02/23/2021, 11.29
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Russian Orthodox charity for poor families on the outskirts of Manila

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Every week groups from the Russian Orthodox eparchy of Philippines-Vietnam distribute hot food, gift packages and clothes to families in Bacoor, in the hinterland of the Philippine capital. The Russian Orthodox Philippines-Vietnam eparchy consists of 33 parishes and 11 chapels. It is served by 7 priests.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Since February 2021, poor families in the city of Bacoor have been receiving assistance from the Russian Orthodox eparchy of Vietnam and the Philippines. Bacoor is a municipality of nearly half a million inhabitants in the hinterland of Manila. Once a week, children from needy families are given hot meals, and once every three months also clothes and shoes.

The collaborators of the eparchy charitable sector have joined the assistance program. With the help of the members of the patriarchate they have begun to learn the systems of food preparation and child hygiene care.

Father David Grubbs (see photo), an American Orthodox priest, is the head of the eparchial charitable sector and director of the organization Family Missions International. He explains: “Our aid program is specifically targeting families with children in the poorest neighbourhood of Bacoor. Here, people live illegally in shacks, have no work or wages, and many families are in dire straits, often starving. According to our data, there are 700 families in this neighbourhood alone in need of constant help. Despite the quarantine and the various restrictive measures, which are still in force in the Philippines, our collaborators have begun to come regularly to feed the children”.

The representatives of the Russian patriarchate began in February once a week, on Saturdays, by preparing hot meals for children based on cereal and vegetable soups, supplemented with minerals and proteins. Every week, over 200 servings of hot food are distributed, and as many bags of food to take home, with the multivitamins needed by children for the development and strengthening of the body.

“This is not the first neighbourhood where we help families in need,” says Father David. “Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, the aid program is active in several cities. On the island of Luzon, families in need receive help at nine collection points, and on the island of Mindanao there are 11 centres for the canteen for children. Unfortunately, due to the quarantine many centres have been closed, but we hope to be able to reopen them as soon as possible.”

Orthodox priests in the Philippines are supported by the Synodal Department for Ecclesiastical Charity and Social Service of the Moscow Patriarchate; humanitarian programs in Asian regions started as early as May 2020.

According to data published by the patriarchate, since June 2020 almost 50,000 needy have received food aid in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Philippines and East Timor. The funds are collected by the Department through the miloserdie.ru ("charity") and http sites. : //eda.help ("food.help"), and through other social channels.

Russian Orthodox charitable activities in Asia have intensified after the break in ecclesiastical relations with the patriarchate of Constantinople in 2019. At the beginning they only wanted to "look after their flock" of faithful in these territories; then, more and more efforts were made to show the "universal" soul of the Russian Church, above divisions and mutual hostilities.

The Russian Orthodox Philippines-Vietnam eparchy consists of 33 parishes and 11 chapels. It is served by 7 priests: 3 Russians (one in Vietnam), 3 Filipinos and one American. In liturgical services the Russian, English, Tagalog and Cebuano languages ​​are used. The total number of the faithful is unknown, but in 2019 there were 125 baptisms (including 13 new-borns), 18 weddings and 6 funerals. 7 Filipino students study at the theological seminary in St. Petersburg.

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