NORTH COTABATO, Philippines – In just a span of two weeks, three strong 6.0 to 6.5 magnitude earthquakes struck the same provinces in the southern Philippines, leaving 22 people dead and totally damaging more than 21,000 houses.
CBN‘s Operation Blessing is already there, helping survivors in the hard-to-reach villages.
Melicita Onoc cried uncontrollably because her brand new house was destroyed by the powerful earthquakes. She said that it breaks her heart because it was a gift from her children who worked abroad.
“They sacrificed a lot to save for the house but now everything is gone,” she told CBN News.
Onoc now lives in a makeshift tent beside her house. What makes it more miserable is that she is bedridden because of a stroke she suffered last year. It’s a miracle that she was not injured by falling debris when the house started to collapse as she lay trapped inside.
Onoc is among the more than 20,000 families who lost their homes in the string of earthquakes.
In one village, all the houses were destroyed by the strong tremors, some of them were completely flattened to the ground. Tens of thousands of survivors are overwhelmed by this tragedy.
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Operation Blessing is there to help them cope with their loss by giving them relief goods, medical care, and prayer.
Operation Blessing staff and volunteers traveled through rough terrain to reach Onoc ‘s village in the mountains. They gave them bags full of rice, canned goods, milk, noodles, and other goods.
One villager, Ginilyn Sumon, whose house was also damaged in the earthquake says this is a big help to them.
“We really need food,” Sumon said. “We can’t go to our farms because here in the mountains, the aftershocks are very strong. We are afraid we can get caught in the landslides. We lost our house but I thank God that all of us are alive. Thank you for coming to us. “
Gospel Luhong, the village chief, was very happy. He said this was the first time all the families in their village received relief goods.
“Other groups only give those whose houses were totally damaged,” he told CBN News. “But with Operation Blessing, everyone receives. And the prayers are also important because it gives hope to the people. Thank you, Operation Blessing!”
Along with her bag of goods, Onoc also received prayer. She accepted Jesus on that day as her Lord and Savior. And the hope that someday, God will give her a new and stronger house. It was good to see her smile again.
“Thank you so much. I will not be able to repay you,” she said.