x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

UAE Filipinos unite to mobilise aid for Typhoon Haiyan victims

A brunch fundraiser, a fashion show and concert will be held this month, with all proceeds going to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

April Joy Montaniel’s father is safe after being missing for two days, but she fears her family have nothing to eat. Silvia Razgova / The National
April Joy Montaniel’s father is safe after being missing for two days, but she fears her family have nothing to eat. Silvia Razgova / The National

ABU DHABI // Filipino expatriates have wasted no time in mobilising aid efforts by organising a brunch fund-raiser, a fashion show and a concert to help typhoon victims in their home country.

Super Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, tore through the Philippines on Friday, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands more displaced.

Filcom, which represents community groups in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, will hold a brunch fund-raiser at the Philippine consulate in Dubai from 11am to 4pm on Friday.

Bayanihan UAE, its counterpart in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, donated Dh10,000 from its standing fund.

On November 22, the Abu Dhabi Fashion Guild will hold a benefit fashion show in Le Meridien Hotel from 11am to 4pm.

Members of the non-profit Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mangaawit sa Abu Dhabi have plans to stage an evening concert at the same venue,

“The proceeds will all go to the victims of the typhoon,” said Bayanihan UAE’s president, Ernesto Refugio.

Since Sunday, Mr Refugio has been receiving calls from a variety of nationalities wanting to send donations to the typhoon victims.

In Dubai, a Lebanese national pledged Dh50,000, while others will hand over their in-kind donations at the brunch fund-raiser on Friday, according to Matilyn Bagunu, Filcom’s president.

“We’ve had an overwhelming show of support from individuals of various nationalities, hotels and companies,” she said. “We are so grateful for their generosity.”

Hotels, schools and companies have pledged to donate boxes of blankets, children’s clothes, 10,000 pairs of shoes and other relief goods.

“A number of employers of Filipina maids whose families back home have been affected by the typhoon said they would also like to help,” Ms Bagunu said. “We are deeply touched by their kindness.”

An Abu Dhabi resident, April Joy Montaniel, said she hoped aid would reach the hungry survivors.

“Each family received only a kilo of rice, two canned goods and a few packs of rice noodles,” said Ms Montaniel, 27, who is from the island of Polopina in Concepcion, Iloilo. “I hope my relatives have enough food to eat. I’m particularly worried about my 11 nephews and nieces.”

She was relieved to find out that her 56-year-old father, a fisherman, had been found; he had been missing for two days.

“He and the other fishermen were found safe and well on another island,” Ms Montaniel said.

But her family’s home, and those of her four siblings, were washed away. They all had to set up a make-shift shelter.

“Maybe they don’t have anything to eat,” she said. “My sister and I plan to send boxes of relief goods. We cannot just rely on our government.”

Planes, ships and lorries were all on their way to the region, loaded with generators, water purifying kits and emergency lights – vital equipment needed to sustain a major relief mission.

Airports were reopening in the region, and the US military said it was installing equipment to allow the damaged Tacloban airport to operate around the clock.

Iris Diel, 25, a nurse from Dubai, said while her family’s home in EB Magalona, Negros Occidental, was spared, some of her relatives had to seek refuge at an evacuation centre.

“Power has not been restored in our area,” she said. “Whenever I watch the news, I can’t help but break down and cry.”