More help needed to rebuild fire-hit convent

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The Sisters of Holy Face of Jesus (HFJ) survey the damage done by the June 30 fire that razed their convent. (Photo: CBCPNews)

MANILA, July 28, 2015— Despite a massive fire nearly a month ago destroying a religious order’s convent, there is hope it will be rebuilt— but not so soon.

The Sisters of Holy Face of Jesus (HFJ) said more funds are needed for the rebuilding of its Generalate house located on F. R. Hidalgo Street in Manila’s Quiapo district.

Mother Teresita Bantillo, HFJ Superior General, said acquiring clearance for rebuilding alone is already costly because they will need to comply with all the required needed fire safety measures.

“No alterations can be made to the convent without first getting clearance,” Bantillo said. “It’s very hard on our part.”

READ: Sacred Heart survives fire 

Book, magazine sale

“It is a huge sum of money. And instead of buying those things, it can sustain our everyday survival and buy food. Still, I understand this dilemma that both safety and survival are important,” she said.

In an effort to raise even just a small amounts of money, the nuns on Tuesday started selling old books and magazines with cheap prices ranging from at least Php 10 to Php 50.

“We sell them for low prices instead of being stacked in the storage. At least these little things can help us,” Bantillo said.

“This is the treasure of our community… We plan to restore the building to its original state,” she explained. “The structure shall be made stronger… and raise the first floor to avoid the flooding.”

Foundress’ records

The HFJ’s Generalate house was hit by fire last June 30, destroying household items, memorabilia, and important documents.

Bantillo, however, said some important records about their foundress, Mother Therese Vicente, were not damaged by the fire.

“While the convent burns, I prayed [to God] to please do miracles and preserve the documents and files,” she said. “And the Lord heard that prayer. Many of the files are burned only on its edges, and some are burned yet the contents are still readable. Even the statues and memorabilia of Mother (Therese) were spared.”

Bantillo explained with the main offices gone, much of her job and the secretariat’s have been affected.

However, she said, their other programs such as feeding street children, which takes place every Saturday, continues.

Her room was also ravaged by the fire, so she temporarily stays in a another nun’s room, as if an “informal settler,” she said in jest.

The other buildings inside the HFJ compound including the chapel, however, were spared. (Luke Godoy/CBCPNews)

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