Subdued Christmas after the deadly typhoon, “Please don’t forget us!”

Hundreds of thousands of people in the Philippines have been marking Christmas, without homes, adequate food and water, electricity, and mobile connections following a deadly Super Typhoon Odette (Rai) on December 16, 2021.

Heavy rainfall, strong and gusty winds impacted several areas around the storm’s path. Many areas across the Visayas and Mindanao lost electricity with several provinces and areas being deprived further of communication services. Downed trees obstructed many roadways, and flooding was a major problem across the affected regions, particularly Bohol, where the storm was described as “one of the worst for the province”. Rivers also overflowed across Cagayan de Oro, while numerous buildings sustained damages. Based on the reports, the hardest-hit areas include Surigao City in Northern Mindanao, Surigao Island, Dinagat Island, Maasin City in the southern Visayas, and Cebu Island.

The number of people affected continues to rise, with over 1.8 million people now in need, more than 600,000 displaced in cramped and damp evacuation camps, and at least 375 casualties. Heavy rains caused floods and storm surges that reached up to 6 ft in some areas with landslides blocking major roads and highways and destroying hospitals and airports.

It was the most powerful storm in the Philippines since Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which killed more than 6,500 people and caused widespread destruction in 2013. Also, it occurred exactly on the 10th anniversary of Typhoon Sendong (Washi) that in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan claimed more than one thousand lives, and left thousands practically with nothing.

Typhoon Odette (Rai) occurred at the start of the Christmas Novena, known also as Misa de Aguinaldo (“gift mass”). The people in the Philippines were preparing to celebrate with joy the Nativity of the Lord. Unfortunately, their joy turned into sadness because of what had happened.  Many people were affected by this calamity; also, the places of our SCJ priests and seminarians in the Surigao area, Bohol and Leyte were devastated by the typhoon, including the newly finished and dedicated parish church in Talisay, Hilongos in Leyte. Many houses of the SCJ priests and candidates, chapels, and churches were left without roofs over their heads, while the others were completely destroyed.

For many people it was a really sad Christmas, but not without hope for the future. They believe that the Spirit of Bayanihan, helping others without expecting rewards, is still alive. “Please don’t forget us” is their cry to be heard.

“Our Confrere, Fr. Arthur Guevara, SCJ reported to us the basic data of damaged and lost in Talisay, Hilongos:Totally damaged houses: 814 – Partially damaged houses: 1,612number of households affected: 1,612 – Casualties: 1 death, 1 injured. – Totally damaged chapels/church 3 – Partially damaged chapels/church: 12. Services that have been rendered so far: – Free water from the parish well – Distribution of some remaining sacks of rice – Payment of tree cutting for families who cannot afford for use of lumber to repair damages on houses.

In connection with this, the Philippine Region is extending some help for them. We also pledge the generosity and solidarity of your respected communities to lighten the burden of our brothers and sisters in Talisay, Hilongos in this very difficult time. Your small amount is already a big help to them.(From the letter of Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJSuperior of the SCJ Philippine Region).

If you wish to help, please contact us for the instructions at the following address: with the subject: Typhoon Odette or call/text 09177029532. All the donations will be forwarded to the people affected by the typhoon. Thank you very much in advance! God bless us all!