By Dionesio C. Grava – The immense misfortune and anguish suffered by countrymen in parts of Mindanao and Negros Oriental as a result of the Sendong typhoon disaster are matched only by the magnitude of assistance extended by other Filipinos and foreign nationals alike. The tragedy is both a time of sorrow and an occasion to highlight the warmth of human compassion for those who need help most.
The WE ARE ONE! fundraising concert held December 22 at the St. Genevieve Catholic Church in Panorama City was just one of the undertakings by kababayans residing in this part of California intended to generate and send immediate help to the disaster victims. Organized by Gelo Francisco, director of Music and Liturgy at St Genevieve Catholic Community, the event reportedly raised over $8,000 in donations and pledges for the cause.
Among those who were generous with their talents and time during the evening performance were the following: Glendale First United Methodist Church Adult Group, Becca Godinez, Clifford Banagale, Isa Briones, Grace Constantino, Nino de Luna, Mirielle Enriquez, Jessica Grace, Ben Quirubin, Claire Rodriguez, Lito Villareal, Filipino American Symphony Orchestra, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Children’s Choir, Pete Avendano, Erwin Andaya, Nilo Alcala, Paolo Alcedo, the St. Genevieve HS Show Choir, the Philippine Chamber Singers-LA, Bill Curd & Andy Zuckerman of the band Curd, Peter and Analisa de Guzman, Jonathan Badon, the SFV Simbang Gabi Grand Choir, and some members of the cast of “The Romance of Magno ubio,” namely, Jon Jon Briones, Antoine Diel, Gio Garcia, Erick Esteban, Jet Montelibano and Gelo Francisco.
Ted Benito, who helped produce the fundraising concert, described it as “a last minute ad hoc kind of grassroots effort by Gelo Francisco and the people of St. Genevieve to help our fellow kababayans in the Philippines.” Becca Godinez, a renowned faith singer-songwriter, said that the event was an opportunity to help the victims and show that “We love our country, we love our kababayans.”
J. Robbie Fabian, president of ABS-CBN Foundation International, was there to pitch the foundation’s “Sagip Kapamilya” emergency disaster relief for Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. The campaign addresses the urgent needs on the ground in the quickest possible way, it was said. Also seen in the audience were LA-based Consul General Mary Jo Aragon, Noel and Mary Ann Omega of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce-LA, publicist Winston Emano, Atty. Roman Mosqueda, and other leaders and members of the community. The concert was hosted by Giselle Tongi and Marigold Haber Dunca.
Other Filipino-American organizations that have mobilized to help disaster victims reportedly include the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and the Tulong Sa Bayan (TSB). Another group of Filipino artists were also scheduled to perform for a similar purpose on December 26 at the Catalina Jazz Club in West Sunset Blvd., LA. Among the names mentioned were Becca Godinez, Louie Reyes, Annie Nepumoceno, Martin Nievera, Miguel Vera, Tateng Katinding & Band, Ner de Leon, and Jaclyn Rose & VJ Rosales.
As of this writing the number of deaths in the Sendong tragedy has risen to 1,249 persons in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in about a dozen provinces are said to have been affected adversely by the disaster. These involve houses, agricultural crops, schools, roads and bridges and other public structures that are either damaged or lost . There is the urgent task of burying the dead to prevent the outbreak of diseases, decongest evacuation centers, and provide food relief and potable water for the people. President Aquino declared a state of national calamity.
Earlier, the Philippine Consulate General-LA issued an advisory on where donations can be sent. It includes Account No. 0435-021927-130 of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (Account Name: NDRRMC Donated Funds, Swift Code: DBPHPMM Account # 36002016). Focal person: Ms. Rufina Pascual, Collecting Officer, Office of Civil Defense, Camp Aguinaldo, QC, Phils Tels. +(632) 421-1920/ +(632) 911-506165.
The advisory also reminds prospective donors “that in sending relief goods/items to the Philippines, refer to the ‘Revised Omnibus Guidelines in the Management and Processing of Donations (Administrative Order No. 06 series of 2010)’”. Donation of used clothing is prohibited to safeguard the health of the people, it says. Please contact the consulate for the names of the other agencies concerned in aid efforts.