November 9, 2016
The Catholic Church through its social action arm, the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, recognized the heroism of supertyphoon Yolanda survivors from the nine worst-hit provinces during the third Yolanda commemoration activities held today in Leyte.
At least 27 ‘Yolanda’ survivors from the Yolanda-hit provinces of Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, Cebu, Palawan, Antique, Iloilo, Capiz, and Aklan were recognized for their heroism and contributions to the community, which they displayed during the height of storm and during the course of the relief and rehabilitation program being implemented by the Catholic Church.
“Yolanda taught us so many lessons about faith, hope and charity. There are still many untold stories of heroism and resiliency of Yolanda survivors. And these people from different far-flung communities devastated by Yolanda are the unsung heroes, who helped the community to recover and build back better,” NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez.
The activities include the “True Heroes of Yolanda” photo exhibit featuring 27 ‘Yolanda’ survivors, which was formally opened with a flash mob by 150 youth volunteers of the Sto. Niño Parish. The exhibit will run until November 11 in Robinsons Place Tacloban.
There is also a special screening of nine documentaries about the ‘Yolanda’ heroes of different provinces during the 1st Caritas Film Festival in the mall’s cinema.
The commemoration activities opened with a holy mass in Tanauan, Leyte which was led by Palo Archbishop John Du and NASSA/Caritas Philippines National Director Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona. There was also a symbolic flower offering in memory of the victims of the typhoon in Tanauan, which is the one of the hardest hit areas in Leyte.
Other activities include the presentation of new project proposals for Yolanda-affected communities in the nine provinces to the representatives of different Caritas member countries, who are working with the Catholic Church in the Philippines in implementing various rehabilitation programs for Yolanda survivors in different parts of the country.
Overall Caritas Response
NASSA/Caritas Philippines as the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is currently implementing the Catholic Church’s largest three-year rehabilitation program called REACHPhilippines with the dioceses of the nine provinces worst-hit by the typhoon.
“We really make sure that transparent and honest spending is being practiced in all levels through regular financial monitoring, evaluation and audit from international auditing companies,” Gariguez explained.
To date, the overall Caritas response in the country, including NASSA/Caritas Philippines and the Caritas Internationalis Member Organizations, contributed more than P4.6 billion and served over 1.8 million people.
These interventions cover the relief up to the recovery phase such as the provision of disaster-resilient shelters, water and sanitation facilities, livelihood assistance, and other infrastructures such as schools and evacuation centers.
There are also hygiene promotion, community-managed disaster risk reduction trainings, community organizing and ecosystem rehabilitation services.
Currently, there are 11 Caritas Internationalis Member Organizations helping typhoon Yolanda survivors in the country. These are: Caritas Austria, Caritas USA (Catholic Relief Services), Caritas Germany, Caritas Italiana, Caritas Switzerland, Caritas Czech, Caritas Netherlands (Cordaid), Caritas Canada (Development & Peace), Caritas Belgium, Caritas Luxembourg and CHARIS Singapore.
Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based umbrella organization of 165 Catholic charities worldwide which includes NASSA/Caritas Philippines, is currently headed by Cardinal Luis Antonio as its first Asian president.
Palo Archbishop John Du blesses the ‘Yolanda’ marker in Tanauan, Leyte during the 3rd Yolanda commemoration. (Photo: NASSA/Caritas Philippines)
A flash mob by the youth volunteers from the Sto. Niῆo Parish opens the “True Heroes of Yolanda” photo exhibit organized by NASSA/Caritas Philippines in a mall in Tacloban city. (Photo: NASSA/Caritas Philippines)
A Yolanda survivor from Palawan, Prudencio Calis, proudly shows the film poster featuring his story of heroism as leader of the indigenous people during the special screening of the 1st Caritas Film Festival featuring the “True Heroes of Yolanda from the 9 worst hit provinces of Yolanda. (Photo: NASSA/Caritas Philippines)
. Caritas Palo Director Fr. Al Cris Badana gave an award to a Yolanda survivor from Leyte who displayed heroism and served as an inspiration to other persons with disability in Tolosa, Leyte. (Photo: NASSA/Caritas Philippines)