On January 12, 2020, the Taal Volcano of the Philippines had a phreatic [steam driven] eruption. Located picturesquely at the center of a lake, Taal is a designated DECADE Project volcano [one meriting intensive scientific study]. The eruption generated volcanic earthquakes and left a two-inch [five centimeter]deposit of ash on neighboring towns and cities. The St. Joseph Friary in Tagaytay City, which houses the common novitiate of the Federation of Asian Minors Conventual (FAMC), was also affected.

On January 13, the day after the eruption, all of the novices and their respective formators were evacuated to the St. Maximilian Seminary in Paranaque, a safer area about fifty kilometers [twenty-seven miles] away from the volcano. In response to this emergency situation, the Provincial Custos, Friar Francis Victor MATEO, permitted the novices to stay at the St. Maximilian Seminary in accordance with what is stipulated in the Constitutions, 154 §3. Friar Francis’ idea was supported by the Minister Provincial of Naples, Friar Cosimo ANTONINO. The Minister General, Friar Carlos Alberto TROVARELLI, was duly informed of these changes by Friar Benedetto BAEK, the Assistant General for the FAMC.
In the meantime, the St. Joseph Friary in Tagaytay City became the center of the Custody’s charitable works. To date, the friars have accommodated thirty-four evacuees, members of fourteen displaced families from the island where the volcano is located. Friars Matthew FARAON, Pascual RAMOS, and Miguel SUMAGAYSAY took care of them. The Custody received emergency monetary funds and donations from local and foreign sources, such as, the Province of Naples and some Filipinos in Australia. These are currently being distributed to those badly affected by the eruption.
On January 26, 2020, a medical mission was held at the friary with the help of a benefactor of the Custody and her group of volunteers from the “Mission of Love” organization. Almost two hundred residents from Barangay Mag-asawang Ilat and its neighboring villages took advantage of the free medical and pediatric consultations, dental check-ups, and tooth extractions. The recipients also received free prescription medicines, a meal and some relief goods. The services were provided by around forty medical volunteers, including doctors, nurses, and dentists. They were assisted by some generous lay collaborators and in cooperation with the friars of the Custody of the Philippines. This same group has been assisting several communities since 2007. Last year they conducted similar outreach program at the St. Joseph Friary and at the St. Anthony of Padua Friary in Samar in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Order’s presence in the country. The Custody gives thanks to our Almighty Father for the support it has received from its benefactors. Moreover, the Custody invokes God’s providential care, especially for those families who are badly affected by the calamity.

Custodial Communications Office
Photo: Friar Bernard ANUTA