x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Filipinos plan typhoon fund-raisers

Nesat hit two years after typhoon Ketsana dumped heavy rains in Manila and nearby provinces, killing nearly 300 and damaging the homes of about three million people.

ABU DHABI // Filipinos have stepped up relief efforts to help victims of a typhoon that battered Manila and other parts of the Philippines on Tuesday.

Typhoon Nesat, locally known as Pedring, moved out of the Philippines yesterday, but not before killing at least 21 people and causing about one billion pesos (Dh85m) worth of damage to infrastructure and crops.

“We’re still determining the worst-hit areas,” said Bal Junio, 42, a finance and administration manager in Abu Dhabi. “We plan to send both cash and goods.”

Mr Junio, who is also the president of Bayanihan UAE, the umbrella organisation of 68 Filipino associations in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, met with the executive committee officers in the capital last night to plan its fundraiser.

Nesat hit two years after typhoon Ketsana dumped heavy rains in Manila and nearby provinces, killing nearly 300 and damaging the homes of about three million people.

In September 2009, the community groups donated Dh20,000 to the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development through the Land Bank of the Philippines. Individuals and Filipino organisations in Abu Dhabi also sent cash donations of Dh6,348.

Three organisations, the Filipino Council of Leaders, the photo club Shootercada and a Filipino bowling club also gave Dh15,136.

“Filipinos in the capital are aware of the damage left by Typhoon Pedring,” Mr Junio said. “We’re appealing to the community to help us raise funds and collect goods.”

In Dubai, the newly-elected officers and members of the governing council of the Filipino Community in Dubai and the Northern Emirates (Filcom Dubai-NE) plan to organise a fundraising campaign.

Benito Valeriano, the consul-general in Dubai, said he had advised the council to co-ordinate with the UAE Red Crescent Authority before proceeding with a fundraiser in the emirate.

“They’re always ready to support victims of calamity,” he said. “It’s better for us to send cash donations. From past experience, we’ve encountered lots of problems with relief goods either with the customs, safekeeping and with the distribution.”

About 2,000 boxes of food, clothing and other relief goods were sent to typhoon Ketsana victims, while cash donations reached Dh800,000.

A charity walk at Al Safa Park, called Walk for Life, raised about Dh500,000 from individuals and companies in October of that year, according to Robert Ramos, the chairman of the FilCom in 2009.

While awaiting the Red Crescent’s approval, Filipinos who wish to donate cash on their own may send directly to the Philippine Red Cross or to Philippine TV stations such as GMA-7 and ABS-CBN, said Matilyn Bagunu, the governing council’s vice president and the head of the St Mary’s Filipino Community Choir.

rruiz@thenational.ae