Nearly $300,000s raised for Philippines disaster relief

By 
  • January 15, 2010
{mosimage}TORONTO - Typhoons, floods, volcanoes — the Philippines has endured all kinds of natural disasters. But that doesn’t faze the Filipino community, said Fred Gamboa.

“We have one characteristic,” said Gamboa. “ We’re very resilient. We just bounce back.”

Toronto’s Filipinos showed their resilience Jan. 11 in the form of $281,367 the community raised to help people back home left homeless by Typhoon Ketsana in September. Money raised by dozens of Filipino associations, parishes and schools was passed on to ShareLife, the charitable fundraising arm of  the archdiocese of Toronto.

To make sure money gets to those in need, ShareLife gives the money to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, the Canadian affiliate of Caritas Internationalis.

Gamboa is vice president of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association with about 300 members in the Greater Toronto Area. Like many Filipino associations in Toronto, when alumni saw flooding that left thousands homeless and destitute, they sprang into action, raising $15,000 in two rounds of fundraising.

The group also worked to get the word out to school boards and parishes. The York Catholic District School Board raised more than $30,000 for Philippines relief with toonie days and other fundraisers.

Development and Peace executive director Michael Casey thanked Filipino leaders for their generosity, acknowledging that in addition to cash the Filipino community has sent hundreds of balikbayan (“going-back-home”) boxes to help families in need.

“The Filipino community is one of the most active,” said Casey.

By sending donations through the Caritas network of Catholic relief agencies in 162 countries, the Filipino-Canadian community avoids seeing their charity used as a prop by corrupt politicians who seek to take credit for the aid, said Casey.

Casey also promised Filipino community representatives that Development and Peace would be there for the long term.

“It goes out of the headlines, but there is still work going on,” he said.

In total, ShareLife handed $399,637 to Development and Peace for disaster relief. In addition to $281,367 for the Philippines, ShareLIfe raised $3,690 for Italian earthquake victims, $88,648 to help rebuild after the December earthquake in Taiwan and $25,932 in response to last September’s quake in Indonesia.

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