A chapel rises after Typhoon Yolanda

Brother Tagoy Jakosalem

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As the chapel rose from destruction, so did the community

LIGHT IN THE DARK. The community celebrates the rebuilding of their community chapel as parish priest Fr. Gerry Sabado shares his reflection. All photos by Br. Jaazeal Jakosalem, OAR

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – When Sitio Linuthangan, Brgy. Mabini, Escalante, Negros Occidental was hit by the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the community’s chapel was put to the ground.

Wala na tawon mi balay alampu-anan,” (We have no place for prayer) Butch Ondoy, a Gagmay na Kristianong Katilingban (GKK) leader in the area, said.

But on the cool evening of December 19, 2013, just more than a month after the super typhoon hit, almost 200 members of the GKK Basic Christian Community of the barangay gathered in the midst of sugarcane fields for the Mass and Blessing of their reconstructed community chapel.

The newly-built chapel was one of the projects of HEARTanonymous.org, a non-government organization that builds communities through charity.

HEARTanonymous program coordinator Mely Flores said they empower people so they can rebuild their communities by themselves.

“We saw the pockets of devastation in the remote areas here in Northern Negros. We only have simple criteria in our rebuilding campaign and immediate implementation: the community must be organized, and they should take part in the re-building efforts,” Flores said.

HOUSE OF REFUGE. The re-built Community Chapel in Sitio Linuthangan.

The GKK community members of Sitio Linuthangan shared their carpentry skills to rebuild the community chapel. They recycled fallen trees wrecked by Typhoon Yolanda into panels for chapel walls and pews. 

“The real essence of community building is people’s participation, this is the mark in our small Christian communities in the parish,” community parish priest Fr. Gerry Sabado, O’Carm said.

NEW LOOK. DIHON artists do their share of helping the community by painting the community chapel's new mural.

‘Christ of the Struggle’

As the chapel rose from destruction, so did the community.

The chapel’s new design beams with a beautiful mural on its altar façade titled “Kristo sa Paghimakas” (Christ of the Struggle). It was created by members of Dibuhista nga Naghiliugyon sa Negros (DIHON), an artists’ group in Negros who are local pioneers of protest art and whose works are embedded in pro-people struggle.

DIHON chair Rafael Burdeos said the mural is the group’s contribution in the rebuilding efforts for the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda

“Our gallery is with the people, and in the people. We are sharing art in the midst of their struggle, in their hearts and in their faith,” Burdeos said.

The mural contains the central image of risen Christ with a clinched fist. There are also images of the community of sugarcane workers, the Escalante Massacre monument (which DIHON designed and created in the year 1986), the symbolic mountains and farms in northern Negros connected by free-flowing red cloth brought upward by a dove.

Malipayon kami na natukod namo usab ang kapilya bag-o mag Pasko, (We are thankful for being able to rebuild the chapel before Christmas day) Junie Contiga, a lay-worker and volunteer carpenter added.

The chapel in Sitio Linuthangan is one of the 10 community chapels being rebuilt by HEARTanonymous in Northern Negros. – Rappler.com

Br. Tagoy is a visual artist and cultural worker. He is currently doing ministry at the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.

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