Dubai: Filipino expats and other nationalities are pooling their resources to help those affected by a series of typhoons that brought massive flooding and widespread destruction in the Philippines.
Filipino expat in Abu Dhabi Em Serrano is selling her make-up kit and skincare products to buy relief goods, food, medicine and other personal needs for her kababayans (countrymen) while siblings Malou Quinto-Prado and Michelle Quinto-Guinto are using their offices as drop-off centres for donations.
British expat Heather Harries, founder of ‘kindness exchange’ Stop and Help is also supporting a reach-out campaign while Indian businessman Shibi M. Thampi will donate a day’s income from his perfume store in Al Rigga to buy essential needs of Filipinos displaced by the typhoons.
Six typhoons in one month
A total of six typhoons hit the Philippines in the last four weeks — the latest being Typhoon Vamco (Philippine name: Typhoon Ulysses) and super Typhoon Goni (local name: Rolly), which was the world’s strongest cyclone this year.
The series of storms and the release of accumulated water from a dam affected tens of thousands of families in northern Philippines and left them stranded for a couple of days on rooftops because of two-storey high floods.
Death toll from Typhoon Vamco, the deadliest cyclone to hit the Philippines this year, has climbed to 67 as many areas in northern and central Luzon are still submerged while damages to infrastructure in Bicol that was pounded heavily by Typhoon Goni was pegged at over 5.8 billion Philippine pesos (Dh440 million).
Malou and Michelle posted on social media: “Let’s donate. Together we can give hope to our kababayans by letting them know we care.” The siblings are also using their own businesses for charity. Malou, managing director of MPQ Travel and Tourism, said her office in Satwa is open to accept donations while Michelle, who owns CMG Cargo, is providing free shipping of relief goods to the Philippines.
Malou told Gulf News: “We have received warm response from our kababayans and we have already filled several boxes that will be immediately shipped. Those who cannot go to our office to drop their donations, can give us a call and the staff from CMG Cargo will pick them up for free.”
Cosmetics for a cause
Upon seeing in the news footages of the calamity in the Philippines, Serrano said she did not think twice to sell her cosmetics to raise funds. She said: “I have already sold some make-ups and I will send the money to a charity group in the Philippines to buy relief goods.”
Serrano’s family in Pampanga was also affected by heavy flooding in central Luzon. “But one can always find a way to help others even if your own family was affected,” said Serrano, adding: “I have also tapped my friends in the Philippines to help. I asked a friend who owns a restaurant to prepare food packs and some of my friends who are doctors and nurses have visited evacuation centres.”
Stop and Help
Harries, for her part, posted on Facebook: “Many families that I met personally over the last six months are once again asking for help for circumstances outside their control. Typhoon Vamco has wreaked havoc across the Philippines and the families we have supported here that returned home have reached out once again for help.”
She added, addressing those who have extended support to Stop and Help beneficiaries: “If you supported a family here that has returned home, you may feel like reaching out to them and just check if they are still OK. Sometimes, just knowing someone is still thinking about you makes hardship so much easier to cope with”.
In solidarity with kabayans
Moved by the Filipino spirit of bayanihan (communal unity and cooperation), Thampi, managing director of Coral Perfumes LLC, told Gulf News: ““Filipinos are very dear to me, so it pains me to see many of them greatly affected by recent typhoons. That’s why we have decided that on Friday (November 20), all income of our flagship shop in Al Rigga will be used to buy essential needs of affected kabayans. We hope that this initiative of ours can inspire other companies and individuals to do their fair share of giving back to the community.”
Meanwhile, Arnel Fernandez, who recently organised basketball games for charity have already distributed packs of rice to some affected families in Bicol.
Fernandez said his group was able to raise only a small amount but it certainly helped needy kababayans. “This is the spirit of bayanihan — we help in our own small way but with our collective efforts, we were able to make an impact, although many of us have also been struggling with our finances due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.