By: EILEEN NAZARENO-BALLESTEROS
TACLOBAN CITY- Proving that sincere help transcends religious borders, the Taiwan-based Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation offered a helping hand to the Sto. Niño Parish in Tacloban.
Rev. Msgr. Alex Opiniano, the parish priest, sees nothing wrong in allowing an organization, whose members largely belong to a different religious faith, to help the parish, especially if the group’s founder gathered the inspiration in establishing the charitable foundation from the apostolate of the Catholic religious nuns in Taiwan.
“We allow people of different faith to be connected with each other bound by the same spirit of love, compassion and understanding,” he said.
Opiniano said that reconstructing the Santo Niño Church would cost around P30 million, including its wiring and electronic systems.
The Taiwan-based foundation built two tents at the courtyard of the church, where the faithful could stand during masses once the renovation of the entire church edifice commenced on February, this year.
The construction of the tents at the Sto. Niño Church happened too soon because the volunteers who built the Taiwan-made pre-fabricated tents will have to leave by February according to Opiniano quoting the advice told to him.
He added that the Tzu Chi Foundation offered to help during a chance conversation with its CEO Alfred Li in a flight from Manila to Tacloban recently. Before he knew it, the Taiwanese volunteers had already delivered the materials and in less than one day finished constructing the tents. These tents could last for five years, according to Li in a separate interview with LSDE.
Although these tents bear the name of the donor Tzu Chi, a charitable institution formed by Buddhist nun monk Master Cheng Yen also of Taiwan, this does not cast worry on the part of the parish priest of the Santo Niño Parish.
Besides, the donor did not impose any condition in whatever help it hands over to the local church. Tzu Chi espouses the philosophy of helping the needy regardless of political and religious affiliation.
For now, the Sto. Niño Parish has sought the expertise of renowned architect Dominic Galicia in coming up with the design that will not only withstand the forces of nature, but will embody the expression of aspiration, vision and mission of the church, while keeping its general profile observing the liturgical guidelines of the Mother Church on church edifices as well as the people’s heritage.
This mitigated structural design will be presented to the various councils and mandated organizations and ministries of the parish, representatives from the United Architects of the Philippines, the Leyte-Samar Heritage Council as well as the general public for their comments and suggestions on February 1 Saturday at 2 o’clock in the afternoon at the Sto. Niño Church.
Opiniano said that he hope that the Vatican, through the Propaganda Fidei, a pontifical commission under the Holy See, will help them on their reconstruction effort.
Msgr. Bernie Pantin, the vicar-general of the Archdiocese of Palo, in a text message, said that the Vatican would help the repairs of the destroyed churches due to the supertyphoon.
Pantin, who is also the parish priest of the Our Lady of Transfiguration Parish, said that the Metropolitan Cathedral of Palo, which suffered much destruction in the onslaught of typhoon Yolanda, is now undergoing repair.
“So far the Phinma Foundation has pledged P8 million to do the roofing of the cathedral nave, dome and altar and the convent, but that excludes the roofing of the side wings and the back portion of the cathedral which as the two sacristies and gallery of the saints’” he added.
At least P21 million would be needed for the repair of the cathedral.