Filipinos in Oman rally to send aid to typhoon-hit region
It has caused total devastation in the Philippines, leaving four million people displaced and causing thousands of deaths, each one a tragedy for surviving family members.
But Filipinos in Oman are not just watching helplessly from afar.
The community in Muscat has rallied round to help the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan, with one shipment already on its way back to the affected area and another plane-load of aid on the way.
More than five tonnes of aid has already been collected. The need is urgent and huge.
“Some of the Filipinos here have relatives still missing,” says Rod Desciato, chairman of the Filipino Community Social Club (FILCOSOC).
“Some found their relatives after a whole week of no communication or emails. Others have still not located their families. Some have flown back to the Philippines to look for them.”
It’s hard for Desciato or anyone else to describe the kind of total devastation caused by the super tornado.
“You cannot imagine that area. It’s like a war – everything is devastated. The strongest structure was blown away like paper. There are still a lot of people missing. There is no electricity or running water.
“We have had an overwhelming response from different communities, not just the Filipino community,” he says.“Right now what is important for the people over there is something to eat and something to wear. It’s wet and cold.
“We are accepting donations and setting up drop-off destinations for used clothes, blankets, canned food, biscuits, rice and sugar. We would like to appeal to the public to donate items like tents and flashlights.”
The first shipment left on November 16 and will arrive by the end of the month. There will be another batch on November 28 by plane, which will reach the affected areas in one or two days. Collections are happening this weekend.
“We are calling on people to bring their donations this weekend and on November 28 to help with the packing. There will be a programme of entertainment and activities all for a cost, which will raise money to bring something to these people.”
Aside from FILCOSOC, PDO is also organising a collection, as has the Radisson Blu Muscat hotel. Its donation was delivered to the Philippine Embassy and handed over to the FILCOSOC team this week.
The Filipino School Muscat and the Filipino Embassy is also assisting in emergency aid efforts.
Al Maya Hypermarket has provided donations of rice and noodles. A cargo company has agreed to deliver the aid free of charge, said Desciato.
“Really, it’s been an overwhelming response. We have received lots of calls from people offering messages of support to the Filipino community – there has been such huge sympathy and support to the community and the victims of this tragedy.”
Desciato says he can no longer watch Filipino TV, as it is too upsetting. “I saw one lady interviewed whose husband had died and her children are missing, assumed dead. One had already died.
“She was addressing her oldest surviving son in Manila. She said to him: ‘Don’t come home because your father has died, your brother and sisters have died and your mother has also died.’
Now he is focused on maximising the aid effort for the survivors. “My heart was breaking watching it, so I turned off the TV.”
Yeb Sano, the Philippines’ lead negotiator at the UN climate change summit held in Warsaw at the weekend, went on hunger strike in protest at the failure of rich nations to commit to cutting carbon emissions. Members of Sano’s family were directly affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
The protest came as Japan announced it was giving up on its pledge to reduce emissions by 25 per cent by 2020 following the closure of its nuclear power stations in the wake of the 2011 tsunami.
If you want to make a donation please call Rod Desciato at FILCOSOC on 95429893.