It has been said that the greater the heartbreak, the bigger the comfort. After Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged parts of Visayas and Palawan in early November, the Filipino people proved this. Filipinos all over the world moved swiftly into action, buying, packing and distributing relief goods, and raising funds to help some 10 million Filipinos in 51 cities affected.
Because Yolanda was not your ordinary typhoon, the measures to help have also been extraordinary. There have been hug-a-thons, futsal marathons, parties, and art auctions organized all over world for the survivors.
This month, Illustrado highlights four out of the many unique localinitiatives:
Bundles of Joy
Bundles of Joy (BOJ) is a grassroots volunteer effort initiated by Cebuano social entrepreneur Anya Lim and her friends from high school. One BOJcosts aboutUS$10 and contains the following: 1kiloof rice, 2 liters of water, three canned goods, three packs of noodles, one piece of clothing or blanket, two pads of vitamin C, one pad of paracetamol, two candles,and a matchbox.
In addition to being more holistic than other relief good packs, the BOJ is unique because each one contains a Letter of Hope, a short note from Filipinos and foreigners to uplift the spirits of the survivors.Letters have been sent in from Manila to Nigeria to Brazil. “I wanted the Bundles of Joy to feel like they came from a friend,” says Anya.
To ensure the transparency and efficiency of the initiative, BOJ partnered with individuals and organizations that are directly involved with communities affected by the typhoon. The partners are expected to provide photos and a list of recipients for documentation, which the BOJ team shares with their donors.
Due to the overwhelming support, BOJ exceeded its initial target of 500 BOJsin five areas and deployed 1,200 bundles in 12 areas in Northern Cebu and Leyte.
Adopt a Small Island Initiative
The Adopt-a-Small Island Initiative was co-founded byenvironmental scientist Monica Ortiz to deploy in-kind donations and channel financial resources to purchase a crucial part of life on a small island: a motorized boat, locally known asbanca.A banca is the main “equipment” of fisherfolk, and the main mode of transportation between small islands and the mainland.
The provincial government of Cebu estimated that a simple motorized boat is PhP15,000 (around $340). The initiative’s goal was to raise at least P270,000 and provide sixisland-barangays with at least threebancas each. As of the end of November 2013, the group had already exceeded their target.
The project sites in northeastern Iloilo were chosen based on “damage assessment reports and discussions with the provincial government and University of the Philippines in the Visayas,” shares Monica. Both institutions are directly engaged with the barangays and communities in the area.
The boats will not be given to families, but through registered fishing associations in the municipalities. The group partnered with the Northern Iloilo Alliance for Coastal Developmentto facilitate the order of boats with the boatmaker and monitor the activities of the beneficiaries through the Coastal Resource Management monitoring of fish catch.
KatipunanBaHAIYANihan is the brainchild of ArrianeSerafico, a 25-year-old creative consultant.Instead of a call for typical relief goods such as canned goods and medicine, BaHAIYANihan asked for pre-loved items such as clothes, accessories, books, and signed basketball uniforms of former and present UAAP stars. TV personality and model Bianca Gonzalez,and fashion bloggers Tricia Gosingtian and Alyssa Lapiddonated items as well, boosting the attractiveness of the event.
The strategy of asking for second-hand items means that everything could be reused instead of being thrown away, gathering dust in the closet, or being donated to a random community that did not need, say, sparkly high heels. Cash would be given to the chosen beneficiary to help rebuild a school in Northern Cebu that was devastated by the typhoon.
The event that was put together in a week became acollaborative community bazaar and arts night. There were performances by local artists and works by graphic designers up for sale.
“It’s something my friends and I have been wanting to do for a long time,” Arriane says. “But instead of us receiving the profit, we’ve decided to give it to an NGO instead.”
The initial target was to raise PhP30,000. The event raised PhP126,130. The group is continuing to raise funds through an online auction.
Work for Materials Trading Post
The community in Malapascua Island, north of Cebu, is adopting the system implemented in theMaisog Watershed Initiative Inc. in Camarines Norte.
“All donated items, from relief goods to construction materials, are put in the trading post,” founder Yolanda “Yoying” Pimentel explains. “The locals have to work a certain number of hours to gain points. They can clear debris, pick up trash, or create cleaning materials from the scraps. At the end of the day, the go to the trading post and exchange the points for any of the donated items available.”
In just one week, the movement gained some 300 volunteers from the local community. Each day, more and more volunteers join the group to collect plastics, gather pieces of wood, and sweep pathways.
“This not only gives dignity to the people, but also brings back the culture of bayanihan,” says Yoying.
She continues,“When relief goods are given for free, the [beneficiaries]sometimes don’t even thank you. They don’t even look at you, because they feel like beggars,” Yoying observes. “With the trading post system, they feel like they’re part of the improvement of the island. It’s their home, and by working for change, they feel a stronger sense of ownership.”