Filipino typhoon hero wants to stay in community she loves

Maria Margate with family

Mention the name of Maria Rosevilla Margate and many of the residents of the Philippines community known as Barangay 54A in Taclaban nod approvingly. They know exactly where to find her, reports the Catholic News Service.



People tell stories of her kindness and friendship. Maria and her husband, Emmanuel, have lived in the community just a block from Redemptorist-run Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church since 1983. For years, they say, Maria Margate has helped her neighbours in need.

Just like November 8, the day Typhoon Haiyan made a shambles of much of the central Philippines. Maria Margate's effort to shelter dozens of neighbours in her family's concrete-walled home at the peak of the storm is well-known in the barangay. For that, people are grateful.

She considers her actions nothing extraordinary. 'I'm just a good neighbour, maybe,' she said in an interview last week, seated at a small table in her dining room that is protected only by a tarp.

But her story illustrates the close bonds she has forged in her community and the devout Catholic faith she practices in prayer and attending daily Mass. She recalled awakening before dawn that day, hearing the wind rising in intensity, driving heavy rain onto the roof of her two-storey home.

'I saw the wind is getting stronger and stronger. So I go down and I call all my neighbours. "Please come up. Please come up. The wind is getting stronger and stronger."

'Some of them said we'll cook our food, we will keep our stuff. I told them, "No, it's not important. The important (thing) is to come up. Please come up".'

She continued door to door as the waters began to rise. One family, two families, three more. Finally she had to get to safety herself. She thought that as many as 80 people were in the small house.

They first gathered in the dining room on the first floor with a few in an upper bedroom. The roof above the dining room began vibrating in the wailing wind. Realising it could be torn off at any moment - eventually it was - she ushered everyone upstairs to the bedroom, where a sturdier portion of the roof offered more protection.

FULL STORY Woman who saved dozens wants to stay in Tacloban community she loves (Catholic News Service)