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anonymous WhAT IS HAPPENING IN THE PHILLIPINES? June 22, 2008 6:05 AM

A rescue ship battling huge waves and strong winds

reached the ferry Sunday, one end jutting out of the water upside-down, more than 24 hours after it lost radio contact. There was no sign of survivors at the site, and only four people who were on board were known to have reached shore alive.

"They haven't seen anyone. They're scouring the area. They're studying the direction of the waves to determine where survivors may have drifted," coast guard spokesman Lt. Senior Grade Arman Balilo said.

Villagers found six bodies — including a man and a woman who had bound themselves together — along with children's slippers and life jackets that washed ashore nearby.

Officials were checking reports that a large number of survivors might have reached one nearby island and that a lift raft was spotted off another, coast guard spokesman Cmdr. Antonio Cuasito said.

"We can only pray that there are many survivors so we can reduce the number of casualties," he said.

Reynato Lanoria, a janitor on the ship, estimated about 100 people could have survived, "but the others were trapped inside."

"I think they are all dead by now," he told DZMM radio after making it to shore by jumping in the water and reaching a life raft.

Lanoria said he was on the top deck when a crew member ordered people to put on life vests around 11:30 a.m. Saturday. About 30 minutes later, the ship tilted as elderly people and children fell on the rain-slickened deck.

Passenger Jesus Gica also worried that many people were trapped below when the ship listed.

"There were many of us who jumped overboard, but we were separated because of the big waves," he said. "The others were also able to board the life rafts, but it was useless because the strong winds flipped them over."

The ferry initially ran aground a few miles off central Sibuyan island Saturday, then capsized, said Mayor Nanette Tansingco of Sibuyan's San Fernando.

With the upturned ferry visible from her town, she appealed for food, medicine and formalin to embalm bodies.

Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday he was praying for the victims of the ferry disaster.

Benedict told pilgrims in St. Peter's Square that he learned with great emotion of the tragedy and expressed particular sorrow that apparently many children were feared to be among the victims.

He said he felt spiritually close to all those hit by the typhoon. The Philippines is predominantly Catholic.

The typhoon lashed the central Philippines for about four hours Saturday, setting off landslides and floods, knocking out power and blowing off roofs.

In the central province of Iloilo, Gov. Neil Tupaz said 59 people drowned, with another 40 missing.

"Almost all the towns are covered by water. It's like an ocean," Tupaz said, adding that thousands have been displaced in the province that is home to 1.7 million people.

Packing sustained winds of 74 miles per hour and gusts of up to 93 mph, the typhoon shifted course Sunday to the northwest and battered Manila at dawn, dumping heavy rain on the capital. Major streets were flooded, and numerous traffic lights were out.

Rescue vessels aborted an initial attempt Saturday to get to the 23,824-ton ferry. Efforts resumed in stormy weather Sunday, coast guard chief Vice Adm. Wilfredo Tamayo said, although the churning sea kept smaller vessels away. Four coast guard ships and three from the navy were deployed, and the air force was asked to send aircraft as soon as the weather clears.

The ferry — with 626 passengers and 121 crew members on board — was "dead in the water" after its engine failed around noon Saturday, Tamayo said.

About two dozen relatives trooped to the Manila office of Sulpicio Lines, some quietly weeping as they waited for news about their loved ones.

"I'm very worried. I need to know what happened to my family," said Felino Farionin, his voice cracking. His wife, son and four in-laws were on the ferry.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who left for the United States late Saturday, talked to officials in a teleconference aired live on nationwide radio Sunday, scolding

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anonymous  October 15, 2008 8:45 PM

October 15, 2008

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”  Colossians 3:16

Dear Donna

Philippine Christians Fear Failed Pact Increases Risk of Reprisals*

Militant Islamists in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao have stepped up their attacks on majority-Christian villages following the failure of a peace agreement that would have enlarged an existing Muslim autonomous region there.

“The problem is that many people living in these areas don’t want to be part of a Muslim autonomous region,” a source in Mindanao who preferred to remain anonymous told Compass Direct News. “The closer you get to these zones, the more nervous people are,” he said. “The town of Kolambugan, where most of the fighting took place in mid-August, became a virtual ghost town for a while. It had a population of 25,000. But people are slowly returning to their homes.”

A Christian family from the area said many people were afraid to sleep at night because they kept hearing reports that they would be attacked at midnight. Read more about the ongoing violence in Mindanao. 

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