HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After the Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011, a team of designers and artists came up with an iconic "Aloha for Japan" t-shirt that raised thousands of dollars for relief. They're hoping for the same result with an "Aloha for Philippines" shirt.
The first batch of shirts, featuring the world "ALOHA" with the sun and three stars from the Philippine flag, went on sale Sunday at the Butigroove and HiLife clothing store at Piikoi and Kona Streets. Shirts also went on sale online at AlohaPlate.com.
The Japan t-shirts raised more than $80,000 in donations.
"We're certainly hopeful that we'll have a similar response to Aloha for Japan, I think especially with so many Filipinos here in Hawaii" said A.J. Halagao, coordinator for the Aloha for Philippines effort. "It's now the largest ethnic group in Hawaii and a lot of people have a such a close connection to the islands in the Philippines."
The money raised by the sales of the t-shirts will be donated to the Filipino Community Center, which plans to give it to the Consuelo Foundation, which helps needy families in the Philippines. The head of the foundation recently returned to Hawaii from Manila, and said a large part of the central Philippines still needs help, not just the areas spotlighted in the media.
"A lot of areas that had been devastated equally as Tacloban and Leyte aren't getting the kind of publicity that the other places are, but yet the needs there are so immense and the aid is not getting to those places," said Jon Matsuoka.
The American Red Cross in Hawaii said it had received 75 calls to its hotline at (808) 739-8115 for Hawaii residents to find family members in the Philippines.
"Twelve cases were closed because they were able to contact their loved ones, but a lot of callers were concerned about getting aid to Leyte," said Coralie Matayoshi of the Red Cross. "Only today they were able to get help from the Philippine Red Cross."
Aid organizations said the help will be long-term, and the hope is that people will send aloha once again.
"Given all the devastation in the Philippines, I think people really want to help, and we're really hoping for the same kind of demand as two years ago," said Halagao.
Related link: AlohaForPhilippines.com