Long Island Filipino Community Responds to Typhoon Haiyan



Filipino civilians displaced by Typhoon Haiyan board a U.S. Marine Corps Air Craft.

Photo credit: Anne Henry; Tacloban Air Base

By Jeanine Russaw

Long Island has had its own run-ins with natural disaster—the effects of 2012 Super Storm Sandy are still visible on many parts of the island—but that has not kept its communities from reaching out to those left displaced by Typhoon Haiyan.

The Filipino-American Society of Long Island (Tanglaw) planned relief efforts in advance while monitoring developments of Typhoon Haiyan several days before it reached land and ravaged the Philippines.

Based in Holbrook, NY, this 35-year- old organization exists to “extend all feasible means of support to [our] native land, the Philippines, in an effort to build a more stable and prosperous country.”

Robert Zarate, president of Tanglaw, began Operation Tanglaw: a fundraising campaign for victims of Typhoon Yolanda [Haiyan]. Before moving to Long Island in search of opportunities for his family, Zarate worked at the Philippine Consulate in the late 1980’s and early ‘90s.

Operation Tanglaw is currently requesting nonperishable donations including canned goods and baby supplies in addition to monetary funds to help cover shipping costs. The organization has donation drop-off locations in Nassau and Suffolk counties and is hosting an event on Saturday, Nov. 23 at the Villa Lombardi in which all proceeds are being donated to the Philippines.

However, once things have calmed down and the Philippines have been restored once more, the work will not cease for this Filipino-American Society.

Typhoons are a natural disaster that is “not anything new to us on the island,” said Zarate, who has seen everything from earthquakes, typhoons, and the Philippines’ volcanic eruption of 1991.

Taking a different approach than that of Operation Tanglaw, the International Youth Fellowship (IYF) recently sponsored a winter concert at Mahanaim School in conjunction with the U.S. Fund to UNICEF.

The approximate 400 people who attended this free concert on Sunday, Nov. 17 had the opportunity to make tax-deductible contributions toward the purchase of food, water, medicine, and other basic supplies for typhoon victims.  Several musical selections of the evening were dedicated to the “undying spirit of the people of the Philippines.”

While originally scheduled several weeks ago to collect funding for student scholarships, the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan inspired IYF and the Mahanaim School to again become involved with UNICEF, like they had over the summer.

“People of Nassau and Suffolk are very supportive of good causes. They come to our school and are interested in the education of its students,” said Glen Heil, IYF Public Relations Personnel. “Since we have a very generous and supportive town, why not make this concert about more than our school?”

While this concert may have been the ideal way to aid the Philippines, it almost did not happen. News of the event had been spread at the last minute, primarily by “word of mouth,” according to Heil.

$3200 was collected by the end of the night with $2083 being allocated to UNICEF’s disaster relief efforts. The remaining funds are going toward the school’s student scholarship funds.

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