Hawaii organization helps Philippines flood victims

Tess Quemado
Tess Quemado
Fely Villanueva
Fely Villanueva

By Leland Kim - bio | email

WAIPAHU (KHNL) -   A massive relief effort is underway in the Philippines.  Monday, rescuers pulled more bodies from swollen rivers in Manila and surrounding towns.

Typhoon Ketsana struck the island nation over the weekend.  At least 200 people are dead, and 32 are still missing.   Rescue crews pulled almost 8,000 people from flooded areas around the capital.

It's hard to imagine a month's worth of rain pouring down in just twelve hours, but that's what happened there on Saturday.

Folks in Hawaii are already starting to help with the devastation.

We're talking hundreds dead, and thousands homeless.   The storm is the worst to hit the country in more than forty years.  A local Hawaii organization has taken a jump in helping out the victims.

Imagine waking up to this: the sound of pounding rain blanketing neighborhoods in and around northern Philippines.  In half a day, Manila turned into Venice, Italy.

"All of a sudden the water surged and that's why they were not able to put up anything," said Fely Villanueva, a Filipino American Waipahu resident who has relatives in Manila.

People were busy trying to keep their belongings from floating away.

"I was watching it, and from the gate, it's not even two minutes and it's already up to the top of the gate," said Tess Quemado, who lives in Waipahu.  "So, it's really a scary part."

Others pushing several ton metal carcasses out of harm's way.

"It's some kind of a terrible feeling, it is," said Quemado.  "It's an unexplainable thing."

Hawaii has strong ties to the Philippines, so the Filipino Community Center, or FilCom, is taking the lead.

"They're in really bad shape right now and we're appealing to the people," said Quemado, who works as an administrative assistant at FilCom.

About 14 percent are of Filipino ancestry.

"Even if they're not Filipino, any race that can give us help," said Quemado.

That's exactly what she is doing, donating 20 bucks to the cause.

"Even though it's not that much, I know it can help even just a little bit," said Villanueva.

And every little bit helps.

Hawaii has about 1.2 million people, about 168,000 are Filipinos.  If half of them donated $20 like Quemado, we're looking at almost $1.68 million.

Now if half the people in the state did the same thing, we're talking about $12 million.

Money to help people ....

"Buy their food, buy anything, buy medicine," said Quemado.

... who are going through the worst flooding in more than a generation.

"And some lost their families," said Villanueva.  "And I really, really felt bad."

The word "mabuhay" welcomes visitors to the FilCom Center.   It's a celebratory greeting that means "live long."   Now, it's become a call to help their countrymen survive this deadly storm,

"So even if you can donate even just a little bit, that will help," said Villanueva.

... especially as another one lurks in the distance.

The donations are tax-deductible and all of the money will go to help the victims.  To find out how you can help, click here or go to the FilCom Center link on this page.