Faith in the time of earthquake-A A +A
Saturday, October 19, 2013
LAST Tuesday’s earthquake didn’t stop Talisaynons from celebrating their annual fiesta in honor of St. Teresa de Avila. I’m sure some held outdoor sing-alongs and binge drinking sessions, but Rosalina Abarquez, a resident of Barangay San Roque, told Sun.Star Cebu’s Justin K. Vestil that she and other fiesta-goers went to the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Teresa de Avila in Barangay Poblacion to pray for safety and offer candles.
“Ginoo ra gyud ang atong dampanan ani (Only God is our refuge),” Abarquez said.
Some residents of Duljo Fatima in Cebu City trooped to the only open space they could find in the barangay: the grounds of the Carlock Public School. There they stayed while they waited for the tremors to subside, praying.
Two candle vendors at the Basilica del St. Niño thought it was the end of the world. Leonisa Lacio, who has been selling candles for the last 30 years, watched in horror as the two buildings in front of the basilica swayed side to side. Gina Rosada swore she saw smoke coming out of the belfry right before it collapsed.
“I just prayed to the Sto. Niño to stop the earthquake, but the rumbling noise from inside the ground wouldn’t stop,” Rosada said in Cebuano.
Hazel Joy Celestial and her family set up a makeshift bed on the road in Barangay Apas, Cebu City where they slept last Tuesday night. Fear of the aftershocks forced them out of their house. Celestial admitted that prayers got her through the night… and the belief that, “God was protecting her.”
Julie Ann Advincula had spent over a year to prepare for her dream wedding. She and her now-husband even scheduled their honeymoon in Bohol. But as she stepped out of the elevator of a hotel with her flower girls and bearers on her big day, the ground began to shake violently.
“…I felt so helpless because I could not run in my gown and heels. I was with these children and I felt I was responsible for them. All I could do was kneel and pray to God to keep us safe,” Advincula told Linette Ramos-Cantalejo of Sun.Star Cebu.
In the “face of tragedy, uncertainties and circumstances beyond one’s control,” the Bible has this to say: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” That’s from Psalm 23:4 (NLT).
Shalaine Lucero, protective services unit head of the Department of Social Welfare and Development 7, says different people have different ways of coping with fear.
However, she didn’t elaborate. The digital recorder must have jammed. Or maybe her interview was cut off by an intense aftershock. Either way she left me hanging.
I’m in no way surprised that many Cebuanos, and Boholanos I assume, would turn to God in their time of great need. To say that religion plays an important role in local culture is to say that the sun inexorably rises in the east (also known as motherhood statement).
I, too, found myself praying as I stood under my bedroom doorway, hands clinging to both sides for balance while the world around me shook.
I’d been asleep moments before that. I’m not sure whether it was the deafening rumbling sound or the feeling of being tossed around in bed that woke me, but I did jump out and quickly headed for the door. When I finally got it opened, all I could see was the swaying chandelier above the stair landing.
I had two choices. I could make a dash for it—run downstairs and head outside--or stay under the doorframe. I stayed. I prayed. I don’t know why. I guess some things are best left unexplained. To quote George Michael: “’Cause I gotta have faith.”
And how am I coping so far? Well, for starters, I’m now quoting the Bible. And George Michael.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 20, 2013.