A Year after Ondoy and the Overwhelming Support of Filipinos in the U.S.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Statement

Reference: NAFCON National Office

Email: info@nafconusa.org

A Year after Ondoy and the Overwhelming Support of Filipinos in the U.S.

On September 26, 2009, Typhoon Ondoy struck the Philippines , killing hundreds of people and displacing thousands more. Although many consider Ondoy as one of the worst “natural” catastrophes in Philippines history, Rev. Benjamin Alforque, NAFCON President commented, “The real catastrophe is not the typhoon but the government neglect and corruption that led to the overwhelming number of avoidable casualties.”

For decades, members of the government profited by selling mining and logging rights to foreign corporations without regard for its people.  The irresponsible mining and logging destabilized the soil where thousands of Filipinos live. Soil destabilization created places prone to severe mudslides that toppled over and wiped away entire communities during Ondoy. Rev. Alforque continued, “If the government acted in the interests of its people, they would have prohibited the mining and logging to protect our kababayan.”

The government-made catastrophe continued when Ondoy hit and the nation had no money for emergency relief. Anne Beryl Corotan, Chairperson of SanDiwa (NAFCON’s youth and student arm) commented, “The government could not even afford to purchase rubber boats to rescue survivors of the floods.” The President at the time, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), spent the entire P800 million relief fund on extravagant trips throughout the world.

The government’s role in creating disaster became clearer when a blogger named Ella released pictures of entire government warehouses filled with rotting relief goods. Even after people throughout the world responded in force to assist victims of the typhoon, the government could not deliver.

In the face of the GMA administration’s failures, NAFCON organizations coordinated relief work independent of the government. NAFCON initiated BAYANihan for Philippine Disaster Relief. In partnership with Migrante International, a migrants’ organization working directly with the communities most effected, whom are also families of migrant workers around the world, NAFCON made sure that the donations gathered would be distributed immediately to those people who needed them.

As part of NAFCON’s relief effort, money along with hundreds of balikbayan boxes began piling up at the different drop-off sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles , and New York/New Jersey. In the end, BAYANihan for Philippine Disaster Relief generated 750 boxes of goods as well as over $50,000 in cash.

In June 2010, Ryan Leano of SanDiwa, visited with Migrante. Leano commented, “Migrante took me to visit the communities that received our donations. The people sold much of the donated clothes to help buy beds, building materials and tools. They are still rebuilding.”

One year after Ondoy, former President and now Congresswoman Arroyo still needs to be prosecuted for her role in the government-made catastrophe. Rev. Alforque said, “Arroyo needs to be held accountable, not only for her failures in the wake of Ondoy, but for the series of corrupt practices throughout her administration.”

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The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) is a national network of Filipino organizations, institutions, and individuals committed to advancing the rights and welfare, celebrating culture and history, and building unity among Filipinos living and working in the United States . Founded in 2003, NAFCON members are based in over 23 cities across the country.  Member organizations include: SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth, National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns, Filipino Community Center–San Francisco, Filipino Community Support–Silicon Valley, Philippine Forum—New York and New Jersey, F.I.R.E.—New York, Habi Arts—Los Angeles, Liwanag Kultural Center—Daly City,  Filipino Ministry of DSB—San Bernardino, Fellowship for Filipino Migrants—Illinois, and Filipino Migrant Heritage Commission—Virginia.

SanDiwa, the youth and students arm of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), is a national alliance of youth, students, and community youth organizations, united to (re)educate, celebrate, and advocate for issues that affect our Filipino communities in the United States and in the Philippines. As an alliance, we seek to work cross-culturally in reclaiming our humanity and to work collaboratively with “other” minority groups to protect the rights and welfare of young Filipinos all over the United States .

 

Bay Area Filipinos Celebrate Success of Bayanihan Disaster Relief

For Immediate Release

December 24, 2009

Contact: Aurora Victoria Herrera David, Officer, Stanford-PASU–member of NAFCON, Northern California, Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief
auroravictoriahd@gmail.com, 650-491-4561

Bay Area Filipinos Celebrate Success of Bayanihan Disaster Relief

Collective Action Proves to be the Answer

On December 7th, the Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief successfully shipped approximately 250 boxes of people’s relief to kababayans in the Philippines. Together with boxes previously shipped, the relief team was able to collect 300 boxes of clothing, food, medical, and school supplies from concerned individuals throughout the Bay Area. In three months time, the team also raised more than $30,000 in monetary donations, sent directly to affected communities.

Mara Ibarra and Bernadette Herrera, representatives of the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), a member alliance of the relief team, are in the Philippines to ensure smooth reception of the boxes by Migrante International. Migrante International is a the grassroots organization selected and trusted to distribute the Bay Area donations. The relief team will closely monitor the transfer of boxes from Philippine Customs to DSWD’s One-Stop Facility, then to Migrante, and finally to some of the most-affected communities and victims of the typhoons.

The Filipino Community Center (FCC) in San Francisco, a member organization of NAFCON, played a key role in facilitating the funding of a relief and rehabilitation project in Quezon City. As of December 23rd, the City of San Francisco is processing the direct transfer of a $50,000 donation to the Coordinating Council for People’s Development and Governance (CCPDG) in the Philippines to launch a project that will help communities recover from the adverse health effects of the typhoons and prepare them for responding to future disasters.

At the Annual Parol Festival and Parade on December 12th, organizers and supporters of the relief drive came together and celebrated the community’s success in sending relief to kababayans in the Philippines. The efforts of everyday Filipinos surpassed any government initiative or effort to respond to the recent typhoons, and the community has proven once again that bayanihan (Tagalog for communal effort & unity) is the answer when those who have power and authority fail to fulfill their responsibilities to the people.

The disaster relief team is also in contact with organizations in the Philippines regarding recent reports of the imminent eruption of Mt. Mayon in Albay, Philippines, including ways to help evacuees. As we continue to raise monetary donations for Philippine disaster victims, we remain vigilant in following actions of the Philippine government and SF Consulate who had claimed that they do not have the money to ship the relief boxes to the Philippines for our kababayans.

We call on our fellow Filipinos in the Bay Area and around the world to maintain efforts in helping our kababayans in the Philippines and to hold the Philippine government accountable to their duties to serve the people. As we celebrate the holidays and the success of the Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief Project in 2009, we commit to continuing our grassroots efforts to truly serve the people in 2010 and beyond.

Like so many Filipino migrants forced abroad and sending remittances to loved ones in the Philippines, we hope that our donations contribute in a small way to a happier holiday season, and we also send warm holiday greetings to our generous Filipino migrants in the Bay Area and around the world!

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