Inside a church compound in the city of Lipa, less than a hundred kilometers from Manila, volunteers were busy ushering in families affected by the eruption of a nearby volcano.
In one corner, meals were being prepared by a group of artists. Children were huddled on side for “psycho-social interventions” also facilitated by volunteers.
Outside, boxes of food, bottled water, toiletries, and clothing were being unloaded.
There was enough supply of basic needs, but the church needs medical personnel to check on the health of the evacuees.
“We’re requesting for medical assistance because there are people who are getting sick. We’d like to have some nurses,” said Redemptorist priest Edward Pandaan.
Some evacuees were isolated in a separate room due to flu-like symptoms.
“We’re attending to their physical needs, providing shelter to them,” Father Pandaan said. “The church can be their home,” he added.
The priest, however, is worried of a bigger volcanic eruption.
Authorities said the threat of a hazardous eruption remained on Jan. 16 as “intense seismic activity” was felt.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology still observed “short-lived dark gray ash plumes” from the volcano.
At least 566 volcanic earthquakes have been felt since Jan. 12 when the volcano first erupted. Of these, 172 were considered strong for volcanic earthquakes.
“Such intense seismic activity likely signifies continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the Taal edifice, which may lead to further eruptive activity,” warned authorities.
Father Pandaan, meanwhile, said church volunteers have been providing “a holistic approach” to helping the displaced families.
In the southern Philippines, authorities called on people to continue sending help to the affected communities in the northern part of the country.
“They need our help,” said Marcial Labininay, head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology in Region 10.
“Donating an essential commodity like drinking water is already a big help because water sources have already been contaminated,” he said.
In Manila, officials of the Manila Cathedral said they have received several requests for weddings from the provinces of Batangas and Cavite that were affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.
“We received 15 to 20 enquiries as of now,” said Father Reginald Malicdem, rector of the Manila Cathedral. “Others inquired in other churches,” he said. The scenic city of Tagaytay, which overlooks the volcano, is famous for its wedding venues.
Father Malicdem said that to help affected couples, the Manila Cathedral will open slots for weddings scheduled in January and February.
“The slot depends on the availability of the Manila Cathedral,” said the priest. He advised couples to personally visit the cathedral to know the process.
“We will discuss all details case to case basis,” he said.
Aside from the Manila Cathedral, the National Shrine of St. Michael and the Archangels in Manila also announced that it will welcome those who would want to transfer their wedding.
“Please visits us and we are willing to be of help,” read a social media post from the shrine.
In the town of Alitagtag in Batangas province, a group of people offered a traditional dance dubbed “Subli” outside the town’s church as a prayer to avert another volcanic eruption.
More than a dozen people performed the ritual dance on Jan. 15 before what they believe to be a miraculous crucifix.
The Subli is a prayer dance that is offered to God as thanksgiving on birthday and other special occasions or as a plea for help in times of calamities.