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Tacloban residents aim for closure after tragedy

Church ceremony marks 40 days since Typhoon Haiyan struck

Tacloban residents aim for closure after tragedy

Catholic faithful attend Mass at the cathedral in Palo, in Leyte province. (Photo by Vincent Go) reporter, Tacloban City

December 18, 2013

By lighting 1,200 candles yesterday, survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the city of Tacloban brought "closure" to the November 8 tragedy that killed more than 6,000 people and devastated the central Philippines.

The event ended 40 days of mourning in the predominantly Catholic region. Residents formed a procession and headed to the local church, offered prayers, and lit candles for their lost loved ones.

Fr Amadeo Alvero, spokesman of Palo archdiocese, told that the 40th day after the death of a person is significant to Christians because "it is believed that Christ stayed on Earth for 40 days after his resurrection and before ascending to heaven".

"It is our hope and prayer that those whose lives were snuffed out may ascend like Christ to heaven," added Fr Virgilio Caete of Dulag parish.

The faithful lit candles along a 10 km stretch of road from the airport into Tacloban to the coastal district of Anibong where most of those who perished in the typhoon lived.

Survivors and their families who left the devastated provinces of Leyte and Samar urged the public through social media also to offer prayers “for a final tribute to those ascending to the afterlife."

One Facebook post noted that the "synchronized memorial" aims to provide a "symbolic closure to a tragic event that crushed a city but failed to subdue the will of the people."

Jenette Ruedas, a local television reporter, expressed gratitude for surviving. "Thank you God, we’re safe," she said.

"We should never take for granted special moments with our loved ones and family, spend most of our time with them," she said, recalling the moment when she thought she would die.

Fae Cheska Marie Esperas, who continues to recover from her injuries, said displacement from her home following the disaster "is slowly driving me crazy".

"I miss not only my home and the loved ones I left behind, but also the very place I chose to settle in," she said.

Albert Villanueva, a survivor, said that despite the death and disaster "we will be forever grateful to the Lord for keeping us all safe".

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