A powerful typhoon struck the Philippines, killing nearly 400 people while leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Father Ricardo Virtudazo is seen standing in a water pool in his typhoon ravaged church in the southern Philippines delivering Christmas Day Mass for dozens of devotees who wished for new roofs and better weather.
After Supertyphoon Rai struck the archipelago, killing almost 400 people and leaving hundreds upon thousands homeless, survivors held on to their families and faith for more than a week.
Joy Parera (31), who was attending Christmas Mass with her husband at San Isidro Labrador Parish Church in Alegria, on Mindanao’s northern tip, stated that it is important that all of us are safe.
After Typhoon Rai struck the area on December 16, a light rain fell on the pews of the damaged church. The roof has now been left with a gaping crack.
As they gathered in the church, which was decorated with Christmas decorations, devotees wore masks and prayed for a better next year.
Virtudazo said that there is still hope.
Despite the hardships they face, they have faith in God.
Christmas is one the most important events on the Christian calendar. Families in the Catholic-majority Philippines often gather to share a meal.
But, the widespread destruction caused to the country by Rai in the central and south regions has dampened celebrations. Many survivors pleaded for water and food.
Mindanao and Siargao as well as Dinagat, Dinagat, and Bohol islands were among the worst hit by the storm. It knocked out electricity and tore down roofs.
The extent of the damage, the lack of internet or mobile signal in many areas and the depleted government funds after the COVID-19 response hampered efforts to distribute aid.
Nardel Victorente stated that his Christmas wish for someone was to buy a roof for his Alegria home after it was damaged by Rai.
Vicente was jobless and had little money so he said that his family would not have the ability to cook a holiday meal this year.
The 38-year old said that in previous years, we had chicken, pork, and spaghetti whatever was available to us.
He added, “It’s okay if you were still alive.” It’s better than celebrating Christmas with a loved one who is gone.
Marites Sotis will often serve meat, spring rolls, or salad to her family.
We won’t be able to afford them this year, Sotis, 53 years old, explained to AFP in Placer (a coastal municipality) where the storm decimated most of her family’s coconut tree trees.
You can make do with spaghetti.
After not receiving any government assistance, some survivors in Surigao City have been begging motorists for food and money for days.
Inaga Edulzura, 41 years old, stated that she would like to get a package of spaghetti to cook for her families. They would be content with sliced bread.
She told AFP that her only request was for Christmas Day to be sunny and bright.
You can also eat.