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Filipino expatriates in UAE join Manila flood relief effort

Filipino expatriates are mobilising aid efforts to help flood victims after torrential rains submerged much of Manila and its surrounding areas today.

ABU DHABI // Filipino expatriates are mobilising aid efforts to help flood victims after torrential rains submerged much of Manila and its surrounding areas today.

Steady rains for the past 10 days, which have killed more than 50 people, are set to continue tomorrow, according to the Philippines weather bureau, fuelled by tropical storm "Haikui" in the Philippine Sea northeast of Taiwan.

Disaster officials said more than half of Manila was swamped by floods up to three metres high, made worse by a high tide and the release of water from dams in surrounding provinces.

FilCom, which represents Filipino groups in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, was quick to respond, sending Dh10,000 to the Philippine Red Cross yesterday. The amount was described as an initial donation.

"We need to set aside for calamities," said Alan Bacason, the president of FilCom, who in January discussed plans to have a standing disaster relief fund after four typhoons swept through various parts of the Philippines last year.

"We know that other organisations and individuals are also keen to send their cash donations directly to the Red Cross or non-government organisations."

In Abu Dhabi, Bayanihan UAE, FilCom's counterpart in the capital, is meeting at the Philippine embassy at 2.30pm on Friday. The relief efforts of the community will be on the agenda.

"The Aquino government is on top of the situation," said Grace Princesa, the Philippine ambassador to the UAE. "We are learning from the experiences of the past."

So far there is no request from Manila to mobilise the community to provide assistance but the Filipino community in Abu Dhabi is always ready to help, she said.

"We are a country affected by typhoons and natural weather disturbances," Ms Princesa said. "We'll pray for the rains to stop, learn to plant more trees and work on better waste management."

rruiz@thenational.ae

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