Memories of Samar: Typhoon Relief for the Philippines

Three years ago, I sat on a rooftop in Catbalogan, Samar, with my grandmother and her sister, singing a karaoke song about a place you go when times are rough and the people who can help you move forward. Back then, I was a backpacker on an expat adventure, stopping in the Philippines to meet my extended family for the first time.

During that trip, we spent a week in Catbalogan, where my grandmother grew up. It coincided with the fiesta, and the city was draped in colorful flags. My grandmother led us on a tour of her hometown, including a local school, where the children swarmed around us—bright-eyed and curious. We attended mass with the community, we danced the cha-cha in their living rooms, we listened to their histories. We spent an entire day traveling from house to house to house, sharing in the festivities. Every family welcomed us with wide arms, sharing their feast (so much lechon!), their music, and their stories, and we left each one with a strong memory of everyone’s generosity, hospitality, and kindness.

I’m sure many of you have seen the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Entire towns throughout Samar have been completely demolished, and many have lost their lives—including one of my uncles. The rooftop where we karaoke’d no longer exists, and many of the good people we shared the fiesta with have lost everything they own. Tacloban, a capital city of nearly 220,000, has been almost completely destroyed and left in ruins after the typhoon struck. While there are on-going relief efforts, only minimal amounts of water, food and medical supplies have made its way to the most desperate parts of the country.

In an effort to help those affected by this tragedy, my family and I have created a fundraising event. All donations will go directly towards providing immediate relief for communities in Western Samar. You can rest assured that all proceeds will be used to purchase basic necessities, including:

  • food
  • medical supplies
  • clothing
  • transportation to safer areas
  • burials

Many people have been displaced, losing their loved ones, their homes and their state of well-being. It’s essential that we help them begin to rebuild—to regain a sense of normalcy and reestablish their communities. If you’ve already made a donation through the Red Cross or another relief effort, thank you. If you haven’t, please considering donating—a few dollars can truly make a huge impact during this time of need. You can check out our fundraiser here. 

There are many great causes and global organizations looking to provide relief for the Philippines. We would personally like to thank you for your support and ask that you keep all those affected in your minds, thoughts and prayers.