Pope cuts Tacloban trip short amid typhoon in the Philippines

Pope Francis waves to well-wishers after mass in Tacloban.

CNN: 

Pope Francis cut his trip to Tacloban short Saturday as an approaching typhoon with blistering winds threatened the city in the Philippines.

The Pope donned a slicker to conduct an outdoor Mass for hundreds of thousands who gathered despite stormy weather.

The Mass in Tacloban was shortened after sustained winds of 80 mph and higher gusts howled toward the city.

Tacloban is still recovering from the 2013 disaster of Super Typhoon Haiyan, described as one of the strongest storms ever recorded with 195 mph sustained winds. It killed 6,300 people nationwide.

Typhoon Mekkhala was upgraded from a tropical storm and made landfall in the Philippines in the afternoon just northeast of Tacloban.

The Mass began about a half-hour after he landed. Wind rustled the hood on the pontiff’s slicker as he spoke to a crowd clad in raincoats.

Typhoon Mekkhala, which is called Typhoon Amang in the Philippines, was arriving on the island of eastern Samar — about 50 miles from where the Pope was in Tacloban.

Just two weeks ago, a tropical storm struck Tacloban and surrounding areas, causing a commercial passenger plane to slide off the runway while landing. Tropical Storm Jiangmi, renamed Seniang in the Philippines, killed 54 people in landslides and flash floods in that region, CNN affiliate ABS-CBN reported.

During the Pope’s visit to Tacloban, he will have lunch with survivors of the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, renamed Typhoon Yolanda in that country. That typhoon displaced 918,000 families nationwide, the government says.

He is also to bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor and will meet with clergy and more typhoon survivors in the cathedral in Palo.

The pontiff is also scheduled to perform an outdoor Mass in Manila on Sunday before millions of Filipinos.

By then, the storm should weaken to a tropical depression. Still, Manila could face gusty winds and significant rain during the Mass.

The Pope’s trip to Asian isles began Tuesday in Sri Lanka, and he landed in the Philippines on Friday.

On Friday, Francis met with President Benigno Aquino, and the pontiff urged the political leader to reject corruption and promote “honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good,” the Vatican said. He also spoke of “the moral imperative of ensuring social justice and respect for human dignity,” according to a copy of his remarks provided by the Vatican.

Here in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters. The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality,” the Pope said in other remarks.

The Pope leaves Manila for Rome on Monday.

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Lea Salonga, Charice, apl.de.ap to lead Kennedy Center concert for Typhoon Haiyan survivors

 

 

Lea Salonga, Charice, and apl.de.ap will lead a star-studded concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC on June 15 to raise funds for survivors of super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) that devastated central Philippines last year.

The Washington-based Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) in an e-mail to the Philippines News Agency on Saturday said the concert is an initiative of the Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia.

Grace Valera, MHC co-director, said other Filipino groups such as Philippine Humanitarian Coalition and the US Philippines Society are coordinating activities related to the event to ensure the success of the concert.

Hollywood star Lou Diamond Phillips, whose mother is a Filipino, will also be part of the concert.

In a statement, Valera said: “Every ticket counts as the funds raised will go to typhoon relief programs in the Philippines. This is our opportunity, as a united community in the Capital Region (Washington), to show our continued support.

“Please take a moment to remember that so many Filipinos lost their lives and millions were displaced as a result of typhoon Haiyan. We all know there is a lot of work to do. But, in order to continue the progress that has already been made, we need to find it in our hearts to continue to give what we can. It is a sacrifice on our part, but it is worth it to help improve the livelihood of our brothers and sisters in need. Their current struggle is something that many of us can’t even imagine,” Valera added.

Typhoon Yolanda was the world’s strongest to hit landfall in over 100 years that devastated the islands of Samar and Leyte, particularly Tacloban City, on November 8, 2013, killing over 7,000 people. Other areas in central Visayas were also devastated.

Seven months after, thousands of survivors are still without homes.

The Philippine government with the help of the international community has launched a massive rehabilitation effort.

 

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Lea Salonga, Charice, apl.de.ap to lead concert for Typhoon Haiyan survivors