News has spread worldwide of the eruption of the Taal volcano, which began on January 12, just a few kilometers away from the Focolare Mariapolis Pace in Tagaytay on the Philippine island of Luzon.
Thanks to social media photos of the houses and streets covered with ash and mud have reached everywhere, as well as first-hand accounts of the many who in these days are leaving the tourist region of Tagaytay, about 60 Km from the capital Manila.
The Philippine authorities have called for the total evacuation of about 500,000 people following the alert issued by the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology of the Philippines (PHILVOLCS). An explosive eruption is feared.
“It’s like walking through a ghost town – comments a girl on Facebook, describing Tagaytay, her city: everything is one colour: grey; there is no electricity or water and earthquake tremors are frequent”.
Mariapolis Pace of the Focolare Movement is about 30 km from the Taal volcano ; it was inaugurated in 1982 with a distinct role in dialogue between people of different religions and this morning we reached Ding Dalisay and Chun Boc Tay, responsible for the Focolare Movement in the Philippines, to get news about its inhabitants; they assured us that the evacuation of its inhabitants has almost been completed.
“Almost all the focolarine have left; the priests and seminarians have been transferred to the San Carlos Seminary and the 7 Gen – the Focolare youth – are now in Manila. Some of the focolarini are with their families and while others have remained in their respective focolares, our families are quite well and some have moved.
We are distributing food and water for the needy and we are making arrangements to house displaced people if necessary. It is difficult to communicate because we cannot recharge our mobile phones and we cannot use computers.
Yesterday we celebrated mass and dined together by candlelight. We try to merit the presence of Jesus in our midst”.
Ding then recounts the extraordinary resilience of the Filipino people, visible in normal gestures that become heroic in extreme situations like this: “It is incredible the creativity of the poorest people who, even though they have nothing, invent unexpected resources at the service of those who need them more than they do. We have seen a disabled man who has put a table at the side of the road to hand out soot masks for free; or the owner of a small restaurant who has displayed a sign that says: ‘Those who need a meal can enter without paying’; or a gentleman who offers to clean the ashes from every car that’s moving in the area with his water pump”.
The Focolare community in and around Tagaytay thanks everyone in the world for their prayers, messages and for the many phone calls. We continue to follow the situation and to give news about it especially through the social networks of the Focolare Movement.