Overseas Filipinos Join to Help Haiyan Victims

Filipinos based overseas have banded together and mobilized to gather aid to victims of super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan). While expressing concern over the fate of relatives in the Philippines cut off from communication, Pinoy communities in different parts of the globe are united in prayer and exhibited the bayanihan spirit, a well-known Filipino tradition of extending help.

Filipinos in Canada

Geraldin Guarin of the Filipino Fellowship Baptist Church collects donations for victims of the typhoon in the Phillipines on Sunday. Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG
Geraldin Guarin of the Filipino Fellowship Baptist Church collects donations for victims of the typhoon in the Phillipines on Sunday. Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG

Filipino community groups across the Greater Toronto Area have already started collecting donations for typhoon relief and planning fundraising events. Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture’s executive director Caroline Mangosing said the group is planning a musical performance to raise funds while deploying online donation drive.

“It’s just people on our Facebook networks and Twitter and just private messaging me (saying), ‘How can we help?’ ” she said. “Even a lot of non-Filipinos in our network are wanting to get involved.”

The Filipino Centre Toronto plans to work with non-governmental organizations and Philippine clergy to deliver aid directly to people affected, according to Rosalinda Cerrudo-Javier, the group’s president. Filipino Social Club of Oakville’s president Divina Batara said food and cash donations will be coursed through Christ for Life Ministries in Mississauga as soon as possible.

“People are starving, people are dying. You can’t wait,” she said.

Vancouver’s Filipino community is mobilizing to raise money and supplies for victims of one of the worst typhoons ever to hit the Philippines.  At the Filipino Fellowship Baptist Church in East Vancouver, secretary Geraldine Guarin said on Sunday the church is taking in donations and supplies to go toward the recovery efforts of their homeland.

“Some members of the church are from that area and it is very upsetting,” said Guarin after a service on Sunday at the East 11th Avenue building.

Members of Calgary’s growing Filipino community are organizing relief efforts in the wake of a deadly typhoon that slammed into the islands Friday. Volunteers in Samaritan’s Purse Canada’s Calgary office are assembling 6,000 hygiene kits including soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other items to rush to typhoon evacuees.

Photo by Japan Meteorological Agency and EUMETSA
Photo by Japan Meteorological Agency and EUMETSA

Filipinos in Australia

Arturo Sayas, president of the Philippine community council of New South Wales,  said the group was trying to reach people in the Philippines on behalf of families in Australia.

“They give us the names and we contact their family and we ask how they are going, but the communication is hard to get,” he said. “We can only communicate through social media.” The council also held fund raising campaigns over the weekend as it coordinates with local agency for the release of A$16,000 worth of emergency funds.

Filipinos based in Canberra started fundraising for typhoon victims, even before the Philippine embassy appealed for help.

“This is one very good thing about Filipinos here in Australia and elsewhere in the world… even before the embassy or the government could make an appeal, they on their own already started raising funds and collecting goods to [provide] relief and assistance to those victims of the typhoon,” Philippines Ambassador Belen Anota said.

Filipinos in United States

In Malden, Massachusetts, Pilipino-American Association of New England have been raising funds all-year round. “We are proactive, and we prepare for everything happening over there,” said Lidy Chan, the group’s president in an interview Saturday. “For us, there is a cultural sense of responsibility and obligation to the people back home.”

Louisabella Kampmeyer of Filipino-American Association of Montgomery County in Philadelphia thanked everyone for their donations and aid, and planned to fund not only rescues, but also the long rebuilding operations.

Across the West Coast, Filipinos in Bay Area have been ramping up fundraising efforts to send aid to affected areas in the Philippines. West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center in San Francisco’s Seventh Street has planned to open 24 hours to accept nonperishable food, medicine and first-aid kits to be deployed as soon as possible. Members of the Filipino Community Center in the Excelsior district were at Powell and Market Street singing Filipino folk songs and Beatles tunes in an effort to call attention to the need for donations.

New York’s The Tanglaw Filipino-American Society of Long Island, led by its president Robert Zarate,  held an emergency meeting in East Patchogue Sunday to discuss efforts to help the Philippines following a devastating typhoon. Efforts are already underway as it gathered boxes of canned food, medicine and clothes to be deployed to charities there.

The  National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) has created a disaster relief fund for typhoon victims. In Chicago, NAFCON Midwest regional coordinator Nerissa Allegretti said the typhoon also hit close to home. The group plans to raise enough funds to send $5,000 to the Philippines every week.

Gawad Kalinga USA is partnering with its parent association in the Philippines to collect donations that can be used to provide food and water to some of the 200,000 families in affected provinces.

Many Filipino-Americans based in Minnesota are doing what they can to extend help, through charity groups, some of which are housed at The Philippine Center of Minnesota.

Filipino students at Cornell University have stepped up efforts to raise funds to purchase relief goods for typhoon victims.

Milwaukee-based Philippine Cultural and Civic Center Foundation launched the effort this weekend after Typhoon Haiyan struck the central portion of the island nation.

Filipinos based in Jersey City gathered at a restaurant in Little Manila district to learn how they can help. Deputy Consul General Zaldy Patron said cash could be given directly to the Filipino government’s Department of Social Welfare and Development, at dswd.gov.ph. Medicine and other supplies were also welcome, though donors would have to arrange shipping. He said the consulate would assist with documentation.

The Fresno Filipino Catholic League mobilized its members to collect donations for the relief efforts. Pastor Carlito Villanueva led members of the Valley Springs Filipino American Community Church in Northeast Fresno in a moment of silence and prayer for the victims of the disaster.

More than 300 people gathered in Van Nuys early Sunday for a 5K walk sponsored by the Philippine Disaster Relief Organization. The event was scheduled before Haiyan hit, but the nonprofit plans to donate about $7,000 — and several boxes of canned goods that participants brought — to survivors of the earthquake and the typhoon.

“Southern California is home to the largest population of Filipinos outside of the Philippines,” said Bing De La Vega, president of the relief organization and husband of Hellen Barber De La Vega, consul general for the Philippines in Los Angeles. “We’re one big family.

The Filipino community in Sacramento is doing what it can to help victims of the typhoon by organizing relief efforts. “It’s emergency. We need to act,” said Filipino Community of Sacramento President Eida Ezurin.

Representatives from Long Beach’s Filipino community gathered at Grace United Methodist Church on Sunday afternoon to share their hopes and fears.

Since Friday, the Barangay Club of Indiana, a group that celebrates Filipino culture, has been collecting monetary donations to send to the Red Cross.

“It is the culture of the Filipinos that if something happens to a neighborhood, then everybody in the neighborhood is willing to help in one way or another by consulting or giving something,” said Ben Abratigue, the group’s board chairman.

Thousands of homes in the Philippines' Eastern Samar province were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Thousands of homes in the Philippines’ Eastern Samar province were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Cleveland-area Filipino Americans plan to meet at 7 p.m., Monday at the Philippine Cultural and Civic Center, 1975 Ridgewood Drive, Parma, to formulate a response to Typhoon Haiyan, described as one of the mightiest storms witnessed on earth.

Mmembers of the Filipino community in Virginia Beach held the first of what could be at least three fundraisers this month. George Daria, executive president of Council of United Filipino Organizations of Tidewater Inc., said it’s difficult to ask for much more than money right now until it’s clear what people need.

“That’s our main purpose right now because we still don’t know what’s happening over there,” he said.

Juneau’s Filipino community is pulling together to help the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the country early Friday morning. Filipino Community Inc. held a membership meeting on Saturday, where Reyes says they decided to cancel the organization’s free Thanksgiving Day meal. Instead, the group will donate the $3,000 dollars budgeted for the event to relief efforts.

Filipinos in Middle East

Harold Vibal, a member of the board at Filipino Community Social Club in Muscat said the group has met to plan their fund-raising campaign for typhoon victims.

“We are planning to raise funds to help the typhoon victims. When an earthquake had struck our country, we had raised funds in association with our embassy here in Muscat and had sent help to the victims. This time also, we will try our best to help them,” Vibal said.  “This time, one of our community members has offered us cargo service facilities. So, we will be sending goods collected here for the victims. Tonight [Sunday], we will have a meeting to chalk out a plan,” Harold added.

Bayanihan Council, the umbrella of 55 Filipino organisations in the emirate, has sent its first relief fund of Dh10,000 to the victims of super typhoon Haiyan. Bayanihan Council chairman Ernesto Refugio said the donation was sent to the Philippine Red Cross.

Filipinos in Bahamas

Filipino workers in the Bahamas have started organizing relief efforts amid fear for the safety of loved ones affected by the deadly category seven typhoon. Overseas Filipino Workers International Bahamas president Dr Leo Ignaçio said: “We have members who live in that area, and there has been no communication, no cell towers, no electricity. There have been no reports from family. All we can do now is hope and pray. Hopefully our fundraiser will give support to our countrymen.”

Filipinos in Hong Kong

Filipino organisations in Hong Kong started fundraising campaigns yesterday. Helen Bulusan, chairwoman of the Filipino Migrants Association, said Filipino organisations would ask employers of domestic helpers to donate money, canned food and clothes. These would be sent to rescue organisations in the Philippines.