March 21, 2013 — In the four months since Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central region of the Philippines, the Jesuit-run SLB (Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan), the main social justice organization of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines, has been dedicated to relief and rebuilding efforts. According to a recent update, the SLB is focusing on three specific areas: Isla Culion, an island in the Palawan province; the province of the Dinagat Islands; and the province of Capiz, all in the central Philippines.
Jesuit Father Xavier C. Alpasa, executive director of the SLB, and Jesuit Father Pedro Walpole, director of the Philippines’ Environmental Science for Social Change, visited several areas in Culion, where the SLB donated solar lights last year. The SLB evaluated proposed sites for a number of infrastructure projects, including new housing, a high school dormitory and a typhoon-resistant multipurpose hall. The Jesuits also met with the local government and parish representatives in order to examine the residents’ needs.
The SLB, along with a representative from Jesuit Refugee Service in Thailand and a local district congressperson, conducted a thorough assessment of the situation in the Dinagat Islands, identifying needs for evacuation centers, community-based disaster risk reduction and management and the resettlement of vulnerable communities.
Dinagat Islands, the 9th poorest province in the Philippines, estimated $4.5 million in infrastructure damage after the typhoon. Almost 25,000 of the 126,803 residents were affected by Haiyan in the province, which is prone to landslides and typhoons.
The team also met with the mayor, parish priest and agriculture officers in the Dinagat Islands to understand the residents’ concerns.
The SLB has also funded 20 solar charging stations and installed lighting and additional solar panels in the province of Capiz, which is known as the seafood capital of the Philippines. As of December 2013, infrastructure and agriculture damage in the province totaled over $100 million, with 719,695 residents affected.
Fr. Alpasa and the SLB will continue to finalize relief program priorities and its plans in Culion and Dinagat Island in coming months.
To support the SLB’s efforts, click here to donate to the Philippine Jesuit Foundation online.