Parishes give shelter to evacuees

By Myrna S. Bermudo


Fifteen Churches in the Archdiocese of Caceres opened their doors to offer safe temporary shelter to evacuees from risk areas in Camarines Sur.


According to Caritas Caceres, 300 families or 1500 individuals sought safety in parish churches in communities affected by Severe Typhoon Paeng. In Buhi, LGU’s evacuation centers, overflowed. Thus, families from across Lake Buhi from the barangays of San Buenaventura, Sta. Cruz and Ipil were accommodated in the formation hall of Buhi parish.


Fr. Antonio Rex Palaya shared that “42 families or 172 individuals from sitios Pascang and Pangpang of Tambo parish in Buhi were accommodated in Tambo chapel, parish church and in the parish hall.”


Caritas-Caceres Naga dispatched three teams as part of their Emergency Humanitarian Response bringing packed relief goods. Team 1 went to Bula, headed by Fr. Marc Real, director of Caritas Caceres, Team 2 with Fr. Erwin Bismonte went to Partido area, and Team 3 together Cecilia Albino, visited Tambo, Buhi and neighbouring parishes.


Families are in need of food, water, thermal kits and hygiene kits in the evacuation places.


Based on the reports by the Parish Disaster Response Team (PaDRe) volunteers, the following parishes opened their doors for families seeking temporary shelters: Tabgon, Bikal and Guijalo of Caramoan town; Presentacion, San Rafael, Tigaon; Cagliliog, Tinambac; Sabang, San Jose; Sibaguan and Omalo Mission in Sangay; Buhi parish and Tambo in Buhi; Sta Rafaela School in Abella; Camaligan, Gainza and St. Jude Parish in Bato.


“PaDRe volunteers provide data about the status of the families that sought shelter, from the barangay up to the parish level, “ said Michael Ramos, Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) Coordinator. “Their tasks are not limited in providing report. They also in-charge of the identification of beneficiaries and relief distribution. PaDRe volunteers also draft and implement contingency plan of parishes. “


Caritas Caceres has established PaDRe volunteers in 85 parishes. There are 93 parishes in the Archdiocese of Caceres all of which has received orientation regarding Parish Disaster Response Team. Caritas Caceres considers PaDRe as “Katuwang sa Panahon nin Kalamidad.”


DRRM orientation was conducted for the seven parishes of the Vicariate of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in the Naga Cathedral Pastoral Center last October 22, “ said Tere Esmeralda - Medina of Caritas Caceres. The speakers were: Fr. Marcel Emmanuel Real, Director of Caritas Caceres, Teresa Medina and Michael Ramos.


The PaDRe Team is the emergency response unit of a parish. The team provides immediate response during disasters. It is an ad hoc unit structure of the social services committee of the parish pastoral council (PPC) that is activated during disasters. It works closely with Caritas - Caceres, the humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Archdiocese of Caceres.


Who donated for the relief goods ? Mostly the funds are from Alay Kapwa. Alay Kapwa is a day where Filipino Catholics are enjoined to contribute to the needs of the poor through a special collection made on that day. It is commemorated on Holy Week. During the pandemic, it was commemorated on the feast of Christ the King. Some parishes also make appeals for contribution during Sunday second collection.


“Gains from the Bishop Francisco Gainza Trade Fair were also used for the disaster response by Caritas Caceres,” Tere Esmeralda - Medina said.


God’s word teaches that our brothers and sisters are the prolongation of the incarnation for each of us: “As you did it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). The way we treat others has a transcendent dimension: “The measure you give will be the measure you get” (Mt 7:2). It corresponds to the mercy which God has shown us: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Lk 6:36-38).”What these passages make clear is the absolute priority of “going forth from ourselves toward our brothers and sisters” as one of the two great commandments which ground every moral norm and as the clearest sign for discerning spiritual growth in response to God’s completely free gift. (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel [Evangelii Gaudium], no. 179)