11/22/2013, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Even the Philippines' poorest helping the victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Families affected by the Bohol earthquake, Typhoon Bopha and Muslims in Mindanao are helping charities and other organisations. For NASSA communications chief Jason Elias Tolentino, the tragedy did not kill hope. People see what volunteers and charities are doing, thankful for the unexpected help provided by communities also affected by other natural disasters. In Tacloban, thousands of people attend the ordination of three new priests in a service held in the local cathedral in ruin.

Manila (AsiaNews) - Filipinos affected by Typhoon Haiyan are involved in the hard task of rebuilding thanks to the material and moral support of their compatriots, including the poor and others affected by past natural disasters.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Jason Elias Tolentino, communications chief for Caritas Philippines (National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace, NASSA), said that "the tragedy did not destroy people's hope even though they witnessed helplessly, over a short period of time, members of their families die and their homes wiped out."

For Tolentino, without people's charity and faith, reconstruction would not be possible. An example of this occurred last Sunday when thousands of people attended the ordination Mass of three young priests at Tacloban cathedral, which lies in ruin.

"People are finding hope and becoming aware of their capabilities and resources," Tolentino said, "from seeing volunteers from all over the country coming to the devastated regions to offer help and support to the victims of the typhoon."

At the same time, every day volunteers come back from the filed with many touching stories that boost their spirit of charity, NASSA's communications chief said.

"In Bohol province, which was hit by a devastating earthquake a few months ago, NASSA is coordinating the collection of basic items and money for their brothers and sisters affected by Typhoon Haiyan."

Help and aid also arrived unexpectedly from Davao province (Mindanao), which in December 2012 took the brunt of Typhoon Bopha with hundreds of dead and missing.

"These people often do not have enough food to feed their families, but they sent their little help to the areas devastated by Haiyan," Tolentino explained.

In Maranao (Marawi City, Mindanao), one of the poorest districts in the predominantly Muslim Autonomous Region, people joined the "piso-piso" campaign to raise funds for the Visayas. In a few days, the campaign raised more than 100,000 pesos (about US$ 2,300).

In recent weeks, NASSA, Caritas International and local churches set up a programme to distribute aid across nine provinces in Panay, Cebu and Palawan Islands.

Typhoon Haiyan struck the Visayas Islands (central Philippines) on 8 November, killing more than 3,900 people, a number that could rise according to the authorities even though they have stopped counting them.

The affected region's size, its many, sometimes remote islands still represent a serious obstacle to intervention.

Almost 11 million people (CBCP-NASSA data) suffered various damages or ways losses in 574 towns and cities.

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