Filipino-American alliance conducts relief work


Posted: October 25, 2009




Photos courtesy of BAYAN - USA


Filipino-American alliance conducts relief work in typhoon-ravaged communities: members deliver $15K, medicine and 2,000 bags of food to typhoon victims
October 20th, 2009

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro
Secretary General, BAYAN-USA

DAGUPAN CITY, PHIILIPPINES–Filipino-Americans under the banner of BAYAN-USA, a US-wide alliance of 14 Filipino organizations, have been actively responding to the needs of the victims of typhoons Ketsana (Ondoy) and Parma (Pepeng) that slammed through the Philippines in the past few weeks killing hundreds and devastating thousands. In addition to conducting on-the-ground emergency relief operations in the Philippines, the alliance reached its projected goal of $15,000 for BALSA (Bayanihan Alay Para Sa Sambayanan), a broad, multi-sectoral disaster relief organization affiliated with its mother alliance, BAYAN Philippines, in addition to gathering dozens of boxes across the US filled with in-kind donations of clothes, food, and medicine.

This week, members of BAYAN-USA traveled to the Philippines to deliver their monetary donations and participate in relief operations. In Dagupan City, Pangasinan, BAYAN-USA joined Congresswoman and Senatorial Candidate Liza Maza of the Gabriela Women’s Party and MAKABAYAN Coalition for one day in handing out over 2,000 sacks of food to long lines of families who had been devastated by the typhoon’s destructive force, but met with the inadequate response of the Philippine government in providing relief. Pangansinan, one of the most impacted provinces in the nation, was 80% submerged due to the man-made disaster of the San Roque Dam opening that unleashed more than 8 million cubic meters of water.

“We have seen with our own eyes how the Philippine government has neglected the needs of the typhoon victims at a time of tremendous need for basic necessities like medicine, food, and shelter,” commented Bernadette Ellorin, chair of BAYAN-USA and one of the members of the relief team. “It has been the responsibility of people’s organizations, like BAYAN-USA, to provide the emergency response needed for our families and loved ones back home who are suffering and will continue to suffer from the Arroyo government’s greedy, disaster-creating policies.”

In relaying its monetary and in-kind donations, BAYAN-USA expressed distrust over the Arroyo government’s recent directive for all donations from abroad to be coursed only through accredited organizations with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or face taxation and other types of penalties and fees.

Furthermore, Philippine Consular offices in the U.S. have imposed restrictions on courier services from shipping relief goods collected by organizations whose efforts are not affiliated with the Philippine government. Courier services face high penalty fees should they choose to ship goods from people’s organizations collecting donations such as BAYAN-USA.

“In this time of calamity, it is unconscionable that the Arroyo government sees this as an opportunity to make money off of suffering,” Ellorin added, “especially when its own corruption of the National Disaster Relief Funds to pay for Arroyo’s lavish lifestyle is at the root of this disaster.”

Like other donors from the U.S., BAYAN-USA is calling for the Arroyo government to lift restrictions on goodwill, including the DSWD accreditation requirement and the taxation on relief goods, as it is posing a concrete obstacle to donors to send relief to the Philippines.

“Donors from the U.S. are not responding to the directives because of clear distrust. How can they be assured that their donations will reach their loved ones and the neediest communities back home?” Ellorin questioned. “Donors are choosing to go through alternative routes to circumvent the Arroyo government’s greedy paws.”

With the approaching super-typhoon Lupit expected to hit the Philippines within the next few days, the need for long-term or permanent disaster relief efforts becomes more apparent. “In the face of government corruption and inutility, people’s organizations should develop long-term relief operations to meet the escalating needs of the people to fight off the looming threats of cholera, dengue and other health epidemics as well as widespread hunger and homelessness,” ended Ellorin.




19 October 2009

Reference: Anne Beryl Corotan, Chairperson; SanDiwa, The National Alliance of Filipino American Youth; Email:

Filipino American Youth in NY Lead Candlelight Vigil for Typhoon Victims in the Philippines

WOODSIDE, NEW YORK -- A hundred boxes and counting -- sorted and fully packed with clothing, food, medical supplies and other relief goods -- pile up against the walls of the Bayanihan Filipino Community Center in Woodside, New York. As more and more relief goods are left unshipped, a community meeting was called last October 14 to address the situation and to discuss the direct effects of the directives issued by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regarding donations from abroad.

At the community meeting, updates from all over the United States on the Bayanihan for Typhoon Disaster Relief campaign by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) was given by Anne Beryl Corotan, President of SanDiwa, the youth arm of NAFCON. Updates on relief efforts in the Philippines by Migrante International, partner alliance of NAFCON/SanDiwa was given by Jonna Baldres, community action coordinator of Philippine Forum, a member organization of both NAFCON and Migrante International in the US East Coast. Later in the discussion, guest speaker Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN USA, another partner alliance of NAFCON, talked about Arroyo's directives and how these directly affect the goodwill of the Filipino migrant community in the US.

As a result of the community meeting, plans of action on how the Filipino community can respond to these directives were united upon. One of which was the successful candlelight vigil held last Friday, October 16, at the corner of 69th Street and Roosevelt Avenue.

"In a state of calamity, the needs of the people are greater than any directives, especially from a government with rampant history of corruption and deceit. The kindness of the people must not be taken advantage of, therefore, these donations should not be taxed. At this time, community's goodwill must be encouraged, not restricted," said Corotan.

In a single file, over 30 young Filipino Americans marched quietly and lit the streets of Woodside with flickering lights of candles to pay respect to the typhoon victims and to oppose Arroyo's directives.

“If the Philippine government is not as corrupt and if it only gives priority to the much-needed facilities needed to detect these disasters, my cousin's death could have been prevented,” stated Leo Bronola, member of Kapatirang Pilipino or Kappa Pi, a community-based fraternity and member organization of SanDiwa, whose cousin was swept away by the typhoon and was found dead in a nearby town in Manila.

Bernard Perez, President of the Philippine American Organization (PAO) at City University of New York (CUNY) and one of the relief volunteers said, “We, as Filipino-Americans, vow to help in whichever way we can to help the typhoon victims and to have these donations reach the rightful communities in the Philippines and not just be taken away by the corrupt officials."

NAFCON and SanDiwa resolved to step up its campaign not just by gathering relief goods but to also educate and make the migrant community aware of these hindrances to the goodwill of Filipinos abroad brought about by the Philippine government. More actions are expected to ensue if these concerns of the Filipino community are not addressed.

"We will resist if we must, as long as we can ensure that these donations that the Filipino community here in the US have entrusted to us get to those who need them the most. Definitely, no less," Corotan ended.

For more information, visit or contact Anne Beryl (516) 9011832 for East Coast, and Ryan Leano (626) 5344971 for West Coast, or email at ###