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UM pastor in Tacloban recalls typhoon ordeal

Typhoon destruction at the Tacloban airport and beyond. Photo by Julliane Love De Jesus.

Photo by Julliane Love De Jesus.

Typhoon destruction at the Tacloban airport and beyond.

November 15, 2013

By Gladys Mangiduyos*

At a certain point after Typhoon Haiyan nearly destroyed the Philippines city of Tacloban, the Rev. Iris Picardal Terana was wondering if anyone cared.

Picardal Terana, a United Methodist pastor who was thought to be missing for a brief time, recalled her ordeal via text message.

Having been isolated in Tacloban City for five days after the Nov. 8 typhoon, she said she broke into tears when she felt nobody cared.

“I cried last Wednesday evening, I can’t send text messages, they all failed, I can’t even receive any message…I felt nobody cared…,” she wrote.

Iris means ‘rainbow’ in Greek, and Picardal Terana said she never lost hope even after the fury of floods and violent winds from Haiyan, known locally as Typhoon Yolanda. And, finally, relief supplies are beginning to trickle in.

“We will live day by day through God’s grace…,” she said.

Typhoon takes major toll

With the official death toll now at 3,621, Tacloban City  has just started burying a hundred bodies and has been reeling as it tries to recover from Haiyan’s unfathomable devastation.

According to Picardal Terana, two members of Tacloban United Methodist Church — the sibling of the Rev. Lelito “Lito” Luana, her associate pastor, and his grandchild — died as a result of the typhoon. The mother of the child is missing.

Luana had traveled before the storm to Ormoc City for medicine for his Parkinson’s Disease and had informed the Rev. David Cosmiano, Eastern Visayas District superintendent for Leyte, Samar, Bohol and Cebu, that he was safe there.

The church building in Tacloban, which also served as the associate pastor’s house, was destroyed as were the homes of other church members.  “Especially those in shoreline, where tsunami-like water engulfed them, their houses were totally washed out,” said Picardal Terana.

She said that her family, including her husband, Jhonril, and their 2-year-old son and other church members are staying in the house of her relatives because there have been threats of looting. “Every night, all the males are on guard,” she said. “All of us, women and children, are together when we sleep due to the threats of looting.”

Now, the pastor added, they feel more assured of security because more armed forces have been deployed to the city.

Other church members have been living in jeepneys, the most common form of public transportation in the Philippines.

Since relief goods have finally arrived, food is less of a worry, Picardal Terana  reported. Church members also need items such as wood, roofing materials, roof sealants, nails, big mosquito nets and mosquito repellent lotions and sprays.

*Mangiduyos is a deaconess in the United Methodist Philippines Central Conference and a professor at Wesleyan University-Philippines in Cabanatuan City. News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Support UMCOR’s relief and recovery work in the Philippines by contributing to International Disaster Response, Advance #982450.