Tuesday Mar, 28 2023 04:11:20 AM

Amid tragedy, religious faith pushes IPs to join the traditional dawn masses in landslide site

Climate Change/Environment • 08:30 AM Mon Dec 19, 2022
Indigenous Peoples beloning to Teduray attend the Misa de Gallo at the makeshift Episcopal Church of St. Peter and Paul in Kusiong, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.. (FC)

KUSIONG, Maguindanao del Norte – A glance from a distance, darkness covers the landslide area.

This is at the foot of Mount Minandar in Kusiong, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte where the tragic landslide swept homes and claimed dozens of lives.

Fogs hovered the coned-shaped mountain, glistened by the shimmering stars above and the glow of last quarter moon bright.

At the foreground, an electric lamp put up in a shanty of the Episcopal Christian chapel provided light and hope for the Episcopal faithful.

While an eerie surrounding hounds the ground zero, songs of worship are heard at the adjacent corner at 4 am for the Misa De Gallo, attended by around 70 persons.

At the celebration, Christmas songs filled the air, as sea breeze from few meters away calmly slaps the shoreline while crickets kept buzzling from everywhere.

It was one of the morning mood of December, the season where the faithful gather to celebrate the Holy Eucharist as the advent season prepares for the coming of Messiah. It was traditionally a happy gathering of people in the barrio.

But this time, it was not as happy as dozen of their members died in the recent Typhoon Paeng that devastated the community.

The devastated chapel was just around 200 meters away from the temporary preaching area that serves as place of worship.

“Our faith remain strong, despite what had happened, we are still here performing our religious obligation and preparing for the coming of the Messiah,” said Daisy Fering, one of the landslide survivors.

Fering lost a grandson during the disaster while she suffered several wounds after getting buried by the mudslide but managed to get out. Around 26 innocent souls were buried alive in the tragedy where four others remain missing.

“We may be poor, but we will continue haring masses, we have to go to the Church whatever the situation may be,” according to Episcopal Ministry lay Melita Unting who officiated the mass.

The members of Ministry of the Episcopal Church are mostly Indigenous People from the Teduray of Maguindanao province.

When the landslide struck, most of them ran above the high ground where the devastated chapel was erected, only to realized that the first to be hit by the huge bulk of mudslides and boulders. So on Christmas, while most of them, including Daisy stayed at the evacuation center, vowed to continue the tradition, to thank God for another life and for saving them.

“We always seek God’s protection, He will always help us we know as proven during the mudslides,” the emotional Daisy said, recalling the whole tragedy that befell them.

But what she misses about the traditional Misa De Gallo is the gestures of sharing and showing love to each members of the tribe and the church mates.

In fact while the mass was ongoing, a couple near the house where the temporary chapel was built was busy preparing the kitchen for the suman, a traditional cassava cake wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed-cooked.

They also prepared kettles of boiling hot water from the wood-fired kitchen for the native coffee to be served for all after the celebration.

“We may lost some of our members but the spirit of love and sharing stayed in out hearts and this will continue, may we remember them this way this Christmas,” Daisy said in vernacular.

Daisy on Sunday left the Kusiong Elementary School evacuation camp after the mass and has transferred to a new relocation site identified by the local government and environment hazard officials.

One of his sons helped her transport from a mini-truck what they could bring to the new home. She will live with his 60-year old husband and she was told to undergo cooking schooling by Technical Education School of the government. (FC)

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