‘Earthquake is a test not God’s Punishment?’ – Kidapawan Bishop

KIDAPAWAN CITY PHILIPPINES— 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.

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.

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

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

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