A little help for our Filipino friends

Art February 22, 2014 00:00

By Cora Sukhyanga
Special to The

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The Rebirth project stages a concert and gala dinner to raise funds for the least-assisted communities battered by super-typhoon Haiyan



Thanks to the hundreds of millions of dollars in donations that have poured in from the international community to help residents of the central Philippines recover from the massive devastation caused by super-typhoon Haiyan, signs of routine life are now beginning to return.
Sadly, though little or no assistance has reached several of the more remote and inaccessible islands, partly due to the overwhelming scale of the devastation. Three months on, corpses continue to be found, some washed inland by the sea together with masses of floating debris. Electricity is at best spotty. 
In Estanzia, a small town in Iloilo province, marginal farmers, fishermen, small-scale entrepreneurs and people engaged in family-based and informal sector enterprises were the most affected by the storm, especially families, many with young children and elderly parents. Conditions are similar in Pilar in Cebu province. 
With some of its members hailing from the storm-ravaged central region, the Philippine Ladies Group Foundation (PLGF), realised the urgency of getting help to these remote islands, identifying the areas where the help can be most relevant, and raising the much-needed funds. Thus was born the Rebirth Project. 
Since the Filipinos are renowned throughout the world for their singing skills, what better way to raise funds than through music? 
And so, next Sunday, March 2, the Foundation is getting together with various Filipino organisations in the country as well as Thai friends and the expat community at the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok for a gala dinner and concert titled Rebirth:. A Musical Tribute”.
Volunteering their talent and time to this worthy cause are some of the best names in entertainment, music and dance. They include the ever popular Thai band Nuvo featuring Jirayu “Jo” Wattanasin, Saharat “Kong” Sangkapreecha, Norasak “John” Rattanaveroj, Peter Anthony Hammond, Surachai Sunthorntada and Chayuth Burakamkovit and top-rated Beatles cover band, The Beatlenuts featuring Chai Komlertkul, Paul Bekeana: Krit Choktippattana and Robert Dila.
Also taking the stage are Gail Dila, Sulbert & Margie Orcullo, Sweet Inspiration Band, Lorna Cornelio, Sally Alexander and Asia’s ballroom dance champion Erie de la Cruz. 
Funds raised from the show will help fund livelihood rehabilitation projects such as poultry raising and cash-crop farming in Pilar and buy engines and fishing nets for the fishing boats earlier built by a Niva International school-funded project in Estancia.
 
Hear and help
_ “Rebirth: A Musical Tribute” concert and gala dinner takes place on March 2 in the Grand Ballroom of the Four Seasons Hotel.
_ Tax deductible tickets are Bt3,000. Three levels of sponsorship are also available. 
_ For details and reservations, call: Divina Blanco Nidhiprabha at (089) 674 2342 and Hedda Joy Tady-Tan at (087) 687 0820.
 
Two communities in need
San Roque in Estancia, one of the more severely affected by Haiyan, was chosen following several onsite trips and at the advice of church elders and local communities.
Estancia in Iloilo, dubbed the “Alaska of the Philippines” by virtue of its reputation in the country’s fishing industry, sustained more than 50 per cent of the fatalities in the whole of Iloilo, and almost 90 per cent of the town was decimated. Its population of 42,000 plus primarily depended on fishing for a living. The fishing boats were destroyed by the typhoon and so inhabitants lost their main source of income. 
Among the first to respond to Estancia was Niva International School in Bang Kapi. Its students, parents and teachers managed to raise more than Bt100,000 with additional funds donated by the Thai-Kajima Company. 
In the Philippine tradition of “bayanihan” the local community worked together to build 16 boats with the money. But without engines and fishing nets, the fishermen could not venture into deeper waters.  
Pilar in the Camotes Island of Cebu, was chosen at the advise of Quota International, Cebu, which, together with PLGF, delivered solar lamps (donated by the Energy and Environment Partnership with the Mekong Region) to the remote island and found the people of Pilar in dire need of assistance. Few aid organisations reach the area due to its inaccessibility that required a long and arduous journey, and the lack of media attention about its plight after Haiyan.
This is exacerbated by downed power lines, which authorities say will take about a year to restore.
This once-scenic coastal community has a population of 20,000, many reliant on fishing and coconut growing for their livelihood. With all their fishing boats destroyed and coconut trees stripped nearly bare, inhabitants of these islands, are in urgent need of alternative sources of income to help sustain them.