The Buddhist monks will pray at the Quirino Grandstand – the site of the hostage drama – for 12 hours on August 9, for the victims and 'for the greater good of the Philippines'
MANILA, Philippines – The local government of Manila has invited Buddhist monks to pray for Hong Kong tourists who died here during a hostage-taking incident 4 years ago, in the hope that the act will restore peace and order in the city and the country.
“They (Hong Kong) have lifted their sanctions [against the Philippines]. Everything is now back to normal,” said Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on Wednesday, August 6, when he received the monks at his office.
The Buddhist monks will pray at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park – the site of the hostage drama – for 12 hours on Saturday, August 9.
The ceremony will begin at 9 am with “prayers to the God of the Earth,” then continue with “prayers to one of the great bodhisattvas” between 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm. At 4:30 pm, they are supposed to pray for the souls of the victims of the Luneta incident and for those who died in other tragic accidents. The ceremony will last until about 9 pm.
Through a resolution filed by Manila 3rd District Councilor Bernie Ang, City Council Resolution No. 147 declared July 14 of the Chinese Lunar Calendar and August 23 of the Gregorian calendar as Days of Prayer. This resolution, along with the resolution of apology, was presented to the Hong Kong government and the families of the victims.
The hostage taking happened on August 23, 2010.
The victims and their families made 4 demands that the city of Manila had met: an apology, compensation, sanctions against responsible officials and individuals, and tourist safety measures.
“We want to show that we are really sincere in our apology for what happened. That’s why we invited the monks here,” Estrada said.
The incident happened during the time of Estrada’s predecessor, Mayor Alfredo Lim.
Ten Buddhist monks, led by Master Shih Pei Yao from the Gig Lok Monastery, paid a visit to the Manila City Hall on Aug. 6. Fifteen more monks from Hong Kong, Tibet, and Mainland China are expected to arrive for the Days of Prayer ceremony on Saturday. August 9, 2014, is the Gregorian Calendar equivalent of July 14, 2014, on the Chinese Lunar Calendar.
“The Chinese believe that the souls of people who die in tragic incidents or accidents may forever wander the earth, unless prayers and ceremonies such as these are offered,” explained Councilor Ang.
Through an interpreter, Master Yao supposedly said, “We will pray not only for all the souls of the victims of the tragedy but also for Filipinos who died tragically, and the greater good of the Philippines.”
“Hopefully, after this prayer, the peace and order situation in the country will improve gradually,” said Ang. – Rappler.com
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