Canadian rescues Filipina fiancée from typhoon; marries her


Sunday, November 24th,  2013

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Yes.

This word was repeated three times by 31-year-old Canadian Houssam Hammoudi  when asked by the Imam, a Muslim priest, if he was accepting his Filipina  fiancée Mary Grace Acojedo, 22, to be his wife until the day of judgment.

The two were wed in a simple Islamic ceremony inside one of the private rooms  of a private hospital in Cebu City, more than a week after Hammoudi rescued  Acojedo, who was severely injured when supertyphoon Yolanda (international name  Haiyan) devastated her village in Ormoc City in Leyte province; and literally  carried her in his arms to safely bring her to a hospital here.

Grace Houssam Hammoudi Better After Yolanda

Dressed in a white-knitted blouse, Acojedo – unable to walk, her left arm on  a sling, and stitches crisscrossing her face – sat on the hospital bed as the  Imam read the ceremonial rites.

Hammoudi wore a white shirt bearing the print, “Bangon Ormoc” and khaki short  pants during the ceremony.

They were joined by Acojedo’s mother, Grace; her older brother, Nathaniel;  her youngest sister, Merry Christelle; and the bride’s six-year-old son, John  Allen.

Their loved ones observed the ceremony in silence.

Nathaniel took pictures of the event with the use of his smart phone while  Grace, Merry Christelle and John Allen were seated on the long chair beside Mary  Grace’s hospital bed.

Mary Grace just gargled mouthwash, before the wedding  rites.  Unlike other brides who had time to get a wedding gown and had  their faces made up, Mary Grace simply changed to a white-knitted blouse bought  by her mother Grace.

Grace brushed her daughter’s long hair to remove the  tangles and put on baby oil it to make it shiny and tidy.

Grace also bought the “Bangon Ormoc” white shirt for  Houssam, which he gladly wore during the wedding rites.

Mary Grace told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that they  were supposed to have a wedding rite in May next year when Houssam would be  coming back to the country. They had prepared the guest list, the reception and  wedding venue.

Mary Grace, a single mother, said she and Houssam, a  Canadian-born laboratory engineer working for a research development company in  Montreal, met on Facebook eight months ago and developed a liking for each  other.

Since then, they had been chatting on the internet and  “saw” each other via webcam on Skype. Last September, on Skype, Houssam proposed  marriage. But it was only on Nov. 19, a Tuesday, that the Canadian finally said  to her face to face.

They both wore a silver wedding ring, which, according  to Mary Grace, Houssam bought for P5,000.

Houssam said he finally decided to tie the knot with  Mary Grace after they both made it through the aftermath of the typhoon.

“It’s the real stuff that we passed through,” he told  the Philippine Daily Inquirer after their wedding rite on Saturday night.

Houssam and Mary Grace had been constantly  communicating through Facebook and Skype days before supertyphoon Yolanda made  landfall on November 8.

The day Yolanda slammed through Eastern Visayas, Mary  Grace was no longer online as all communication lines went down in areas where  Yolanda passed through.

Houssam said he was able to contact Mary Grace’s  brother, Nathaniel, a few days later and was told that Grace, the mother, was in  a coma and that Mary Grace’s son John Allen had a broken wrist.

“When I was looking for Mary Grace, all they were  telling me was that she was okay… I have to see it with my own eyes,” he said.

A week later, on Nov. 14, Houssam arrived in Cebu after  taking a direct flight from his hometown Montreal.

He checked into a hotel in downtown Cebu City but he  was so worried about the lack of news on Mary Grace that soon after he checked  in, he took a backpack and immediately headed for the port of Cebu.

By 11 a.m. of the same day, Houssam was already on  board a ferry sailing for Ormoc and reached that city at 2 p.m. He was fetched  at the port by Nathaniel and was brought to a private clinic where he found Mary  Grace in bad shape.

Mary Grace broke her jaw, left leg, left arm, wrist and  some fingers and had deep cuts in the face and body. She badly needed surgery  including one that would save her left leg from amputation.

“I told my mother not to let him come here and to  inform Houssam that I was okay. I did not expect that he would come since he  lives so far away from here,” said Mary Grace in Cebuano.

Without hesitation, Houssam made a decision to get her  out of Ormoc. He immediately paid for her medical bills. Since nobody in the  clinic would lend her a wheelchair, Houssam carried her out and walked for 15  minutes before they found a tricycle that took them to the port area.

It was also a struggle for them to get out of Ormoc  City at that time since most ticketing offices had sold their ferry tickets  after thousands of passengers from typhoon-ravaged Tacloban City flocked there  to get to Cebu.

Houssam said he had to ask the Philippine Coast Guard  (PCG) to facilitate their immediate transport to Cebu.

A Coast Guard officer, whose name he could not recall,  facilitated their transport from Ormoc City to this city on board a ferry. They  were accompanied by Grace, Merry Christelle, Nathaniel, and John Allen.

After arriving in Cebu at around midnight of Nov. 15,  Houssam took Mary Grace to a private hospital where she underwent further  surgery.

Houssam Hammoudi has spent close to half a million  pesos for Mary Grace’s medical care, including a series of surgeries.

He launched a blog called “Operation Saving Grace”  where he narrated how he ended up in Yolanda’s Ground Zero and appealed for  donations.

“I don’t know until now how I made it out of Ormoc with  her. I still cannot believe it. I realized that no matter what I could do,  nothing would have prepared me for this. It was more like special forces  situation. If I waited only a few days, she could have lost her leg,” Hammoudi  said in his blog posted on Nov. 16.

Two days since his blog went live, he was able to raise  close to half a million pesos, which will be used for Mary Grace’s continuing  treatment.

Grace thanked Houssam for what he has done for her  daughter.

Grace said this would be Mary Grace’s third life.

Mary Grace told the Inquirer that she had complications  and almost died when she was still a baby.

When she was pregnant with his son, John Allen, she  nearly lost her life.

“(Mary Grace) was hemorrhaging and no hospital in Ormoc  would take her in. I brought her here to Cebu city and the doctors brought her  back to life,” said Grace.

The newly wed couple are now planning to migrate to  Canada, along with John Allen, once the major surgery on Mary Grace’s wrist,  chin and leg are completed.

In the meantime, Houssam said he would do some  home-based work via the internet from this city while looking after Mary Grace.

Houssam has sold his newly bought car in Montreal to  raise funds for Mary Grace. He also thanked his company for helping him raise  money to help in Mary Grace’s recovery.

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House Roof that Crushed Grace Story of true Love: How one man and the Internet helped save a Yolanda victim

Grace’s house, at least what’s left of it.

Grace Houssam Hammoudi Yolanda Love Story Story of true Love: How one man and the Internet helped save a Yolanda victim

Above: Houssam and Grace on their way to Cebu.


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23 Responses to “Canadian rescues Filipina fiancée from typhoon; marries her”

  1. Faisal Khan Says:

    May God bless these people

  2. Muslim Saves Filipina Fiance | Filipino Women Says:

    […] Canadian rescues Filipina fiancée from typhoon; marries her […]

  3. Andrew Says:

    God bless you both. Good luck for your future together.

  4. kathrina Says:


  5. Gordon MacLaren Says:
    Please ask for Gordon when you get back.

  6. Ronald Says:

    This is real love in the truest sense of the word.

  7. Milagros hesham met wally Says:


  8. carmela Says:

    two thumbs up for houssam and Praise the Lord in the Highest for giving third life for Mary Grace…:-)

  9. Shahram Gh Says:

    thx man , ur a real man and i want to thx god finally made a good arab in world , ur the first and last arab i will respect for ever

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  13. Nirmal Bandarawelage Says:

    This Houssam is a fraud. His true colours have now surfaced because he has now found a new woman in Colombia and living a new life. So what happened to Grace and her son now? He just abandoned them after bringing to Canada. The saddest part is that he used all the money that was granted by well wishes for Grace and her son for his personal benefits. Even his mother is involved they say. He has even cancelled the sponsorship of Grace to Canada who is now at the mercy of the Filipino community. He should be brought to justice and put behind bars for this. Please read Grace’s Facebook page to know the truth of what has happened to her.

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