As the death toll climbs into the thousands five days after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, governments, communities and relief organizations around the world are reaching out to help the survivors.
The Filipino American Association of the Santa Clarita Valley is no exception.
Founding Member and Former President Fred Bertulfo was born in the Philippines, 60 miles west of Tacloban City, one of the areas hit hardest by the typhoon.
The Association is raising money for victims in Tacloban, specifically funds to buy medical supplies for the Eastern Messiah’s Medical Center, a general hospital in the region.
Bertulfo said that the Association wanted to focus on the aftermath of the typhoon and the struggles victims will face in the days and weeks ahead.
At least 600,000 people have been displaced by the disaster, without access to food, water or shelter, and relief supplies have just begun to arrive through the damaged Tacloban airport.
“So many dead people and animals will result in diseases,” he said. “We thought that giving this money for medical supplies will help them continue helping those victims.”
The Association has had a presence in the Santa Clarita Valley for 30 years, and Bertulfo himself has lived locally for 35 years.
Despite his strong ties to the SCV, Typhoon Haiyan was a disaster that hit close to home. Many of Bertulfo’s friends and family still live in the Philippines.
Without any other form of direct communication since the typhoon hit, they’ve been keeping in touch through Facebook.
“All my relatives were okay. We’re so happy about that,” Bertulfo said. But he also added, “Their homes were destroyed.”
In addition to accepting donations from the community at large, the Association is planning a fundraising dinner on Saturday, Nov. 23.
An exact location and time have not yet been determined, but Bertulfo said that they hope to accommodate between 75 and 100 people.
Checks can be made out to “Fil-Am Association of Santa Clarita Valley” and mailed to P.O. Box 801753, Santa Clarita, CA 91380.
For more information about how to contribute, contact Bertulfo at 661-755-0819 or 661-291-6265, or email him at email@example.com.
The Santa Clarita Valley Disaster Coalition will also be planning a relief effort in the weeks and months ahead. Once the first responders have helped victims, the SCVDC will explore needs that have been overlooked.