Brisbane Filipino community chaplain Fr Marce Singson said his heart was broken to see the damage Typhoon Haiyan caused in his native country.
- The Catholic Leader
He said his people were resilient but Typhoon Haiyan, the 25th storm to hit the islands this year, had been more than they expected. Fr Singson is now calling for Australians to open their hearts and their wallets to those who survived.
The call came a day after he returned from a visit to the area and during a requiem Mass for Typhoon Haiyan's victims. More than 500 Filipinos from throughout Brisbane archdiocese attended the Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Church, Acacia Ridge, on November 23.
Fr Singson told the congregation that two weeks after the typhoon, the death toll had reached thousands in the city of Tacloban alone. "If you know Tacloban city, the population is that of Sydney and Melbourne and eighty per cent of Tacloban is wiped out," he said. "I talked to one man, he said his children died, his wife died, his house was wiped out, he is alone."
Fr Singson said survivors, along with coping with no food, water or shelter, had to contend with "robbers and escaped prisoners". He said his 11 siblings and 73 nieces and nephews in Ormoc City had survived the typhoon but lost their homes and possessions. "All their 17 houses which I built myself 16 years ago (are) wiped out and I experienced sleeping on the ground with my families with no roof and you can see the sky at night, but it is good to be with them," he said.
Fr Singson said the world was seeing only half of the damage on their televisions. "Once you are there you will see the fullness of the tragedy and once you are there you remain quiet. You don't ask questions, you just see the reality," he said. "And sometimes when you listen to the people, the victims, you just get quiet and you are not aware that your tears are already dropping down. "That was my experience."
Photo: Members of the Filipino community at a requiem Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Church, Acacia Ridge, for victims of Typhoon Haiyan