Adapted by Robert Lalonde
On 8th November 2013, super typhoon Haiyan pounded the island of Leyte in the Philippines with winds nearing 315 kilometres per hour and a tremendous storm surge that bulldozed the countryside. 11 million people were affected by the storm. Over 6,000 people lost their lives.
The Minor Seminary of the Sacred Heart in Palo was almost totally destroyed. At that time, there were only four priests in the building: the rector, the vice-rector, the dean of the College of the Philosophy and the Prefect of Studies, Father Mark Ivo Velasquez. As the latter explains, there were no seminarians because they were gone on their annual retreat.
Father Velasquez recalls the frightful events of that night: “I woke up at four, as did the other priests because we could not sleep and we wanted to monitor the progress of the storm. We were watching as the strength of the wind increased and I was becoming increasingly worried because I could see the roof of the chapel being lifted up little by little. One of the dorms there, the walls exploded. The pressure was so great that it pushed one door to the other dorm. The high school building was destroyed. The auditorium it was totally flattened in a matter of minutes. Our carpentry shop which is at the back, it was completely destroyed”.
The wind damaged 80% of the Seminary buildings. Several months after Haiyan made landfall, the seminary has resumed operations.