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November 15, 2013

Website Supports Donations for Philippines Relief Efforts

by Bernard Shusman

Web surfers around the world have an authoritative source for information about Filipino expatriates in the New York area - and their efforts to come to the aid of typhoon victims in the Philippines.

In the wake of super typhoon Haiyan, the death toll continues to climb. Efforts to provide food and clothing are accelerating, and some individuals are taking it upon themselves to provide information about what is being done and what can be done.

In a modest apartment in Rahway, New Jersey, south of New York City, Cristina Pastor constantly updates the flow of information to her website The FilAm.

“Right now I’m looking for how Filipino Americans are reacting to the tragedy. So, I’m looking for stories about how they are raising funds, how they’re feeling, what their thoughts are, how they are connecting with their families back home,” said Pastor.

Pastor founded The FilAm website two years ago. She believes there was then - and is even more now - an online audience for Filipino information.

“Can you explain a little bit why you are doing your own fundraising?" she asks one person on the phone.

“It gets down to a people-to-people approach," said Pastor. She found out that even the corner grocery cashier is raising funds for the victims.

“The story of the Filipino cashier who is doing his one person donation relief effort is now posted. It has a picture,” she said.

As the relief supplies and money pile up, she said many Filipinos are concerned the relief may end up in the wrong pocket.

“There is also a little impatience and there is that feeling that the government is not as decisive in the process of trying to help the people out. So, it’s a lot of conflicted emotions going on right now,” said Pastor.

Many stories she receives are heartbreaking - and she passes them along to her web audience.

“There is a Filipino family man who tried to commit suicide by stabbing himself with a knife because he lost all his family members…and I thought that was… really sad and heartbreaking,” said Pastor.

“The FilAm” website reaches several hundred thousand Filipinos around the world directly and through pickups by other media - especially in Manila.

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