Dame Odelia Gregorio-Arroyo of the Order of Malta called it “a miracle of hope” when the Order built 100 homes for the victims of typhoon “Sendong” in Iligan.
Four months after the disaster, on April 20, the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, with the Diocese of Iligan, turned over 100 homes to its beneficiary families.
The new homes were wooden, single, detached, with a lot area of 60 sq m, and floor area 20 sq m. They became shelters for 100 families in Barangay Luin-ab.
Formal blessing of the homes was held after the thanksgiving Mass celebrated by Iligan Bishop Elenito Galido.
Present were Dr. Leo Lazatin, Delza Lazatin, Marivic Concepcion, Mina Carag-Harada, Christine Prokopf and Dr. Mel Capistrano of Malteser International.
Restoring new life
In building the core shelters, the Order of Malta hoped to restore new life to those who had lost everything. Those who received homes were in a community which needed to heal wounds and regain dignity in their hour of total loss and grief.
Psychosocial and psycho-spiritual activities were organized, funded by Caritas Germany, and integrated in day to day community life, while training in livelihood, camp management and disaster risk reduction were conducted.
The Order of Malta was one of the first organizations on the ground to distribute relief packs, food and medicines.
Sto. Niño de Tacloban
Neny Apostol Regino, a PR practitioner and native of Barugo in Leyte, remembers that as a young girl, she and her family would go to Tacloban for the fiesta of Sto. Niño on June 30.
I have seen the image myself when I was invited there in the late ’90s by Fr. Manuel Ocaña when he was still parish priest of St. Joseph Church, Tacloban.
Remy and Tony Salazar were my hosts. Today, the parish priest is Msgr. Alex Opiniano. New Tacloban Archbishop John Du will officiate the concelebrated Mass on June 30.
The miraculous image was lost for almost a year when it was sent to Manila for retouching and a change of vestments for the January 1889 fiesta.
On its way back to Tacloban, the ship caught fire, and to save the ship, the crew threw their crates overboard. The heavy crate marked “Tacloban,” which contained the Sto. Niño image, miraculously drifted to Mindoro and recorded to have been found by a pagan tribe. The pagans idolized the image because according to them, something so beautiful could only come from the gods.
After negotiations with the tribe, the Sto. Niño image was finally returned to Tacloban on June 30, 1889. On its arrival, it stopped a cholera outbreak and healed people wherever it was paraded in the streets.
Since then, the feast of Sto. Niño de Tacloban has been celebrated on June 30, the day of its return, and the day it stopped the cholera outbreak.
Today, the beautiful Sto. Niño image, arrayed in gold vestments, is enthroned in the altar of Sto. Niño Church, gathering devotees who come from as far as Samar. I suggest those who are very sick who can afford to fly to Tacloban should make a pilgrimage there.
SM school building opens in Sariaya
An SM school building opened in time for classes at Gov. Natalio & Susana Enriquez Elementary School in Brgy. Sampaloc, Sariaya, Quezon.
Built by SM Prime through the SM Foundation, the schoolhouse was a most welcome addition as two sections of the 609-student population of the school were holding classes in the covered court for two years. According to school principal Lyra Catarroja, blackboards were used as temporary “divider” between the two sections, while students were exposed to heat and dust during the summer months and intermittent showers during the rainy season.
“This is a most welcome donation from SM, especially now that we are adopting the K-12 requirement of the DepEd,” she said. “With the new classrooms, we will have one shift from Grades 1-6 with a ratio of 43-1 while K will have two shifts to accommodate all new enrollees.”
“Our only problem now is how we can pay the salaries of the kindergarten teacher-volunteers, as the subsidy from the DepEd is minimal.” The Parents Teachers Association (PTA) is trying to help.
Rep. Irvin M. Alcala had solicited the building from the SM Foundation. At the turnover of the school building were Alcala; municipal administrative officer Allan Loria; school officials led by Catarroja; Schools Division superintendent Tolentino Aquino and district supervisor Carmelita Tinana.
SM was represented by SM Prime regional operations manager Jayson Terrenal, SM City Lucena mall manager Celia Alquiros and PR officer Lilibeth Azores.
SM Foundation executive director Carmen Linda Atayde and educational project manager Eleanor Lansang were also present.
SM also built schools in General Santos City and Navotas, Rizal, in time for opening of classes on June 4.
Christian life program
The Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) is holding the Christian Life Program seminar every Wednesday, starting June 27 up to Sept. 5, 7 p.m., at MetroClub. Call Vangie Ibazeta at 0917-2701901 or Matt Magpantay at 0915-2066193.
St. Josemaria Escriva Masses
The Opus Dei community and devotees of St. Josemaria Escriva will hold Masses on the occasion of his feast on June 26: St. Therese of the Child Jesus Shrine on Manlunas St., Pasay City (in front of Naia 3), 6 p.m., (celebrant is Bishop Leopoldo S. Tumulak of Military Ordinariate); St. James the Great Parish in Ayala Alabang Village, 6:20 a.m.; Sacred Heart of Jesus, Hillsborough Village, Alabang, 6 a.m.; Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Philamlife Village, Las Piñas, 6:45 a.m.
Blessings of good health to Tita Helen Benitez who turns 98 on June 27. Officials of Philippine Women’s University, her family and friends will gather at Orchard Golf and Country Club to honor a great woman who was the first legislator to file a bill on the environment.