Devastating Typhoons Hit Philippines

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

During recent months, Brother Roy Cogdill and I have written in this paper extensively concerning conditions in the Philippine Islands. In October and November, very strong typhoons hit the Philippines. Terrible destruction was wrought. Newspaper accounts reported that the area was "a wasteland of fallen coconut and banana trees, smashed houses, roofless churches and schools, washed-out roads and rice paddles and widespread human suffering. . . ."

Affected were southern Luzon, Mindoro, and Mindanao. An earlier typhoon and flood had brought great destruction to Manila and upper Luzon. More than one thousand people lost their lives. I dreadfully await reports from the brethren there for fear that many brethren were among those killed. The area hit on Mindanao particularly was an area where many Christians lived. Brother Cogdill and I visited in and preached in many of the very places now a virtual wasteland, according to newspaper accounts.

The newspaper accounts stated that the agricultural crops in many sections were 92 per cent lost. Most of our brethren depend upon farming for sustenance. A United States aid official said, "They'll be lucky to salvage 10 per cent of the rice. All the bananas and abaco hemo are gone and most of the crops." These items Include about all of their money crops and most of their food items. A Philippine army general said, "The destruction here is worse in many ways than what we saw in Vietnam."

Many of the brethren there were existing nearly at the starvation level before these disasters struck. Certainly there will be conditions of dire necessity in the affected sections of the Philippines. I hope that we well-to-do Americans (and we all are, by Filipino standards) will be responsive to the spiritual and physical needs of our brethren in this far off land. A recent letter from one of the preachers told me that he only had "one food" (probably rice) three times a day for his family. Most of us do not realize how well-off we really are.

The surplus of individual Christians in this country (aside from what churches may do), could alleviate the needs and suffering of at least the Christians in the Philippines. Yet the cry for spiritual help is equally urgent.

The most, recent letters that I have received from the Philippines were written during the early stages of the, typhoons. Houses were shaking even as the letters were being written. I dread to hear of the aftermath from our brethren. But I thought those of you who have expressed such an interest in the work there might like to have this tragedy reported, even though I cannot now report its complete proportions as it affected our brethren. But it is certain that the poor there will be made much, much poorer!

December 10, 1970