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Remember the real victims of the earthquake

MANILA (Mabuhay) : While the loss of centuries-old historical churches is indeed a terrible shame, the incoming president of the bishops’ conference, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, has warned people to keep their eyes on the ball and not to get too carried away about stone, bricks and mortar, and remember the human suffering.

A 7.2 points on the Richter Scale earthquake rocked the Visayas at 8.12am on October 15. A United States of America Geological Survey placed the epicentre under Bohol and Cebu, but the earth shook as far away as Negros Oriental, southern Leyte and Samar.

Archbishop Villegas explained that excessive mourning for the old buildings, despite their value as cultural heritage, which often functions to describe the identity of a whole area, is sorrow for our own loss.

He encouraged an outward concern, one for others, those who have lost everything, including loved ones among the over 160 dead, and are suffering from trauma after their terrifying experience.

“I think our focus should be on the needy, not ourselves,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who will take over the role as conference president on December 1.

“If at the point of a calamity people still think of my building, my church, my diocese… it is not Christ-like,” he told UCA News.

“We should focus all our attention and resources on Bohol and Cebu, because that’s where the needy are,” Archbishop Villegas continued.

Four national cultural treasures were among the more than 300-year-old churches that were destroyed, one of which was Cebu’s Basilica Minore de Santo, which simply collapsed.

In Cebu, the town hall was extensively damaged, which has left locals scratching their heads, as surrounding buildings did not seem to be affected. They are wondering if there were structural problems with the building, or whether the quality of construction was up to scratch.

Also in Cebu, a new building at the medical university collapsed. It had been erected on reclaimed land, which prompts the question as to whether the land had had adequate preparation for building or not.

The director of Caritas Philippines, Father Edwin Gariguez, said that local Church resources would not be adequate to respond to the huge tragedy and was calling on other diocese to open their arms, pockets and warehouses to the suffering people of the affected areas.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council estimates that 3.4 million people have been affected by the disaster.

Archbishop Villegas said that the earthquake was of such magnitude and scale that the whole country needs to club together in order to help those in need.

YouthPinoy is re-launching its Pedrito Dolls, which first came on the market during the public relations effort to make the now celebrity saint, Pedro Calungsod, known around the country.

The dolls are selling for 650 pesos ($120.25), their original price, and for every doll sold 100 pesos ($18.50) will go to the disaster relief fund.

 

The death toll had reached 161 by October 17 and authorities were expecting to find more bodies as they work their way through the rubble.