WATCH: Tagbilaran priests say mass during super typhoon Odette

Wena Cos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 21 2021 03:56 PM

Watch more News on iWantTFC

 

MANILA - As typhoon Odette's winds howled through the windows and floodwater entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Father Virgilio Salas stood his ground to deliver mass in Tagbilaran, Bohol on Thursday. 

"No stoppping, even if there is a typhoon, tuloy ang pananampalataya (faith continues)," said Fr. Salas in an interview with ABS-CBN News. 

The video showing Fr. Salas saying mass through the typhoon has since been viewed more than 4,000 times on Facebook, with netizens commenting how the video has bolstered their faith through the calamity.

 

Prior to the mass, parish priest Father Jose Cecil Lobrigas was also saying mass in a nearby community. As Odette's wrath began being felt in Tagbilaran, he encouraged Fr. Salas to continue holding the evening mass on December 16. 

Father Jose Cecil Lobrigas holds mass with rechargeable lamps and lights as electricity is cut off in a community hours before Odette made landfall in Bohol. Courtesy: Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Tagbilaran, Bohol
Father Jose Cecil Lobrigas holds mass with rechargeable lamps and lights as electricity is cut off in a community hours before Odette made landfall in Bohol. Courtesy: Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Tagbilaran, Bohol

For Fr. Lobrigas, their responsibility to their parishioners was greater than the fear brought on by the storm. 

"There was this sense of fear, pero meron ding calmness in the sense of responsibility na magbigay ka ng spiritual strength sa mga tao. I was so confident that even [when] the winds [were] so strong, malakas 'yung trumpa namin sa kampana, maririnig [ang misa] kahit may hangin," Fr. Lobrigas said. 

(There was this sense of fear but there was also a sense of calmness in the sense of responsibility that we had to give spiritual strength to the parishioners. I was confident that mass could still be heard over the wind because our speakers were loud.)

"Sabi ko, patuloy tayo Father [Salas]. Tuloy tayo. Kasi yun ang nagbibigay hope at saka courage sa mga tao na may simbahan na nagpapatuloy sa pag-pray sa mga tao (I told Father [Salas] that we should keep going. Knowing the church is here praying for the people will give them hope and strength)," he added. 

After Odette had passed through the city, parishioners gathered in the church to hear the Misa de Gallo at 4 a.m. and to charge their gadgets on the power generator of the church. 

WATCH: Tagbilaran priests say mass during typhoon 1
WATCH: Tagbilaran priests say mass during typhoon 2

Residents affected by typhoon Odette seek shelter in the parish and charge their electronics with the help of the church power generator. Courtesy: Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Tagbilaran, Bohol

Residents affected by typhoon Odette seek shelter in the parish and charge their electronics with the help of the church power generator. Courtesy: Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Tagbilaran, Bohol

"Nasa 60 persons, kasi wala nang electricity sa mga bahay. Naririnig nila 'yung musika sa simbahan na may misa, kaya nagpunta sila sa simbahan. Doon, naglibre na rin kami ng charge sa cellphones (Over 60 people came when they heard the music from the church. They listened to the mass, and we let them charge their gadgets)," Fr. Lobrigas said. 

Fr. Lobrigas and Fr. Salas were both born and raised in Bohol, an island usually in the path of typhoons originating from the Pacific Ocean. Both priests wish Bohol could be more prepared for the disasters that befall them on a yearly basis. 

Fr. Lobrigas lamented that disaster mitigation could be better, "It's more on the preparation, kulang talaga 'yung facilities. At saka we are more reactive than proactive, 'yun ang nakikita ko. It's only after na nagrereact tayo. We know there is a storm, pero pagkatapos na [tayo gumagalaw]."

(We lack the facilities for adequate preparation. We are more reactive than proactive. We know a storm is coming but we only move after it has passed.)

"Hindi nakaka-supply ang stations ng tubig kasi walang generators, at walang power. I think one proactive step is to provide generator sets sa pumping stations. At saka pagpo-provide ng solar power lights and emergency kits, I think that would also help," he suggested. 

(Stations cannot supply water because power is cut off. We can be proactive by supplying generator sets to pumping stations and providing solar power lights and emergency kits.)

In the meantime, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish has opened its doors to residents in surrounding communities to use their generator set to charge their gadgets.

The parish also distributes the water they are rationed with to the parishioners. 

WATCH: Tagbilaran priests say mass during typhoon 3
WATCH: Tagbilaran priests say mass during typhoon 4

Residents affected by typhoon Odette seek shelter in the parish and charge their electronics with the help of the church power generator. Courtesy: Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Tagbilaran, Bohol

Residents affected by typhoon Odette seek shelter in the parish and charge their electronics with the help of the church power generator. Courtesy: Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Tagbilaran, Bohol

The parish is also a part of the Bangon Bohol Part 2 movement, an off-shoot of relief efforts done to help the victims of the 2013 Bohol quake. 

"In behalf of the Diocese of Tagbilaran and Talibon, kung meron mang kindhearted na people and compassionate, I invite you to help 'yung victims ng Odette sa Bohol. Kailangan namin immediate relief, pagkain, tubig para ma-answer lang ang problem ng electricity. Rechargeable lights and lamps, that would help a lot," called Fr. Lobrigas. 

(I invite the kindhearted and compassionate people to please help the victims of Odette in Bohol. We need immediate relief of food and water. We also need rechargeable lamps and lights.)

As Boholanos reel from Odette, Fr. Lobrigas reminded the flock to continue to put their hope and faith in God.

"I always remember the gospel about the disciples and the Lord na sumakay sila sa bangka at natutulog ang Panginoon natin, at merong tempest. Sabi ng disciples, aren't you afraid that we are about to die? Sabi naman ng Panginoon natin, why do you lose your faith? (They were onboard a boat amid a tempest and the disciples asked Jesus if he was not afraid to die. And the Lord asked them, 'Why do you lose your faith?')"

The priests said the typhoon is also an opportunity to realize the true meaning of Christmas: "[It is about] sharing, that we show our love and concern to other people. Kahit maliit lang, kahit tubig, share 'yung tubig n'yo (Even if it is something small and simple like water, share your water)."

Fr. Sales assured Boholanos, that the church will always be open for them, "Merry Chirstmas sa kanila kahit may delubyo (I wish them a Merry Christmas, despite the disaster). We are always here to do everything that we can do for them."