By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – Two years after the world’s strongest super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) battered the Philippines, Filipinos here are still at it, providing support to the rehabilitation of families and communities in the ravaged provinces of Samar, Leyte, Capiz, and northern Cebu.
Education Support through Arts
Recently, a group of artists in New York and Canada put their works of art together in an education fundraiser cocktails at the Rogue Space on Chelsea district dubbed as Bahay (Home), three days after the US elections.
The art exhibit on November 11 showcased the paintings of Alan Calpe, Sara Jimenez, David McQueen, and Maia Cruz Palileo. Portions of the sale will complete and fully furnish three class rooms in Capiz province in Western Visayas which is a project of the Advancement for Rural Kids (ARK), headed by CEO Ayesha Vera Yu.
Days after Haiyan struck Capiz and Cebu, Ms. Yu had immediately gathered resources to send relief to residents in Capiz where the ARK projects were located. Since then, private initiatives to sustain the farming communities and education support for children had been vigorously conducted.
The art event was well-attended by people from all ages and diverse backgrounds. Philippine Consul General New York Tess De Vega was there as well as renowned fashion designer Josie Natori.
Jen Furer of the ARK and one of event organizers said “it was a night filled with love, hope and dreams. It was a celebration of those who champion for the education of the rural kids in the Philippines.”
The four featured artists showed their Filipino roots and very American experience of exploration, immigration, keeping family ties, quest for identity and belonging, and our desire to look back and give back.
As David McQueen said, “Home is the community that you choose to be your own as opposed to the community you are born into – the people you share your space with becomes your home.”
The Global Partners is one of the co-hosts of the event, as well as the Elemental Interiors who designed the classroom furniture, NYC-based leading food and beverage companies like Brooklyn Lager, the Michael Riahi Wine Selections, and Gramercy Tavern.
The artists’ artwork and investment is up until November 30 on ARK’s event page – http://ruralkids.wixsite.com/bahay.
Books to Fund Housing Projects in the Visayas
At the Philippine Consulate, meanwhile, the Assumption Alumni Association and the Philippine Consulate General New York tendered an appreciation evening on November 15, 2016 for the donors of the Build a Shelter Project (BASP) for the rehabilitation efforts of the super typhoon Yolanda that hit the Philippines two years ago.
So far, the BASP raised close to $400,000 and from that 108 homes were built.
It also launched the book by Tim Tomlinson titled “Yolanda: An Oral History in Verse” and the presentation of the children’s book “Maria’s Colorful Banca” by 11-year-old Ella Louise Francia and Minnie Francia on November 15, 2016 appreciation dinner.
Tomlinson, who went to Samar and Leyte provinces, together with his wife Deedle, shared some verses of the harrowing but miraculous accounts of the typhoon’s survivors. The narratives, written in artistic verses, brought to mind the terrifying turbulence of Yolanda, considered as the widest and strongest typhoons to hit the earth in the last 80 years.
Proceeds of the Tomlinson’s and Francia’s books will continue to fund rehabilitation projects of select villages in the Eastern Visayas.
Ms. Vivian Cruz, organizer of the event from the Assumption Alumni Association, acknowledged the donors and convenors of the BASP and told OSM! that she was grateful for the privilege of being a part of the BASP and making a difference in the lives of the victims of typhoon Yolanda.
The BASP directly channeled money and goods to villages in Samar and Leyte in order to rebuild houses and cultivate new farms. It was an initiative of the Philippine Consulate at the time of Consul-General Mario de Leon along with several community organizations in the East Coast.
“It was a painful sight when I interviewed the recipients of the houses and was told of their harrowing stories, of family members being washed away, bodies unidentified and piled up waiting for mass burial,” Cruz said teary-eyed.
Consul-General de Vega, for her part, recalled how busy it was for her and entire staff of the Department of Foreign immediately after Haiyan hit land. “Everybody at that time had so much a lot to do. I was one of those who packed relief goods and did a lot of coordinating work among agencies.”
Today, the Consul-General said efforts are being geared to have long-term capability building for disasters and local development.