PAC aims to send help to the Philippines

Typhoon Haiyan has shaken thousands of people in the Philippines, and students in a campus organization are working on sending aid to those affected — which could include some of their family members.

Typhoon Haiyan hit the central Philippines on Friday through Saturday, leaving behind an estimated 2,000 casualties, more than 2,000 injured and more than 600,000 families homeless, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Pilipino American Coalition (PAC) on campus said it began thinking of ways to help those affected as soon as PAC’s members heard the news on Saturday. The organization has already planned two fundraising events, PAC President Matthew Downey said.

“This past Sunday at our … cabinet meeting was the first time we all got together, formally, to talk about what we could do,” Downey said. “But before Sunday, most members had been brainstorming ideas on their own so that they could talk about it at the meeting.”

Several members of PAC, such as senior health care administration major John Catedral, said they were personally affected by the calamity and have family members in areas of the Philippines that were affected by the typhoon.

“Months before Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, my family and I have been planning to go to the Philippines for Thanksgiving break to celebrate my grandma’s 80th birthday,” said Catedral, who has family living in Capiz and Iloilo, towns that were hit hard by the typhoon.

Catedral said that he and his family still plan on spending Thanksgiving  in the Philippines.

“My family in the U.S. [felt] it would be inappropriate to celebrate my grandma’s birthday when people around us would be suffering,” Catedral said. “So instead, we all agreed to take a hands-on approach to help those affected by the typhoon in our hometown.”

Junior health science major Frances Ramas, who also has family in the Philippines, said the typhoon has made communication between Filipino-Americans and their families difficult.

“My parents and their siblings have been contacting family ever since the typhoon hit,” Ramas said. “We have received some phone calls, but they’re rare.”

Ramas said, though, that she has been able to make contact with her family in the Philippines through social media, such as Facebook.

Catedral and many other PAC members are still shocked by the news of the typhoon and its ongoing impact, he said.

“I initially found out about the typhoon when my family in the Philippines posted on their social networking sites that they are evacuating from their homes and that the storm is heading straight to my hometown,” Catedral said.

In the aftermath of the typhoon, Downey said, PAC is focusing its energy on supporting the Filipino community, both locally and abroad.

Downey said PAC’s two fundraising events are currently in the works. One is a bake sale, which will take place on Nov. 20 and 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. by Liberal Arts building 5, and the other is Penny Wars, an event that takes place throughout the month of November.

“It’s a friendly little competition between families that we usually use as a fundraiser to help PAC, but [the funds] will be going to the relief effort this year,” Downey said.

Downey said that PAC also plans to fundraise for relief during its 17th Annual Pilipino Christmas Fest on Dec. 7 and the Pilipino Cultural Night on April 25.

“At first, I questioned as to why is this happening to the Philippines,” Catedral said. “A powerful earthquake just ravaged through the central part of the Philippines and now another tragic disaster hit the Philippines; however, pondering with these thoughts wouldn’t help those greatly affected [and] those who need our help.”

Donations to help the typhoon victims can be made through the Red Cross, World Vision and UNICEF.

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