When the Vincentian Ministry began in the Philippines in 1862, only the Congregation of the Mission (CM) and the Daughters of Charity (DC) were part of St. Vincent de Paul’s “double family” in the country. The Ladies of Charity (LC), Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP), Children of Mary (CoM), and Young Ladies Association of Charity (YLAC) were usually invited during the festive occasions of the Double Family, but no formal association existed then. Today however we have 18 branches under the Vincentian Family Philippines (VF Philippines).
Located in the Pacific Ring of Fire with the ever worsening effects of climate change, the country has suffered stronger typhoons, landslides, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. The VF Philippines is not only doing relief operations but more importantly, rehabilitation efforts are made to ease the plight of the survivors who are left with practically nothing. Aside from putting up the Vincentian Village in Anislag, Albay (2005) and the SSVP Village in St. Bernard, Leyte (2006) for typhoon and landslide survivors respectively, the VF Philippines and Adamson University (AdU) have been doing the Charity Hub for calamity victims since 2009 when Typhoon Ondoy inundated the capital and paralyzed Manila for a week. AdU became the Charity Hub as donations were dropped in, packed and delivered by the students, employees and VF members to affected places. The “Charity Hub” was repeated in the years that followed during the Typhoons “Habagat” 2011 and “Pedring” 2012, Earthquake in Bohol 2013 and the Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that same year. Through the Charity Hub, donations were not only centralized in Luzon but they reached the calamity survivors living as far as the Visayas and Mindanao islands. In Tanauan and Basey, Leyte for example which were badly hit by Haiyan, the DC provided presence and community development even two years later.
It is in this light that the VF Philippines chose to do the “Systemic Change Collaborative Project in Tanauan, Leyte.” After the Systemic Change for Asia Pacific Workshop was conducted in July 2014, a core team composed of seven representatives from the VF branches was organized. They found the urgent need for water pumps for the Haiyan survivors. The VF donated 29 water pumps to four barangays (villages): Arado, Amanluran Cogon and Tugop. Volunteers from the different VF branches have been taking turns in providing weekly formation (Phase I) to the prospective leaders of Cogon since February of this year until September. Phase II on Community Development will start right after that. Then Phase III which involves livelihood programs will hopefully be in place by early next year. This collaborative project aims to empower the community of survivors to take responsibility and direction for their own destiny.
Together, the different branches of the Vincentian Family Philippines blaze new paths of charitable service to the poor in response to the call of Pope Francis and in faithfulness to our mission.