January 2014 Philippines Trip Report

Without electricity, the BGNi medical team worked into the night, seeing patients using video lights at Cantihing Church of Christ in Leyte
Without electricity, the BGNi medical team worked into the night, seeing patients using video lights at Cantihing Church of Christ in Leyte.

Rick Wolford reports: The time and expense to go the Philippines was well worth it for Ian and me. We were able to help conduct medical camps and distribution of relief goods at three churches, one on Bohol (earthquake relief) and two on Leyte (typhoon relief). Ian was able to get video and photos of the trip and we will be posting reports on the BGNi website and Facebook page. Please take time to view the reports and share these with your FB friends.

The major benefits of the trip were the opportunity to see firsthand the damage from the earthquake and typhoon, how BGNi and IDES has helped, and begin to build a relationship with Dr. Titus Bantiles.

Rick Wolford talks with Dr. Titus Bantiles and his wife Dolly (center) while in Ormoc City, Leyte.
Rick Wolford talks with Dr. Titus Bantiles and his wife Dolly (center) while in Ormoc City, Leyte.

Dr. Bantiles is our main contact in the Philippines. Gil has worked with him for over ten years and, while I was at FAME, we provided him with a truck to use in his ministry. The main focus of his ministry is conducting medical camps in various parts of the Philippines. He has conducted over 400 of these camps using primarily local help. Most camps include general medical, dental, and vision (reading glasses). His camps are conducted very similar to the traditional medical camps I have conducted. BGNi sends $150 a month to him to help fund his ministry.

From what I observed, Dr. Bantiles is someone we can continue to partner with for the foreseeable future. Dr. Bantiles uses a relief model of ministry. However, he has been a public health officer and I see the potential to mentor him into a more development-centered model of ministry. When I discussed CHE with him, he said he had never heard of it before. The good news is Cebu, where he lives, is the center of CHE for the Philippines and is one of only two places where you can attend a 5-week CHE internship. I am sending Dr. Bantiles more information on the CHE training available in Cebu and it is my hope that we can get him CHE trained soon.

Very little of the debris from the storm has been cleaned up in Tacloban, aside from what actually blocks the main roads.
Very little of the debris from the storm has been cleaned up in Tacloban, aside from what actually blocks the main roads.

The amount of destruction from Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) is massive. Over two months after the storm, much remains to be done. Tacloban, the area hardest hit, is still without electricity and we saw many people living in tents. Just about every structure in Tacloban was either destroyed or damaged and most buildings have not been repaired yet. Piles of debris were lined up along the roadside for miles. It will take months just to clean up this debris. The large storm surge in Tacloban led to the loss of many lives, estimated now at 6,000 dead or missing. The area still seems to be in a state of shock.

Farther away from Tacloban, such as in Ormoc, there is less damage but still much to be done. Some areas still do not have electricity and many roofs still need to be repaired. Because Ormoc didn’t experience the large storm surge like Tacloban did, there were few lives lost, but people are still suffering because of damage to their homes and businesses. Most of our relief efforts have focused on the Ormoc vicinity. This is because efforts are being directed through the local church and most of our churches are near Ormoc. We only have one church in Tacloban and it is a small, struggling congregation. They did have some water damage from the storm and lost part of their roof, but they were not in the immediate area that was hit by the storm surge. So far relief efforts have focused on medical camps, distributing relief goods (food, household goods, blankets, Bibles, etc.) and the repair of the damaged church buildings. Funding has been given to six churches for the repair of their buildings.

The initial $25,000 sent from IDES has been spent and I have the receipts from Dr. Bantiles to give to IDES. Dr. Bantiles will be assessing further needs and coordinating with me a second request to IDES for additional help. In this second request, I’m hoping to move away from just relief and start looking at long-term development through the churches in the vicinity of Ormoc.

Through IDES we also sent $25,000 in disaster relief (earthquake) to churches on Bohol. Five church buildings have been repaired as well as medical camps conducted and relief goods distributed. This $25,000 has been spent and I have the receipts from Dr. Bantiles. Because the damage from the earthquake was much less, relatively speaking, than the damage from the Typhoon, I don’t anticipate needing to provide any more funds for this disaster.

$13,400 from IDES was sent last year to start a piggery project at Canlangit Church of Christ on Bohol. I did not get to visit this church but did get to spend time with Jolito Aceron, the pastor of this church. The project is up and going and I have receipts for IDES. I was impressed with Pastor Jolito and am hoping this project may serve as a model for development projects with other churches.

Where do we go from here?

  • Coordinate a second request for help from IDES with Dr. Bantiles. Goal is to make this request more long-term development centered and less disaster relief.
  • Mentor Dr. Bantiles into using a more development model of ministry. Encourage him to attend CHE training.
  • Post video reports on the trip on our website and FB. Use these reports for additional fundraising for Philippines assistance.
  • Monitor the progress of the piggery project and explore the possibility of using this as a model for development at other churches.
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