In sharp contrast to the otherwise strategic location of the Philippines, the archipelago is unluckily situated on both the “Pacific Rim of Fire” and the so-called “Typhoon Belt” in the tropics. This unfortunately means that the country is beset by multiple natural disasters on a fairly regular basis. Most recently, the Visayas in Central Philippines was devastated by consecutive calamities that have really tested the strength and resolve that Filipinos are renowned for. A magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Bohol and Cebu on October 15th, followed less than a month later with the strongest storm in recorded history, Category 5 Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name Bagyong Yolanda), making landfall in Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Iloilo, and Palawan on November 8th with sustained wind speeds of 195 miles per hour and gusts of up to 235 mph!
The overwhelming numbers are staggering in both scope and in scale. According to official reports after the earthquake by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), 222 were reported dead, 8 were missing, and 976 people were injured, mostly in Bohol and in Cebu. In all, more than 73,000 structures were damaged, of which over 14,500 were totally destroyed. Meanwhile, on their most recent update on November 16th, the NDRRMC reported a confirmed death toll of 3,633 (with unconfirmed estimates projecting the final tally to potentially be as high as 10,000 fatalities), 12,487 injured, and 1,179 still missing and unaccounted for. Overall, nearly 2 million people were displaced, while more than 9 million people in over 9,000 villages across 44 provinces were affected. The NDRRMC said Yolanda destroyed 160,831 houses and damaged 126,368 others , and caused P9,460,240,222 in damage; including P371,058,761 in infrastructure and P9,089,181,461 in agriculture.
Fortunately, while the destruction to life and property is extensive, the response has been as swift as it has been generous. The bayanihan spirit (the spirit of communal unity and cooperation) is alive and well amongst the global Filipino diaspora, and has been thankfully matched by countries the world over in their generous reaction. That said, please do ensure that you do your homework to see to it that your donation – be it in cash or in kind – makes the most impact. Some of the charity organizations, especially the bigger ones, come with a higher overhead so they might require a higher percentage of your donation to go towards operating costs. Be sure you research the charity of your choice to see to it that you get the most “bang for your donated buck.”
Sending Physical Goods:
While the Red Cross advices against the sending of physical relief goods, citing that it is much quicker to donate in cash and that items are much cheaper if purchased in bulk, the following is a list of suggested relief goods to gather and send instead of just raiding your closets for old clothes to donate:
- Water, water purifier tablets, water containers, etc.
- General medical supplies and over the counter medications at least one year from expiration, bandages, gauze, cotton balls, hydrogen peroxide, imodium, etc.
- Easy to open canned goods (no can-opener necessary types such as vienna sausage, corned beef, sardines, spam, soup, rice, shelf stable milk, etc.).
- Tents, temporary shelter, sleeping mats, sleeping bags, etc.
- Flashlights, batteries, solar lanterns, etc.
- Hygiene kits with personal care items (antibacterial soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, sanitary napkins, etc.)
- Baby diapers, baby wipes, bottles, baby formula, etc.
- Cooking apparatus (pots and utensils)
- Mosquito and insect repellant, mosquito nets, etc.
- If you must donate clothing, please ensure that you send ones "with integrity," and are suitable for the tropical climate.
The following is a partial list of charitable organizations that are mobilizing and deploying major disaster relief efforts in the affected areas in the Visayas, Philippines. Find out how you can lend support and help those who need it the most:
- ABS-CBN Foundation International (AFI): is a 501(c)3 non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged Filipino families in the Philippines and around the world. AFI is a committed advocate of public service and accomplishes its mission through supporting the programs of ABS-CBN Foundation in the Philippines. Donate here
- ANCOP Foundation (USA) Inc.: ANCOP is an acronym which stands for Answering the Cry of the Poor. ANCOP is a Christian, Catholic non-profit organization that dedicates itself to proclaiming CHRIST, and the Christian faith, by uplifting the plight of the poor. Sponsor a child by clicking here.
- CARE: CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve basic education, end gender-based violence, provide healthcare and nutrition, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives. To donate, click here.
- Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) works in nearly 70 countries providing medical aid to those most in need regardless of their race, religion, or political affiliation. MSF teams are treating patients in the areas of the central Philippines that were battered by Typhoon Haiyan and are continuing to work elsewhere to overcome the huge logistical impediments that the disaster left in its wake. Donate here.
- Gawad Kalinga: Gawad Kalinga, which means to "give care" in Filipino, is building a nation empowered by people with faith and patriotism; a nation made up of caring and sharing communities, dedicated to eradicate poverty and restore human dignity. Together, let us bring concrete hope to the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) by participating in Operation Walang Iwanan. Let’s show our brothers and sisters in the Visayas that we will not leave them behind. Donate here.
- Habitat for Humanity: Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Habitat’s Disaster Response teams are in the field assessing the destruction and damage from Typhoon Haiyan that smashed into the central islands of the Philippines. Click here to donate.
- NAFCON: National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) is a national multi-issue alliance of Filipino organizations and individuals in the United States serving to protect the rights and welfare of Filipinos by fighting for social, economic, and racial justice and equality. At present, NAFCON members encompass over 23 cities in the United States. To find out how to help, please click here.
- Sagip-Tulong sa Pilipinas: STP emerged when Ondoy ravaged the Philippines in 2011, December 2012 when Sendong battered Northern Mindanao, and now Haiyan in the Visayas. With the Sagip-Tulong sa Pilipinas (STP) Emergency Relief Fund Campaign, Damayan Migrant Workers Association and other partner organizations appeal for generosity and sacrifice to send aid directly to pro-people organizations in the Philippines. Click here to donate.
- Save the Children: Save the Children works in the world's poorest and most vulnerable communities in countries from America to Zimbabwe — saving one child at a time. Millions of vulnerable children are at risk in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan. More than 300 miles wide, the typhoon left a deadly path of destruction in its wake. In response, Save the Children is working around the clock to help children and families with emergency assistance during this difficult time. Donate here.
- ShelterBox: ShelterBox responds instantly following natural and other disasters by delivering boxes of aid to those who need it most.Each ShelterBox supplies an extended family with a tent and essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless. To donate, click here.
- Team Rubicon: Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. TR reaches victims outside the scope of where traditional aid organizations venture; victims on the fringe. Hundreds of US military veterans, many returning home after fighting ten years of war, find a renewed sense of purpose for their skills and experiences through TR. To donate.
- The Philippine Red Cross: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield, endeavors - in its international and national capacity - to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever and whenever it may be found. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation, and lasting peace among its people. To help mobilize teams on the ground with rescue and relief efforts, click here.
- UNICEF: UNICEF is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized. We have the global authority to influence decision-makers, and the variety of partners at grassroots level to turn the most innovative ideas into reality. Click here to donate.
- World Food Programme: WFP is the food aid arm of the United Nations system. Food aid is one of the many instruments that can help to promote food security, which is defined as access of all people at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life. Working with their partners, WFP is mobilizing quickly to reach that in need with High Energy Biscuits – helping ensure families and children have nutritious food in these first few days of the emergency. Click here to donate:.
- World Vision: World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision is working to get food and resources to those in evacuation shelters. To donate, click here.