Thursday, November 28, 2013

Update 10 on Supertyphoon Haiyan

Update 10 - An appeal for our church friends and faith-based organizations to refrain from accepting milk formula donations (breastmilk substitutes).

"Breastmilk is the ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants and young children and it protects them from infection and its consequences. Especially in disaster situations like in affected Visayas communities, optimum breastfeeding gives infants and young children continued nourishment anytime; avoids risks of using contaminated water and materials; and gives protection from illnesses like diarrhea and respiratory ailments, which can be fatal in such situations.

However, uncontrolled distribution of breastmilk substitutes like infant formulas to affected families can lead to early and unnecessary cessation of breastfeeding. This could have dire consequences. Donation of breastmilk substitutes, especially during disasters, in fact, is illegal in our country. Relief assistance emphasis for infant and young children should be on protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding and ensuring timely, safe and appropriate complementary feeding."

Several civil society organizations in the Philippines like World Vision, Save the Children, ACF, Plan International and coalitions like KAIN has issued statements supporting the use of human breastmilk during emergencies. Let us not allow milk companies to influence our government in watering down the effective Milk Code of the Philippines (EO 51) that will allow them to donate milk to advance their agenda.

Please continue to help our brothers and sisters but avoid donating milk formulas to anybody. We want to give with integrity. We want to be faithful stewards of God. We want to give the best, and the best and practical for babies are human breastmilk.

To send help, contact Office of the Bishop - DEA or UMCOR.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Update 9 on Supertyphoon Haiyan

Update 9 - More than two weeks have passed since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. Many have contributed to the relief work in Tacloban. Some have courageously went to the field to help. Most have contributed to fund raising cmpaings. One way or another, helped has been offered. Thank you. But after the relief efforts in the previous days has been done, the real work in rebuilding begins.

The government has now transitioned to the early recovery phase of the affected areas. It comes at a time when relief teams are starting to leave the area, when most medical missions are over and the media has started to shift focus on other equally important news topics. But the internally displaced people still needs support. The affected areas still needs help as they rehabilitate. This is where community development organizations from the religious groups, CSOs and other individuals make a great impact (and oftentimes away from the limelight).

If you feel called to help in this rehab phase please contact Office of the Bishop- DEA or UMCOR.

Photos by Rev. Bayani Alkuino

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Update 8 on Supertyphoon Haiyan

Photos by DS Roy Tibalbag
Update 8 - United Methodist Churches in Northern Panay destroyed. More houses of church members, the parsonage and their neighbors were flattened by Typhoon Haiyan. One badly hit community is Mina-a, in Ibajay, Aklan, which sits at the foot of a mountain. Ibajay is a third-class municiplaity with farming as source of livelihood. The livelihood and the crops were destroyed by the typhoon. People in this community need help and support.

As support from all over the world pour in Leyte, other municipalities in Northern Cebu, Capiz, Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental and Palawan have appealed to the international community to not forget them. Although this communities are doing their best to recover, the overall damage caused by the typhoon in the islands of Visayas had made it difficult for help to be delivered. Isolated areas has not been reached and help has not been delivered to them.

To send help to a particular church or community, please contact UMCOR or the Office of the Bishop - DEA.
 (All Photos by DS Roy Tibalbag)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Update 6 on Supertyphoon Haiyan

Update 6 - Different local United Methodist Churches in the Philippines has helped in responding to affected church members and fellow Filipinos in general. Donations in cash and in kind were sent to the Office of the Bishop in their respective Episcopal Areas and through UMCOR Philippines.

Even little children during their Sunday Schools are helping in their own little way by inspiring and praying for all the victims. A little inspiration can be very big as the government has stepped up efforts to address the mental health and psychosocial concerns of the affected population. A local reported shared how a father has been frequenting for 5 days now and wandering aimlessly in the same street in downtown Tacloban while crying and shouting several names (probably his children). Another young woman was noted to be circling around the rubble of her house while half-naked, dirty and in obvious state of shock. No one seems to take notice of them as most people are scrambling for whatever food and water is available in the area.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Update 5 on Supertyphoon Haiyan

Update 5 - The two missing United Methodist pastors in Tacloban City, Leyte are reported to be okay and their family is now in Ormoc City. Rev. Iris Picardal, who is still in Tacloban, and Ptr. Lito Luana are now safe but some of their family members remained missing. Affected residents of Tacloban City and nearby areas are moving out of the typhoon-affected areas into Manila and other key cities due to lack of food and water. Relief workers are having a difficult time distributing the goods because most of the roads are still scattered with debris. The government has hold-off the coming in of aide workers and Foreign Medical Teams (FMT) because of the scarce supply in the area. The government is asking the aide workers to be self-sufficient if they want to help in the affected areas.

You can send your donations to UMCOR or Office of the Bishop - DEA bank account. Bank of the Philippine Islands: The United Methodist Church-Davao Episcopal Area, acc. no. 2084-0457-59, Swift Code: BOPIPHMM

Update: (Nov 29, 2013)

Photos by Rev. Bayani Alkuino

Pastor Iris P. Terrana and her son Jayden.... the whole family is safe and in high spirit as the Lord covered them with His Divine protection during the super typhoon... their small house was amazingly un-scratched while houses in the neighborhood big and small were all blown away... Praise God...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Update 3 on Supertyphoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Update 3 - Two United Methodist pastors in Tacloban are still missing as of 7:00 pm today, Nov 13, 2013. DS David Dacaya Cosmiano reported that their church members has not yet receive any communication from Rev. Iris Picardal and family and Pastor Lito Luana and family. The UMC in Tacloban was destroyed by the Supertyphoon. Members described the city as a virtual mudwaste with a smell of death. Meanwhile, DS Cosmiano happily shared that his son Dzey-ahr Cosmiano texted them informing them that he is well.

On the otherhand, DS Irene Respuesto shared that members in Negros had their livelihood and farm fields destroyed. The government has appealed for support in other affected areas other than Tacloban. DS Roy Tibalbag also shared that churches in Aklan need help but because the area do not get enough media mileage, support has not been received. Local government officials in Panay and Negros needs food as their supply is also getting low. Food and non-food items donations are most welcome.

You can send your help to UMCOR or to the Office of the Bishop-DEA.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Update 2 on Supertyphoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Update - Church members of the United Methodist Churches in Leyte were affected by Supertyphoon Yolanda. DS David Dacaya Cosmiano shared that at least 60 family members of our local churches in Leyte are displaced. Ninety-eight 98% of all structures in Leyte have been destroyed by the typhoon. DS Cosmiano added that he received reports that several church members died in the storm surge. The local governments are fearing more than 10,000 people died in the flooding. Basic services like water, electricity and medical services are still down in the area. Phone lines are still down making communications difficult. DS Cosmiano has not been able to contact his son, Dzey-ahr Cosmiano, for several days now.

In Western Visayas, food and water are becoming scarce. The livelihood and crops were severely damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda. At least five local churches in Aklan were affected. DS Roy Tibalbag is on the field right now to assess the extent of the damage. The Philippines has been placed in a National State of Calamity by President Aquino due to the economic effect of the Super Typhoon.

Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon. You can send in your help through UMCOR or the Office of the Bishop -DEA.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Public Service for Filipinos affected by Super Storm Haiyan

Update: Visayas UMC churches affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Intl: Haiyan)

DS Roy Tibalbag of Western Visayas District reports that at least 5 member families had their house damaged. The Panay island was badly hit by Supertyphoon Yolanda (Int'l Name Haiyan) last Nov 8, 2013. We have several local churches affected in Panay affected by the Supertyphoon. Affected areas include churches in the Rizal, Ibajay, San Jose and Mina-a all in the province of Aklan. Pastor Aguilar is coordinating with DS Tibalbag for updates on the affected members in the area.

On the otherhand, churches in Leyte and Samar still has no communication. The islands of Leyte and Samar are the worst hit by the Supertyphoon.  DS  David Dacaya Cosmiano of Eastern Visayas District initially reported that 98% of Leyte is badly affected. Our members are appealing for help. Any help to our affected brothers and sisters in the Visayas are welcome. Pls contact the DEA Office of the Bishop or UMCOR for details or PM me for other concerns.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Theology and Medicine: A Revisit

In the previous months, this blog has given space to encouraging churches to have a health ministry. It tried to engage churches to practice their faith beyond the four corners of the church building. This was in consonance as I started engaging with local churches, ecumenical groups and faith-based organizations this past several months.

However, one of the biggest struggles I have to hurdle amongst Christian groups is their persistence to implement medical missions as a tool for evangelizing. As I develop a curriculum for pastor's in health ministry, let me share with you a key theology that guides my actions on pushing for church health ministries, moving away from medical missions and capacitating pastor's on health skills.

God's two greatest commandment serves as foundation for our actions as Christians. First, love God with all your heart, mind and soul and the second, love others as yourself. Let me focus on "loving others."   

Love Others

I asked a fellow Christian doctor why he involves himself in free medical missions? He replied, it is his ministry to witness on God's love to people, especially the sick. I asked a bishop why he organizes and sponsors  medical missions in his area? He replied, it is an effective evangelical tool to introduce the Gospel to the people. The replies are theologically problematic in so many levels.

I will try to share in a series of reflections and essays on some theological points on health ministry, medical mission and evangelism. Watch out for these four topics :
- Health Ministry should be Free
- Health Ministry Impacts
- Medical Mission as an Evangelical Tool
- Medical Mission Impacts