By Mary Jeneverre Schultz | Asian Avenue magazine
Photos by Kyle Adams | Humanitarian International Service Group of Palmer Lake, Colorado
Typhoon Haiyan hits the southern areas of the Philippines on November 8, 2013 three times the force of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans eight years ago.
The images of the aftermath take an emotional toll on those living in the United States. Instead of just sitting around and watching the news, local Filipino organizations are gathering resources and networks in raising relief funds to survivors of this traumatic typhoon.
“The whole Filipino American (FilAm) community in Colorado was stunned at the destruction it left behind especially to FilAms who have relatives living in those areas,” said Giselle Rushford, Region V Chair of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations. “Many of us spent days and nights watching the news and contacting families – mine included.”
Several fundraising events occurred within November to assist with financial aid to national organizations such as the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and World Vision, just to name a few.
Last November 9, the Filipino-American Community of Colorado (FACC) organized a dinner fundraiser, serving spaghetti with meatballs, salad, garlic toast and drinks. Each dinner cost $5. The organization raised more than $1,400.
A week later, the Philippines American Society of Colorado (PASCO) organized its fundraiser at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Aurora, showcasing traditional folk dances from the Philippines.
On the same night, November 17, down in Colorado Springs the Filipino communities also organized a benefit dinner at Holy Apostles Catholic Church to raise money for the victims of the typhoon.
Local restaurant Sunburst Grill donated food to fill up 200 meal boxes for take-out last November 26. First-come, first-served, regular diners and faithful patrons purchased these meals at $15. The funds were directed to the typhoon victims.
Since the typhoon hit on November 8, food cart owner and chef Kathy Gietl of A Taste of the Philippines has been donating $1 from each sold entrée. All the donated funds will go to the American Red Cross. Her cart, located downtown on the 16th Street Mall and Stout Avenue, sells Filipino dishes such as Chicken Adobo and Pancit (noodle dish).
Gietl’s father was in the Philippines traveling for business but assured her via Facebook he was okay, while her uncle lost his home in Leyte.
Since the tragedy, faithful and devoted cart foodies inquire about the state of the Philippines. “I told (diners) that typhoons were a regular occurrence in the Philippines, but typhoon Haiyan has been the most powerful. It hit mostly the southern islands mainly, in Leyte and Cebu,” Gietl said.
Local Filipino organizations have banded together to continue fundraising efforts through an event called Saklolo, which will take place on December 15. “Saklolo is the collaboration of all the Filipino organizations here in Colorado spearheaded by the National Federation of Filipino American Association (NaFFAA),” said Aurelia Jareno Grinstead, one of the event organizers.
“Saklolo” means “plea for help” in Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines, and is also a grassroots initiative and sustained campaign that was started in 2008 by the NaFFAA.
Those interested in attending this event can purchase tickets at $25 per person while child’s tickets are sold at $10 for those under 14 years old. Grinstead hopes the event will sell between 600 to 1,000 tickets.
Although Manila, the capital of the Philippines, was not heavily affected, Denver residents Paolo Dizon and Robert Justus said their families experienced what was equivalent to a category 2 storm. The city also has turned into a refugee camp for some of the people of Tacloban.
According to the International Labour Organisation, around five million workers — equivalent to the population of Norway — had their livelihoods temporarily or permanently destroyed. The typhoon also compromised about 80% of the coconut trees – a major source of livelihood for the locals.
Poultry and Fishing Industry
In north Cebu, the future of crucial local industries hang in the balance – it is the “egg capital” of the region and a popular destination for holidaymakers. Financial damage to the poultry industry is estimated to be more than US $4 million and the chicken business owners are the ones taking the brunt of the losses.
Obvious from images, boats were capsized, fishing nets were destroyed and the industry has halted in production.
Tourism and Hospitality
Santa Fe is a popular location for tourists; they are drawn to the area’s pristine beaches and reefs. After Haiyan hit the area, the tourism industry is at risk. For the country to recover, the visitors will need to return with confidence in touring the countryside.
The typhoon has wiped out around a third of the country’s rice growing areas. According to Oxfam, unless rice farmers in the devastated areas receive assistance, millions of Filipino people will be without food in the coming months.
Harvests in the five regions worst hit by the disaster have been completely destroyed, which could mean not only that Filipinos will be without their staple daily food, but also will lead to a huge loss of income and increased debt for the farmers in the region. The typhoon happened just at a time when farmers were involved in the main season paddy crop harvest, which represents more than 50 percent of their annual production.
You will see many other appeals for relief funds for this disaster and you may well have your preferred charities to support. Asian Avenue Magazine encourages you to continue that support for trusted relief efforts.
“I do not have any immediate relatives that have been hit, but when you see people suffer like they are you don’t need to have a relationship with them your heart just bleed for them like a sister or a brother,” Grinstead said.
“And when your family is hurt you will do everything to help them and that is what we are doing right now, such as pooling all the efforts across Colorado to bring aid to our suffering Kababayans (fellow Filipinos).”
• Attend a fundraiser. Collaboration of several Filipino organizations are banding together for relief fundraiser on December 15 at the Exdo Event Center at 1399 35th Street, Denver from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., selling tickets at $25. For more information or to volunteer at this event, contact Aurelia Jareno Grinstead at 720-979-3049.
• Donate to a local organization in the Philippines. The Sisters of Mercy in Mindanao, south of the area most impacted, have reported that they are safe but friends and family members have been badly affected, particularly the Sisters of Mercy community in Tacloban. Financial support may be sent to Sisters of Mercy at https://45751.thankyou4caring.org.
• Make a supply donation to Project C.U.R.E. in Centennial, Colo. The supplies will be sent to the hardest hit areas of the Philippines. Items needed include: hand santizers, bandages, diapers, baby formula, toothpastes, crutches, splints, etc. Visit www.projectcure.org for more information.
• Look for a friend or family member in the Philippines. Google has launched a person finder for the storm, where you can try and find someone’s whereabouts or enter information about a person. Visit www.google.org/personfinder/2013-yolanda.
• Ask your Filipino friends about their family in the Philippines. Sometimes, sharing stories of loved ones back in the Philippines helps those living here in the United States cope with the devastations visible in photographs viewed throughout the world.
>> Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Yolanda, hit the Philippines specifically Tacloban (southern part of the islands) with the force three times greater than Hurricane Katrina of New Orleans.
>> Type of storm: Category 5 superstorm with winds exceeding 160 mph
>> When: November 8, 2013 – Friday
>> Where: Tacloban, Samar, Leyte – Philippines
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council:
>> Death toll: 5,235 | Missing: 1,613 | Injured: 23,501
>> Displacement: 4 million people including 1 million children
>> Number of affected: 13 million people
>> Nearly 650,000 houses are reported as damaged. Of those, 325,000 destroyed.
>> In Tacloban alone, some 56,000 are without proper sanitation for water and waste. Tacloban was home to 220,000 people.
>> Dozens of governments have pledged nearly $200 million in cash and in-kind donations. A number have sent military assets bearing basic necessities and medical aid. Nearly 13 billion pesos ($298 million) in cash and relief goods have so far been pledged by countries and donor groups to an overwhelmed government that was criticized for its slow response in the first few days after disaster struck.
>> The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have committed a total of more than $1 billion in grants and emergency loans to support reconstruction and relief efforts.
>> The United States is providing about $37 million in humanitarian aid to the storm’s victims.
Mary Jeneverre Schultz encountered rainstorms and landslides in a visit to Tacloban, Cebu and Camiguin Island back in 2003. Tweet Mary @Jeneverre for current updates on ongoing relief efforts and the aftermath of the Typhoon Haiyan.