Two months after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, news about the tragedy has all but disappeared from the media. But for those still trying to recover, the destruction and struggle to return to normalcy are still all too real.
“There is no rebuilding yet. There’s a lot of rubble and only the roads are cleared,” said Anton Manimbo, whose been able to follow the recovery efforts from regular videos his close friend in the Haiyan area posts on Facebook. “This is going to be a very massive effort to rebuild.”
Manimbo’s relatives in the Philippines were lucky and were spared from the devastating typhoon. But as a Filipino American, he felt a personal need to get involved with helping the country recover. When he learned that his company, Edison International, started a fundraising effort shortly after the typhoon hit on Nov. 9, he immediately got involved.
“It’s pretty amazing … people gave money so quickly,” said Manimbo, a Southern California Edison (SCE) telecommunications engineer and president of FilBarkada, a SCE Filipino American employee resource group that has been holding Haiyan fundraisers. “It’s definitely a warm feeling to receive such great support from co-workers.”
So far, Edison International’s Typhoon Haiyan Disaster Relief Campaign has raised over $33,000, already surpassing its target employee donation match amount of $25,000. The campaign ends on Feb. 28.
The company had also launched a Facebook campaign for the community in mid-November where Edison International matched “likes” up to $5,000 and that goal was also quickly met.
Contributions from employees and customers have been donated to Doctors Without Borders, Gawad Kalinga USA and American National Red Cross, nonprofits equipped to help with the needs of those devastated by the typhoon including providing food, water, shelter and medical care
“We have a strong culture of giving here at Edison International,” said Tammy Tumbling, SCE director of Philanthropy and Community Investment. “Once we knew the extent of the devastation that Typhoon Haiyan caused, we were quick to mobilize corporate and employee support to help with relief efforts in the Philippines.
“We have a strong Filipino presence in our employee base and wanted to make sure that we did what we could to raise funds to support the nonprofits that were helping the families and friends of our employees and others who may have been affected by the typhoon.”
As of Jan. 7, 14.1 million people have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan and 4.1 million have been displaced since the tragedy hit the Philippines on Nov. 9, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Sadly, more than 6,000 people have died as a result of Haiyan’s devastation.
Most news reports are predicting that it will still be several months before the country full recovers from Haiyan’s destruction.
For Mario Ang, SCE executive support manager, the tragedy of Typhoon Haiyan has hit close to home, and as a board member of FilBarkada, he is helping to collect in-kind donations for the victims.
“This specific tragedy did hit closer to home as this is my motherland and my roots,” said Ang. “As I listened to the reports and watched videos of the impacted areas, my heart was drawn to the Filipinos impacted by the typhoon.”
FilBarkada’s in-kind donations drive throughout various SCE offices has collected 23 boxes of items for the typhoon victims, including canned goods, first aid kits and diapers. The boxed items will be shipped to the Philippines this week. Other employee groups are also planning fundraisers, including a Feb. 7 dinner by the SCE Vietnamese Affiliation where all proceeds will go to help the Haiyan victims.
Helping his home country recover from disaster is nothing new for Roderick Dela Cruz, a SCE senior engineer and expert on dam safety. In 2009, he returned to the Philippines to help the country improve their flood preparedness after the massive flooding from Tropical Storm Ondoy and Typhoon Pepeng.
This time, Dela Cruz has been helping coordinate in-kind donations for the country’s Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts and is grateful for Edison International’s fundraising efforts. He encourages Edison employees to continue to donate to the company’s fundraiser which ends on Feb. 28.
“The support that Edison employees have shown, either in-kind or prayers, has helped alleviate the pain and suffering experienced by loved ones affected by this disaster,” he said. “Any help, either monetary donations, in-kind or prayers, would be needed to speed up the recovery and help the affected people get back on their feet.”