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Shopping Habits

In: People

Submitted By Tjsma1997
Words 480
Pages 2
She is a 4-foot-11 political force. When she was 18, she decided to sell off her share of her family's land and use the money to set up a cooperative that teaches livelihoods and lends to small businesses. Her siblings were supportive, urging her to sell off the best plots of property to finance her dream.

It was a success, growing from modest beginnings to hundreds of members. After that, her father encouraged her to run for local office. When Ms. Orejola was in her early 20s, he arranged a marriage to an eligible local bachelor. In response, she ran away from home and joined a Roman Catholic convent.

“He wanted me to know only one man,” she says. “I wanted to know many people.” Her father didn’t speak to her for eight years.

Outgoing and cheerful, Orejola often invokes a prayer – her favorite – to Jesus’s grandmother, subsequently sainted by the Catholic church. “I say, ‘Saint Anna, please bless me with pleasant surprises.' ”

Typhoon Yolanda was not one of them. Orejola cut short a trip to Rome to check on the members of her cooperative here, mostly the children and grandchildren of original members, and to pay calls to her extended family.

THE LORD TAKETH AWAY

She arrives at the evacuation center where many of the cooperative families have taken shelter in what was the old parish hall. The adjacent church lies in ruins, its roof blown away and its wooden pews scattered and splintered.

The parish members have dragged some of the battered pews to what remains of a concrete car port. They have salvaged, too, a mud-splattered lectern. A weather-beaten statue of Mary sits on an old footstool atop a makeshift altar hastily constructed of packing crates.

“The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away,” the priest intones, as parishioners turn to greet Orejola. Children take her hand and gently bow as they raise it to their foreheads in a sign of devotion. It is a sparse gathering for a morning mass, the empty pews underscoring the community's vast loss.

As mass ends, the congregants, many of them members of the collective, crowd around Orejola, who carries a large Winnie the Pooh suitcase filled with matches, medicine, candles, canned goods, bandages, and water.

Aileen Fabi and her family rode out the storm here. As the winds whipped up and the waters rose, her son Martin, 15, found some old foam and gently wrapped a 2-month-old baby in a loose cocoon to protect him from the high-velocity glass and splintered wood.

A CHILD IS BORN

Meanwhile, in the now-decimated church, his mother was delivering a baby. Ms. Fabi is a midwife, trained courtesy of funds raised by the collective, of which she is a member, along with her husband, Aldwin. The collective is where he was when the storm hit.

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