In November 2013, the Philippines suffered the effects of the massive Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands and cost countless others their homes and livelihood, especially in the central provinces of Visayas and Leyte. The Sisters in the Congregation’s Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in the Pampanga region, responded to the disaster by providing the survivors with as much direct assistance as possible.
The Sisters’ relief efforts included transporting by bus about 1,000 seedlings of fruit trees, provided by the Department of Agriculture of the Philippines, to the islands affected by Haiyan. The people were also given seeds for various vegetables—which produced quickly and in enough abundance to allow families to sell some in the market and earn money.
The Sisters’ relief efforts also included working with other agencies to provide for the people’s immediate material needs, as well as offering pastoral and grief support to the people who lost loved ones or who were in any other way afflicted by the typhoon.
The Remedies Sisters have not only worked hard to help their people through the crises caused by Typhoon Haiyan, but also with an eye toward building a sustainable future. Sister Myra Dalisay, OP, Director of Holy Rosary College in Tala, near Manila, and her predecessor, Sister Cora Quiambao, OP, hope to transform a vacant lot at the school into an ecology park. The park would take advantage of an abundance of trees to provide food for the people; work for the local farmers, who know more about the soil and the types of plants that grow well in it; and an opportunity for people to appreciate the garden.
Sister Myra hopes the project will also bring in a small income for Holy Rosary, which was founded 60 years ago by the Dominican Friars to teach the children of people with Hansen’s disease. While those students receive a free education, Holy Rosary has earned a small income from other students from the nearby village, who pay a low tuition.
Sister Cora also plans a similar project at the Dominican School of Angeles City, in the Mining area, where she currently ministers as the principal. She envisions fruit-bearing trees to complement their current guava, cashew, and banana trees. The fruit would provide extra food for teachers and parents, and some employment for people who live nearby.
In addition, as educators, both Sisters hope to provide religious formation and to teach their students about sustainable methods of growing trees and vegetables and about the need to care for the environment. Sister Cora, who is dedicated to teaching street children as well as the students at her school, hopes to improve the students’ living conditions and help them to become responsible, aware citizens who have a positive influence on their country and on the world.