September 30, 2009
A global fund relief drive among Filipinos has been launched by the
Filipino United Network (USA) September 28th to provide aid to the
thousands of victims of typhoon Ketsana, nicknamed “Ondoy,”
and Parma, nicknamed "Pepeng," according to Philip S. Chua,
MD, FACS, FPCS, chairman of the FUN (USA) Foundation.
Packing a maximum wind of 100 kph, and a flood level which rose to
about 5 feet in some areas, Ondoy has claimed more than 350 lives
so far in its 3rd day of intense wrath that devastated most of Luzon.
Rough and high waves measured as high as 3.7 to 6.5 meters.
And the more devastating killer typhoon Pepeng followed with greater
impunity, raisng the death toll to 696 so far. More are expected to
perish in these clamaities.
FUN (USA) intends to extend its initial aid to the indigent families
of those who died and then to the rest of the suffering displaced
and hungry poor victims. The aids will be coursed through Gawad Kalinga,
Caritas, and the Christ the King in Metro Manila, and will be coordinated
by a FUN (USA) certified representative, who will visit the families
of the dead victims, obtain information and also verify the death
Strict measures will be instituted to protect the funds contributed
by the donors, for transparency and accountability. The names donors
will also be posted on the FUN (USA) website at www.FUN8888.com, unless
anonymity is requested.
“We have the full responsibility of earning the trust and confidence
of our donors and prospective contributors, especially in these days
where scam, fraud, graft and corruption is pervasive all over, otherwise
the ultimate suffering shall be borne by those victims of calamities
and disasters among our people,” Chua strongly emphasized.
The Filipino United Network (USA) pleads with every Filipino and
everyone to have compassion and not to neglect our fellowmen languishing
in poverty and now even more devastated by typhoon Ondoy simply because
of doubt about the integrity of the fund drive, and use this a convenient
excuse not to help.
“The concern is valid and justifiable,” the FUN chairman
said, “but practical integrity check could be done to assure
everyone that the funds will go to the intended deserving victims
of this disaster….and this is the reason why FUN (USA) has appointed
a certified coordinator we personally know, and Christ the King as
our conduit, to justly and properly distribute our aids to the victims.”
Parameters have been set for the FUN coordinator to follow, including
details about the family and the dead, and verification of the death
“We are doing all this precaution for the peace of mind of
all donors to this FUN (USA) humanitarian drive,” Chua stated.
The Filipino United Network (USA) is a 501(c)3) tax-exempt foundation
in the United States and all donations are tax-deductible to the extent
allowed by the IRS. The FUN (USA) Federal Tax ID number which the
donor’s accountant will need is 261-71-7446.
To donate, please go to www.FUN8888.com and click on the orange DONATE
button for the PAYPAL method of fund transfer by credit card, or mail
your donation to Dr. Ale Ragaza, FUN Treasurer, to FUND FOR HOPE,
c/o Dr. Ale Ragaza, M.D., Multicare Medical Center, 232 Boston Post
Road, Milford, CT 06460, USA. Make all checks payable to Filipino
United Network (USA).
Jose Ma. Montelibano
16 October 2009
When We Cared, When We Shared
After Typhoon Ondoy hit Metro Manila, the destruction was so massive
that it broke open an emotional dam among Filipinos here and abroad.
While most of the victims were poor, even those in the middle and
upper classes were affected, too. By joining the relief work of Gawad
Kalinga, based at the Ateneo University and the RFM gym where it continues
today, I had several firsthand experiences at the misery that befalls
I had written in the past about the fate of poor Filipinos whose
manner of death rested largely on where they choose to squat. The
word "squatter" has been changed to the more politically
correct "informal settler." I think what is more politically
correct can deodorize by sound and imagery what is truly ugly and
scandalous. I, therefore, prefer to use the word "squatter' to
define the Filipino who is landless and has no resources to legally
rent land or a house. The act of squatting is so graphically symbolic
of what poor Filipinos have to do in order to simulate sitting without
As if Ondoy was not enough, Pepeng had to pass and then turn back
to do a double whammy on North Luzon. Hardly had the relief work in
Metro Manila eased when the cry for help came wailing from several
provinces who experienced both floods and landslides. Pepeng killed
more people than Ondoy and I was urgently informed by friends in Baguio
that they had a difficult time looking for cheap coffins to accommodate
the dead who were brought in by batches. The whole North was practically
isolated as roads became impassable.
Floods were caused by record-breaking rainfalls, but there was another
kind of flood, a brighter, helpful one - the flood of sympathy from
Filipinos worldwide and even non-Filipinos who saw videos of raging
flood waters and the shock of hapless and helpless Filipinos. A rush
of sympathy covered the people and areas hit the hardest by Ondoy.
Help came pouring in, volunteers found their way to relief centers
to receive and repack food and other relief items. In Gawad Kalinga's
sustained center of operations in the RFM gym, more than six thousand
volunteers in eight days came to help.
Many stories have been written about the sympathy and generosity
triggered by pain of millions of flood victims. They are inspiring
but too many for me to enumerate. Suffice it to say that the Filipino
can, and the Filipino did help. But when Typhoon Pepeng made a U-Turn
instead of continuing its path to China, then hammered more of Northern
Luzon, I thought I saw the shoulders of the helpful Filipino sag a
little in shock and in inadequacy of what was being asked of him and
her. I heard the words "donor fatigue' and I feared for the new
victims of floods and landslides.
Doubt and fear penetrated what was just feeling so elated and appreciative
of generosity, bravery and kindness. I though many had already began
the natural journey of reconstructing normalcy in their lives and
would be overwhelmed by a new call for more generosity and volunteerism.
I was not wrong. Many do feel overwhelmed. But I was wrong at the
same time because others remain very concerned and have not stopped
While government grapples with a need so massive and simply too much
to serve even if it had the heart and resolve to do so, guardian angels
from abroad are suddenly on the scene to augment in very powerful
ways. Donations from individuals, institutions and foreign countries
provide a fresh capacity to tend flood victims. I know many will be
prepared to help efforts to rebuild destroyed homes and communities
when relief work is largely over. Even medical missions, doctors without
borders, have waded in to prove that many care and take extra steps
to share that care.
I visited a few towns in Tarlac and Pangasinan, again with a relief
team from Gawad Kalinga. Even as we distributed food packs to poor
communities, we learned that the greater and more urgent need comes
from La Union and Benguet provinces, including Baguio City. I felt
that helplessness creep in to threaten my confidence, but reports
of more donors coming in, non-traditional sources of funds and food
finding us when we never knew them before quickly lifted my spirit
once more. I know that Gawad Kalinga will be in La Union and Baguio
soon, maybe in a day or two.
As we were driving home in a large SUV owned by another generous
friend who not only brought us from Manila to Tarlac and Pangasinan,
and back, but also fed us three full meals from early morning to early
evening, the experience affirmed what two weeks of relief work have
shown me time and again. Kindness exists everywhere. Generosity is
expressed everywhere. The need is great, especially since so many
Filipinos are poor, but the capacity to care and share is even greater.
Why, then, is there so much misery? Why, then, is greed more consistent
than kindness? Why are so many left to fend for themselves in the
most harsh of conditions attendant to poverty when there is great
abundance and wealth available to ease the pain of scarcity? Why do
those in power prove unable to resist the temptation to exploit the
very people they are sworn to protect and serve?
I remember how the military had extended to Gawad Kalinga men and
equipment to help in the distribution of food and other relief items.
I saw the uniforms of soldiers but most had no firearms. They were
driving their trucks and lifting bags of rice or cases of drinking
water. I wondered why they were called Armed Forces of the Philippines
when they were not fighting but helping many in need.
It occurred to me that life is giving us all the choices to be there
for one another, and intensifies this reality through natural calamities.
Yet, we choose more often not to care when we can care, not to share
when we can share, to take advantage when we can be generous, to use
the uniform for war when it can save lives. There is so much goodwill
and sympathy around us, triggered by the sight and need of so many
who have died, who have suffered, who go sick and hungry.
I hope that many of us will remember this moment when we cared more
and gave more, and that it is always a choice we can make. ***
-- "There is always a philosophy for
lack of courage." AlbertCamus