United Methodist Committee on Relief Aids Indigenous Earthquake Survivors in the Philippines

Manila Area Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco (left) and Jestril Alvarado, West Pampanga District superintendent, help distribute food to Aeta communities in Floridablanca in the Pampanga province of the Philippines. The United Methodist Committee on Relief issued a $100,000 grant to provide support for 860 indigenous families affected by a deadly earthquake. Photo by the Rev. Gilbert Cedillo.

Seven Aeta communities affected by a deadly earthquake this spring received much-needed aid from The United Methodist Church in the Philippines and the denomination’s relief agency.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief issued a $100,000 grant to provide support for 860 Aeta families. The Aeta are indigenous peoples who live in the isolated mountainous parts of the island of Luzon.

The relief packages, distributed Dec. 13, included sacks of food (mongo beans, brown sugar, cooking oil, soy sauce, rice, milk and coffee) and a 20-liter container for carrying water. The families also received bath soap, detergent, toothpaste, toothbrushes, undergarments and sanitary napkins.

The members of Camachile United Methodist Church in Floridablanca — all Aeta families — helped pack and hand out the goods to communities in Nabuklod and Floridablanca in the Pampanga province.

“My heart is overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving upon seeing the bonding moments of the Aeta people working together, from the delivery of the goods, repacking, preparing the two venues and distributing the relief goods. All indeed worked together in harmony,” said the Rev. Leslie Casupanan-Dela Cruz, administrative pastor of Camachile United Methodist Church.

Josephine M. Cedillo, Manila Area disaster management coordinator, said witnessing the volunteerism and commitment from church members was the most rewarding experience.

She said one of the Aeta council members gave thanks with tears, saying it was the first time they had received such great blessings.

“I felt the joy of their heart in receiving great help from UMCOR,” Cedillo said. “In spite of their vulnerability, they have shown that they are resilient in times of disaster. The resilience that starts in each one, with family and the community (in which) we belong, grows from there.

“This experience I had will always remind me to be giving. It does not mean that sharing or giving involves money. Our time, our concern and our involvement will always be meaningful when we share it with others who are in need,” she said.

Manila Area Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco joined UMCOR staff in distributing the food to some of the Aeta communities.

“As I give them the good items, I saw the joy in their eyes. The recipients are the most in need members of the community. They were surprised by the content of the packages, because those will last for a month for an ordinary family,” he said.

Casupanan-Dela Cruz said some of the church members who received relief supplies offered some of the goods back during worship. Those items will be shared with other Aetas in Zambales, a neighboring province.

Church member Liza Santos said she was happy to share the blessings with other Aeta communities.

“We are grateful to God and to all who helped in bringing the enormous gifts we have received. This is our first time ever to receive such a great amount of food. I am overwhelmed, which made me think to share my blessings with my fellow Aetas,” she said.

Maricon Paule, a United Methodist youth from Camachile United Methodist Church, said having the opportunity to share the goods was a great experience. “It is indeed a very good feeling,” she said.

United Methodists in the Philippines said the global connection of The United Methodist Church plays a key role in the pooling of resources in times of disasters. In addition to the international assistance, local efforts by United Methodists have inspired others to share.

Click here to read more.
Source: United Methodist News