x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Donations continue to pour in for Philippine flood victims

Filipinos continue to rally to aid their compatriots almost a month after Tropical Storm Washi hit the Philippines.

From a charity walk to a sporting fund-raiser and cash donations, Filipinos continue to rally to aid their compatriots almost a month after Tropical Storm Washi hit the Philippines.

The areas affected by the storm, which swept across the southern part of the country last month and killed 1,453 people, are now in the "early recovery stage", according to the government.

In their efforts to help, UAE residents have raised thousands of dirhams and sent boxes of relief goods to victims of the disaster.

The UAE Red Crescent Authority, which provides assistance to needy families and victims of disasters around the world, sent aid directly to the Philippine Red Cross a week after the storm, said Mohammed Al Zarouni, manager of the RCA's Dubai branch.

He took part in the Hakbang Buhay ("Walk for Life") along with more than 2,000 Filipinos and other nationalities at Dubai's Al Safa Park on January 6.

"The Red Crescent made the entire process easy," said Lucille Ong, the president of the Philippine Business Council, which organised the charity walk. "We had its full support. We couldn't have asked for a better partner in this fund drive."

The walk's proceeds, totalling Dh67,894, have been handed to the Red Crescent.

The business council will continue its fund-raising at various locations in Dubai. The total donated will be tallied by the end of the month, and distributed to the Philippine Red Cross in Manila.

In Abu Dhabi, the Filipino Council of Leaders, which represents nine organisations, raised Dh9,859 from its "Games for Hope" at the Armed Forces Officers Club sports complex on January 6. Fred Manangan, the fund-raiser's chairman, said donations came from eight basketball and volleyball teams and the visitors who paid Dh10 each to enter.

Bayanihan-UAE, the umbrella organisation of 68 Filipino groups in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, sent Dh18,013 to the Philippine Red Cross and the ABS-CBN Foundation in Manila.

The Dubai-based women's rights group Gabriela-UAE sent 10 boxes of used clothing, tinned food and other relief goods to its Manila office. It also sent a cash donation to Cagayan de Oro, one of the flood-hit areas.

Melca Perez, the group's chairwoman, said they launched Lingap Gabriela-UAE (Gabriela-UAE Cares) last month "to ease the pain and suffering of their compatriots, especially the women who had lost their children in the storm".

However, trade rules limit the goods that can be sent as relief.

Used clothing, initially subject to a Filipino import ban, may now be sent to the Department of Social Welfare and Development but is still being discouraged. Donations that are not covered with diplomatic notes or bilateral agreements have to be cleared by customs.

Tents, blankets, folding beds, temporary shelters, cooking utensils, generators and school supplies for children are a priority for the relief effort at the moment.

"They don't have anything and many families are still staying in evacuation centres," said Joel Ladao, 35, who works at Abu Dhabi University and is originally from Cagayan de Oro.

"Those who are now in the tent cities need some cash assistance to start all over again and rebuild their lives."

rruiz@thenational.ae