The ubiquitous balikbayan boxes today bear not the usual “padala” but relief aid.
That’s because Filipino organizations worldwide immediately stepped up to the challenge of gathering much-needed relief aid to victims of the two typhoons in the country. And their efforts continue.
The Migrante chapter in the United Kingdom was perhaps the first OFW group to respond to the country’s call for help, swiftly issuing an appeal to its members and sympathizers across the UK, accepting donations via bank deposit and Paypal.
Across the United States, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and the youth-based SANDIWA joined forces to launch Bayanihan for Ondoy. Their effort has mobilized countless Filipinos and friends in the US to raise both awareness and donations. They have helped coordinated benefit events on both East and West Coast. They have set up a wide network of drop-off points for donations.
Bayan-Canada and Migrante in Canada also responded to the calls for relief aid, assigning coordinators in many cities to receive donations for typhoon victims.
From across the Middle East, Migrante chapters also mobilized its members to send both cash and goods, working closely with a cargo company to bring the relief aid to the country.
Ondoy and Pepeng relief aid also flowed from Hong Kong, where thousands of OFWs hail from typhoon-ravaged areas like the Cordilleras, Ilocos and Central Luzon. In statements to the media, the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL) said that many officers and members of the Filipino organizations in Hong Kong reported their houses partially or wholly destroyed.
Most of these OFW organizations continue to coordinate with Migrante International’s national office in Manila, which supervises its own relief operations in typhoon-hit areas in several provinces and cities. Some work with the broad alliance Bayan which coordinates the Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan relief operations.
Lest we forget, our OFWs are keeping the patriotic tradition of the Filipino exiles-turned-heroes. They may be far away and toiling in foreign lands, but their hearts remain linked to their homeland.