TAGBILARAN CITY: Some victims of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Bohol on October 15, 2013 felt blessed and happy that they were able to see and talk with Pope Francis on Saturday in Leyte.
Niza Flores, a resident of Sagbayan town and one of the five Boholanos who met with the Pontiff at the Bishop’s Palace in Palo, Leyte, said in a telephone interview that she was happy that the Pope was able to talk to each of the 30 victims invited to the lunch meeting even when the Pope had to cut short short his Visayas trip due to tropical storm “Amang.”
The 30 privileged few who had an opportunity to huddle with the Pope came from Samar and Leyte, and were mostly victims/survivors of the super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), Flores said.
‘Yolanda’ struck and devastated Leyte province, leaving more than 7,000 people dead or missing and private properties and public infrastructure in ruins.
Flores said, “I’m very happy” in meeting with the Pope.
Asked what she and the Pope talked about, Flores said she told the Pope about what happened to Bohol and her son, Jevie, who died in the earthquake that struck in 2013.
Aside from Flores, other lucky Boholanos who met with the Pope are Salome Israel of Tubigon town; Saturnino Barace of Antequera; Shirley Bongay, Loon; and Veneranda Gentallan, Maribojoc, Bohol. They are victims/survivors of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck the province, leaving 209 people dead, thousands homeless, and centuries-old churches and government infrastructures and private properties in ruins.
Flores said all of them from Bohol were able to see and talk with the Pontiff. She said that Pope Francis told her he would bless Bohol, particularly the victims of calamities.
Shirley Bongay of Barangay Lintuan, Loon town and Salome Israel of Barangay Pooc, Tubigon, shared with the Pope the pain of losing their right arm when their houses collapsed because of the earthquake.
Saturnino Barace of Antequera town lost his relatives when their house collapsed because of the tremor. Veneranda “Neneng” Gentallan said she was already considered dead but miraculously survived even after suffering a broken jaw, cracked spine and skull.
The five Boholanos who met with the Pope left Wednesday morning for Palo, Leyte via Cebu City.
They said they were lucky enough to sail early on as the storm “Amang” had stranded their relatives and other Bohol faithful also slated to see the Pope.