Typhoon Haiyan Devastates The Philippines
4:29 pm
Sat November 16, 2013

LA's Filipinos Grieve For Loved Ones Abroad By Taking Action

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 11:31 am

Since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last week, the largest Filipino community in America has come together to grieve and to help.

Friday night, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles, members of Long Beach's Filipino community gathered at Grace United Methodist Church to hold a vigil for typhoon victims. One by one, attendees came to the microphone and named people who died or remain lost in the storm.

Rev. Nestor Gerente, the pastor at Grace United, came to the U.S. from Manila 15 years ago. He lost relatives in the storm. As the crowd held electric candles and bowed their heads, he prayed.

"Your word of peace stills the storms that rage in our world. Bring hope to all persons and places that know devastation in the calm, following the winds and rains of Typhoon Haiyan," he said.

The church community is raising money, gathering supplies to send overseas. A few attendees plan to go to the Philippines, to offer medical assistance.

Almost 3.5 million Filipinos live in America. California has the largest concentration, with more than 300,000 living in Los Angeles alone.

Gerente says that diaspora is grieving by giving.

"How we cope is we become active. We have the power to do something here --not to question why this has happened, but how we're gonna deal with this tragedy," he says.

But for many Filipinos in the states, staying hopeful is hard. It's been more than a week since the storm hit. People here have been glued to their televisions, watching news of the disaster. They're frustrated by what they see: aid not getting where it's needed fast enough, so many people still missing.

"It's rough. It's devastating. It's frustrating. It's shameful," says Ciara Sauz, who moved to LA from the Philippines just a few months ago.

At L.A. Rose Cafe, a Filipino coffee shop near Hollywood, Sauz says her immediate family in Manila wasn't seriously hurt, but a family friend lost a lot.

"Her house in the province has been washed out. And she also lost an uncle over there. Right now they're staying in evacuation areas, just living in tents," she says.

Sauz and her husband are sending money for that friend's family and putting together other donations to give to charities. But she says she's worried about where her donations will end up.

"Everyone knows that corruption is rampant in that country. They hope that the help will reach the people," she says.

Many point to a recent corruption scandal, in which three prominent senators in the Philippines were charged with misusing more than $200 million in state funds.

Nevertheless, Sauz says she's remaining hopeful.

At the vigil in Long Beach, Pastor Gerente said the storm has a silver lining.

"The best in humanity happens when there is a tragedy such as this. I am pleased with the outpour of support," he said. "People seem to be very open to just be with other people."

Being with other people, supporting the community where you are, and reaching back out to the place you came from.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

And since the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan, Filipinos all around the world have come together to grieve and to help. NPR's Sam Sanders reports from the largest community in this country.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Friday night, about 25 miles south of L.A., members of Long Beach's Filipino community gathered at Grace United Methodist Church. They're holding a vigil for victims of Typhoon Haiyan. One by one, attendees come to the mic and name people who died or remained lost in the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Clyde Fornillos(ph), Grace Fornillos(ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Family members, sister, Estrellita Orlino(ph); sister, Elan Orlino(ph), sister Zeta(ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: The Sepaco(ph) families who are my childhood friends. I don't know where they are right now. They've been in Tacloban for so many years.

SANDERS: Reverend Nestor Gerente is the pastor at Grace United. He came to the U.S. from Manila 15 years ago. He lost relatives in the storm. As the crowd holds electric candles and bows their heads, he prays.

THE REV. NESTOR GERENTE: Your word of peace stills the storms that rage in our world. Bring hope to all persons and places that know devastation in the calm, following the winds and rains of Typhoon Haiyan.

SANDERS: The church community is raising money, gathering supplies to send overseas. A few in attendance are headed to the Philippines to offer medical assistance. Almost three and a half million Filipinos live in America. California has the largest concentration with over 300,000 living in Los Angeles alone. Reverend Gerente says that diaspora is grieving by giving.

GERENTE: How we cope is we become active. We have the power to do something here and not to question why this has happened, but how we're going to deal with this tragedy.

SANDERS: But for many Filipinos in the states, staying hopeful is hard. It's been over a week since the storm hit. People here have been glued to their televisions, watching news of the disaster. They're frustrated by what they see: aid not getting where it's needed fast enough, so many people still missing.

CIARA SAUZ: It's rough. It's devastating. It's frustrating. It's shameful.

SANDERS: Ciara Sauz moved to L.A. from the Philippines just a few months ago. I talked to her at L.A. Rose Cafe, a Filipino coffee shop near Hollywood. Sauz is from Manila. Her immediate family wasn't seriously hurt, but she says a family friend lost a lot.

SAUZ: Her house in the province has been washed out. And she also lost an uncle over there. Right now, they're staying in evacuation areas, just living in tents.

SANDERS: Sauz and her husband are sending money for that friend's family and putting together other donations to give to charities. But she says she's worried about where her donations will end up.

SAUZ: You know, everyone knows that corruption is rampant in that country. They hope that the help will reach the people.

SANDERS: Many point to a recent corruption scandal, in which three prominent senators in the Philippines were charged with misusing over $200 million in state funds. Nevertheless, Sauz says she's remaining hopeful.

At the vigil in Long Beach, Pastor Gerente says the storm has a silver lining.

GERENTE: The best in humanity happens when there is a tragedy such as this. I'm pleased with the outpour of support. People seem to be very open just to be with other people.

SANDERS: Being with other people, supporting the community where you are and reaching back out to the place you came from. Sam Sanders, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.