By Jared Bray and Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
Nov. 18, 2013
PROVO, Utah — When Typhoon Yolanda hit the central region of the Philippines, flattening homes and leaving thousands displaced, Filipinos in Utah knew that they had to help.
“I was crying watching the news,” said Lehi resident and Cavite native Samantha Taylor. “I’m like, I should do something.”
During the past few days, Taylor has been busy organizing fundraisers with several Utah-based organizations to support a medical mission for a team of doctors from her home town.
Because the aftermath of Yolanda is now threatening the Philippines with diseases like cholera, hepatitis, typhoid and leptospirosis, Taylor’s goal is to collect enough donations to send medical supplies and a group of 30-to-50 medical professionals from Cavite to Tacloban by early December.
“A lot of people, a lot of children, a lot of mothers, old people need to get some first aid or something,” she said.
One of the many groups that have agreed to help Taylor is the Brigham Young University Filipino Club, which will host a fundraising concert on Nov. 22 in Provo.
“We have a Filipino community here,” Taylor said. “What do you do when you’re Filipino? You help each other, you do something, and that’s what they’ve been doing.”
Like Taylor, Rojo Castillo is also striving to aid victims of the super typhoon. As the owner of a local Filipino food truck, he’s donating a portion of his restaurant’s profits to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Humanitarian Aid Fund, a resource that is currently being used to provide food, water and other life-sustaining supplies to displaced people in Eastern Visayas.
“I’m handcuffed,” Castillo said, “because I want to be there, I want to support it, and I can’t, and so I’m here doing whatever I can to help out.”
Castillo says that several of his customers have left generous donations for the Humanitarian Aid Fund, even Americans without ties to the Philippines.
“My American customers have been here, supporting me every day, telling me how sorry they felt, and how it made them cry and feel emotional seeing the videos they see in the news, and so it’s not just affecting the Filipino people, it affects everybody, and I am grateful for that support, for that outpouring love from everybody,” he said.
As images of destruction continue to flood news outlets, both Taylor and Castillo say it’s easy to feel discouraged, but they believe that the efforts of Utah’s Pinoy population will go a long way for those who have been affected by the storm.
Meanwhile, people in Nevada also pledge to come to the aid of the typhoon victims.
Whenever there is a cause the people will come together no matter what party you belong to and organization you belong to, that’s how it should be,” White House Advisor on AAPI Rozita Lee said.
“It’s overwhelming that even through the hardest time in our economy people are still willing to open their pockets and help someone,” Minddee Lloyd of Bamboo Bridges said.
These organizers say even non-Filipinos reached out to help their cause.
“The Samoan community is here, the Japanese, the Indian community, the Jewish community is here and it’s just heartwarming to know that they’re all here for the Philippines,” Labor Leader Gloria Caoili said.
Many services and business establishments also pledged to be the drop off points for in-kind donations and even cargo services.
“For everything that the Filipino community can give—clothing, food, medicine, or anything can help,” Philip Paleracio of Dental Center of Nevada said.
From concerts to house parties to one-on-one solicitations, fund raising events will be happening continuously all throughout the valley for days to come—all to help the victims devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.