• Mirei

Call for help

Dear Family and Friends,

I’m writing on behalf of our weaving community in Baras, Catanduanes. The recent super typhoon

Rolly (international name GONI) has left their town devastated beyond imagination. Typhoon Rolly was an underreported, but exceptionally powerful tropical cyclone that made landfall as a Category 5–equivalent super typhoon. It was almost as strong as Yolanda (Super typhoon Haiyan, 2013) with 10-minute sustained winds of 220 km/h (140 mph), and 1-minute sustained winds of 315 km/h (195 mph). Thankfully, all the residents evacuated on time and they have zero casualties. But until now, almost two weeks after the typhoon, they are still isolated - left without telecommunication and electricity, with food and water becoming a scarce commodity. There is also another storm (Ulysess) looming and headed their way as I write this. Being a country constantly plundered with natural calamities, the Philippines is quite used to disaster and relief operations, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made this difficult. And this is why I am appealing to you kind souls for any kind of donation.

My mom has worked with this community for as long as I remember. These are the weavers that weave our precious “banaca” fabric. Now that I’m a bit older, I decided to take up this cause because her work is far from over. She took me to this community when I was a little girl, and those trips proved to be extremely formative for me. Seeing the way they lived really touched my heart. They are extremely simple, humble people, living to survive. And through our partnership, they have been empowered to build a sustainable livelihood and be proud of their craft. But with the current situation that they are in, I cannot help but feel deep sadness for what they have lost and are now going through.

The weaving center doubles as a school and a worship center, all run by the Apanti siblings. Now the school is closed because the people of Baras don’t have money to send their children to school anymore due to the pandemic. When typhoon Rolly came, it ripped through the roof and walls of the building and flooded the place 2 meters high. This damaged the looms and destroyed all their raw materials. The abaca trees, which is used to create banaca fiber, have all been eroded by the flood. Aside from that, most of the weavers lost their houses together with the little belongings they have. The only consolation that we have is that they are all safe and alive.

Being far away from home, the only thing I can do right now is to seek reinforcements from your generous hearts. Being an older millennial, I can’t seem to figure out how to set-up a gofundme page (or any kind of crowdfunding platform), so please send your donations here to any of these accounts and leave a note that the transfer is for donation. Please also send a bank receipt so we could track all the transfers.

PH BPI Account holder: Fernandina Sandico

Account number: 3143444642

GCASH: 09175309350

US Account holder: Mirei Celine Ong ACH routing number: 026073150 Wire routing number: 026073008 Account number :8310710994 Account type: Checking Address: TransferWise 19 W 24th Street New York NY 10010 United States

EU Account holder: Mirei Celine Ong IBAN: BE80 9670 1531 7777 SWIFT/BIC: TRWIBEB1XXX Address: TransferWise Europe SA Avenue Louise 54, Room S52 Brussels 1050 Belgium

The money will be used for rebuilding infrastructure and restarting their livelihood. With the ongoing pandemic, we know that it is more and more difficult to give donations as the months pass by. But we will try our best to use this in the best way to create a sustainable model for them, and infrastructures that will not just be swept away with every storm that passes. These funds will be managed by Ditta Sandico and Rejoice Apanti. If there is anything else you can offer (construction materials? Architecture services? Manpower? Someone who can help to make a better fundraising campaign?), please reach out to Ditta Sandico

If you are in the Philippines and would like to give donations in kind like clothes, canned goods, hygiene kits etc., please send it to this address:

Ditta Sandico 5 Mabolo St., New Manila, Quezon City, PhilippinesWe will be reporting the amounts received and the beneficiaries once turned over. Any amount will be of great help! Please spread the word. And thank you, from the bottom of our hearts

(Photos from our friend Ann Concepcion, who went all the way to Baras to report the current situation. Communications lines are still down as of the moment)

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