The second day of the community-based prayer vigil for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas is held in Barangay Tumana, Marikina City on September 20. Despite the heavy rain, 160 volunteers and residents participated in the event.
Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao still leads the prayer vigil. He also gives a talk about saving the earth and mitigating disasters through practicing a vegetarian lifestyle and recycling.
Some of the residents who attended the prayer vigil are children, whose ages are 8 years old and above. At their young age, they are already aware of the disaster that struck Texas and they dedicate a sincere prayer for the victims.
“On the video presentation, I saw how the hurricane, tornado, and flood hit Texas. I got scared and pitied the people there.The damages are severe. Yes, I am still a kid and I can’t afford to give them money. But I can pray for all the victims of Hurricane Harvey, that they may get all the help they need like new house and new beginnings,” says John Paul Manaois, 12 years old.
The other children who attended the event also acquire knowledge on how to save the earth.
“I join the prayer vigil because I want to pray for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, but today I also learn new things such as the importance of recycling and its good effects to our environment,” says Andrew Oreta, 13 years old.
The children also gain knowledge on vegetarianism.
“I learn through Sir Michael (Siao) the importance of being a vegetarian. This will not just make us healthy and fit but this will also save our planet’s health,” says Xirth Puno, 13 years old.
The will to attend prevails
Hours before the prayer vigil starts, there was a heavy downpour, flooding some areas in Tumana. But this did not stop the volunteers from attending the event.
“I came from Sta. Mesa to do recycling when the heavy rain falls. When I got home, the water has already gotten inside our house so I have to clean it first. The flood outside is on knee level. But I still insisted in attending the prayer vigil because I want to send my love and concern to the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas,” says Roque Baytan.
Baytan is a volunteer of Tzu Chi and also does recycling at the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila. He attends the event all soaked up and wearing a pair of boots.
According to him, nothing can hinder a brave soul to share love and offer sincere prayers for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
When Typhoons Ondoy (Ketsana, 2009) and Yolanda (Haiyan, 2013) hit the Philippines, many Filipinos suffered. They lost their homes, possessions, and even their loved ones.
Eva Valois, a resident of Tumana, Marikina, experienced such calamities.
“When Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) hit the Philippines, we lost our home. We lost everything. We even drank rain water to survive. I know how hard it is for the victims of Hurricane Harvey to start from scratch. That is why I will really pray for them, I can’t give big amount of money but I will offer my sincere prayers for their recovery,” shares Valois.
Valois is grateful that they are now in a better situation with the help of Tzu Chi.
“Tzu Chi Foundation helped us to rebuild our lives through their cash for work program. They also guide us to the right path through their teachings,” adds Valois.
She also emphasized that they want to help Texas through their prayers, and in the same way that Tzu Chi Foundation helped them. Since she had experienced the same situation before, she praysthat no one will go through the same suffering anymore.
Importance of prayers
Tzu Chi volunteer Bernardo Mabini stresses the importance of prayer.
“I am overwhelmed to see a lot of volunteers coming together for a common goal, and that is to pray for all the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Our prayers are very important. It’s like a broom. When we are praying together, the prayer gets stronger and louder. Sincere hearts with utmost prayers are the most effective,” he says.
According to him, they want to help the victims of the hurricane because they were once put in the same situation before.
“Last 2012, we also experienced a devastating deluge because of Habagat (southwest monsoon rains). We also lost our homes. When Tzu Chi arrived here, they gave us relief goods, assistance, and hope. As my way of giving back, I will offer not only my sincere prayers for those who are in need but I will also give donations,” says Mabini.
The attendees light a candle and offer their prayers for the victims. With the hope that the victims of the hurricane will feel that there are people in different country who empathize with and care for them.
At the end of the program, the volunteers and residents of Tumana give their donations for Texas. They may not be able to give a big amount of money but what matters is that it came from their hearts.
Tzu Chi Philippines wants the people in Texas to feel that they are not alone, that there are people who sincerely pray for their fast recovery and willing to carry their burden with them as they move on and start to rebuild their lives.
Tzu Chi volunteer Carmelita Rejano welcomes the participants of the prayer vigil. She also discusses the importance of prayers and collective efforts to mitigate disasters.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao gives a background of what happened in Texas after Hurricane Harvey hit the USA state. He also reminisces the time when the USA helped the Philippines in the wake of Typhoons Ondoy and Yolanda.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Andrew Oreta and Xirth Puno listen to the volunteers’ sharing.They are also focus on the videos captured in Texas which showed the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Siao also encourages the residents and the volunteers to practice recycling and a vegetarian lifestyle to reducedisasters.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
John Paul Manaois lights up his candle and prays for the safety of the hurricane survivors in Texas.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Bernardo Mabini appreciates the presence and willingness of everyone to join in the prayer vigil. He also includes in his prayer not only the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas but also all the people who are suffering. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
RoqueBaytan attends the prayer vigil wearing a shirt soaked with rainwater and a pair of boots which he used to cross the knee-high flood outside his house.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Eva Valois watches the videos showing the situation in Texas after Hurricane Harvey. Having survived Ondoy, Valois feels for the hurricane survivors’ plight and prays that these disasters will end so people won’t have to suffer anymore.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Tzu Chi volunteers sincerely utter their prayers for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. According to them, they were once put in the same situation. That is why they can feel for the survivors’ suffering. They also pray that this calamity won’t happen to anyone again.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
The residents of Barangay Tumana, Marikina also offer prayers for Texas.They may not be volunteers of Tzu Chi but they support the foundation’s prayer vigil because this is their only way to express their concern for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】