Finding faith in Yolanda’s wake

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Sunday, April 20, 2014


VIRGINIA Fernandez instructed a decorator to fix the spear stabbed into Jesus Christ’s side.

It was a busy Good Friday morning for Fernandez who supervised the decoration of her family’s carroza outside the Bantayan town plaza.

When super typhoon Yolanda struck last Nov. 8, the roof that covered the carroza carrying the life-sized images of Jesus Christ on the cross and four others got ripped off.

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Winds tore the carroza apart, sending the icons to the floor. But except for the bent spear of a Roman centurion, the icons were all intact.

“It’s a miracle of miracles,” said Fernandez, whose family has been joining the traditional procession of carrozas during Holy Week in the island off the northwestern coast of mainland Cebu for about 60 years.

'Casualties’

Not all images survived the typhoon without any damages.

Malen Hubahib-Gardner had the broken fingers and toes of some icons on her family’s carroza temporarily replaced with clay ones.

The typhoon, which killed at least 15 people in the town, blew off the roof of their ancestral house where the icons were kept. The icons fell in every direction.

It may take some time, Hubahib-Gardner said, before they can restore the damaged images, including the one of Jesus Christ on the cross which sustained cracks in the shoulders.

The procession last Friday night featured 15 carrozas, owned by different families. Around the same number were seen during the Maundy Thursday procession.

Thousands came to watch. Msgr. Alfredo Romanillos, parish priest of the Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church in Bantayan, said more people came to Holy Week masses this year.

“After the typhoon, people who didn’t participate in church activities started going back to church,” he said in an interview.

Unlike last year, when one family who owns a carroza failed to join for financial reasons, all 15 families with carrozas joined the Good Friday procession despite the effects of the typhoon.

The typhoon, Fernandez said, has only strengthened their faith and devotion.

Conflicting reports Msgr. Romanillos said the crowd who turned up for the processions was just as big as in previous years. But Rizalina Descartin,
who has been going to Bantayan every Holy Week since she was a child, said the crowd last Thursday and Friday was smaller than in previous years.

“Dinhi sa una daghan gyud tawo maglisud ka’g lihok (Before, this area
was so crowded you could hardly move),” the 45-year-old housewife, who was holding her two-week-old granddaughter at the town’s harbor, as she waited for the procession to start.

Descartin, wife of a fisherman, was among the thousands living in surrounding islets who came to the town for the processions.

She, her husband, four grownup children and the infant arrived on Thursday after a one-hour travel on board a pumboat from the island barangay of Botigues.

For three days, they would cook their food on a concrete surface at the harbor and sleep in their pumboat.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 20, 2014.

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