'Though the Philippines is far away from us, you feel sad because of the tragedy'
UAE Filipinos say a prayer for those back home
Filipinos living in the UAE said they offered an extra Christmas Day prayer for those affected by the deadly typhoon, fatal mall fire and tragic bus crash back home.
As the days leading to the holidays delivered headline after headline of new disasters in the Philippines, Christian worshippers attending mass at St Joseph Cathedral in Abu Dhabi said it made commemorating the holiday even more difficult.
“The people are very sad, and honestly, that part of the Philippines is far away from us but ... you feel sad because of the tragedy,” said Paul Eligino, 33, who visited the church with his wife and five-year-old son.
Mr Eligino said the December catastrophes were becoming an unwelcome regular occurence in the Philippines.
“Typhoons, we expect that in the Philippines every December, especially on that side of the island,” said Mr Eligino.
Some Filipino Christians expressed a sense of fatalism about the natural disasters.
“This happens – it is common,” said Rosemary Adordionicio, 51. “It always happens. The last few years it always happens. This is from God. It happens because it is an act of nature. For the people who are in the Philippines who are directly affected, it’s more difficult for them, really. Because in this time, it’s time to celebrate, to be happy, to be together, but how (do they celebrate) if they are in this very difficult situation?”
Elna Timtim, a church volunteer who helped organise a Christmas Day social event for Filipinos and other expatriates, said she hoped the holiday food and music would help ease some of the pain felt by those experiencing troubled times.
“It is really hurting, but this is the way that the parish has thought just to make everything so they can feel at ease, they can at least forget their problems, at least temporarily they can forget,” said Ms Timtim.
In Fujairah, expats have been praying for their compatriots affected by the tragedies unfolding in their home country.
Ralph Lansangan, a 20-year-old working as a bellboy in the city, expressed his grief and sadness and prayed for the souls that were lost.
“Hearing the news of the tropical storm that hit parts of the Philippines affected us all as well as the news about the fire. It’s heartbreaking and sad we give our prayers to the people as prayers can hold mountains,” he said.
Roczan Luzon, a 26-year-old Filipino office clerk, who moved to Fujairah in 2012, said: "We spent the day before Christmas at church praying for the people that were missing and killed in the Tembin storm, it is very tragic and we were all emotionally affected."