Fil-Ams in Orlando grieve for friends lost in mass shooting

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 15 2016 11:35 AM | Updated as of Jun 15 2016 10:05 PM

ORLANDO, Florida - Thousands of people gathered at a candlelight vigil for the victims of Pulse nightclub massacre while Filipino members of the LGBT community shared what it’s like losing friends in the attack.

A sea of candles covered the lawn of the Dr. Philips Center Performing Arts in Orlando on Monday night as thousands of people came to mourn the victims of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub.

Organizers said the candles represent their commitment to move forward and to stand together against acts of terror and hate.

A bell tolled for each of the 49 victims. Their names read aloud so that they will not be forgotten.

Filipino-American members of the LGBT community also came to pay their respects to friends they lost in the hands of a terrorist.

"Love is love. Love doesn't discriminate, and to have hatred towards the gay or anybody because of their race or their culture, it' still uncalled for, don't discriminate," said Ronald Alcantara.

For Vilmar Abelarde, it's like Stonewall all over again. In 1969, the Stonewall riots in Manhattan's Greenwhich neighborhood ignited the gay liberation movement in the US.

"Two of my friends died, they won't be forgotten. I think we remember them. I think Stonewall propelled us to where we are today and I think this is gonna get us further," he said.

Abelarde said prayers and acts of solidarity such as this vigil are good but he wants to see more action, especially from elected officials and lawmakers.

US President Barack Obama is set to visit Orlando on Thursday to pay his respects to the families of the victims of the worst mass shooting in US history.

Some hope the president will touch on America's fight to defeat ISIS and possibly press for stricter gun control.

For now, the community in Orlando remains unbowed.

A sign projected on one of the buildings in downtown Orlando says: "Our heart may be broken but the pulse of our city goes on."

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