Kuwentong Sandigan: A PARISH SUBMERGED (06.19.22)

Photo by: Parokya ng Sta. Cruz, Paco, Obando, Bulacan

“Most of the time, like the floodgates, we cannot see that something is broken and needs fixing, until maybe we experience something negative that will force our eyes to see that something indeed, needs our attention.”

Karen Legaspi


Karen Legaspi

I woke up to a beautiful, sunny, Saturday morning. As I sat comfortably in the living room of our condominium in Quezon City, I couldn’t be any farther away from the hardship that my friends and the people of Obando are experiencing. For the past few days, flood has been devastating the town of Obando and even my beloved parish, Parokya ng Sta. Cruz, was not spared from this.

There’s no rain and there’s no typhoon, and yet the water keeps coming. Day-in and day-out, it is there, subsiding only to go back the next day as if with vengeance. And as if the flood is not enough, with it comes all kinds of trash and garbage, mud, and slime that makes everything harder to clean. They said it is naturally a high tide season but flooding got worse because multiple floodgates are broken and they haven’t been fixed.

Sure, Obandeños are used to flooding. I remember in my younger days; it is a part of life — for some days children go to and from school on trikes because jeeps and cars cannot pass through the flood. On the days that the flood was worse, going to school was cancelled, and we get to play, walking on flooded streets, racing our paper boats. But as I remember, the Church is always spared; it seems to always be on higher ground, watching over us, a dry patch of lot where, no matter the weather and the level of flood, you can always hear Mass with the comfort of a dry feet.

In fact, for the better part of at least the last 10 years, our parish has been spared from heavy flooding. There were instances when the rain will get so bad that flood will come in on the lower level of the Church but most portion will still stay dry and we can always rely that Mass can be celebrated. But these last few days have not been normal. Flood came back on the main streets that for years have been dry. All barangays that are under our parish got affected. It went into homes and submerged houses that families consider as their safe place. And it entered our beloved parish, sunk kneelers, toppled down pews, and is even inches away from reaching our altar. The flood was so bad that we cannot even celebrate Mass in the Parish Church and all celebrations have to be moved to the nearby chapel until the situation improves. We don’t even know when will the situation improve and when can we thoroughly clean the Church enough to celebrate Mass again.

At first glance, this incident could not have come at a worse time. See, we are trying to repair the structure of our Church. The rains of the past year have shown some of us that small repairs and patches will not make do anymore. But we thought we have time and some of us even thought that we can delay the process. Prior to the flood, we are pacing ourselves, planning things and trying to prepare resources before we take on the huge task of rebuilding the structure. We are in the process of doing electrical work and paint on a temporary chapel we are building on the side of the Church where we plan to celebrate Masses while the construction is on-going. Simultaneously we are also piling gravel on a new portion of the compound where we plan to extend the structure of the Church. And all these works were affected when the flood came in. Apparently like the broken floodgates, we don’t have any choice and time but to start fixing things – and it is overwhelming that we might not be ready.   But I hope that we, as a parish can find a silver lining to this. Most of the time, like the floodgates, we cannot see that something is broken and needs fixing, until maybe we experience something negative that will force our eyes to see that something indeed, needs our attention. There are also times that most of us are fixated on our own struggles and problems; like right now when almost all of us are struggling with the water that got into our own homes and how to clean it after the flood goes away. But in the midst of all this struggle, I hope that some energy is still left in us and that God will give us the resources to work together in fixing His Church. That as a community, we can work together not just in cleaning It — but rebuilding It, making It stronger and improving on It so it can be a proper place of worship. A sanctuary where all of us parishioners can again feel inside it a sense of safety, comfort, and pea

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