In The Ruins Of The Philippines Earthquake: Two Holy Statues Stand Alone, Bringing Faith, Hope

Survivors hear Mass in front of rubble


12:13 am | Thursday, October  17th, 2013

MADONNA STATUE AMID RUBBLE A statue of the Virgin  Mary and the Infant Jesus is set at a makeshift altar before a pile of stones  that was the 180-year-old Our Lady of Light Church in Loon, Bohol province, a  day after a 7.2-magnitude quake destroyed the church. MARIANNE  BERMUDEZ

MARIBOJOC, Bohol—Two statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary stand—without any  blemish—amid the ruins of two churches in Maribojoc and Loon towns following  Tuesday’s devastating earthquake. It was enough for residents to raise their  hopes that life will get better.

“It was a miracle,” Carol Ann Balansag said after residents of Barangay  (village) Poblacion were surprised to find the 18th-century statue standing  askew but without any scratch on the rubble of what used to be the Santa Cruz  Parish Church.

The same feeling of amazement was felt by at least 600 people staying in  makeshift tents on the church grounds of the Our Lady of Light Parish Church in  Barangay Napu in Loon town. They were teary-eyed when they saw the grotto of the  Birhen sa Kasilag (Our Lady of Light).

“The earthquake destroyed the church, but it spared our patron,” said Fr. Tom  Balatayo, one of the residents.

In Manila, Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle reminded Catholics to find  “faith in the midst of ruins” as he noted that the historic churches destroyed  by the earthquake needed something beyond physical reconstruction.

“Looking at the images of the churches crumbling, I could almost hear God’s  message to Saint Francis of Assisi: ‘Build my Church, rebuild my church,’” Tagle  said in his homily during Mass on the first day of the Philippine Conference on  New Evangelization (PCNE) in Manila on Wednesday,

Thousands from across the country and Asia attended the PCNE being held at  the University of Santo Tomas. Tagle said the event provided an avenue to  rejuvenate the ideals of Catholicism in the midst of secularist and modernist  influences buffeting its state.

“We’re opening this conference in the context of the earthquake that jolted  Cebu, Bohol and other parts of central Philippines,” he said, adding that seeing  the images of destroyed heritage churches broke his heart.

Mass in front of rubble

In Loon, about 600 evacuees attended the Mass officiated by the parish  priest, Fr. Joel Ruyeras, in front of the church ruins.

Balatayo said the Mass was an offering to the Blessed Virgin for sparing the  residents from the devastation that hit their town.

One of the evacuees, Amelia Sevilla, thanked the Blessed Virgin for  protecting her, her husband and their four children, even though they could  still feel the aftershocks.

Sevilla said she and her family fled to the church grounds for fear of a  tsunami after they saw the sea recede following the quake.

“It’s heartbreaking to see how these heritage churches, which became the  foundation of faith for hundreds of years, have now turned into rubble. We don’t  even know if they can still be used again,” Tagle said.

Among those destroyed or damaged during Tuesday’s temblor were centuries-old  churches in the towns of Baclayon, Loon, Loboc, Dauis, Dimiao, Loay and  Maribojoc—all national cultural treasures or national historical landmarks found  in Bohol.

Fund misuse issue

What was more saddening, Tagle said, was that the disaster happened at a time  when the country was still reeling from the effects of other natural calamities  and the government’s alleged misuse of funds.

“We cannot forget what happened to the people in Zamboanga, Jolo, Basilan,  Cotabato. Some are just recovering from the effects of the monsoon and Typhoon  ‘Santi,’ like the farmers of Nueva Ecija, farmers of Aurora, Quezon,” he said.

“And the people of the Philippines are still grappling with the horrendous  revelations these past months about the misuse of government funds,  contributions of simple Filipinos meant for social services,” he added.

Tagle spoke of the “daily typhoon of the poor, the abandoned, and the  forgotten, those who need to hear the good news.”

The three-day PCNE, dubbed as the Asian gathering of faith, will be  instrumental in reigniting not only the Filipino’s Catholic faith, but as well  as the Church’s mission of serving poor members of the society, he said.

It will focus on expounding the teachings and liturgy of the Church through a  tripartite objective of creating an experience of God in the context of the new  millennium, strengthening bonds of communion in the Philippine Church, and  inspiring the faithful to live by the spirit of mission.

New evangelization

Tagle said the meeting serves as a “response to the call for new  evangelization—a new way of being Church that responds to the emergent powerful  culture affected by developments in information technologies, new media and  social networking that influence the people’s way of thinking.”

He said he hoped the conference would help the delegates rekindle this kind  of love and make them better evangelists.

“How can you be teachers of the kingdom when you neglect justice and love of  God. Isn’t the kingdom of God about justice and peace? How can you be the bearer  of the good news when you seek praises and adulation, when you want honor  instead of mission?” he said.

“But how can we reconstruct the Church apart from Jesus the cornerstone. How  can we construct the Church without His life-giving word? How can we strengthen  the Church without the Holy Spirit who will transform hearts of stones into  living flesh and all of us into a living temple,” he said.

“How can we construct the Church without love that enables us to break from  egoism and self-interest in order to embrace God, neighbor, society and the  whole of creation?”

This, Tagle said, was the whole point of the PCNE, which calls for the  renewal of faith.

“It is a humble contribution to the construction and strengthening of the  Church rooted in Jesus, His words, in the Holy Spirit and in the mission in the  midst of ruins. Faith in the midst of ruins,” he said.

Restoration efforts

Bohol Gov. Edgardo Chatto said authorities would attempt to restore the  historic churches, but some may never look the same again. “The heritage  churches are also very close to the hearts of the Boholanos,” he said.

“Every piece of the church should be left untouched so that restoration  efforts can be easier,” he said. “It may not be a total restoration, but closest  to what it used to be before.”

Emilia Dalagan was sweeping grass outside her home near the 300-year-old  church called the Our Lady of the Assumption Shrine in Dauis on the resort  island of Panglao when the ground shook.

“The funeral car was crushed by falling debris from the front of the church.  The driver was able to get out,” she said.

The back, front and the right wing of the church were destroyed. The  structure was said to be made from corals cemented together with egg white.

Masses in tents

The head of the Manila Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission said Masses in  Bohol’s ruined churches need not be disrupted.

“Masses can be celebrated on a space adjacent to where the churches stood,”  Fr. Genaro Diwa said. These can also be held in makeshift tents within the  church compound.

“There is nothing wrong with that given the situation,” he noted. “[But]  there is no reason why the celebration of the Masses should be disrupted.”

A priest from Tagbilaran City, capital of Bohol, told the Inquirer in an  interview that the collapse of the heritage churches in the province was painful  to behold.

“There are plenty of parish-based schools in the entire Bohol province, hence  churches are most often the places where schoolchildren converge during breaks  and religious activities,” said Fr. Julian Lupot Jr., parochial vicar of the St.  Joseph the Worker Cathedral in Tagbilaran City.

God is still very merciful to the people of Bohol because He allowed the  tragedy to happen on a holiday, where there were no classes and no offices, said  Lupot, who is on study leave in Manila and has been doing pastoral care services  at hospitals in Muntinlupa City.—With reports from Tina G. Santos  and Jocelyn Uy in Manila; Romulo O. Ponte, Inquirer Southern Luzon; and  AP

Read more:

Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook


No man is an island,

Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thy friend’s

Or of thine own were:

Any man’s death diminishes me,

Because I am involved in mankind,

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 Responses to “In The Ruins Of The Philippines Earthquake: Two Holy Statues Stand Alone, Bringing Faith, Hope”

  1. Catholic4Life Says:

    Reblogged this on Catholic4Life.

  2. Apollo F. Salle Says:

    Well, as we all know, Pope Francis consecrated literally the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary last Sunday, Oct. 13, which also happens to be the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, which means that the provinces of Bohol and Cebu are already included in the consecration. And I believe that had Bohol and Cebu did not get consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the earthquake would have been much more devastating!

  3. Christianne Murrens Says:

    Now all the Pope has to do is specifically mention Russia in a consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and he will have done as she requested. A consecration of the world is wonderful but not what Our Lady requested. It has to specifically mention Russia and be done with all the priest and bishops of the world at the same time. Until that is done we will have wars and persecution of the Church.

  4. Rosa Says:

    Blessed are those whom Believe & Bless those whom do not……

  5. JMJ Says:

    Blessed Pope John Paul II has already consecrated Russia in 1982. Click on this link:

    • Catholic First Says:

      No he did not. In 1984 he consecrated the world but not Russia as Our Lady specifically requested – and must be done in union with all the bishops of the world at the same time. How hard can this be? This is what She asked for. She was quite clear, and I think She knows what she is doing! He did however deviate from his original consecration prayer with special mention of Russia – that it all. No consecration as the Mother of God requested. See We weep and wait still… If this is (statue) is the response of Our Lady, I think what she is saying is loud and clear. I would guess that if she was happy with the compliance of Her request, she would not be turning her back.

  6. In The Ruins Of The Philippines Earthquake: Two Holy Statues Stand Alone, Bringing Faith, Hope | Deaconjohn1987's Blog Says:

    […] In The Ruins Of The Philippines Earthquake: Two Holy Statues Stand Alone, Bringing Faith, Hope | Pea…. […]

  7. thomas Says:

    October 13 is also the anniversary of pope Leo xll vision just 33 years before Fatima……….heed this…….

  8. Dieu Says:

    Lord have Mercy,Lord have Mercy on Us.Amen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: