How to help

Tacloban in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan hit. Credit: Nove foto da Firenze via Flickr.

Note: I will try and update this post as I get new information about fundraisers, relief orgs, etc.

Update: 9:00pm Nov. 13

I learned of two Portland-area support events I thought I’d pass on:

Typhoon Haiyan Candlelight Vigil & Community Briefing
Thursday, November 14
5:30 pm Candlelight Vigil, Skidmore Fountain Plaza
6:00 pm Community Briefing, Mercy Corps Action Center

Fil-Am association of Portland Spaghetti feed Fundraiser
Friday, November 15
6:00 pm Fil-Am Association of Portland, 8917 SE Stark St, Portland

Also, another helpful list on what to donate, this one from the Philippines Red Cross.

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I’ve been touched by the number of friends reaching out to me to find out if I have family affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Yes, I do. The areas hardest hit include the place where my mom grew up. But luckily their hometown was protected from the worst effects. I have several close family members still unaccounted for as well as other distant extended family members who are affected. We’re hopeful, but really won’t know until we can hear from them directly. And my family is just one of millions who are experiencing this. My heart has been breaking watching the news coverage.

Here are two recent reports from different mainstream news outlets:

Distress Grows for Philippine Typhoon Victims Who Can’t Get Aid, or Out (New York Times) – also, they have some multimedia extras including photos (which can be difficult to look at) and maps

Typhoon Haiyan Devastates The Philippines – a landing page for NPR’s series of reports

Many are trying to figure out how they can help. While I don’t feel it’s my place to answer that (I think it’s a personal decision of where you want to put your effort), I will offer some of the resources I know about.

My parents and their friends in my hometown Cleveland Filipino-American community have been organizing and conducting medical missions in the Philippines for over 30 years through their APPO (Association of Philippine Physicians in Ohio) Foundation. I’ve even been on two of these missions myself. APPO is teaming up with their sister organization Philippine American Society of Ohio, a group I was a member of as I grew up in Cleveland. The folks running these orgs are my titas (aunties) and titos (uncles) and my childhood friends. I chose to donate through them because I know personally that they have on-the-ground contacts and are working hard to figure out the most meaningful way to help.

Here in Portland, progressive groups PCHRP and PSU Kaibigan Alumni Advisory Board have teamed up to raise funds through National Alliance For Filipino Concern (NAFCON).

Just found out that Portland’s Fil-Am Center is hosting a spaghetti fundraising dinner on November 15. Though Filipinos tend to have more than enough food at events, still a good idea to RSVP on their Facebook event page.

I also found this article by Jessica Alexander on Slate helpful, about how sending your old shoes is so NOT helpful. She was an aid worker was in Asia after the tsunami:

After the tsunami, similarly well-intentioned people cleaned out their closets, sending boxes of “any old shoes” and other clothing to the countries. I was there after the tsunami and saw what happened to these clothes: Heaps of them were left lying on the side of the road. Cattle began picking at them and getting sick. Civil servants had to divert their limited time to eliminating the unwanted clothes. Sri Lankans and Indonesians found it degrading to be shipped people’s hand-me-downs. I remember a local colleague sighed as we passed the heaps of clothing on the sides of the road and said “I know people mean well, but we’re not beggars.” Boxes filled with Santa costumes, 4-inch high heels, and cocktail dresses landed in tsunami-affected areas. In some places, open tubes of Neosporin, Preparation H, and Viagra showed up. The aid community has coined a term for these items that get shipped from people’s closets and medicine cabinets as SWEDOW—Stuff We Don’t Want.

So, please leave the victims some dignity and do not send SWEDOW. (My only directive.)

If you’re more of a visual person, the HowStuffWorks folks put together a slideshow on the 10 Worst Things to Donate After a Disaster.

More of a list person?  NBC has a roundup of web links to relief organizations.

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Good read: NY Times Magazine’s ‘A Game of Shark and Minnow’

The New York Times has set the bar for digital storytelling with their brilliant, award-winning Snow Fall piece. (At OPB we certainly took some inspiration from their work for our excellent THIN ICE multi-platform project.)

Screen shot: A Game of Shark and Minnow'

Now they’ve gone and ‘snow-falled’ a fascinating political drama taking place in a remote area of the South China Sea. Here’s how the story opens:

Ayungin Shoal lies 105 nautical miles from the Philippines. There’s little to commend the spot, apart from its plentiful fish and safe harbor — except that Ayungin sits at the southwestern edge of an area called Reed Bank, which is rumored to contain vast reserves of oil and natural gas. And also that it is home to a World War II-era ship called the Sierra Madre, which the Philippine government ran aground on the reef in 1999 and has since maintained as a kind of post-apocalyptic military garrison, the small detachment of Filipino troops stationed there struggling to survive extreme mental and physical desolation. Of all places, the scorched shell of the Sierra Madre has become an unlikely battleground in a geopolitical struggle that will shape the future of the South China Sea and, to some extent, the rest of the world.

The story of isolated Filipino crewmen on a dilapidated military vessel weaves in and out of the wider context of a geopolitical dance. It’s a visually rich longread – including photos, video, maps – worth taking the 20 or so minutes to dive into.

And if you haven’t checked out those other two I mentioned above, do it. Consider all this screen time a respectable media binge.

mother tongue


apa compass is a radio show i help produce as part of a collective at kboo. shameless plug: we’re on today at 9:00am pacific at kboo or on the FM in portland 90.7. in case you miss it we’ll have an archive (and podcasts soon!) at kboo.fm/apacompass. today we’re talking about language and identity and community.

i long to speak another language fluently. my parents’ first language is tagalog (filipino) and they never taught it to me and my brothers. when we were young, they thought it would hinder our ability to learn english and possibly leave us with an accent which might make it more difficult for us to fit in. and now as adults we all realize that loss and my mother tries to speak to us in tagalog at random times as if it might still seep in. and it might.

in fact, all these years, i’ve claimed that i don’t know tagalog. but the truth is that i actually understand a LOT of tagalog, but can’t open up my mouth and speak it.

in honor of our show today, i want to share a funny experience from when my husband and i went to the philippines last year. it was his first time and my first time with a “guest” who was not filipino. we were on our own a fair amount at the megamalls, the museums, tourist sites etc. i quicky found myself interpreting for matt. that’s right, i was actually interpreting, much more than i thought i ever could. it was a delightful discovery and has changed my perspective on my relationship with my parents’ mother tongue.

and another bizarre thing occurred, a story matt loves to tell. people would speak to me in tagalog. i understood the gist of what they were saying. then i spoke back to them in english. they understood me. we communicted back and forth in two different languages. i actually barely realized that it was happening, but matt, as an observer pointed it out. it happened all the time during our two week stay.

i’ll keep working on my tagalog. but next i’m going to tackle me some espanol…