Lebanon Parish Feels Philippines’ Pain

  • Cherry Garcia of Grantham wipes the tears of her daughter Gaby, 11, following a prayer service at Sacred Heart Church in Lebanon, Saturday, November 16, 2013, for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the southern region of the Philippines last week. Garcia is from Manila, in the nothern region less affected by the storm, but seeing the death and destruction has been difficult for her family as they think of friends and their families that have been suffering. Sacred Heart is collecting cash, food and clothing over the next two weeks to send to the recovery effort.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Cherry Garcia of Grantham wipes the tears of her daughter Gaby, 11, following a prayer service at Sacred Heart Church in Lebanon, Saturday, November 16, 2013, for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the southern region of the Philippines last week. Garcia is from Manila, in the nothern region less affected by the storm, but seeing the death and destruction has been difficult for her family as they think of friends and their families that have been suffering. Sacred Heart is collecting cash, food and clothing over the next two weeks to send to the recovery effort.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connie Dragnev of Hanover prays during a service for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines at Sacred Heart Church in Lebanon Saturday, November 16, 2013. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Connie Dragnev of Hanover prays during a service for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines at Sacred Heart Church in Lebanon Saturday, November 16, 2013.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Cherry Garcia of Grantham wipes the tears of her daughter Gaby, 11, following a prayer service at Sacred Heart Church in Lebanon, Saturday, November 16, 2013, for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the southern region of the Philippines last week. Garcia is from Manila, in the nothern region less affected by the storm, but seeing the death and destruction has been difficult for her family as they think of friends and their families that have been suffering. Sacred Heart is collecting cash, food and clothing over the next two weeks to send to the recovery effort.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Connie Dragnev of Hanover prays during a service for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines at Sacred Heart Church in Lebanon Saturday, November 16, 2013. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Lebanon — At a special service yesterday dedicated to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, the pastor of Sacred Heart Church urged parishioners to reach out with prayers and support. And he did so in both Filipino and English.

“Where there is help, there is hope for the future,” said the Rev. Dr. William Kaliyadan, who entered into the priesthood in the Philippines and lived there for 12 years.

The archipelago may be more than 8,000 miles away from Lebanon, but the devastation is close to home for the parish, which includes 15 Filipino families, three of whose relatives’ houses were badly damaged or destroyed. The church is collecting medical supplies, clothing and other items for the families, along with money to pay for shipping and help with relief efforts. The donations will be sent directly to contacts in their hometowns.

Michelle Apigo, who is organizing the collection, said her family lives in Manila, which was not damaged. But many of her friends weren’t so lucky.

“There’s a big need in the Philippines right now,” she said. “It is very sad.”

Packages generally take two or three months to arrive by boat, but the delay doesn’t worry her.

“Even if it takes a while, because of the needs and big losses for the family of our friends, it doesn’t matter, because it is going to take a long time for the family to recover from it,” she said. They will continue to collect and send items every month or so, “if we have boxes and the funds to ship them.”

One of the most powerful storms ever recorded, the typhoon displaced more than 600,000 people. The Associated Press reported yesterday that 3,633 have people died, 12,487 were injured and 1,179 are unaccounted for. John Ging, a top U.N. humanitarian official in New York, told the AP that 107,500 people have received food assistance so far and 11 foreign and 22 domestic medical teams are in operation.

Yesterday’s service, organized just the day before, included songs and prayers in Filipino and drew about three dozen people.

“Prayer and faith is part of life in the Philippines,” said Kaliyadan, who ministered in a parish with 35,000 people in Isabela, a province in Luzon. “(It) helps us still laugh, celebrate life and reach out to others to help.”

After the final hymn, people gathered for a lunch of what Apigo called Filipino “soul food,” including chicken and rice porridge and a dessert made from sticky rice. In the church basement, they shared updates on families and friends, sometimes crying, sometimes laughing.

A photograph on Arnalyn Asis’ cell phone showed broken houses and fields flooded with muddy water. It was Dulangan, the tiny village where her parents live, and news from the remote area is just becoming available.

In order to get cell reception, her brother had to climb up a coconut tree, Asis said with a chuckle. Her parents’ home is gone, but her father insists on staying in the village.

“They’re tough,” the Wilder resident said. “They just survive.”

Even so, she worries about whether they will have enough to eat.

“It’s so hard to swallow this food because people back home are starving,” she said.

The church is collecting following items: clothing, especially sweaters, summer clothes and undergarments; canned goods; toiletries; non-liquid medications for fever, cough, cold and diarrhea; tarps; blankets; instant noodles; crackers; cereal; granola bars; flashlights; batteries; and diapers.

Items can be placed in boxes at the entrances to the church or, on weekdays, on the porch of Bethany House, the office behind the church. Checks can be made out to Sacred Heart Parish. For more information, call Apigo at 603-727-8331. The first shipment will go out on Nov. 21. Donations can also be made online to the Philippine Red Cross at www.redcross.org.ph/donate.php. The Diocese of Manchester is collecting money for Catholic charities in the Philippines.

Valley News staff writer Maggie Cassidy contributed to this report. Aimee Caruso can be reached at acaruso@vnews.com or 603-727-3210.

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