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Filipinos in New York City Mobilize Relief Efforts

  • Adam Phillips

The massive typhoon that slammed into the Philippines, causing the deaths of at least two thousand people and flattening entire cities, was merely the beginning of the suffering in that Pacific nation. Catastrophic food and water shortages and problems in the delivery of aid continue to worsen. New York City's Philippine-American community, which numbers around 50,000, is mobilizing to provide relief.

Thousands of kilometers and a world away from the epicenter of the storm, the predominantly Philippine neighborhood of Woodside was rocked by news of Typhoon Haiyan and the devastation it wrought. Residents here are doing what they can to help those caught in the typhoon's path.

Rommel Vel Rosario, who owns a shipping business, has turned it into a collection center for clothes, food and medical supplies. He's shipping them to relief organizations in the Philippines.

“I have to do something. I have to contribute. Nobody has any excuse,” said Rosario.

The need for massive international aid is obvious to Rachel Avendula, a former Philippine city official who is experienced in disaster relief. She’s angry at what she says has been an inadequate response from the Philippine government.

“I am happy there are survivors of the typhoon but I cannot accept that they die of hunger because of waiting for the relief to come - waiting for food, water to come. We need to act now,” said Avendula.

The past week has been an emotional roller coaster for J.P. Cortes, who heard nothing from his family for two days after the storm hit. After an excruciating wait, his father finally called.

“And he broke down, and I broke down, and we both broke down,” recalled Cortes.

Untold numbers remain missing, including two relatives of Cortes’s wife.

“You have no clue because they are still isolated. No one has been there or able to go there to check on them,” said Cortes.

Many like Cortes are hopeful that good news will come soon. Meanwhile, the suffering and hard work continue on both sides of the ocean.
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