Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts begin in Glendale

Relief efforts are underway in Glendale for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan as local Filipino organizations collect food and donations to send to the Philippines.

With more than 11 million people affected by the Nov. 8 typhoon — which killed more than 1,700 people and destroyed 36 provinces — local Filipinos have mobilized to look for ways to help the devastated country.

However, communication to the region has been limited.

“It's difficult, but we hope the silence will not be giving us more terrible news,” said Pastor Demetrio Robles of the Glendale Filipino Seventh-day Adventist Church.

With reports of the massive destruction and displacement of more than 670,000 people, Robles said he is still looking to connect with fellow church and hospital staffers in the Philippines. He is also trying to determine whether any of the church's parishioners lost family members in the typhoon.

“We have been praying,” he said.

Robles and his fellow church staffers have appealed to parishioners for funds to help the typhoon victims. While the church plans to collect clothing, used electronic equipment, nonperishable food and toiletries to send to the Philippines, Robles said monetary donations are critical right now because that will get to the victims first.

Students at Holy Family Grade School are also collecting clothes and monetary donations for the typhoon victims, Principal Fidela Suelto said.

Members of the Soroptimist International of the Verdugos and Filipino-American Business Assn. of Glendale have also been reaching out to local clubs and churches for disaster relief funds and nonperishable items.

The business association also contacted Philippines Airlines and cargo delivery companies to inquire about helping with distribution to the region, said Edith Fuentes, the group's vice president.

Organizers of the Beautiful Life Celebration, which will be at Metropol banquet hall in Glendale on Saturday, will focus on raising funds for the typhoon victims as well as recognize several Filipinos for their community service, said the event's director Monet Lu.

While many Filipinos who are living in Glendale moved from their homeland, some residents still have family in the region.

Just last month, the City Council designated October as Filipino American History Month following a 2010 U.S. Census report showing the number of Filipinos living in Glendale had increased and made up about 7% of the city's population.

Resident Nini Maldonado didn't lose family members in the typhoon, but she has friends and knows of Glendale residents whose families were devastated by the disaster.

She and other Glendale Filipino residents have been donating mostly money and some supplies to friends and family in the ravaged region.

Having grown up in the Philippines, Maldonado said she was all too familiar with typhoons and had come to embrace the idea of “when it rains, it pours.”

But like with most typhoons that she and her family endured, the clouds always cleared and the sun appeared shining brightly. Typhoon Haiyan was different.

“This was like a tsunami,” Maldonado said. “It's so terrible. I could not imagine.”


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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