GMA Leads Day of Prayer, Mourning; World Leaders Fly to Sri Lanka to Assess Tsunami Damage
Byline: GENALYN D. KABILING
Filipinos of all religions join in rites
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo yesterday led an ecumenical prayer vigil for the thousands of tsunami victims in South Asia and Africa that included some Filipinos, as well as a thanksgiving that the Philippines was spared from the catastrophe.
In the National Day of Prayer and Mourning in Malacanang, the President joined several clerics from various religions to offer the same single prayer for the tens of thousands of victims from the massive earthquake and giant tidal waves it unleashed in most South Asia and parts of East Africa.
"We the Catholics, the Muslims, the Protestants, the Born-Agains, and members of all the other religions and sects, all pray as one people as Filipinos, for those whose very hopes and dreams have been dashed, and whose lives have been forever changed by this tragedy.
"We pray for their safety and for their swift recovery from the physical, emotional mental scars that have been inflicted upon them."
Arroyo arrived shortly past midnight last night from the one-day special ASEAN summit in Jakarta, Indonesia where world leaders agreed to rush international relief aid and improve disaster preparedness to save more lives in the future.
While she prayed for the eternal rest for the departed and the relief for the survivors, the President also thanked the Lord for the "gift of life, for being spared from the disaster."
"The good Lord may have had a purpose in sparing us from this tragedy, for nothing comes by chance but everything is part of the Creators grand design."
Arroyo said the Philippines escape from the catastrophe may be a sign of better things in store this year. "We must seize the moment to unity and sally forward."
Arroyo pledged that Manila will not idly stand by the misery of others and would send Filipino doctors, social workers, managers and administrators in the rehabilitation of the tsunami-hit countries.
Among those who attended the affair are representatives from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, El Shaddai Catholic Charismatic Movement, Purpose Driven Ministries Philippines, Center for Leadership, World of Hope, Catholic Lay Preachers of the Philippines, St. Paul de Chartres, Rivers of Living Water Catholic Community and several Cabinet officials and Palace employees.
Early in the afternoon, the President visited the Seng Guan Buddhist Temple in Tondo, Manila where she met with the 100yearold monk Reverend Suey Kim.
The monks lit incense and offered prayers for victims of the tsunami disaster.
"The global disaster response can bank on Filipinos to help get the work done in various fields. We offer the heart and talent of the Filipino worker who is renowned in all four corners of the world," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.
"We may not have the financial muscle but we have the spirit that extends beyond our national boundaries and leads Filipinos to serve in many lands for those in need."
He said Manila has committed to send medical and forensic teams to Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka to help in the relief and rehabilitation work there.
"What is important is we are doing our share. We are willing to share knowledge and experience as far as treating the tsunami victims is concerned."
World leaders due in Sri Lanka to assess tsunami damage
COLOMBO (AFP) - World leaders including US Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN chief Kofi Annan were due in Sri Lanka Friday to view firsthand damage from tsunamis that killed 30,600 people here last month, officials said.
Powell and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hae-Chan were due in the capital around noon (0600 GMT).
Powell was to visit some of the areas worst hit by the Dec. 26 tsunamis, including the devastated southern region of Galle where US marines are to be based for relief operations, the US embassy said in a statement. …