'Earthquake not God’s punishment' - Kidapawan Bishop

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 04 2019 04:56 PM | Updated as of Nov 04 2019 06:01 PM

A Christian chapel in Sitio Mawig, Brgy. Balabag in Kidapawan City was reduced to rubble because of a series of strong quakes that hit Mindanao. Photo by Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

KIDAPAWAN CITY — Tragedies are trials, not punishment from God.

This is what Bishop Colin Bagaforo would like to tell quake-hit families in Mindanao, where at least 22 people died and dozens injured after 3 strong earthquakes.

“Ang mga lindol na katulad nito ay mga pagsubok (earthquakes like these are tests)” that should not be blamed on anyone," he said.

“Hindi ito parusa ng Diyos sa atin. Hindi ito pagkakamali ng sinuman. Kailangan lang maging positibo tayo na itong ating mga pagkukulang, itong nangyari sa atin ay mga hamon na pwede pa tayong tumayo at we can be better than what we are now in the future,” Bagaforo said in a phone interview.

(This is not punishment from God. It’s not anyone’s fault. We need to be positive and see that what we have lost, what happened to us are challenges that we can recover from and that we can be better than what we are now in the future.)

On Sunday, residents of heavily damaged Makilala town in Cotabato heard mass under a covered court, sitting on mismatched monobloc chairs instead of church pews.

From behind, one can see the Sto. Niño Parish’s imposing structure, slightly tarnished by its tattered roof. Inside, half of its ceiling is completely collapsed, exposing the building’s skeleton of metal beams.

The Sto. Niño Parish in Makilala is among the four churches under the Diocese of Kidapawan damaged by a series of strong quakes that hit Mindanao last month. Bishop Colin Bagaforo said the other three churches are Bulakanon Parish, Kisante Parish, and Tulunan Parish — all found in Makilala.

Bagaforo said authorities have to wait for the aftershocks to subside before assessing how damaged the structures are.

Some chapels in upland villages were also completely destroyed.

“We’re sad because our churches were damaged but we’re not disappointed or discouraged because we know that we can rise again,” said Bagaforo.

Churchgoers in Makilala attend mass in a covered court. Seen behind them is the Sto. Niño Parish, which was damaged during the quakes. Photo by Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

More than the structures, Bagaforo said people wanting to help should send their aid first to evacuees, especially those who have lost their homes.

He said quake-hit families need tarps and tents so they can have proper shelters while they are still not allowed to return to their homes due to aftershocks.

Parts of the roof and ceiling of Sto. Niño Parish collapsed during the series of earthquakes that hit Mindanao. Photo by Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Bagaforo said he hopes the tragedy will help bring out the best in people.

“Ibalik natin iyong ating spirit. Ibalik natin iyong ating pakikipagtulungan, Ibalik natin ang ating pananalig sa awa ng Diyos,” he said.

(Let’s regain our spirit. Let’s help each other. Let’s have faith again in the mercy of our Lord.)