It’s hard to just go about our lives with the widespread devastation left by super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. The catastrophic typhoon battered many provinces in the Visayas region including Tacloban, Samar, Bantayan, Camotes, Negros, the Calamianes group of Islands and Panay. While it may take weeks to get an accurate tally of the devastation, it’s widely believed that thousands perished in the storm.
I know that for many people who are safe at home in Manila and elsewhere in the world, seeing the photos online is just overwhelming and we all want to do something concrete to help. I’m really thankful for the outpouring of support from other countries and from fellow Filipinos eager to do something to help. Aside from donating cash and relief goods to major disaster relief agencies, here are some creative ways and suggestions I’ve seen online from fellow travel bloggers and groups in my network how we can help in our own way.
1. Donate electronically via text, e-banking or PayPal
The easiest way for tech-savvy travelers to help immediately is to donate to agencies working on disaster relief. Even if you’re on the road or are traveling abroad, you can still donate by text, e-banking such as via BPIExpressOnline or by PayPal. Most travel bloggers I know have PayPal accounts for online purchases from which they can spare donations. Just make sure that the donations are going to reputable agencies.
2. Give up trips & donate travel funds instead towards relief efforts
Kudos to Jherson of The Lonely Travelogue for first posting this idea in the Pinoy Travel Bloggers (PTB) network. Other bloggers have also cancelled planned trips and are donating their allotted travel funds to the victims of the typhoon instead. Others still are applying for volunteer work and helping out in disaster relief in their hometowns.
3. Volunteer to repackage relief goods
Amidst all the photos of the houses and buildings in ruins and people suffering, it’s heartwarming to see everyone pooling together to help. Many people have flocked to the DSWD to help in pack relief goods that they have even had to turn away volunteers. The photo of the stranded tourists in Coron helping pack relief goods was likewise really inspiring.
4. Host or participate in fundraising activities for a cause
A lot of restaurants and food establishments have pledged to donate a portion or 100% of their profits towards donations for victims of Yolanda. So those in Manila who feel guilty about eating out at this time when so many people are going hungry can still help out somehow by eating in these select establishments. Check out this list on Spot.ph for restaurants participating in the Dine for a Cause event and read more about the Yolanda Action Weekend.
Other bloggers are organizing trips for a cause. Ivan of Batang Lakwatsero is organizing several hikes to Mt. Banoi (Nov 23), Mt. Makiling (Nov 24) and Mt. Daguldol (Dec.1) with profits of the climbs going to victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
The Tour of the Fireflies, an annual cycling event happening on November 24 which is expecting a massive amount of participants, is also encouraging riders to donate to victims of the calamity-stricken areas during the biking event. Riders can also drop off their donations in kind (extra clothes, food, or goods) during the event itself.
5. Re-purpose old gadgets and chargers
A lot of travelers I know have lost gadgets on the road, and thus have a lot of extra cellphone chargers lying around their house. If you aren’t using them, the National Institute of Physics, UP Diliman is accepting these to make portable cellphone chargers for typhoon victims with no electricity.
6. Donate useful items from trips
During a previous donation drive, I set aside all the souvenir shirts and useful items I’ve gotten from various events coverage and trips to various provinces. Since the survivors are in need of hygiene kits, The Lost Boy Lloyd suggested that travelers also donate all those small souvenir soaps, shampoo, toothbrushes and other toiletries that travelers often take home and hoard from hotels. If you have items that you don’t think are appropriate to donate directly to the victims, consider selling them online and donating the proceeds (check out the next item.)
7. Donate or buy items towards relief efforts
Muni.ph is accepting items that are inappropriate and impractical to donate to the victims of the typhoon (office or party wear, etc.) to raise money for cash donations instead raise cash donations for relief operations. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to donate nice clothes to sell. You can also buy the pre-loved clothing on November 16, 2pm-6pm at Moonleaf Maginhawa. All proceeds will go to Yolanda relief efforts.
8. Help spread messages of hope via social networks
At this time, I hope we can use social media to help with relief efforts and to spread stories of hope. Let’s also be more sensitive about the information we share. Please stop calling the victims of the typhoon looters and zombies. Check out this article on AllVoices.com on what we shouldn’t be doing on social networks.