Sunday, November 17, 2013/lk
PATEROS The town’s new sister city in Pateros, Philippines, was relatively unscathed by Super Typhoon Haiyan, but fundraising efforts have started to help those who have been affected.
“We’re all concerned about our newly created friends,” Pateros, Wash., Mayor Gail Howe said. “Having had the Filipinos here in town, we know what kind of a close-knit, family-oriented group they are.”
The typhoon – better known to Filipino residents as “Yolanda” – struck Nov. 8 and has killed more than 3,600 people as of Friday, according to the Philippines government. It reportedly carried the strength of a Category 5 hurricane.
Howe said several local residents have called her asking how they can help.
Bridgeport has also stepped forward to offer assistance, Mayor Marilynn Lynn said.
“We’ve got a connection here; we have to do something. We really want to (help),” Howe said.
Howe reached out to her contacts with Pateros, Philippines, as soon as she found out about the storm. She was told by Cielito Cortez, president of the Pateros Philippines Association’s Bay Area chapter in California, that his brother in Philippines said the most affected area was in the Visayan Islands.
“I spoke to my brother, who lives in Pateros, the day before the storm hit The Philippines,” Cortez said. “He sounded very scared because of the strong wind that gusted over 100 mph. The sky was gray and dark at times.”
Metro Manila, where Pateros is located, was largely spared the destruction that hit some parts of the country.
“I called back the following day to check if there was any damage to our house and our town in general,” Cortez said. “I was so relieved to learn there was no damage to our house. Pateros in general was OK except minor damages to a few houses. There was not a lot of rain either.”
Another Pateros-connected chapter in Los Angeles has started fundraising efforts to help typhoon victims, President Eugene Santos said. People are gathering canned goods and other easy, ready-to-eat food items.
However, goods shipped from the U.S. could take up to a month to make their way to the people who need it, he wrote in an email to Howe. He said the quickest way to donate would be monetarily.
“It is truly touching to receive such genuine concern and support from you and folks from our Sister City, Pateros, WA,” Santos wrote to Howe in an email.
Several Filipino residents with connections to Pateros, Philippines, are now living in North-Central Washington, from Pateros, Brewster and Bridgeport to Wenatchee. Many of them came to the Apple Pie Jamboree in July, along with people from California and Philippines.
The cities celebrated their sisterhood at this year’s Jamboree, along with the town’s centennial. Pateros, Wash., was named after Pateros, Philippines, around 1900, before becoming incorporated in 1913.
“These cash donations could either be used to buy all the needed emergency goods locally (water, food, medicines, blankets, temporary shelters) or to provide reserve funds for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the damaged dwellings, especially that of the poor families who have no other recourse.”
Howe said she planned to talk to the Pateros School District about hosting a community dinner fundraiser, but the overhead costs might be too much. Instead, she has printed posters and distributed them to inform residents how they can help.
Aside from donating, Santos said, “Let us also continue to pray to grant unto the survivors the strength and willpower to move on and help one another in this time of crisis.”