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Urgent Need in the Philippines

From Claire OIiveros and Christian Aniciete

On Saturday September 26th, Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) struck the Philippines with the heaviest rainfall recorded, followed by the worst flooding, in 40 years. As of this writing, there are at least 246 people dead or missing and 435,000 victims who are homeless, injured or have lost all of their belongings. There are still as least 1 million people without electricity. Scenes are eerily similar to "Hurricane Katrina" and the devastation of Typhoon Ondoy has only just begun.

On an ordinary day, balsa in Filipino means "boat" or "raft." But post-Ondoy, BALSA (Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan, or "People's Cooperation for the People") is calling upon all overseas Filipinos and friends to make a difference and save lives. Financial donations for the victims of the Big Flood are desperately needed.

The severity of this disaster requires the cooperation of all our kababayan and friends in order to provide for the needs of all the victims. Established 12 years ago by BAYAN Philippines, BALSA is a grassroots initiative coordinating everyday people to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises. The clean-up and relief efforts that are necessary to recover from this disaster will be an arduous undertaking, but we must act quickly. Another typhoon is expected to hit the Philippines by week's end.

The Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (PCHRP) and PSU Kaibigan are making this appeal for donations to support BALSA relief efforts. The current administration of the Philippine government is woefully unprepared and ill-equipped to help the hundreds of thousands of our compatriots and friends in desperate need of assistance. Government officials admitted they only had 13 rubber boats. Public monies earmarked for emergencies (800 million pesos / 17 million USD) have been squandered on non-emergency situations.

BALSA is coordinating efforts to distribute food, medicine, clothing and other basic necessities to help the people through this crisis. All relief efforts coordinated by BALSA will be directed towards the communities most devastated by Typhoon Ondoy. Due to the urgency, we are encouraging supporters to donate money before other materials are collected. Community members in Los Angeles County have set a goal of $10,000 for BALSA relief operations by the end of October.

Online donations via paypal can be made at http://www.bayanusa.org.

Money, clothes, blankets, non-perishable food, medicine, toiletries and other basic necessities can be dropped off at designated BALSA locations in Portland, Oregon.

Drop-Off Locations: Portland Community College Sylvania Multicultural Center, 12000 SW 49th Ave, CC 202, Portland, OR 97219 and Portland State University Kaibigan Filipino American Student Association Office, 1825 SW Broadway, M103, Portland, OR 97201. Contact Claire
Oliveros at 503.977.4112 or Christian Aniciete at 503.725.2964.

More drop-off locations will be announced in the coming days.

If you would like to get more involved in the BALSA efforts with PCHRP or PSU Kaibigan, please contact Claire Oliveros or Christian Aniciete.

Thank you for all of your help!

Sincerely,
Claire OIiveros and Christian Aniciete
Volunteers of BALSA

Organization Notes CHRP is Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines. PCHRP is the Portland Oregon branch of the organization. BAYAN is a coalition of people in the United States who support the democratic movement in the Philippines.