by Dennis Alger, Wider Church Ministries Team, Central Pacific Conference, UCC
First, you need a map. Those of us who are old enough to remember the assassination of President Kennedy also remember 6th Grade Geography Class, but many of us do not know much about the Philippines. Oh, that’s right, it takes some effort to find a useful map; I suggest Powell’s Books.
Now that you are back from Powell’s and you are inside your warm and dry house and have had your coffee made with safe-for-drinking water along with a snack from your abundant pantry (I know, you’ve been meaning to donate some of the things people actually like to eat to a local charity), and your family members are enjoying their day—safe, healthy, secure, all accounted for—open your map.
Big nation, isn’t it? The Visayas are rather in the middle, south of Luzon, north of Mindanao—where many of our friends live, friends via our partnership (Northwest Mindanao United Church of Christ in the Philippines-Central Pacific Conference United Church of Christ). You’ll notice that the recent typhoon blasted through Samar, Leyte, and on to CebuCity before leaving for Vietnam and China. Our friends further south were spared, this time. In recent years they’ve been hit several times. Typically, the Philippines survives 20 major storms, typhoons, per year. This last one was number 24.
Filipinos point to climate change, as do scientists around the world (those not employed by the fossil fuel corporations), for the increased power and frequency of these storms; they also, as do other thoughtful persons, recognize the shifts in rainfall patterns and temperature ranges. Many postings on Facebook indicate the frustration with governments unwilling to address the issue.
Your map details the complexity of travel. These are islands easily cut off from one another when harbors and bridges and airports are destroyed. Recently CNN reporting criticized the relief efforts without grasping some of these logistical realities. I’ve found Aljazeera America (DIRECTV 347) to be more accurate and thoughtful, about everything.
Now you want to help. Monitor http://www.globalministries.org/. Give through the UCC or other credible channels.
Zion UCC has a partnership with Gingoog City UCCP on Mindanao. We’ve sent schools supplies and other items this summer and fall. Pastor Lingling (Ligaya San Francisco) asked if we’d mind if she donated some of the items to the affected areas. Our friends there are doing what they can—so we can as well. We’re collecting more lightweight clothing and first aid supplies; we’ve sent money via XOOM.com and LBC.com. Contact me for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.