Dear Friends Near and Far,
First, as a Filipino-American, I am very grateful for the care, concern and generous aid given from all over the world to Filipinos and their families in the wake of the heart-wrenching devastation of typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Thank you so much and God bless you all.
In our search to find a place we can help directly, I came across the incredible story of survival and community of the people of the island of Coron.
A Call to Help a Special Place
Coron is a small, picturesque island of about 40,000 people that is well-known for its beautiful beaches and diving waters.
It was one of the last and hardest hit places typhoon Haiyan hit in the Philippines. And although 85% of all property and people’s belongings were destroyed, lost or damaged, leaving some with only the clothes on their back, Coron had the least amount of casualties. This was due in large part to the foresight of the local government led by Mayor Clara Reyes who heeded the initial typhoon warnings and evacuated 14,000 of her constituents from the most vulnerable and devastated coastline areas to evacuation centers two days before the typhoon hit, saving literally thousands of people’s lives.
A Compelling Video Interview and High Praise
In a video interview just days after the typhoon she shared the status of their municipality, their current resources and dire need. At that point they had only two days of rice/food supply remaining and although the water supply had been restored, it was highly contaminated and not potable. She made an appeal to anyone listening for food, water, medicine, clothing and blankets.
With the island being more remote, the airport destroyed, they were initially cut off by land and sea, and aid was not immediately forthcoming. However when it did start to come in, Coron and its local government were already organized and people were already working together and distribution went well.
The local government and Mayor Clara Reyes have been widely praised, including a United Nations Disaster Assessment Team Consultant who worked directly in the relief center, as a model local government for their work and leadership in this time of disaster.
Rebuilding Coron with Foresight
After making headway in relief distribution, they have turned their focus to rebuilding Coron. They need to build structures to get people out of the evacuation centers, which can only accommodate so many people for so long. Mayor Reyes continues to think ahead and has appealed for expert engineers and architects who specialize in green housing that will utilize local resources.
How We Want to Help and Join the Bayanihan Spirit
We are raising funds to send directly to the local government of Coron to support their proven good work in relief and rebuilding efforts. All their information is listed on the Mayor’s Facebook page under the name, “Coron Mayor’s Office”. Here you can view incredible images and see how the entire story has unfolded as they have chronicled what has happened. You will see the “Bayanihan Spirit” – the spirit of communal unity and cooperation.
If you have already given to the Philippines, thank you so much. If you prefer to give to Philippine typhoon relief elsewhere, please do. If you would like to give to Coron, you may do so here.
Perhaps someday you can go to Coron, visit the beaches and dive its waters and know that you helped rebuild this place and the lives of its people.
Thank you and God bless you and your family.
Michelle Marking McGraw and Brendon McGraw