The Bay Area’s Filipino-American community has launched a grass-roots effort to aid survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. The deadly typhoon, called Yolanda in the Philippines, made landfall on the island nation Nov. 7. In its wake, thousands were left homeless and cut off from aid and essential services.
A group calling itself Rise Up Philippines — Bay Area has established a Facebook page to act as a clearinghouse for information and donations. The group’s social-media specialist, Kenneth Dolar, said that over the weekend, local restaurant owner Barry Picazo called for help from the community and the first meeting was held Monday at Picazo’s South San Francisco restaurant, Fort McKinley.
“Almost all the big players in the Filipino community showed up,” Dolar said.
Picazo said that due to government corruption, his group is advising people to send donations directly to the Philippine Red Cross.
“Definitely we are in agreement that funds cannot be sent through the Philippine government,” Picazo said.
Daly City City Councilman Mike Guingona said Serramonte Shopping Center has volunteered its central information booth as a collection point for Philippine Red Cross donations.
He said the mall is also looking at setting up a drop-off location where people can donate food, bottled water, clothing and other supplies.
Additionally, Guingona said goods can be donated at the West Bay Filipino Multi-Services Center in San Francisco.
However, Picazo said that because of the complex logistics of transporting goods, cash donations to the Philippine Red Cross are the most immediate way of helping.
Guingona underscored the immediacy of the situation, saying many survivors are currently without food or safe drinking water. “Every second counts,” he said.
Dolar echoed that sentiment, saying, “Like Mike said, we’ve really got to move fast on this.”
Dolar said he’s heard from some of his family in the Philippines, but others remain unreachable.
“We’ve talked to most of our family, but we haven’t talked to all of them, because they’re spread out in various shelters,” Dolar said.
Picazo said his hometown of Roxas City, in the province of Capiz, was in the direct path of the typhoon. He has many relatives he hasn’t heard from, because phone service has been interrupted. However, some communication has been facilitated by passing messages from one cousin to another.
“All we get from our cousins back home is, ‘Continue your fundraising because we can’t rely on the government,’” Picazo said.
Most of the relief efforts have focused on the city of Tacloban, according to Picazo, and neighboring islands have not received aid.
“We get messages from them saying, ‘Please, don’t forget us. Please, don’t forget us,’” Picazo said.
HOW TO HELP
Philippine Red Cross, www.redcross.org.ph
West Bay Filipino Multi-Services Center, 175 Seventh St., S.F., CA 94103; (415) 431-6266
Upcoming comedy and music fundraisers
Tselogs Tapas Cafe
6055 Mission St., Daly City; (415) 337-4670, www.tselogs.com
101 Brentwood Drive, South San Francisco; (650) 871-2222