Anatalia de Guzman, a 53-year-old overseas Filipino worker on Saipan, was terrified and felt helpless when she received the news yesterday that her sisters and their children needed evacuation as floodwaters reached the second floor of their two-story house in Cupang, Muntinlupa in the Philippines in the wake of heavy rain and floods brought by an enhanced southwest monsoon.
“I didn't know what to do. I wanted to help but I could only do so much,” de Guzman told Saipan Tribune.
She said from Tuesday to Thursday, she knew the flood water was still manageable so her sisters stayed at their house.
“But the floodwater rose again on Friday, and it was the worst level. They said the water is now on the second floor and they needed to be evacuated as soon as possible. If they don't get out of there fast, the house might collapse on them,” said de Guzman, adding that in her 23 years on Saipan, this is one of the worst news to come out from back home.
De Guzman is just one of the Filipino workers in the CNMI with families back home affected by the severe flooding in the Philippines this week.
But in difficult times like this, Filipinos and other community members in the CNMI always lend a helping hand and show their spirit of volunteerism.
Bong Malasarte, United Filipino Organization president, said UFO is spearheading a fund drive called “Sagip Habagat” to accept cash donations that will go toward flood victims through the Philippine National Red Cross.
UFO is the umbrella organization of some 30 Filipino groups in the CNMI.
“In times of our compatriots' needs such as this flooding, UFO is ready to help. When you watch the television, or read the news online, you could see the severe effect of the flood to a lot of families. In our own little ways, we could do something to help,” Malasarte said.
He said the Philippine National Red Cross sent UFO an email this week, seeking help for the flood victims, knowing that UFO has been assisting the Philippine government in coming to the aid of those affected by disasters such as floods and typhoons.
UFO secretary Annamae Adaza and Lynn Dela Cruz said UFO has started putting donation boxes at certain stores and restaurants on Saipan for “Sagip Habagat.”
Today, UFO and volunteers will also be at the Filcom Pavilion, Sabalu Market and the Marianas Business Plaza grounds to accept cash donations from those who want to help.
“Every dollar counts, and we call on community members to help if they can. This is a time when our fellow Filipinos need our help,” Malasarte said.
Dela Cruz, Adaza, and Malasarte separately said that as of yesterday, these are among the stores/establishments that have UFO's Sagip Habagat donation boxes: Oche's Store in Garapan; Shirley's Coffee Shop in Garapan; Pretty Market on Middle Road; Happy Market on Middle Road; XO Market on Middle Road; and EZ Market also on Middle Road. More will be added to the list during the weekend.
For donations, contact UFO president Bong Malasarte at 287-5525, Annamae Adaza at 483-5237, or Lyn Devilles Deazeta at 989-3845.
'Shirt for a cause'
Norman del Rosario, who has been working on Saipan for 16 years, has also found a creative way to help the flood victims.
Del Rosario launched on Aug. 7 a limited edition “Pray for Philippines” shirts, proceeds of which will go toward relief efforts in the Philippines also through the Philippine National Red Cross.
“So far, the response from the community has been good,” said del Rosario, art director at IT&E.
And as of yesterday, del Rosario said IT&E partnered with him in this undertaking by matching his shirt sale proceeds 100 percent, thereby doubling the funds that will be raised.
“I am thankful for IT&E and those who are helping. You not only get a shirt, you also help the flood victims,” added del Rosario, owner of Konflikt Clothing.
Each shirt costs $20, and should be ordered between now and Aug. 15. The shirts come in small, medium, large, and extra large sizes.
To order limited edition “Pray for Philippines” shirts, contact Norman del Rosario at 287-2875.
About a million people in Metro Manila and Northern and Central Luzon have been displaced or otherwise affected by the heavy rainfall and flooding caused by the southwest monsoon enhanced by tropical storm Haikui, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council said.
As of yesterday, the death toll from several days of heavy rain rose to 60.