ABU DHABI // Filipino expatriates are being urged to join their compatriots worldwide and wear black tomorrow to show their solidarity with survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan.
The initiative, Wear Black Monday, also hopes “to show the world our eagerness to give immediate attention to the global issue of climate change”, according to the One Philippines group’s page on Facebook.
Super Typhoon Haiyan destroyed dozens of coastal towns and killed at least 3,500 people when it battered the central Philippines on November 8.
Less than a month before, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Bohol province, leaving 213 people dead and more than 700 injured.
“I will ask all our community leaders and their members to support Wear Black Monday,” said Ernesto Refugio, 58, a civil engineer who has lived in Abu Dhabi for 20 years.
“We want to express solidarity with the victims, and to provide aid that they desperately need.”
Mr Refugio is president of Bayanihan UAE, which represents 57 community groups in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
“After a plea for cash donations, we will be sending Dh10,000 today,” Mr Refugio said.
“One Jordanian told me that he was very sad about what happened to my country and hoped that international aid would reach the victims as soon as possible.”
Bayanihan sent Dh10,000 to the Philippine Red Cross two days after the typhoon struck.
Last week, Mr Refugio instructed donors to give relief goods to Philippine courier company LBC, which is accepting aid items at its branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The company has agreed to ship the goods for free.
Those in Dubai and the Northern Emirates also came out in force at the weekend to offer help, with FilCom in Dubai raising Dh112,412 during a brunch fundraiser on Friday.
Emiratis and other expatriates were also keen to assist in the relief efforts.
“This is just the beginning of our journey for a better Philippines,” said Matilyn Bagunu, the president of FilCom.
FilCom will also ship two six-metre containers and one 12-metre container of assorted goods.
Wendell Castro, the volunteer in charge of organising the donations, said his group was able to fill 1,724 boxes. Of those, 361 boxes of canned food and medicine will be sent via airfreight.
Half of the 1,500 people who attended the fundraising brunch on Friday also volunteered to sort and pack food, medicine, clothing and other relief goods.
Mr Castro and other volunteers continued with the relief operations yesterday.
“The spirit of volunteerism was overwhelming,” he said. “When I asked them how they felt, they said it was great to make a difference to the victims’ lives. Some volunteers who are from Tacloban, Palo, Samar – the worst-hit areas – also turned out to help.”