5 Bohol quake victims invited to papal lunch
CEBU CITY, Philippines—Five survivors of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Bohol province will join 20 victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” over lunch with Pope Francis at the Archbishop’s residence in Palo, Leyte province, during the Pontiff’s visit to Leyte on Jan. 17 next year.
They are a young man who lost four of his relatives, a woman who almost died when her house collapsed, two women who each lost an arm and a woman who still mourns the death of a son.
Their miseries were caused by the temblor that lasted 33 seconds at 8:12 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2013, and left 201 people dead. Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) followed on Nov. 8, killing more than 6,300 people.
The 25 will be among 30 people who have been given the privilege of sharing lunch with the Pope.
Fr. Victor Warli Salise Jr., director of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Tagbilaran, told the Inquirer that the five quake survivors came from the hardest-hit towns in Bohol.
They were identified as Saturnino Barace from Our Lady of Light Parish in Antequera, Veneranda Gentallan from St. Vincent Ferrer Shrine-Parish in Maribojoc, Shiela Bongay from Our Lady of Light Parish in Loon, Salome Israel from St. Isidore the Farmer Parish in Tubigon, and Niza Flores from St. Augustine Parish in Sagbayan.
Barace, a precollege seminarian, is the lone survivor from a family of five in Antequera town. Four of his family members died during the earthquake after their house collapsed. He too was injured, but managed to survive.
After the tragedy, Barace entered the seminary.
Gentallan almost died when her house collapsed at Barangay San Roque of Maribojoc town. She suffered a head injury and was brought to Cebu province to undergo an operation. Her recovery was said to be a “miracle.”
Bongay, on the other hand, lost her right arm after it was pinned by a concrete slab of her house that collapsed in Loon town.
Israel lost his right hand during the earthquake.
Flores, 53 and a resident of Barangay Poblacion in Sagbayan town, lost her son.
Fr. Agerio Paña, chancellor of the Diocese of Tagbilaran, told the Inquirer in a phone interview that the five were selected by a committee formed by Bishop Leonardo Medroso.
“They come from heavily devastated parishes in the diocese,” he said. The diocese will shoulder their expenses.
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