In this handout photo provided by the Philippine Red Cross, families stay at a temporary evacuation center at Catanduanes province, eastern Philippines, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, as Typhoon Goni hits the country. Families living near coastal towns have moved to evacuation centers as the strong typhoon makes landfall. (Philippine Red Cross via AP)

In this handout photo provided by the Philippine Red Cross, families stay at a temporary evacuation center at Catanduanes province, eastern Philippines, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, as Typhoon Goni hits the country. Families living near coastal towns have moved to evacuation centers as the strong typhoon makes landfall. (Philippine Red Cross via AP)

Okanagan community group organizes fundraiser for typhoon-hit Philippines

Over two million people have been affected by flooding, with about 500,000 forced to leave homes

An Okanagan Filipino group is organizing a virtual fundraising concert for their families and friends affected by typhoons in the Philippines, and they’re inviting the community to also enjoy some holiday songs.

Filipino Association of Vernon (FAV) secretary Maylene Ramis said the situation on the other side of the world isn’t looking good, as thousands of people have been displaced in the middle of a pandemic.

Two typhoons hit the island country within a week of each other. On Nov. 1, Typhoon Goni made landfall in the Philippines and a week later, Typhoon Vamco hit. The two storms caused torrential rainfall and extensive flooding in multiple regions.

According to reports, over two million people have been affected by the flooding, with more than 500,000 people displaced.

“It’s just so sad to hear about those who had to evacuate. The Philippines is already suffering so much because of the pandemic and on top of that, they get hit with two typhoons,” Ramis said.

“It’s so hard… and to add to that, people can’t even isolate and keep themselves safe from COVID-19. People are in evacuation centres and are unable to physically distance, and there’s a real risk of getting the virus.”

Ramis added she recognizes how fortunate she and other FAV members are not to be in the same position, which is why she wanted to help out in her own way: by raising funds through traditional Filipino Christmas carols.

“It’s a two-fold goal, really. We wanted to help by raising funds and donating them, but it’s also for the Filipino community here. Many miss the traditional Christmas celebration, and we wanted to bring a slice of home to them,” she said.

“It’s also a way for us to share Filipino traditions in the Okanagan.”

She said the plan is to have each singer from her former choir in the Philippines record themselves singing, which will then be edited together to form the entire song. Other singers from all over the Okanagan and the U.S. will also record themselves singing. The final video will then be streamed live on Saturday, Dec. 12.

For more information on how to donate, visit their campaign page.

Ramis added they also have a bottle drive, for Vernon-area residents who may have extra bottles, with the proceeds also going to the typhoon victims. To schedule pick-ups and drop-offs, email iahnicole@ymail.com.

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Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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