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HK Filcom extends help to Taal victims

21 January 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

DWC admin Medio (with red cap) delivers goods to Taal victims with help from friends

Various groups in Hong Kong have launched fund drives to help the thousands of people who were forced to flee their homes in the wake of the Taal volcano eruption in the Philippines on Jan. 12.

Alert Level 4 remains hoisted over Taal Volcano in Batangas, which means a hazardous eruption is possible within days, so the evacuees have been told to stay put, and well away from their homes.

First to respond were the members of the online group, Domestic Workers Corner, which started their campaign for cash donations hours after Taal began spewing ash and thick smoke.

By Sunday, Jan. 19, DWC, which has 60,000 members online, managed to raise nearly $37,000 with donors mostly sending small sums through the WeChat, Alipay and TNG accounts set up by the group’s administrators for the purpose.

The fund drive will continue until Jan. 27, when DWC plans to give away some of the money raised to members from Batangas, Cavite and Laguna, whose family have been adversely affected by Taal’s eruption.

Another group that quickly harnessed help from members and their friends was Batangas Varsitarian Intl, which is led in Hong Kong by Erwin Marqueses. A call for donations which he posted on Facebook on Jan. 13 stirred many Filcom members to show up with loads of goods at their designated packing place in Central on Jan 19.
By around noon when his group, helped by fellow Batanguenos from the Association of Filipino Builders in Hong Kong, Brix Chico and Ric Mercado, finished its relief operation for the day, 22 big boxes of goods had already been packed and sent on to Batangas.

Several people also came by to give cash donations, including DWC’s Villar who handed Marqueses an envelope containing $3,500 from the funds raised by her own group.
 
DWC's Villar (with glasses) hands $3,500 cash donation to Batangas Varsitarian group led by Marqueses (leftmost)
Named recipient of the boxed goods was Joseph Bautista, an engineer who headed several associations in Hong Kong before settling back in his hometown of Lipa City in Batangas, and is now said to be working with the provincial Coast Guard.

Bautista is putting together a group that will identify the places where the goods should go, and which items should be bought from the cash donations that will also be sent him from Hong Kong.

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Marqueses said the donation drive was just the first in a series of activities being planned by the Varsitarian and other allied groups to raise money for the Taal victims.

Two other events, a one-day volleyball league on Feb 2, and a rock concert called “Rakrakan Para Kay Kabayan” on Feb 23 in front of City Hall in Central, will both be held to raise funds for the same cause.

DWC members have also carried out their own fundraising drives, including a “Photoshoot for a Cause” held on Jan 19, which raised $3,711 for the Taal fund.

DWC founder Rodelia Villar says she’s been overwhelmed by the quick response of members to her plea to extend help. “Every dollar counts,” she said in a post thanking members for their generosity.

Equally heartwarming for Villar were the donations that came from concerned employers of some members. One of them, Dante Wong of Hong Lok Yuen, sent $3,600 through his caregiver, Richel Calvo.
 
Villar accepts $3,600 donation from Calvo's employer
“Other employers gave $100 to $300 but asked not be named,” Villar said. “It was touching to see them showing their concern for our compatriots.”

Much of what DWC has raised so far has been sent on to an administrator, Janice Medio, who has returned home for good in Cavite. More than Php100,000 worth of relief goods has been bought, packed and distributed by Medio and her friends, including DWC member Judith Codilla and a group called Mahika Artist of Deception.

More will be distributed to the victims in the coming days, after Medio has identified the more urgent needs of the evacuees and where the help is most needed.

Also raising funds is United Filipinos – Migrante Hong Kong, which has partnered with the Mission for Migrant Workers in soliciting donations from the public. As in past relief drives, Unifil-Migrante will be helped by its vast network in the Philippines in distributing whatever donations they manage to raise here.

Unifil kicked off its donation campaign later than the others because it was busy coordinating a protest held on Jan 19 against the massive hike in premium contributions by OFWs to PhilHealth, or the national health insurance fund.
 
'Photoshoot For a Cause'
Smaller groups did their own share of raising funds to help the Taal victims, including one that held a “Dance for a Cause” event on Chater Road, and a “Dog Walkers Group” in Mid-Levels, which sent a box of relief goods to evacuees.
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