, dogs and people. People looked at the corpses to find relatives. They began wailing in chorus.

In our entire region, it really wasn’t made clear to us what was the projected viciousness and power of this typhoon would actually be. They said “storm surge,” but we didn’t know what that was. Even Mayor’s (Alfred Romualdez) family didn’t seem to know. Although they kept saying the words on tv, it wasn’t clear to us how strong would be the impact and that there would be this rising water.

I sent my brothers out to gather anything we could eat. That was the first thought that came to mind. This will be a big long period of hunger.

Cut off from the world

Meanwhile, my wife was very worried because she couldn’t reach any of us from Malaysia. It was Nov. 24 when we were finally able to talk. She didn’t know what happened, how we all were. Our daughter was in Guiuan (Samar) and my wife had heard from the news the typhoon first hit landfall in Guiuan and they showed scenes of the wreck it left there. But my in-laws had less damage than we suffered in Diit.

I  wondered why no help was coming. I told my siblings I thought they were saying on tv that the government was very ready with help for us before the typhoon struck. They were reporting there were ready relief goods. Where were all these goods?

For days nobody came to us. Then finally after about 4 days media came. But their chopper didn’t come down. It just hovered above us, maybe scanning the area. Maybe they were headed somewhere else. It was the fifth day after the typhoon, soldiers came in trucks, but they were just clearing part of the way. They didn’t bring food or anything. That’s why I suppose looting began.

Looting

We are far from the mall area but we were so starved for five days taking in only water that we gathered from containers floating around. We boiled it because we weren’t confident they were safe. We only found coffee and some crackers and whatever snacks.

We even found discolored rice already spoiling, but we cooked it just the same because the children were getting hungry. It came out sticky because it soaked in water already. I couldn’t bring myself to eat it, and I was amazed that the children ate it. I prayed so hard that they wouldn’t get diarrhea, and they didn’t. We older ones couldn’t eat it.

After a few days, I could no longer hold back my tears. I thought where was that help that the government said they were ready with?  So when news came to us about looting, my brothers said, “Kuya let’s go downtown and get food.” But I told them it was too long a way and the roads and bridge may not passable even by foot. We couln’t bike because there were so many dead bodies scattered around. If we would just get material things it is useless. I told my siblings what we need is food.

Relief in a washed away ship

Word arrived there was a boat that was dragged by the winds to shore not too far from our community. More important, we heard it carried 8 thousand sacks of rice. I climbed and squeezed into the boat to grab as much rice as I could for my family and neighbors. I got one sack of rice and split it in two. Half sack I gave to the owner of a house in our barangay that allowed us all to stay in their house for about 2 weeks while we were building a makeshift house from scraps. The other half sack I split into eight families. My sister, my aunts, uncles.

In the malls, victims may have taken food. If there were appliances taken, those aren’t legit victims, but maybe professional thieves or syndicates from neighboring towns or provinces. Imagine, they reportedly had vehicles. We in Tacloban had no vehicles. They all went underwater.

Our third brother brought his son to Caloocan (Metro Manila). The boy is so traumatized by this experience. He’s afraid even of rain and just if the wind blows the window.

Here in Diit, we went ahead and gathered scraps from wrecked houses and tried to build a makeshift house for my siblings before I left for Guiuan. My sister is just weeks away from delivering her baby. I didn’t know where to take her and how the hospitals were. We had no clue if the hilot (community midwives) had also been washed away.

Tears of joy

All the time I worried inside me about Guiuan where my in laws and daughter were. I heard it was wrecked also. I was very nervous. I didn’t know anything about them. When I arrived there I was so relieved to see they were all okay. They too were worried about me. Everything was wrecked there, but it was mostly very powerful winds. Water didn’t go up. They said they worried that I was drowned also. My daughter, 7 years old, was crying and crying. They were teasing her that I might have drowned.

People Surge

While I was in Guiuan to help my in laws clean up my friend came to Diit to say Makabayan group was holding relief operations. I looked for him after returning to Diit and I volunteered for relief operations. We went around remote places not reached by the donors and aid.

I couldn’t stand the scenes. My thoughts went back to the scenes in Diit on the first day of Yolanda. I could not imagine how it must have been for these people in the hinterlands with few places to run to. A child would come up to me to ask for rice and other food, and in my mind would come pictures of my nephews, or older relatives. “Kuya give us water, do you have water?” they said. My tears kept filling my eyes.

When I heard there would be a big rally in Tacloban last Jan. 25, I decided to join because I experienced everything the organizers were describing not only in my personal experience, but also those of people we were bringing some relief goods to. I learned about the rally from my companions in the relief operations. I heard there would be a big mass action to demand help for typhoon victims. It is just right that what is for survivors should be given to us. We learned that at the height of relief operations, NGOs and international community were donating funds and goods for us survivors, and yet the relief goods being handed out by LGUs were not enough for all.

Suddenly DSWD declared that they would stop handing out relief goods after December. When that announcement was made, I confirmed my decision to join the Jan. 25 rally. I felt the situation was already overwhelming and I couldn’t be a good provider to my family on my own. The government was stopping relief operations even before the situation has been reversed.

Benedictine Sister Erlinda Eslopor (black veil) led a group of 6 members of People Surge alliance of Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors and two supporters (including La Salette Sister Sonia Silverio in white veil) who met with Cardinal Luis Tagle April 8 at the Manila archbishop's residence to present the "true situation" of survivors' continued struggle with no help from government for many places. They also appealed for particular actions from Cardinal Tagle. NJ Viehland Photo

Benedictine Sister Erlinda Eslopor (black veil) led a group of 6 members of People Surge alliance of Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors and two supporters (including La Salette Sister Sonia Silverio in white veil) who met with Cardinal Luis Tagle April 8 at the Manila archbishop’s residence to present the “true situation” of survivors’ continued struggle with no help from government for many places. They also appealed for particular actions from Cardinal Tagle. NJ Viehland Photo

I felt all Eastern Visayas victims had been set up, not only people in Tacloban. They didn’t dialogue with us. It was like we were just floating that time. We didn’t know where to ask or get help. There was nowhere to go. We could see some foreigners arriving, but they had no way to distribute their goods. There’s no system. I heard about People Surge and the movement led by Sister Edita (Eslopor, OSB) to add my voice to the rest who were calling for the same things and asking same questions I had.

Manila sojourn, Cardinal Tagle

Cardinal Luis Tagle posed with members of People Surge alliance of Haiyan survivors and their supporters after he listened to 8 representatives report on their situation and demands from the government at a meeting he hosted in the Manila Archbishop's residence in Intramuros on April 8. NJ Viehland Photo

Cardinal Luis Tagle posed with members of People Surge alliance of Haiyan survivors and their supporters after he listened to 8 representatives report on their situation and demands from the government at a meeting he hosted in the Manila Archbishop’s residence in Intramuros on April 8. NJ Viehland Photo

I joined the group that came to make our situation known in Manila officials and people. At least each of us represents a town and sitio in Eastern Visayas. We went to Malacanang, but we weren’t entertained.  Only DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) secretary saw us. Now we will go to each official of government. We want to show them we are here trying to get what is given for us. This is not a field trip. I hope Cardinal Tagle will face us and listen to our pleas because we are legitimate victims that were devastated by the typhoon. We aren’t beggars.

End of Part 1/ People Surge