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BC Mobilizes To Help Victims Of Typhoon Haiyan

Heights Editor

Published: Monday, November 18, 2013

Updated: Monday, November 18, 2013 01:11

philippines

David Guttenfelder / AP Photo


James Gallo, CSOM ’14, was working at Hillside Cafe on Monday, Nov. 11 when he noticed images of the Philippines populating his Twitter feed. Typhoon Haiyan—the largest such storm in recorded history—first made landfall in the Philippines that Friday, with a 25-foot storm surge. The storm most significantly affected the Samar and Leyte regions of the Philippines, an area far south of Manila, which includes some of the nation’s poorest provinces. Early government estimates place the national death toll at 3,637.

“I saw the devastation, and I messaged my advisor for RHA,” said Gallo, a vice president of the Residence Hall Association (RHA). “I said I want to raise money for the typhoon, like this is really bad, they need help—what do I do?”

Gallo was advised to wait for the organization’s e-board meeting on Thursday night. Unsatisfied with this timeframe, he contacted fellow RHA member Tadala Jumbe, A&S ’14, later that night, and the two began to develop the concept for a Typhoon Haiyan benefit concert.

They brought the idea to Gerome Paradela, president of the Philippine Society of BC and A&S ’14, and discovered Paradela was already in talks developing a relief initiative with Matt Alonsozana, executive vice president of UGBC and A&S ’14. “We grew from a group of eight to a group of 30,” Alonsozana said. “We grew from three main organizations involved to, I want to say, more than a dozen.”

The BC Typhoon Haiyan Relief Initiative developed from the individual ideas of students—it is an ongoing series of charity events, planned by representatives from a growing number of campus groups, but ultimately existing outside any single organization.

On Thursday, the Asian Christian Fellowship held the first event in the series, a prayer service for the victims of the typhoon. Alonsozana, a second generation American of Filipino descent, described the event as a rare incidence of Filipino-Americans and international students from the Philippines interacting.

“For me, that’s a beautiful thing to see, because you always face a lot of different questions about who represents the culture, or who has more of a connection, sometimes, to the Philippines,” Alonsozana said. “I think this initiative is putting that to rest—everyone has an equal say in this.”

Over the weekend, the Haiyan Relief Initiative began its fundraising efforts, launching an e-commerce account, and collecting cash donations Saturday at the International Club’s prom and on Sunday through mass collections.

This semester, the Haiyan Relief Initiative has set a goal of raising $10,000 to donate directly to Catholic Relief Services, with plans to raise $3,000 though electronic donations, and $7,000 during a point drive scheduled to take place in dining halls on Nov. 25 through the Volunteer Service Learning Center (VSLC).

Organizers of the relief initiative saw Catholic Relief Services as the ideal organization to donate through during the first weeks after the typhoon—the organization has a strong presence in the Philippines, and was quick to address emergency needs after the storm. Next semester, the Haiyan Relief Initiation plans to extend its giving to address long term issues of poverty and redevelopment in the Philippines, potentially partnering with Feed the Hungry and Filipino organizations like Gawad Kalinga and Hands on Manila.

Five fundraising events are planned for the upcoming week, the largest being a Hurricane Haiyan benefit concert to be held in the Rat on Thursday at 7 p.m.; a SEASA and Conspiracy Theory dance showcase in Gasson 100 on Friday at 8 p.m.; and a regional Filipino culture show in Gasson 100 on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

A week before Thursday’s concert, no performers had committed.

“When we had no performers, I said listen, I’ll just sing myself,” Gallo said. “If something goes wrong, we’re going to fix it.”

The Typhoon Haiyan charity concert, planned through RHA, and in collaboration with the Phillipine Society and UGBC, grew to the point that Gallo had to start turning performers away. The Music Guild cancelled an open mic night planned for the same night to handle the sound design for the event, and with it came some of the acts it had scheduled.

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