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Filipinos turn to French saint to ward off disasters

Images of Medard of Noyon to be submerged off coast for protection as Philippines remembers deadly Typhoon Haiyan 4 years on

Filipinos turn to French saint to ward off disasters

Survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the central Philippines in 2013, visit the graves of victims of the disaster outside a Catholic church in Palo, Leyte province. (Photo by Vincent Go)

October 23, 2017

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Images of a French saint will be submerged in waters off the coast of the central Philippines on Nov. 8 to mark the anniversary when Super Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful storm to hit the archipelago, made landfall.

The event will be one of the highlights of fourth anniversary remembrance activities of the disaster that killed several thousand people in 2013.

A life-size statue of Medard of Noyon, a French saint who is invoked against bad weather, will also be unveiled and submerged off the coast of Leyte province.

"We hope that with St. Medard across the province, we can have a stronger hold of our inner self and

against bad weather," said Carlo Loreto, vice governor of the province.

He said divers have marked sites off the coastal towns of Palo, Tanauan, and Tolosa, to submerge images of the saint.

The towns were among the worst hit during the typhoon.

According to legend, when St. Medard was a child he was protected from rain by an eagle.

Loreto said the people of the province can easily relate to St. Medard because what their experience during the aftermath of the typhoon.

"What we saw during [Haiyan] was ... a strength of character and strength of spirit of people," said the vice governor.

He said natural disasters are unavoidable, but their impact could be lessened if people cared more for the environment.

"We hope that the installation of St. Medard will create better awareness in protecting our environment," said Loreto.

Four years on, the World Bank noted the Philippine government's lack of a standard rehabilitation and recovery plan in rebuilding devastated areas.

The storm affected 12 million people, displaced more than 900,000 families, damaged at least a million homes, and left more than 6,300 people dead and 28,000 injured.

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