From ANC 24/7 FB page.
Free hugs: Pinoys in London thank Britons for typhoon aid
by Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News
Posted at 12/19/2013 10:22 AM | Updated as of 12/20/2013 10:07 AM
LONDON – Outside the busy tube station in Earl’s Court, where almost everyone seems to be in a hurry, a small group of Filipinos grabbed people’s attention.
While a man played his guitar and sang old songs, his companions called on passersby to stop for a while. “Free hugs,” read the sign on the placards they carried on that windy Wednesday morning.
Many accepted their offer and gladly hugged them, even posing for pictures, while some looked surprised and then walked away. Despite the varied public reaction, the message was clear.“We are hugging, giving thanks to the people who helped our country during the typhoon,” Ruvic Rea told one of the people he hugged during the activity. The UK was one of the biggest aid donors to the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), the deadliest disaster in the world in 2013, struck its central region. The storm left more than 6,000 dead and millions displaced.As of this week, the Disaster Emergency Appeal, a group of 14 major charities in the UK, has raised £81 million (P5.9 billion) in donations from the British public to the storm’s victims. This is on top of the amount that the UK government has committed.
Duenas of the European Network of Filipino Diaspora-UK, the group behind the activity. “It is also a way of saying that the warmth of our love for and gratitude to them is there.”
Rea, a stage performer, celebrated his birthday on that day by giving hugs.He was with stand-up comedian Jonjie Mirabona, who wore the costume of the Filipino heroine “Darna” to attract attention.“We would like to say thank you, a million thanks, for all the support you have given us in our country. We say thank you, thank you very much,” Mirabona said.
Filipinos all over the UK, meanwhile, continue to raise funds for the survivors of Haiyan more than a month after it hit the Philippines. Some Christmas parties have in fact been turned into fundraising events.As they go on with efforts to help their homeland, many of the more than 200,000 Filipinos here are also filled with gratitude to the country they consider their second home.