Celebrity FilAms throw fundraiser in the Big Apple

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Nov. 14, 2013

The most popular “undocumented American” Jose Antonio Vargas and one of the most powerful restaurant owners in New York, Nicole Ponseca, teamed up to raise $2000 to help the survivors of the super typhoon tragedy in the Philippines.

But after an outpouring of support from many New Yorkers, this typhoon donation drive at Jeepney raised more than more than $7,700.

Vargas says this is exactly what President Obama was talking about when he referred to the Filipino bayanihan spirit.

“Pinoys are proud to be Filipinos and I think that also means like rallying when it comes, when it’s a time of need,” he said. “I think that’s what the bayanihan spirit is all about. The President having grown up in Hawaii with a lot of Filipinos know a lot about that.”

Jeepney co-owner Nicole Ponseca said that a local beer company even donated ten cases of beer and each beer sold will go towards relief efforts.

“It’s immensely personal,” she said. “It is on my mind every waking moment. I see a child’s face or I see a lola trying to get up when I see the news reports. So it is so important for me that we could do this. It’s a no brainer. I wasn’t sure if people would come and I’m so happy they’re coming in droves.”

But six days after Yolanda pummeled through and devastated towns and cities across Central Philippines, the situation in some of the affected areas is not getting any better.

With very limited aid reaching the victims, those who have survived Yolanda’s wrath may end up sick or dead if relief efforts failed to come soon.

Local FilAm CBS news anchor Kristine Johnson says the desperation on the faces of the children and mothers who are struggling to survive the aftermath in Tacloban is heartbreaking.

“There is a huge, huge difference,” she said. “They don’t have the resources that fortunately we have here in the U.S. They don’t have a government organization called FEMA that can send in people and trailers and supplies. It’s just not feasible over there. That’s what I think about when I see pictures coming from the Philippines.”

“We’re still trying to find some relatives and see if their okay,” Top Chef finalist Dale Talde said. “So for me it’s directly affecting my family and I just implore people to do what they can do.”

But award winning actress Cherie Gil who survived the 2004 tsunami in Phuket, Thailand says the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda is a metaphor for “cleaning up” the Philippine government of corruption.

“Corruption shouldn’t have happened or else it will come back to us through karma,” she said. “This is karma, can’t we call it that? This one is really big so it’s telling us something—that they should listen and learn.”

You can contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com

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  • Kikay Pang0
    15 November 2013 at 7:42 am - Reply

    Taking advantage of some else misery to get recognition …. H Y P O C R I S Y ! ! !