Filipinos pray as aid for typhoon victims flow in

Survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan flocked to ruined churches, kneeling in prayer under torn roofs, as the Philippines faced an enormous rebuilding task from the storm that killed nearly 4,000 people and displaced three million more.

Throughout the country and around the region, their fellow countrymen also gathered to pray for the victims on the second Sunday on Sunday after the super typhoon hit on Nov 8.

In Cebu Cathedral before 2,000 people, Father Mario Villacastin said in a homily that the tragedy in worst-hit Leyte and Samar provinces should remind churchgoers of their own mortality. "We are reminded today that time is crucial. We need to prepare for death. The reality is, life is too short," he said.

Parishioner Mariano Redoledo, 21, doubled the amount he usually gave as offering to the church, hoping it would get to the disaster victims.

Also on Sunday, the Archdiocese of Cebu sent one of its priests, Father Daniel Mata, to hold a special mass for evacuees from Tacloban in the hall of Tinago village, in Cebu, where they are housed.

Church-based groups in Cebu mobilised their followers to donate to the typhoon victims.

In Singapore, the Church of St Vincent de Paul held a special two-hour mass for the victims of Haiyan, attended by 1,300 Filipinos and Singaporeans.

Other churches, including St Ignatius Church and Holy Trinity Church, have organised masses, raised funds and collected rations for the Philippines.

In Hong Kong, Filipino domestic workers made emotional pleas to residents of the wealthy city to give generously to their typhoon-ravaged homeland, as hundreds attended memorial services to seek comfort in prayer, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

In the city's Central district, where thousands of Filipino maids gather on their only rest day, calls for money and goods were made over loudspeakers while some began singing Amazing Grace.

To help victims rebuild their homes, the Philippine government is giving each family 10,000 pesos (S$286), Vice-President Jejomar Binay told The Straits Times. He said the money is intended to help the victims build temporary shelters on the land they own or purchase material to rebuild their houses.

President Benigno Aquino, criticised for the government's slow response, asked for understanding as he toured some of the worst-hit areas on Sunday, saying the affected areas were spread out.

As for the victims in this deeply religious country, they showed their steadfast faith on Sunday.

"If there is no God, who else is there? He is our only hope," Ms Bibeth Sabulao told AFP after she received communion in the devastated Guiuan town.

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