By Christopher Duclos
In early November of 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated a large portion of the Philippines. Haiyan was the strongest storm ever recorded to make landfall, killing at least 5,598 people and displacing thousands more. The Filipino youth and community of Seattle was nothing short of proactive in providing the relief supplies and funds necessary. With all hope, prayer and donations received, the Philippines and it’s people that were affected by the storm hope to bounce back from this disaster.
The storm was formed on November 3rd, 2013 and moved it’s way across central-southern Philippines until November 11th, 2013.
A Seattle-based Filipino youth organization “Anak-Bayan” (translation: Child Nation or Nation of Children) focused all its efforts on relief for those affected by the typhoon. Throughout the many events that Anak-Bayan staged, this banner that read “Give Love Send Relief” was used. The banner became a staple prop in recognizing the organization’s relief efforts.
Father Mark Galang of the Beacon United Methodist Church presided over a congregation of Filipinos at a night service held for the victims of the storm. The night time mass was held on Tuesday, November 19th, a week after the storm dissipated. The service was held on a Tuesday so that the whole service’s prayers can be directed towards the disaster itself.
As the night time mass concluded, those who attended were invited onto the stage to light candles. In Catholicism, lighting candles at services and for remembrance lifts the words of the lord: “I am the Light of the World.” By lighting candles, we not only pray, but our prayers become smaller symbols of the “One Light” of Christ. The prayers of the faithful are lifted day and night as the candles burn until they simply cannot burn anymore. You don’t have to be a religious person to feel the spirituality of candles lit in remembrance.
Individuals took turns lighting the candles on the congregation stage. A volunteer named Cynthia Tinte helped direct the flames onto the candle wicks. While people came up to light one at a time, those who weren’t lighting sat in silence or in prayer. The whole church fell into silence for almost 45 minutes during this time.
When all the candles were lit and the congregation lights turned down, the final prayers were voiced. Unfortunately, it will take more than spiritual hope for Filipinos to overcome the disaster. Readers that were in any way moved by this post are encouraged to do their part in making donations. Anak Bayan recommends their relief website Disaster by Design. There you can read more devastating facts about the storm and send money at the very bottom of the page.
Despite the angle of this post, you don’t need to be a Catholic or even a religious person to help. A little bit always goes a long way. The world is an aching place, but as long as you do your part then you have made a difference.