LONDON -- Filipinos from Leyte and Samar offered a Christmas mass in London to thank the United Kingdom and the rest of the world for the help they gave to their storm-ravaged provinces.
Eric Go can still recall the horror of watching the news of typhoon Yolanda hitting his hometown, Tacloban, and fearing for his family's safety.
"Parang torture talaga 'yun. Imagine, four days wala kaming communication," said Go, who is the president of the Leyte-Samar Organization UK.
Days before Christmas, he and his fellow Filipinos from Leyte and Samar offered a Simbang Gabi mass to express their gratitude for their families' safety and the help the UK and other countries gave the Philippines after the storm.
"Sobra-sobra ang pasasalamat namin. Although hindi kami makabigay ng kahit ano dahil halos kami nga din ay mga biktima. So ang pwede lang namin i-ano, in behalf sa mga taga-Leyte at Samar, ay magpasalamat sa mga tumulong sa atin, lalo na ang UK government na malaki ang itinulong at saka ibang bansa at ibang organization," he said.
The mass is just one of many ways Filipinos in London are celebrating the season.
Friends gathered at the flat of the Mendoza couple to feast on sumptuous Filipino food and share stories and laughs.
"We celebrate Christmas together. We celebrate it with our hearts back in the Philippines," said Bernadette Mendoza, an overseas Filipino worker in London.
They may be far from home, but Filipinos here keep the Christmas spirit alive through traditions and by simply being with each other.