LEGAZPI CITY: The threat of Typhoon Yolanda hitting ferociously here drove people to pray “determinedly harder” and prepare well to protect lives and properties from its onslaught. They were afraid that Yolanda would outdo Typhoon Reming six years before, which wreaked havoc to Albay killing nearly 2,000 people.
Yolanda was slated to arrive in the province 10 a.m. on Friday, which was why it was placed under signal number 3 with its expected winds of 225 kilometers per hour (kph) which is what hit Iloilo, Samar and Leyte at dawn that day.
Ernesto Llaguno, a retired worker of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), said they were all resigned that their houses would be flattened again and scores of properties buried from the mudflow of Mount Mayon. He said he bought a cellphone load of P200 for once after his wife showed him text messages of prayers that were being passed on like a chain against Yolanda.
His community, barangay Busay was among those buried by mudflows six years ago where over 200 residents were killed but their bodies were never recovered.
His relative, Engr. Willy Llaguno, said he never recovered from the death of seven of his family members and from their buried house from the cascading mudflow of Mount Mayon. He was an overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia and learned about it from his wife whom he connected every minute.
During Typhoon Reming, he said, barangay officials called for pre-emptive evacuation but Llaguno’s family opted to stay in their concrete two-story house when suddenly his wife reported that floods had massed on the ground floor. Then he heard nothing more. Reming downed all power lines.
On Thursday, before Yolanda made its landfall, Gov. Joey Salceda of Albay was being hit for his advance preemptive evacuation beginning Wednesday even declaring the suspension of classes. He even announced that food supply good only for one day in the evacuation centers for 150,000 mouths had been readied.
The governor, being an ex-seminarian, called on the people for prayers as the forecast is really no joke. By all indications, Albay came out to be the most prepared and advanced in disaster-preparedness like prepositioning food and medical supplies a day before, said Cedric Daep of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Heeding Salceda’s call, one resident said: “It’s my first time to pray hard and not for myself and my family but for the country and the Filipino people. I thought of the civil strife in Mindanao, floods, typhoons, earthquake, corruption scandal and now Yolanda. Can you still forgive us Lord,” he asked. The province’s radio stations played repeatedly the Oratio Imperata prayer against climate change, which could be the reason Bicol was spared.
The prayer, “Oratio Imperata” is a prayer for deliverance from calamities, which was aired with a voice clip from (ret.) Bishop Lucilo Barrameda Quiambao of the Diocese of Legazpi.
Monsignor Noe de los Santos of the Diocese’s seminary in Sipi, Daraga, explained that “oration temperate” is a determined acknowledgment of one’s sins to the environment while seeking a protection from the savagery of climate change.
Radio broadcast/journalist Henry Maceda of DZGB Legazpi said the station airs the Oratio Imperata of Bishop Quiambao as people listen.
Back in 2008, when a strong typhoon was expected to hit Bicol and Albay, the prayer was aired after preparations for preemptive evacuation and preparatory relief amounting to P25 million were completed. Mystically, the province was spared from the typhoon, noted Maceda.
With signal number 3 raised by the weather bureau in the province, Albay roads were emptied of vehicles and humans after midnight Thursday and residents prepared for the worst scenario, said Salceda as he thanked his constituents for cooperating with him and provincial officials.
Salceda reported there were no felled trees and banana, neither was there any flooding as the province only has ordinary rains, he added.