Washington D.C Fil-Am launches Taal Relief efforts

Adapted from Manila Mail Article by PAFC Advisor, Jon Melegrito

Several community organizations in the DMV area are mobilizing their members and supporters and calling on the American public to help the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption in the Philippines with monetary and in-kind donations.

Philippine American Foundation for Charities (PAFC) has connected with Philippine Embassy in Washington DC, USAPhilippine Humanitarian CoalitionFilipino Young Professionals of Washington DC, Philippine American Chamber of Commerce (PACCDC), National Federation of Filipino American Associations NaFFAA Region 2FABA of Metro DC, and other Filipino American organizations in the area to mobilize the DMV community in providing support. “We want to ensure we are being responsive to the needs of those impacted,” says PAFC President Krystle Canare. “Let us harness the spirit of bayanihan (community building) to support the Filipino people along the road to rebuilding and recovery.”

On January 14, PAFC launched the "Taal Relief Campaign", a campaign of relief efforts based in the Washington DC metro area dedicated to Taal Relief.

$10K for Taal Relief Facebook Fundraiser - 1/14/20 through 1/28/20

On January 14, the first fundraiser of the campaign launched on Facebook. The crowdfunding effort seeks to raise $10,000 which will be donated to the Philippine Red Cross.

Canare says that PAFC Advisor, Bing Cardenas Branigin, is on the ground in Manila coordinating with the Philippine Red Cross and working to identify short and long-term projects that will benefit from the $10,000 raised through Facebook. The Facebook fundraiser will also be a launching pad for sharing future events of the relief campaign.

Donate to the fundraiser through 1/28/20: www.bit.ly/TAALrelief

SNRG Album Release Party to benefit Taal Relief Campaign - 1/25/20

The DMV-based Filipino rapper duo, S.N.R.G (Some Never Really Get) has teamed up with the Taal Relief Campaign to help raise funds. On Saturday, January 25, from 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. SNRG will hold an Album Release Party at Union Stage, 740 Water St. SW. Washington, D.C. Proceeds of ticket sales from this unique link below will go towards the relief campaign: www.snrgshop.com/product/taal-relief-campaign-with-s-n-r-g.

Doors Open at 7:00 p.m. and the performance will start at 8:00 p.m. After Party will continue after the performances to extend Taal relief

PAFC is excited to work with other organizations and individuals working to provide relief to those impacted by the Taal volcano eruption. Please find other relief efforts below:

Feed the Hungry, which has onsite volunteers in the Philippines, is asking for donations to fund its ground operations. FtH board member Solita Wakefield says that volunteers are now providing immediate calamity assistance in Batangas, where thousands have lost their homes and livelihood. Donations may be sent to www.feedthehungryphil.org or checks mailed to FtH Deputy Treasurer, Lyta Sese, 7501 Holiday Terrace, Bethesda, MD 20817. Feed the Hungry, Inc. is a 501(c)3 private non-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible.

Faith-based groups

“Fil-Am related groups and Facebook threads have been buzzing since Sunday with ideas of how to mobilize,” Canare says.

Among them are faith-based groups slated to hold Santo Nino Ati-Atihan and Sinulog festivals on Sunday, Jan. 19. In a Facebook post, Grace Divina Valera of the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), announced that in-kind donations – such as masks, canned goods, and clothes – will be collected on that day at St. Michael Church in Silver Spring.  The event is jointly organized by the Filipino Ministry at St. Michael and MHC.

“We are now in touch with a legitimate organization in Metro-Manila and will deliver our donations for the victims of Taal volcano eruption,” Valera says. “Please bring any goods to be donated and we will pack them that same night and ship them to the Philippines. Rehabilitation of calamity victims take time as they start their lives anew somewhere else if ever their homes are not suitable yet for living. So any donations in kind will greatly help even if it reaches them after 45 to 60 days . Rest assured that the donations will reach our kababayans in need.”

Arlington, VA-based Children’s Hope Charities is planning to deliver 10,000 N95 masks on January 20 to be distributed in the Batangas area. “We are racing against time to help save lives,” says Margaret Lacson Ecarma, who is a volunteer with the 501 (c)(3) organization that’s pursuing programs for children’s education, survival, and dignity. She is appealing for donors to order the masks from Amazon and have the package delivered to:  Margaret Lacson-Ecarma, c/o Children’s Hope Charities, 2116 S. Columbus St., Arlington,VA, 22206. A box of 30 is $20. Celia Pangilinan, also a volunteer with Children’s Hope Charities, is flying to Manila to bring the packages and personally deliver them to recipients.

Ken Mendoza, President of the Filipino American Basketball Association (FABA), plans to use the January 26 start of the 23rd Asian American Basketball Conference playoffs to collect N95 masks, canned goods, new and used clothes and shoes, towels and basic toiletries. “We will put donation boxes for anyone who would like to donate to the Taal Volcano victims,” he said. “We will also accept monetary donations. Rest assured that your donations will go directly to the people in need that were affected by this natural catastrophe.”

Relief program partners

Chrissi Pagkilos, external vice president of Washington DC-based Kabataan Alliance, announced in a Facebook post that the organization is “uniting Filipino American youth and students all over the U.S. to work with us to help fundraise for relief efforts for impacted communities. As of this morning, we have raised more than $1000 for the Philippines, which will be donated to our partner organization – Serve The People Corps Southern Tagalog – conducting grassroots relief efforts in the Philippines. Please continue to support our efforts by donating and sharing our Kapit Bisig Relief Program. Thank you! #kapitbisigrelief.”

Kabataan Alliance expects to continue organizing donation drives and benefits events in the coming weeks and months. Donations may be made through its Venmo (@KabataanAlliance) or Paypal (KabataanAlliance@Gmail.com). #KapitBisigRelief.

The Foundation for Philippine Progress (FPP) is similarly undertaking an immediate relief campaign that goes directly to families impacted. Jo Quiambao of the Washington DC-based GABRIELA, said she had the opportunity to go on a medical mission in November 2018 with the FPP as well as with the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), and was able to witness first-hand the efforts on the ground to assist communities in need.

According to Quiambo, FPP is partnering with Southern Tagalog Serve The People Corps, “a trusted organization with direct links to distributing the donations to people and places who are on the ground helping out.” They include UPLB USC Office, UPLB AUPAEU at UPLB SU Canteen, Steward, Inc. Cabuyao Laguna, CVSU (Cavite Campuses), Aloysius Baez Educational Center, Union of Theological Seminary in Dasmariñas Cavite, and KLARA Cooperative Hall in Batangas Pier, and many more.

FPP’s other partner is Citizen Disaster Response Center. CDRC is a non-government organization that pioneered and continues to promote community-based disaster management in the Philippines. CDRC operates nationwide through a network of regional centers affiliated with the Citizens’ Disaster Response Network and through people’s organizations. https://www.cdrc-phil.com/

“Since the Foundation launched in 2018, we have responded with several typhoon and earthquake relief campaigns and we will continue our support as over 16,400 Filipinos seek shelter from the volcanic eruption,” says Executive Director Rossella De Leon. Donations are highly encouraged through the online donation link available at www.philippineprogress.org/donate or through checks mailed to the Foundation for Philippine Progress, Inc.

Volcanic tsunami

On January 12, at 1 pm, a Level 4 explosive eruption took place 37 miles south of Manila affecting 450,000 residents in the 10.5 mile radius surrounding the Mt. Taal volcano in Tagaytay City. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) warns that it can escalate to a Level 5 at any time. On January 13, at 5 am, there has been a total of 75 volcanic earthquakes around the region. A mixture of rain and ash has caused the Ninoy Aquino International airport to cancel flights. Particles comparable to the size of golf balls have fallen in areas around Taal Lake which also poses the threat of a volcanic tsunami.

Twenty five million Filipinos live within 62 miles of Mt. Taal. In 1911, the same volcano took 1,335 lives. In 1965, one hundred and ninety people were killed.

‘A period of unrest’

On the afternoon of January 12, 2020, the Taal Volcano located in the province of Batangas in the Philippines spewed ash up to nine miles into the air, resulting in heavy ashfall throughout the municipalities of Lemery, Talisay, Taal, and Cuenca, Batangas. It has since been in a period of unrest, resulting in 75 volcanic earthquakes with intensities ranging between two to four within the vicinity of the volcano. Total evacuation of Taal Volcano Island has been ordered.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) has raised the alert status of Taal Volcano to Level 4. This means that a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.

Based on the limited data available, it is estimated that 43,436 people, 8,196 households, and $113 Million (USD) of infrastructure are within 10 km (6 miles) and more likely to be adversely impacted, and that 2.48 Million people, 469,089 households, and $6.47 Billion (USD) of infrastructure are 10-30 km (6-18 miles) from the volcano.

Long-term assistance

“Let’s continue to raise funds and trust FilAm organizations on the ground and the government agencies that are facilitating relief assistance,” says Branigin, who is working closely with Sen. Dick Gordon and the Philippine Red Cross. “We will also make sure these donations are monitored properly and delivered directly to those in need.”

Recognizing the long-term needs of the devastated areas, PACCDC President Cristina Sison is proposing to “dedicate something to address the victims of this disaster” from proceeds of the FilAm Expo in June.

Adds Canare: “During disasters, there’s an over whelming number of volunteers and supplies while it’s in the news. We need to think of long-term assistance. It will take months for some families to rebuild damaged homes and schools and recover lost livelihoods. The victims of earthquakes and typhoons in the last few months are still in need of assistance. Let’s help them get back to their feet as soon as possible.”

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