Local Groups Gathering Donations For Typhoon Victims In The Philippines

A group of Bay Area Filipinos gathered on San Francisco’s Market Street Monday to raise money for victims of the deadly typhoon that hit the Philippines on Friday.

A handful of representatives from the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns stood near the Powell Street cable car turnaround to ask for donations to aid victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which is estimated to have killed thousands of people and left hundreds of thousands without homes in the central Philippines.

Princess Bustos, a volunteer with NAFCON, sang to passersby, many of whom stopped to give money to the group.

“There are a lot of us who lost loved ones or whose friends are missing,” Bustos said. “Being out here today is a great way for us to put all the energy, the anxiety, the stress, the fear, the anguish of loss into something positive.”

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the region last month, so “to be hit again, it’s really devastating,” she said.

Daly City resident Jessica Gonzales, who came to the city today to meet up with a friend, stopped by to give cash to the group.

Gonzales said she has family in the Philippines but that she’s “lucky they don’t live in the area” hit by the hurricane.
“Just as a community, we want to help each other out,” she said.

Jun Lim also stopped to give money and said he, too, has family in the Philippines and has not been able to reach everyone.

“We can’t do nothing because there’s no electricity,” Lim said.

Terry Valen, president of NAFCON and director of the Filipino Community Center in San Francisco’s Excelsior District, said there has been an outpouring of support in the Bay Area for the typhoon victims.

“Folks have been coming to our center … executive chefs ready to do events, people hosting concerts,” Valen said. “They’re ready to share whatever talents and resources they have.”

Elsewhere in the city, the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center, located at 175 Seventh St., is accepting donations, executive director Rudy Asercion said.

Asercion said community members were shocked by the strength of the typhoon.

“A lot of people are amazed at a 195 mph storm,” he said. “We’ve never heard of such things.”

Asercion said that, because Monday was Veteran’s Day, several military veterans showed up at the center in uniform to help with the donation effort. Items like emergency supplies and canned food are being accepted, as well as cash donations.

Project PEARLS, a Peninsula-based nonprofit that helps poor children in the Philippines, raised more than $1,600 and packed 47 boxes with donated goods at an event over the weekend in San Bruno.

The donations will be sent directly to the Philippine Red Cross, according to the nonprofit.

The American Red Cross is also assisting in the relief efforts by helping Bay Area residents try to find missing family members in the Philippines.

Residents can call the Red Cross at (510) 595-4414 or (408) 577-2054 if the inquiry is about a non-U.S. citizen. The U.S. State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services is handling inquiries for U.S. citizens and can be reached at (888) 407-4747.

The Red Cross is accepting monetary donations specifically for typhoon victims on its website at www.redcross.org/donate/index.jsp?donateStep=2&itemId=prod4650031.

The organization is not accepting any food or material donations, spokesman Woody Baker-Cohn said.

“In general, trying to collect physical things is not helpful, given the distance and logistics involved and the compromised infrastructure,” Baker-Cohn said.

More information about the Red Cross response to the typhoon can be found online at www.redcross.org/news/article/Typhoon-Haiyan-Disaster-Alert.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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