MANILA, Nov. 15, 2013—A Filipino priest who is taking ecclesiastical studies in Rome has flown back to the Philippines to be with his family in typhoon ravaged Tacloban.
Fr. Erwin Balagapo, a priest from the Archdiocese of Palo is back in the country to head home where his presence is “needed most”, according to an interview by romereports.com, Nov. 13.
For days after typhoon Yolanda sowed massive destruction on Eastern Visayas, Balagapo was uncertain of his family’s fate, not knowing whether they survived the devastation or not.
“Before the typhoon struck, I spoke with my family, specifically with my sister. My parents were also there, the night before the storm hit. They said, ‘it’s sunny and calm right now, but we’re prepared,” Balagapo said during the interview.
However, the images of massive destruction he saw on the internet left him worried about the safety of his family and friends back home.
“I have my congregation and my parents on my mind. So right away, I looked for ways to get in touch with them. I called my archbishop, I called the priests who are there. I also saw on the Internet a photo of one of my colleagues at the seminary. They’re searching for him. Now, I’ve spent five days without any news from them. Of course, I pray so that they’re OK. But with 10,000 people dead… ”
Luckily for Balagapo, hours before he left Rome for Manila, he got a brief call from his brother telling him they are alive.
The priest said he is aware of the spiritual needs of the people as they cope with their loss, but he also voiced out his fear of seeing the grim reality of what happened to his city and what he is going to do when he reach Tacloban.
“They told me that if people see a priest, they will ask for blessings. I can imagine the type of help that as a priest I can provide. I’m scared. I don’t know what awaits me there, in my home,” he said.
“But I hope to see my parents. I’m picturing now my mother’s face, my father’s, my sister who was here, and my brother, who’s in Bohol helping. Then there’s my nephew. But in the end, it’s in God’s hands, right? It may not be easy to say it, but it is the Year of Faith, after all, right?” Balagapo said. (CBCPNews)