A community vigil held Tuesday, November 19, at Beacon United Methodist Church remembered those affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
Led by Pastor Mark Galag and organized by Nicole Ramirez of Anakbayan, a Filipino youth organization, the service featured two musical performances, group prayer, and a candle-lighting ceremony accompanied by hymns sung by participants.
“We wanted the space for people not only to donate and think of different ways to contribute, but also to think about how they are also healing through this,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez and her fellow Anakbayan members have spent the last few weeks organizing a myriad of awareness campaigns. The vigil gave them a moment of repose.
“Members of our organization have been going really hard organizing, even doing guerilla fundraising in Westlake,” Ramirez said. “We wanted to pause and think about the people that are impacted and how we will find the strength and hope amid sadness and devastation to continue on our work.”
Richard Arcelo, also an Anakbayan member, found strength while performing a song on his acoustic guitar during the program. Reminiscent of John Lennon’s lilting, melodic “Imagine,” Arcelo’s “Ok To Cry” felt like a good fit for the program because the natural disaster reminded him that “you have to say what you can say before it’s too late.”
Galag led the 40 or so attendees in group prayer and song for those in the Philippines. Galag implored the congregation to “let us refuse to be passive and silent, let us offer love to those who need it most.”
The program closed with an act of solidarity through a candle-lighting ceremony. As everyone sang “We Shall Overcome,” people were invited to come forward and light a candle in remembrance of those who died, and for those who suffer.
Afterward, at a coffee reception, Galag expressed concern that sometimes the global media forget about natural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan.
“When I’m thinking about rebuilding, I know this will be a long haul,” Galag said. “I don’t want people to forget like in other places where calamities have happened. There will always be support needed.”
Donna Denina, a member of the Filipino women’s group Pin@y, suggested that support and donations go through NAFCON, the National Association of Filipino Concerns, because of their commitment to give 100 percent of resources to those in need.
“I think first and foremost the relief is definitely needed,” Denina said. “The response and the outpour of support from the international community have been great. But I think secondary to that is to be critical on where you’re channeling those resources. For them to actually receive the goods directly and immediately is to channel them to organizations that already work directly on the ground.”
Ramirez echoed this sentiment, saying, “We’re really pushing for people to donate through [NAFCON], because they work directly with organizations that are on the ground in the Philippines that are 100 percent volunteer run.”
Ramirez noted that NAFCON is part of the affected community, and as a result is most familiar with the culture and the people it serves.
“They know exactly what the conditions are,” Ramirez said. “It’s important those are the people serving the communities impacted because they will be the most impactful and the most understanding.”
Galag added: “We are all in this together. I honestly believe that. Helping those in need is the good thing to do, and it’s the right thing to do.”
Mae Jacobson is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.
For more on Typhoon Haiyan, visit:
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