Phoenix 'Yolanda' survivor joins AZ kababayans in fundraisers for typhoon victims

By Fleur Magbanua Mansur, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Jan. 14, 2014

PHOENIX, AZ – A FilAm woman from Phoenix, Ariz. shared her horrifying story of survival with Balitang America, recounting how she was trapped in a hotel in Ormoc, Leyte during the wrath of Typhoon Haiyan.

Perla Ham is a native of Tabango, Leyte. She went home on Nov. 5 to bury her brother who lost his battle against stroke. Two days later, she found herself battling against the world’s strongest typhoon.

Ham and her family took shelter in a small room in a hotel, along with 21 other people, including an infant.

She said it was the longest three hours of her life.

“It was so dark. It felt like the walls of the room were going to break. I was crying. I felt I couldn’t get out of there alive,” said Ham.

Now back in the United States, Ham is doing what she can to help those who are still in need back home.

She sold lumpia to neighbors, raising more than $2,000 dollars for the victims of Yolanda.

Meantime, Kay Oballo, a FilAm business owner, lost her ancestral home in Tacloban to the super typhoon.

Her employees decided to sacrifice their holiday party so they could send money instead to the victims back home.

“We will survive. We will make it,” Oballo said. “My heart is with you guys.”

In Chandler, Arizona, a group of tennis players raised money through a tournament.

“We have 28 teams, 56 players, willing to participate, willing to be a part of the event so they can help the victims of Yolanda,” organizer Jun Saenz said.

They said FilAms should continue helping the homeland because it will take a long time for them to recover from Yolanda.

In another event, the Council of Filipino Organizations staged a unity concert where entertainers like American Idol’s David Hernandez donated their time to raise funds for the typhoon victims.

“Keep holding on,” Hernandez said. “Have faith. Be strong. It is important to recognize every struggle and just be actively part of the community and embrace the struggles that people go through.”

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