eastwind journals 104
By Bernie Lopez
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I stumbled on this story by accident. But then again it was perhaps not quite by accident. It was as if I was called upon to tell the world about it. I bumped into Sister Reynalda, RVM, at the Mother Ignacia Healing Ministry in Novaliches. And on the spot, she blurted out this story. She was almost running out of breath as she spoke so excitedly. She is from Borongan.
Borongan in Eastern Samar faces the mighty Pacific. If Yolanda devastated Tacloban and the rest of the towns surrounding Borongan, it was hard to believe how Borongan never felt that super-typhoon. Its houses and coconut trees are today intact, while the rest of the eastern shore towns are still recuperating from total devastation.
A passenger boat connects Borongan to scattered nearby islets. Years before Yolanda, a lady, hugging her baby, a stranger to the people, boarded the boat. At the first islet stop, she refused to go down. People were asking where she was going. She just smiled without a word and pointed to the sea. Finally, at Punta Maria, she disembarked and was never seen again. The next day, the residents were surprised to see a statue of Mama Mary with Baby Jesus at the beach area. They decided to transport the statue by boat to Borongan, and gave it to the parish priest there.
The statue was dubbed Our Lady of Nativity. A fiesta was born out of the incident. Every September 8, the birthday or nativity of Mama Mary, the statue was brought back to Punta Maria, welcomed by its residents. They then all went on a pilgrimage to Borongan in a flotilla of boats to accompany the statue to its home in the parish church. Later, street dancing was introduced to the fiesta.
When the 7.8 earthquake devastated half a dozen churches in Bohol and Cebu, the people of Borongan were scared of the tremors. But there were no houses or buildings destroyed, and there were no cracks in the ground, which were seen everywhere else.

An old woman relates that, when Yolanda came, she saw three tsunami-sized waves from her balcony facing the ocean. She simply closed her eyes and prayed. When she opened her eyes, she saw the waves split and move to the sides, mimicking the parting of the waters in the Red Sea.

When Yolanda came, the people of Borongan never knew about it. They felt strong winds, but discovered only much later that the rest of Samar and Leyte, especially Tacloban, were totally destroyed by the largest typhoon in Man’s history. They were saddened by the thousands who drowned. The coconut trees of Borongan today are green and bear fruits. Borongan today is as pristine as before Yolanda.
Could it be coincidence that Pope Francis ordered the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima to be sent to Bohol after the deadly earthquake preceding Yolanda. After Yolanda, there were vague news reports that that statue, in the confusion of floods and deaths, found its way into a small village near Borongan. After that, there were no more news on its whereabouts. Some said it was now in a Borongan church. The statue has in its crown the bullet which failed to assassinate St. John Paul II. It is the statue of Our Lady of Safety from Disasters, the same as the statue of Our Lady of Nativity.
When the first atomic bomb of human history fell on Hiroshima, the Jesuit house a few hundred meters from ground zero, was miraculously intact. For kilometers, everything was razed to the ground, except this one tiny house, standing tall against the rubble. When that bomb exploded, a small group of Jesuits were praying the rosary in that house.
when you cross turbulent waters
I shall be with you
in the wild rivers
you shall not drown
when you walk through fire
you shall not be burned
no flames shall consume you
as I am with you always
for I am the Lord
your God your Saviour
the Holy One
for you are precious
and glorious in My eyes
and I love you
Isaiah 43:2-8
the people who walked in darkness
have seen a radiant light
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
You have brought  them O Lord
abundant joy and great peace
they celebrate before You
as in a harvest or spoils of battle
for the yoke that burdened them
the pole on their shoulder
and the rod of their slavemaster
You have smashed as in the days of midian
Isaiah 8:23-9:3
the Lord reigns in cyberspace
in every nook of each of the billions of galaxies
across the known universe
20-billion light years in diameter
praise be to You, Lord and Creator
of everything that is
for those who need healing, visit
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