Canadian Filipinos unite for relief efforts after Taal volcano eruption
TORONTO -- In the province of Batangas, just South of Manila, the eruption of the volcano has caused over 30,000 villagers to leave their homes.
Community organizations such as the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation have already begun relief efforts. Rosemer Enverga, the president of the organization, says the group had already planned a trip to the Philippines for their annual charity project.
The group works to build homes and rehabilitation centres for those with medical conditions such as leprosy patients and special needs orphaned children.
Twenty volunteers, including Enverga, are scheduled to leave on Wednesday for a five-day trip. A few of the volunteers left a couple days early and told her of the scene when they arrived at the airport.
“When they went to the airport it was a mess, it was crowded and people were just frustrated. They were stranded there,” she told CTVNews.ca in a telephone interview on Monday.
Enverga says their organization is asking for the public to make monetary donations so volunteers can purchase supplies such as facemasks and eye drops.
“Right now we’re appealing to the public to help out. The next few days are very critical. Right now they’ve lost their houses, they have nothing. They might have shelters for now but after that they need more help. Now they need food, masks and eye drops,” said Enverga.
The volunteers had planned to visit the city of Lipa, which is located in the same province as Taal. Enverga says their trip will continue unless the area becomes too dangerous.
“We’re hoping and praying somehow the ashes will clear up and we can go through with that but if not we cannot compromise our officers and the people that are coming with us,” said Enverga,
Multiple government offices and schools were closed due to health risks from the ash.
Philippines resident Von Sarino has been on the search for face masks to bring back home. He is currently in Toronto, waiting for his flight, after visiting family for the holidays in Sudbury, Ont.
“Most of them are asking for the N95 face masks because they’re out of stock in the Philippines and there are some people that will purchase a box of face masks from pharmacies and they will resell the face masks at a higher price which is just inhuman,” said Sarino.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, N95 masks are respirators that block out 95 per cent of airborne contaminants. Sarino says they have been selling in the Philippines for up to 10 times their normal cost.
Sarino has a layover in Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon and says he will continue to purchase face masks until he gets to the Philippines.
Anthony Insigne, a Toronto real estate agent, and his family are active members of the Filipino community.
Insigne says his parents are currently in the Philippines for an annual five-week trip to the city of Baguio, for the Panagbenga “Flower” Festival. On the way to the country’s capital, Manila, they were forced to land in Hong Kong when the volcano erupted.
“It’s hard to focus and personally I couldn’t go on until I knew my parents were OK because I knew they were headed in that direction. They’re there right now but it’s sad to see that happened. Manila itself has around 100 million people and just to know that the volcano is remotely close to the area is devastating to realize what could happen,” said Insigne to CTVNews.ca in a telephone interview on Monday.
As the volcano remains active, Save the Children Philippines say an estimated 900 people have been taken to their evacuation centres. Many of them are children who are facing respiratory illnesses and emotional trauma from the events.