Juneau’s Filipino community will contribute more than $21,000 to the relief effort for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. That’s the amount raised during Saturday’s fundraising dinner.
The dinner was scheduled to start at 5 pm but by 4:45, there was already a line of people waiting outside the Filipino Community Hall in downtown Juneau.
By 5:15, the building was packed. “It’s pretty busy,” says Mayden Cristobal, who was selling tickets. “We are swamped. There’s a lot of people and we have a lot of donations.”
Tickets cost $15 per plate. “Some were paying $50 and some were giving out $100 bill for a $15 plate dinner,” says Dante Reyes, president of Filipino Community, Incorporated.
Shortly after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines November 8th, the non-profit decided to cancel its annual free Thanksgiving Day meal and, instead, hold a fundraising dinner and auction.
State legislators and past and present assembly members stood with members of Filipino Community, Inc to help serve food to about 515 people. The evening brought in more than $21,000. Reyes says some of the gifts were very personal, like Gabriel Kelley’s donation. Reyes says Kelley was raising money for his own trip to France and decided to give half of it to the fundraiser.
“I opened the envelope and I was very, very surprised with the amount. It was a $1,000 check,” describes Reyes. “I am not an emotional person but at the time I am holding back something. Somebody – not a Filipino, not related to a Filipino – instead of having that for himself, he shared it to those who need that big amount of money in the Philippines.”
A portion of the total money raised will go to Juneau’s sister city in the Philippines, Kalibo, which is in Aklan province. “Aklan, too, was damaged by Typhoon Haiyan,” explains Reyes. “It is also on the path of Typhoon Haiyan going out of the Philippines. And it also has devastated not only homes and properties but also some human lives.”
Josielind Ferrer is on the Filipino Community, Inc. board of directors. Ferrar is from the Visayas region, one of the areas hardest hit by Haiyan. Almost every Filipino at the fundraiser was affected in some way by the typhoon.
“We are doing okay,” says Ferrer. “As far as mental, emotional, we are hanging in there. We’re all strong, keeping everybody strong for each other, but with the help of the community – the whole Juneau community – this is definitely giving us more of a boost.”
She says she was overwhelmed by how many people were at the dinner, especially since it was such a last minute event, “but it looks like, just like the Filipino community, Filipinos managed to put it all together and hang in there and like they say, rise up Philippines, and we will do that.”