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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Faith lives in damaged houses

OPEN-AIR MASS. A year after the Nuestra Señora de la Luz Church in Loon, Bohol collapsed during the quake, its parishioners hear mass in a simple, temporary structure without walls. The church in Loon is one of the heritage structures the National Government can help replace. For now, churchgoers use plastic chairs and plain wooden benches. They celebrated their first fiesta after the quake last Sept. 8. (SUN.STAR PHOTO/ALLAN CUIZON)

MANY of Bohol’s faithful continue to hear mass under tents, a year after the earthquake.

Like many residents in Loon, Mellora Mansueto lost her home and a loved one during the earthquake. But instead of eroding her faith, the experience, she said, strengthened her belief.

She continues to hear mass on Sundays even if nothing is left of her church, except rubble. The Nuestra Señora de la Luz Church in Loon, a national heritage site, was destroyed during the earthquake.

Siguro daghan namo ang nagpasalamat kay hangtud karun, buhi lang gihapon mi (Like many here, I am thankful to be alive),” Mansueto told Sun.Star Cebu.

Mansueto’s mother-in-law, Celerina, died when a firewall fell on her while she was doing the laundry outside her house.

Hard times

Mansueto said life had been difficult since calamity struck.

Mokalit og dagan ang akong anak sa gawas kung naa’y aftershock. Ang mga anak sa among silingan kay manghilak (My children ran outside whenever there was an aftershock. Children in our neighborhood cried),” she added.

Her family lived in a tent for weeks before they were able to rebuild their house.

Last Sept. 8, Mansueto and other Catholic households in Loon celebrated the feast of the town’s patron saint.

The earthquake destroyed everything but the facade of the church of St. Michael the Archangel in Clarin. Its parishioners hear mass under a tent that barely shields them from the heat of the sun or from sudden downpours.

Last Sept. 29, Catholics celebrated the annual fiesta in honor of St. Michael the Archangel.

But Mayette Miano, 36, a member of the parish’s local Catholic Women’s League (CWL), said fewer households bothered to prepare a feast.

Naa gyu’y mga tawo nga wala na gyud naghikay kay nangabuak ang ilang mga kubyertos o tungod kay maulaw sila mupakita sa ilang balay sa mga bisita. Na’ay uban nga dili lang sa maghikay kay mag-focus lang sa og patindog sa ilang mga balay (Some families decided not to celebrate because their kitchenware got destroyed or they are ashamed to invite visitors to their damaged houses. Some just want to use their limited funds to rebuild their houses),” Miano said.

Keeping the faith

She observed that the number of churchgoers remains unchanged.

Artemio Ariante, 50, admitted that he didn’t want to celebrate the fiesta this year because he didn’t have money to spend for the feast.

Bishop Leonardo Medroso of the Diocese of Tagbilaran admitted that the first few months after the earthquake were hard for the faithful.

“The earthquake raised questions among the faithful. They wondered why they were being punished,” Medroso said.

But many, he added, saw signs that strengthened their faith.

In Loon, the 300-year-old Nuestra Señora de la Luz church was reduced except for an image of the Holy Mother.

“People saw it as a sign that they have a mother and a patroness who have never abandoned them even in times of calamities,” Medroso said. (JKV)
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