Did God listen?

By Alex P. Vidal

“For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.”—Saint Teresa of Avila

SOME Filipinos believe that prayers can save us from catastrophes and calamities, before, during, and after.

Is it because of the presence of good and evil that catastrophes torment humanity?

If our prayers were “answered” earlier, there were cases when superstorms, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions detected by weather experts either avoided the Philippines, “terminated” their wraths, or didn’t make landfall.

If they were “answered” while the tragedies were unfolding, those who “believed” were saved and spared from death and destruction.

If they were “answered” after the catastrophes, the victims easily recovered from the trauma, physical and economic losses, and rebuilt their lives sooner than expected.


When superstorm “Odette” recently lashed at Surigao and other areas in the Visayas, many people even from regions and provinces not hit by the storm bombarded the social media with prayers; they asked God, the Divine Providence, to spare their countrymen from death and destruction and to halt the killer typhoon right away.

Did God answer the multitudes of prayers? Maybe yes, maybe not.

Either God wanted to stop “Odette” but did not, or He wanted to stop “Odette” but could not.

This reminds us of Voltaire, who wrote a poem in which he discussed a theodicy, that is the problem of justifying the existence of evil and suffering in the world while believing at the same time in the existence of a good and omnipotent god.

Voltaire, a French philosopher, argued that the evil in the world cannot be the will of God, because in that case would not be a good and just god, but it cannot be someone else’s responsibility, because in that case it means God is not omnipotent.
From Voltaire’s perspective, to say that evil only seems to people to be bad when instead it is part of a universal good is a distortion of reality because it denies the suffering and it is also an insult to those who have been victims of natural laws.


Scam artists and unscrupulous individuals take advantage of calamities and disasters where there’s a need for the victims to receive immediate help and attention from the Good Samaritans and foundations, civic clubs, other non-profit organizations, to make their own unauthorized and fund-raising campaign.

Because they are up to something sinister and aberrant, these scam artists and thugs in most cases use the social media and other electronic communications to implement their malpractice where they are most effective and creative.

This has happened in the past and this will happen again. In fact, if we open the private messages in our social media accounts, it’s happening and the scammers are back with a vengeance!


Some network foundations have been making regular public announcements about their donations to victims of super typhoon “Odette” like they’re operating a public alarm system.

“Nakahanda pong tumulong ang aming foundation sa mga nasalanta ng bagyo ‘Odette’ dahil gusto po naming maging masaya rin sila sa pasko (Our foundation is always ready to help those who are victims of typhoon ‘Odette’ because we want them to be happy during Christmas),” volunteers one network foundation.

It’s not wrong to help, especially during calamities like the recent super storm that devastated Surigao and some Visayas cities and municipalities.

It’s not wrong also to announce it, especially if the intention is to convince other donors to contribute something to the foundation.

The purpose of foundations is to receive donations and extend help financially and otherwise. They are useful especially during calamities, disasters, famine, pandemics, and other situations where essential assistance is necessary and urgent like rice, canned goods, noodles, blankets, clothes, slippers, shoes, water.

What’s awkward and superfluous is when the foundations, as the givers, will add the vainglorious phrases that connote a message that they must give to ensure that the receivers will be happy and satisfied during Christmas.

Whether the goods and financial assistance will make the victims of “Odette” happy isn’t the issue. It’s their survival; whether the foundations get acknowledgment isn’t important as well.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)