St. Dominic pastor departs from hometown in Philippines just before typhoon arrives

November 26, 2013

HOUSTON and DAO, Capiz — Like every year, Father Roger Estorque traveled to his home in Dao, Capiz in the Phillipines for his annual family visit. The St. Dominic Church pastor had arrived on Oct. 21.

By his own account, “everything went well” until the last two days of his stay. His scheduled departure to return to Houston was Nov. 7, just prior to Typhoon Haiyan penetrating the region.

“That was the only flight from my hometown,” Father Estorque said. “The typhoon landed (in Capiz) at 3 p.m. on Nov. 8. I was talking with my brother then and suddenly, communication went off. I had left the Philippines with a heavy heart. But I received a message from my brother early on Nov. 9, and he said everything went well for them and everyone was safe.”

The family he visits includes his three siblings and their families and his ailing 82-year-old mother. They did experience severe property damage – as did all of the neighborhoods in the area.

“I am so thankful they are all alive,” Father Estorque said. “They were crying when I asked what I could do. They just said thank God that everyone is safe.”

Father Estorque said that power is on and off in the region, so communication is very erratic, but he has remained in touch with his loved ones in Capiz.

“Up until now, they are still living in total darkness because power lines have not yet been restored,” he said. “I was told it will be in two to four months (before power is restored). That is how devastating the typhoon was.”

Father Estorque said his 200-year-old hometown parish and St. Pius X Seminary of Capiz both lost their roofs to the storm. He had just celebrated Mass at the community parish on Nov. 3. He hopes that both will be repaired.

“Everybody is sad. Nobody expected (a typhoon of) this magnitude. I am hoping we can rebuild the different communities,” he said. “We are getting a lot of support from so many countries, locally and internationally.” 

The pastor’s thoughts and prayers are with his countrymen dealing with the seemingly insurmountable aftermath of the super typhoon.

“The situation is very difficult in other parts of the country,” Father Estorque said. “I’m grateful there are so many relief efforts taking place.”

Parishioners from St. Dominic Church are currently coordinating efforts to send clothing and food to areas severely affected by the super typhoon. 

“Everybody is very supportive, accommodating and generous in terms of giving whatever they could for this particular situation,” Father Estorque said.

With numerous logistical hurdles still being sorted out, the long recovery is slowly underway. Father Estorque continues to pray for people in the Philippines with his parish family at St. Dominic Church in Houston.

“Even if my heart is bleeding, I know God will help them,” he said. “I just trust and put everything to the Lord.”