50k candles to line Leyte roads for ‘Yolanda’ anniversary

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Candles were lit inside the church and along the main streets of Tacloban City during the first year commemoration of the deaths of those who perished when super typhoon Yolanda hit the province on Nov. 8, 2013. (Photo: Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros)

TOLOSA, Leyte, Oct. 29, 2015 -– Almost two years after super typhoon Yolanda pummeled Central Visayas, remembering the massive death toll still grips the heart of locals, moving them to set up 50,000 candles along the province’s roads.

Churches in Tacloban City, Palo, Tanauan, and Tolosa are getting ready to mark the 2nd year commemoration of super typhoon Yolanda on Nov. 8 with the setting up of 50,000 candles along entire stretches of roads.

“This is basically a solemn spiritual expression of the people, continuing what was done last year,” said St. Michael Archangel parish priest Msgr. Alex Opiniano, who leads a committee, comprising representatives from civic and religious organizations and sects largely from Tacloban City, that organized the Candlelight Memorial.

Open to all

Priests of the respective parishes along the main road traversing Tacloban City, Palo, Tanauan, and Tolosa will bless the candles and the memorial activity’s participants during the event.

Jude Acidre of Tingog Sinirangan stressed the event is open to everyone who wants to say prayers in memory of those who perished and in gratefulness for another life lent to the survivors, regardless of religious affiliations and political persuasions.

He said prayer cards will be distributed along the long queue of candles to serve as a souvenir for attendees.

Acidre, a former seminarian and known community organizer, said the the city’s radio stations will participate in the event by simultaneously broadcasting prayers and reflections, and the musical concert Laudato Si (Praise Be To You), by the Eastern Visayas Choral Association, led University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban Choir Master Stephen Lagarde.

Palo Archbishop John Forrosuelo Du is set to celebrate a commemorative Mass at the Palo Cathedral Transfiguration of Our Lord in the morning of Nov. 8 and another tentatively in the afternoon at the seaside Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban.

The afternoon Mass is scheduled to precede the candle-lighting ceremony and prayer.

Synchronized activities

A private group called One Tacloban spearheaded a similar candlelighting ceremony along the main thoroughfares of Tacloban City during the first year commemoration of the tragedy.

A Mass and blessing of graves were also held at the mass grave yard in northern Brgy. Basper in Tacloban.

The towns of Palo, Tanauan and Tolosa had their respective commemorative activities a well.

This year, their respective memorial activities Yolanda victims are being synchronized and coordinated with the Candlelight Memorial led by Opiniano’s committee.

The government pegged the death toll caused by super typhoon at 6,300 and missing victims at 1,061 but forensic experts claim the actual number could reach as high as 18,000 including the missing victims. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros / CBCP News)

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