Filipinos in Los Angeles, Houston pray for victims of Yolanda

By Steve Angeles and JV Villar, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Nov. 18, 2013

In Los Angeles, a sea of candles in the dark and songs led by a choir whose members are from the hardest-hit areas in the Philippines filled the halls of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church (IHMC) Friday night.

More than a week after Typhoon Yolanda wreaked havoc in Central Philippines, Filipinos in Los Angeles found peace through prayer.

“We ask you to guide our Philippines and all the national and international organizations in our efforts to rescue the Philippines from this merciless typhoon, give a decent burial to the dead and to rescue our towns,” IHMB parish priest Father Rodel Balagtas said during the mass.

Prayers for the missing and deceased continued.

“I have three family members who died and our house is gone,” Ethel Pintor from Iloilo City lamented.

In the darkness, others prayed for thanks. “Thank you, Lord, for saving my family,” said one parishioner.

Some finally got in touch with their loved ones caught in the storm. The Naguit family found out their elderly parents managed to hold on for their lives during Yolanda’s fury.

“They hang onto some bars for almost an hour. Thanks goodness, they made it,” Allan Naguit said.

Throughout the weekend, the Los Angeles Archdiocese, home to the largest Filipino American Catholic communities, collected money for
typhoon relief efforts.

Houston Helps

Meantime, in Houston, Texas, Filipinos and the rest of the community gathered in a candlelight vigil at the steps of the Houston
City Friday night…praying that the survivors continue to have faith and hope in the midst of adversity.

Thousands are already feared dead following the strongest typhoon in the world…leaving behind orphaned children, grieving families and shaken communities.

The service started with a moment of silence…pausing to remember the magnitude of this super typhoon.

The Philippine government said close to 10 million people have been affected in 44 provinces, 539 municipalities and 56 cities.
Of those affected, close to five million are children — many are at risk of malnutrition.

“We are praying for them and we are sending them our love, our prayers and also our resources,” Tess Tuazon, regional chair of the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce said.

During the vigil, the Houston City Hall was lit with the colors of the Philippine flag — yellow, red, white and blue…a moment that honored the bravery of Filipinos in this time of devastation.

“The Houston community in particular has always been a very compassionate, generous community. We open up our hearts when other people are in need. Not just at home in Houston, not just in other parts of the United States but to our international friends as well. I think people would be surprised to know that Houston has such a large population from the Philippines,” Deane LeFlore, executive director the City of Houston stated.

The US State Department and other organizations are continuously working in cooperation with the military to coordinate more federal relief efforts. Families of Americans living in the Philippines are encouraged to contact the State Department at 888-407-4747 to find out how to reach out to loved ones affected by the deadly calamity.

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