For Immediate Release
January 19, 2010
Reference: Ryan Leano, Secretary General, SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth
BAY AREA BAYANIHAN FOR PHILIPPINE DISASTER RELIEF CELEBRATES THE RECEIVING OF DONATIONS BY MIGRANTE INTERNATIONAL AND A SUCCESSFUL RELIEF EFFORT
In September of 2009, Typhoon Ondoy was followed a week later by Typhoon Pepeng, hitting the Philippines with torrential rain and massive flooding. These typhoons caused unprecedented damage, destroying homes and property, affecting hundreds of thousands people. The extensive disaster, coupled with the disaster of the Philippine government’s ineptitude in dealing with the massive damage, brought about the need for Filipinos in the United States to come together and help their kababayan (countrymen/women) back in the Philippines. The result was a nationally coordinated relief effort spearheaded by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and its youth arm, SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth, with the most prominent centers of the relief effort happening in New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, various Filipino grassroots community organizations participated in this national relief effort by forming the Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief project. The group decided that Migrante International would be the recipient of collected donations. Migrante International is a grassroots alliance in the Philippines that addresses the needs of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s) and their families in the Philippines. This coordinated effort ensured that the relief effort would be the most responsible, reliable, and accountable in getting the donations to the communities in the Philippines most affected by the disasters, without interference by government agencies. Distinct from other relief organizations, this effort was purely grassroots, accomplished without a significant role played by government agencies or large scale charitable foundations.
Since the immediate aftermath of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, the Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief project volunteers worked tirelessly in coordinating donation drop off sites throughout the Bay Area. The response was overwhelming, with mountains of in-kind donations piling up at the drop off sites. By the time of shipping in December 2009, 300 boxes of clothes, food, and medical supplies were sent to the Philippines, as well as more than $30,000 in monetary donations from generous people in the community in addition to a $50,000 relief project donation from the City of San Francisco.
This relief effort, however, did not come without hard struggles. Among the roadblocks that slowed the aid in reaching the victims were the directives placed on donations by the Arroyo administration, stating that all donations had to be approved by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through DSWD accredited organizations. The directives further stated that the donations going to organizations not accredited with the DSWD would be taxed. However, the community remained aggressive and vigilant, and after meetings with the local Philippine Consulate and their counterparts in New York, the Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief was able to get the donation taxes lifted and assurance that Migrante, International would still receive the donations.
As of January 2010, all 300 boxes of donations were successfully received in the Philippines by Migrante International, and they are in the process of sorting and giving the donations to families most affected by the disasters. The next shipment of donations from New York/New Jersey will follow very soon. The $50,000 donated by the City of San Francisco will be used in constructing water filtration systems as well as disaster and health capacity building projects in communities most affected by the disaster. Although this was one disaster, this grassroots international relief effort will continue on as long as the need persists.
The Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief, along with their kababayan in the Philippines, celebrate the community coming together in this successful relief effort in the midst of the disasters, both natural and man-made. It extends its deepest thanks to all those who donated their time, work, and money in sorting out the clothes, food, and medical supplies and packing them in all 300 boxes. Deepest thanks as well go to the community organizations who volunteered their spaces to be donation drop off sites, despite the disruption in their programming. This effort truly exemplifies the Filipino spirit of bayanihan, which translates into communal and collective support.
Please, see pictures below from Migrante, International receiving and unloading our cargo container of almost 250 balikbayan boxes at DSWD for further delivery to affected families and communities earlier this month – a good start to the new year for so many families! To learn more about this nationally coordinated relief effort, please visit www.bayanihan4ondoy.wordpress.com.