TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) — After Pope Francis' visit to the central Philippine city of Tacloban on Saturday, a group of Filipinos took shelter from the rain under a tarpaulin roof stretched out from a rebuilt wooden shack.
A recurring theme emerged when they were asked about what the pope's visit meant to them: How communities fell apart after Typhoon Haiyan swept into the city on Nov. 8, 2013, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
Men staying out late drinking, and not going to work. A disconnect with their Catholic faith. A sense of blaming God for the death of loved ones.
Many hoped that the pope's visit to the typhoon-hit region would reinvigorate their faith, bringing them closer to God and the church again. Without that, they said, things would only get worse.
Here's what some typhoon victims had to say Saturday:
— FRITCHIE FACTURANAN, 33, lost her grandmother and aunt in the typhoon.
"I have felt bad for the whole year that I was not here to help my grandmother and aunt during the typhoon. I hope that their souls will be blessed by the pope."
— RUEL GARCELAZO, 36, washed up in the typhoon surge but managed to find safety in broken timber.
"I hope that the pope will bless and restore our faith because many are asking why God can do this."
— GUNEIL LIANA, 27, lost his only daughter.
"My heart became very warm when I saw the pope and, after our losses, we can only hope to be blessed."
— VIVENCIO LUANA, 52, lost his wife, one of his four children, nine grandchildren and a son-in-law.
"I hope the pope can come and bring some unity here because this place is broken."
— JUBILYN TANNAGEA, 31, lost her husband and her six children. She has remarried and is four months pregnant.
"I lost everything. Now I am starting again with my new life and baby, so I'm hoping to be blessed."
— THELMA PASCUA, 29, lost no family, but her home was damaged.
"After the devastation of the typhoon, the pope's visit makes me finally feel blessed. I hope for good health for my family and no more deadly typhoons to come here."
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