Archive for bayanihan

Typhoon Ondoy…One Year Later

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 27, 2010 by kulturalguerilla

On September 26, 2009, Typhoon Ondoy struck the Philippines, wrecking unimaginable havoc that left thousands of our kababayan dead and many more displaced. It’s been considered one the worst natural catastrophes in the history of the Philippines, but the much worse catastrophe followed with the Philippine government’s lack of response to the damage. The public emergency relief fund was completely spent before the typhoon even hit, most likely spent on former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s extravagant trips to the U.S., which included a 100+ member entourage and luxurious dinners costing tens of thousands of dollars. Much of the relief efforts in response to the typhoon’s damage was left to non-governmental organizations, with little to no help at all from the government.

For us Filipina/o progressives in the U.S., our analysis of the situation in our homeland was clear. We could not and would not just leave our kababayans alone to fend for themselves, even though we are an ocean apart. We wanted to help in a way that was direct, responsible, and accountable, while at the same time being critical of the Philippine government’s inaction. A disaster relief operation of NAFCON and SanDiwa’s general program of action was always in place, but was never utilized until Typhoon Ondoy. This relief operation was thus launched, in cooperation with Bayan-USA and Gabriela-USA as BAYANihan for Philippine Disaster Relief. Gathering aid for the victims, both monetary and in-kind, became the primary focus in all of our member organizations. What soon happened in the several weeks that followed was nothing short of remarkable. Thousands of people came and donated what they could in terms of volunteer time, monetary, or goods. Hundreds of balikbayan boxes full of donated clothes, medicine, and food began piling up at the different drop-off sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York/New Jersey. Tens of thousands of dollars were raised at countless club events and fundraisers. Programming at our respective community organizations were put on hold to channel all our efforts into helping our kababayan. Filipino Americans who didn’t care about what was going on in the Philippines had a change of heart after seeing the devastation as well as the community’s efforts to get aid directly to our kababayan. I remember getting a call from one Filipino American in particular who said he never made the effort to know about his cultural roots because he felt ashamed of it, but after seeing on the news the sheer devastation, he didn’t want to be ashamed anymore. He said he’s now 33 years old, and now wants to help out as much as he can to make up for all the lost time he spent hiding from his Filipino culture. Despite our lives being disrupted and the stress of organizing the donations and events, I don’t remember anyone complaining too much, because we knew all this was for our people back home. In the end, we were able to ship 750 boxes of in-kind aid to the Philippines as well as over $50,000 in monetary aid.

I can’t believe it’s already been one year since the Typhoon Ondoy disaster, one year since our operation, BAYANihan for Philippine Disaster Relief. As I remember back to the devastation of the typhoon itself, the devastation of the government’s lack of response, and how our transnational community came together to rebuild and heal our beloved homeland, I’m always brought back to that very emotional moment one year ago, fighting to hold back the tears. This was by far the most daunting task I have ever taken up and also certainly the most rewarding in my life as a community organizer. I’ve learned and grown much from that experience, and I am still deeply inspired by our collective work as a community and the work we were able to accomplish, the breadth of work that still remains unmatched by the efforts of the Philippine government. This past summer, I was able to integrate with Migrante International, who took me to visit the communities they work with and that were hard hit by the typhoon. They did receive our donations, and sold much of the clothes to help buy beds and building materials and tools. They are still rebuilding their communities to this day, and it was truly humbling and inspiring to see them still pushing forward and surviving.

One year later, and our communities in the Philippines, though still recovering and still neglected by the Philippine government, are true survivors and still resilient as ever. It has been said that the Filipino is like bamboo, we bend but we do not break. This disaster, both natural and man-made, may have bent us over backwards to the brink of despair. But we have proven through our transnational collective effort, we are far from broken.

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Fil-Am Groups Spearhead Relief Drive for Typhoon Victims

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 27, 2009 by kulturalguerilla

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

27 September 2009

Reference: Ryan Leano, Secretary General, Sandiwa National Alliance of Filipino American Youth, sandiwa.national@gmail.com

Fil-Am Groups Spearhead Relief Drive for Typhoon Victims

SanDiwa National Alliance of Filipino American Youth and its mother alliance, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), with member organizations in over 13 major states in the United States of America, are spearheading a nationwide campaign “Bayanihan for Typhoon Ondoy Disaster Relief” to help our Kababayans who were struck by the typhoon Ondoy (also known internationally as Ketsena).

Ondoy, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), surpassed the highest 24-hour rainfall in June 1967 in Metro Manila. This historic typhoon placed 26 provinces, including the National Capital Region, under the state of calamity and sent thousands of Filipino families onto their rooftops to seek safety from flash floods in only a matter of 6 hours.

“More or less 280,000 people were reportedly affected and were left hungry, sick, wet and cold by Ondoy,” said Anne Beryl Corotan, National Chairperson of SanDiwa.

As news, photos and videos of this epic tragedy reached the US, Filipino im/migrants could not help but express their concerns towards their families and friends back home who were devastated by the calamity.

“So as a quick response and as part of the alliances’ disaster relief program, SanDiwa and NAFCON will be accepting donations, specifically in forms of monetary support, medical supplies, clothes and blankets, starting today, September 27,” added Corotan.

Drop off center for the North East region will be at NAFCON and SanDiwa’s National Office, the BAYANIHAN Filipino Community Center, 40-21 69th Street, Woodside NY 11377. Locations of other regional drop-off centers are still being determined and will be announced immediately.

For the first wave of collection, donors are requested to send in monetary support on or before October 3 to be sent to the Philippines for immediate assistance. Tax-exempt donations can be made payable to Philippine Forum, a non-profit member organization of NAFCON based in New York. Material support will follow mid-October and will continue until such time that the motherland has recovered from the damages caused by typhoon Ondoy.

“In this time of tragedy, we call on all our fellow Fil-Ams and im/migrants to extend a helping hand to our Kababayans. Let us do whatever we can — whether it be a fundraising concert, mass offering, or just simply donate your extra jacket or blanket to a fellow Filipino affected by Ondoy,” ends Corotan.

“Bayanihan for Typhoon Ondoy Disaster Relief” will be facilitated with partner organizations in the Philippines, while at the same time, encouraging other organizations and individuals in the US to send back to the Inang Bayan. Collections and other related events will be monitored and updated at http://bayanihan4ondoy.wordpress.com. For more information and updates on regional drop-off centers, please call (516) 9011832 or email at sandiwa.national@gmail.com.