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…