Filos pool resources for kababayans in need
By Kristhine Gestano
The deluge of heartbreaking images and horrifying news accounts on the two deadliest calamities that recently struck the Philippines had Filipinos and other nations all over the world united in their prayers and in pooling resources to aid the survivors of the devastation left by super typhoon Haiyan and the 7.2-magnitude earthquake.
Typhoon Haiyan swept through Visayas and hit the central Philippines province of Leyte on 8 November 2013 packed with sustained winds near 234 kph/145 mph. It was considered as one of the most powerful storms to make landfall. Unconfirmed reports suggest at least 10,000 people are dead, a staggering increase from Philippine Red Cross’s estimate of 1,200 on 9 November.
Tacloban City, which is hardest hit in the Visayas Region, is said to be totally destroyed. Some survivors are reported to becoming violent as they loot for food and other basic necessities. Communications and transportation are cut off and so are other services such as water and electricity.
Prior to Haiyan’s landfall, Central Visayas was pounded by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that reduced the central island of Bohol to ground zero, destroying houses, public structures and world-renowned sites such as the Chocolate Hills. Death toll by the end of October was more than 200, injured were close to a thousand while damages were expected to be around AU$51 million.
Here in Australia, Filipino Australians were still shaken by accounts on the aftermath of the earthquake when alarming news of the oncoming tropical cyclone was brought to the public’s attention. The events came at a time when the country is suffering from a string of political hardships, from the insurgency in Mindanao to the hugely controversial Pork Barrel scam.
Overcoming disbelief and grief, Filipino and Australian organisations took to the social media, used community gatherings as platforms and made personal appeals to raise funds for the victims.
The Philippine Embassy was quick to make an appeal and post details of government agencies that are accepting donations and facilitating evacuation and relief assistance (visit http://www.philembassy.org.au).
In Victoria, organisations such as Australian Red Cross, Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria Inc, OXFAM Australia, Gawad Kalinga, Kaliwat Bol-anon Sa Australia, Inc. (KaBAI), Couples for Christ Australia and Australia Post Dandenong Letters Centre organised collections of donations to help victims and ground teams in their relief operations. Others assembled public events to raise not only awareness but also the needed money for the homeless and the suffering.
The Cebuano Association of Australia staged a Fundraising Dance on 15 November at Springvale which will benefit all victims in the Visayas region. Czarina Lapus sent everyone an invitation for a Fundraising Picnic on 17 November, 11 am at Edinborough Gardens.
The Circulo Capizeno also organised a lunch fundraising at Masagana Fil-Asian grocery in Boronia on 17 November at 1pm. It was an eight-course meal and eight different kinds of sweets for a minimal amount of $15.00.
JJ Express will resort to an all-night dancing on 25 January 2014 at Rowville to raise funds. Kaliwat Bol-Anon sa Australia Inc dedicates their Paskong Bol-Anon on 14 December to earthquake and typhoon victims.
Meanwhile, some organisations are using their skills and hobbies to respond to this call for help. Samahan ng mga Pilipinong Musikero sa Melbourne is staging a fundraising concert dubbed as Voices of Hope on 30November at Doveton. Pinoy Photographers of Victoria will be offering solo or family portraits for a donation during the Philippine Fiesta this 23-24 November.
Aside from the financial aid, outpouring of love and prayers continue. KaBAi also responded with a Mass held in Deer Park this 10 November.
These efforts echo the sentiments of Filipinos worldwide. And as the Philippines makes history with these crippling calamities, Filipinos will again prove to the world that amidst their loss and grief, their deep sense of nationality, resilient spirit, and faith will see them back on their feet.