Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Parish Church and Convent Flooded at the Height of Typhoon Ondoy

SLRP Sep 29 - Last Saturday started out just like any normal dreary day with a slight drizzle as the Lay Ministers gathered in church at around 8AM for the final rehearsal of their dance number for the Parish Night scheduled that same evening. While on the parish multipurpose hall, the volunteer members of Social Services Ministry were busy preparing for HAPAG-ASA feeding program for malnourished children of the parish.

At about midmorning, there was a sudden change in the weather and heavy torrential rains started pounding the roof of the church drowning the music we were playing for our practice. After about an hour of continuous pouring, we noticed that the water on the main road fronting the church started to rise. In less than 30 minutes the water was already knee-deep. HAPAG-ASA cancelled their activity as it was already risky for the children to come.

An hour later, floodwaters rose to about three feet above street level and was already at the doorsteps of the church. By 11AM, the water started entering the church. With the rain continuing to pour incessantly, the waters rose fast and in less than an hour the altar floor, which was about 3 ft above the nave, was already covered by water. And by noon, the water level in the creek reached the level of the sacristy and the oratory and were under 6 inches of water. We had to move all equipment, things and people to the choir loft to escape the rising waters.

The rains poured continuously for the next three hours and the church, the convent and the multipurpose halls were submerged in waist-deep water. In some places water was chest-deep. Everything was scattered all over by the flood. Even cars were being tossed by the waters.

The pouring rain continued without letup until about 3PM in the afternoon. For us who were stuck in church for about 9 hours, it was an awakening of life's fragililty. As the waters strated to subside by 5PM, we also started cleaning the debris left by the flood. As darkness crept we called it a day and we left for home totally exhausted and humbled by the exprience. It was the first such experience for most of us there.

The following day was the fiesta. It was supposedly the biggest occasion for the parish. All activities for the fiesta were cancelled and cleaning of the church began in earnest by 7am. Through the bayanihan spirit, droves of parishioners came and helped in the cleanup. The damage done in the aftermath of the previous day's calamity was clearly evident as the sun shown that morning. But this only strengthened the determination of the parishioners to clean up the place and prepare the church for this event will not deter the will and hearts of SLRP to celebrate mass, especially on this fiesta day.

With God's grace, a special thanksgiving mass was celebrated at 11AM by the workers with Fr. Luke officiating. It was the most solemn, personal and intimate mass I have ever attended in the 22-year history of the parish. After the mass, it was time for a simple salo-salo in a special celebration of the parish's fiesta day. After a hearty meal, it was back to work for us. By mid-afternoon, Fr. Luke was already able to say mass at Cruz Compound, one of the areas in the parish heavily affected by the calamity. By late afternoon the regular masses at 5PM and 6:30PM were celebrated as scheduled.

Although the major task of cleaning up is almost done, the vivid and, at times, scary memories will be there as long as those of us who went through the experience live.


  1. i saw from afar the situation of tiera verde di ko alam abot tao na pala sa church area :-S
    on the brighter side, lumabas spirit ng community. :) SLRP is a parish na hindi matutumba ng kahit anu mang bagyo. ;) *group hug*

  2. Al, this was a moving slide show. I am so proud of you and Giging and all of the SLRP parishioners and will keep you in our prayers!