The Philippines has had more than its share of problems this year.
Over 9 billion pesos is said to have been stolen by various senators and congressmen from public funds. Indigenous people still fight to stay on their ancestral domain. And Supertyphoon Yolanda (known internationally as Haiyan) is the worst tragedy to hit the country in decades. Entire towns have been flattened. One survivor says: “It’s as if Tacloban never existed at all.” Over 2,000 people have died, and that number is expected to rise as high as 10,000.
We can complain about corruption, poor disaster preparedness, messed up priorities in terms of government spending. These, of course, are big problems that need long-term solutions. For now, and for the average Filipino and citizen of the world, there are small ways in which we can help push things in the right direction. Here are ways to help — no matter what budget you’re working with:
1) Donate to the Philippine Red Cross via SMS • Cost: P20-1000
If you’re living in the Philippines, you probably have a cellphone. Pre-paid credits called “load” dominate the texting capital of the world, so why not skip a subscription to a day’s unlimited texting and set aside your load for Yolanda victims? Text RED<space>AMOUNT to 4143 (Smart) or 2899 (Globe).
2) Volunteer to pack relief goods • Cost: FREE
Lots of donations are coming in, but more people are needed to help pack them. Metro Manila residents can volunteer at Ateneo de Manila University, the Philippine Red Cross, or GMA Kapuso Foundation.
I work at GMA so I know a bit more about our operations. To join our relief ops, download a Kapuso Volunteer Form here: http://www.gmanetwork.com/kapusofoundation/volunteer and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
3) Donate items which some may overlook • Cost: Varies
Relief packs tend to be generic, but people have specific needs. Smaller organizations are organizing donation drives for sanitary napkins, breastmilk for babies and even stuffed animals for children who’ve been orphaned by the tragedy.
4) Buy a hat • Cost: P1600 upwards
After Yolanda/Haiyan hit the Philippines, Ricefield announced that they will be donating proceeds to typhoon victims. The knitwear itself is expensive by Filipino standards, but the proceeds go to a good cause: the products are also a source of employment and added income for the Ifugao people, helping them stay on ancestral land instead of selling the land and looking for jobs elsewhere.
That’s a double whammy if you want to spread good cheer this holiday season. Another gift idea that contributes towards relief work: Tata Yap, an award-winning photographer, is selling framed prints where 100% of proceeds go the victims.
5) Donate in groups
There are many, many way to donate cash to charitable organizations. Some companies are skipping their annual Christmas party and funneling the cash towards Yolanda/Haiyan victims instead! I love this photo of Filipino co-workers:
In the face of such disaster, relief ops often feel like drops in the bucket. But I’d like to hope that every drop counts.