(At an Interfaith Prayer Rally held in Chater Plaza, Hong Kong 8/29/2010)

Background: In the morning hours of 23 August 2010, a tourist bus in Manila was taken over by an armed gunman, later identified as former Sr. Police Inspector Rolando Mendoza, a highly decorated officer of the Philippine National Police, but dismissed from service allegedly due to extortion and robbery. In the bus were tourists from Hong Kong who only wanted to see the beauty of the Philippines and savor Philippine hospitality. Negotiations for the release of hostages followed and indeed some hostages were released. However towards the end of the day, negotiations broke down and a rescue was attempted. In the ensuing gun battle, Mendoza was killed along with eight of the hostages.

The botched police operation and the subsequent government response, including the interview of newly-installed President Benigno Aquino III where he was photographed as smiling (a typical Filipino cultural incongruent response to a painful situation), caused anger, anguish and pain among 'Hongkongers' as well as fear, anxiety and shame among Filipinos in Hong Kong. It is estimated that there are around 120,000 Filipinos working in HK mostly as Domestic Helpers. An interfaith rally was called in Chater Plaza in Central Hong Kong attended by Christians, Buddhists and Muslim leaders and hundreds of Filipino domestic helpers. The prayer rally appeared to be a kick-off of a whole Sunday event of prayers, marches and demonstrations. There were some 3,000 Filipinos who staged a demonstration expressing solidarity with Hong Kong in their grief and some 50,000 Hong Kong residents marching to protest the Philippine government's handling of the crisis.

I am Asian Missioner of The Episcopal Church based in New York City as serve as Supply Priest in the Parish of St. Michael and All Angels in the Diocese of Long Island. I just happened to be in Hong Kong as part of my Sabbatical. In a sense, it is the Holy Spirit who prevailed upon me to be in HK, rather than in Singapore (which was my original plan), so that I can participate in this Interfaith Prayer Rally at this difficult time in Hong Kong.

This my prayer, forgive the length but I was pouring out my soul.

Almighty and everlasting God, the Father of us all, who alone can answer our deepest needs, who alone can mend our broken hearts, who alone can calm our fears and dry our tears, we ask you to incline your ears and listen to the cries and prayers of your people here in Hong Kong.

We pray for those who died in the recent hostage crisis in Manila: Leung Chung See, Doris; Leung Song Yi, Jessie; Leung Kam Wing, Ken; Fu Cheuk Yan;Yeung Yee Wa; Yeung Yee Kam; Wong Tze Lam; and Tse Ting Chunn, Masa. We pray for the eternal repose their souls; receive them into the loving arms of mercy.

We pray for their families in grief; may they be comforted that the souls of their loved ones are in the hands of their Maker and may they know the hope of the resurrection.

We pray for those who survived that the trauma of the harrowing incident will not haunt them for the rest of their lives. We pray especially for Jason, who is still comatose, and for others who are recovering not only from physical pains but also from psychological wounds. May they be restored to wholeness of mind, body and spirit.

As we thank God for the sobriety and understanding of the citizens of Hong Kong, we also pray for the Filipino people especially those working in Hong Kong as domestic helpers and migrant workers, that they may not become objects of hatred, recriminations, prejudice and ill treatment from their employers who are justifiably angry at the incident in Manila. Filipinos are deeply ashamed and genuinely empathize with the people of Hong Kong over the tragedy. But the crime of one Filipino, the error in judgment of the Philippine Police and even the inadequate response of the Philippine government do not reflect the character and values of the Filipino people, who like the people of Hong Kong, are peace-loving, hospitable and god-fearing people.

Even as we thank God for the competence and the level of professionalism among the government and leaders of Hong Kong and China, we also pray for the Philippine government, especially the newly-installed President Benigno Aquino, III. It is easier indeed to criticize and to condemn but it is harder to lead and to act. May this incident therefore, be a 'baptism by fire,' a teaching moment for the new Philippine government to ensure that this incident may not happen again. May they take full responsibility and extra effort in ensuring an honest, thorough and impartial investigation and take a serious role in restoring the confidence, respect and pride of its people.

Finally we pray for mutual respect and forbearance of all peoples and nations in the world, especially between the peoples of Hong Kong and the Philippines. There is only one race, the human race; and there is only one family, the human family; created with one blood by the one God, so that we as God's children alike, may love and care for one another as brothers and sisters in the one world, our earthly home. Yes, Father, grant us peace, justice and wisdom that surpass all our human frailties and lead us to a truly 'harmonious relationship' that surpassed our human understanding----in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who holds all things together in heaven and on earth and who taught us to pray:

"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil." Amen.

Check out a Photo Album of the Event: Share this album with anyone by sending them this public link:
Interfaith Rally in Hong Kong Photo Album

© 2007 St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church