Category Archives: CAUSES

HIV: It’s real. It’s here. Just a few minutes of your time can save lives.

I first heard about HIV and AIDS through that Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington movie, Philadelphia. Back then, I thought the virus and the condition were both extremely rare.

Bamboo @ The Music Summit - Photo by Daniel Tan

Fast forward to 2004. I started working at MTV, and one of the projects that I got to work on was the MTV Staying Alive campaign and the MTV Music Summit for HIV/AIDS. Thanks to our partnerships with The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and UNICEF, I got more information on HIV and AIDS then I dared to know. I learned that contrary to my perception that HIV and AIDS were only found on distant shores, there were actual cases confirmed in the Philippines. As the years went by, I learned that the numbers continued to rise.

Ignorance can kill
Despite the rising numbers, a lot of people still don’t realize that the problem is real. We need to get the information out there. Just last week, I was having a conversation with a friend, Genesis Samonte, who is the HIV Surveillance Manager for the Department of Health, and she confirmed the need to increase awareness on HIV/AIDS prevention.

What you need to know
I wish I had updated information on hand, but here’s what I can share at the moment (these are from my 2007 files):

  • All people, including children, are at risk of HIV infection. No one is immune to HIV.
  • AIDS is an incurable but preventable disease. There is no vaccine for HIV.
  • Across Asia, the highest national infection levels continue to be found in Southeast Asia. In the Philippines HIV is primarily transmitted through unprotected sex.
  • An estimated 40 million people have been infected with HIV worldwide at the end of 2006
  • At the end of 2006, there were 1.6 million people living with HIV in Southeast Asia
  • Every 15 seconds a young person between 15 and 24 is infected with HIV.
  • Every 6 seconds, someone is infected with HIV.
  • Young people (15 to 24 years old) account for 40% of all new infections worldwide; more than 6,000 young people contract the virus each day
  • Worldwide 80% of people infected with HIV don’t know they are infected
  • AIDS affects people of all ages, including children. Because of AIDS, millions of children are growing up alone, growing up too fast, or not growing up at all. They need your care and support. Do your part and educate, don’t discriminate.
  • People living with HIV deserve respect and to be treated with dignity. Respect the person. Challenge discrimination. Fight AIDS, not people with AIDS.
  • It is our duty to learn about the epidemic, learn how we can protect ourselves from it, and learn to treat people living with HIV with respect and understanding.
  • If you think you’re at risk, get tested. Contact a health worker or an AIDS center to receive confidential counseling and testing.
  • HIV infection can happen to anyone, but everyone can prevent it. Be informed, be safe. Information saves lives.

For comprehensive and localized information, you can check out the monthly reports at the Department of Health website.

The reason why I opted to write about this today was because I was deeply moved by a blog post that I read yesterday that was written by my friend Gang Badoy (founder of RockEd Philippines). She wrote about 7 things she learned from Wanggo Gallaga, a brave warrior who is fighting this fight. You can read her blog post here.

Today, I stand with these people in their efforts to increase awareness and save lives. Would you like to help, too? There are many ways to help increase awareness, but one simple way to do it is to take just a few minutes of your time and have a conversation with someone about this. Those minutes will make a difference.

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Here are some resources and links you can check out to get more information on HIV and AIDS:

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You have a special message to deliver. Do you know what it is?

Did you know that you’re a messenger?

You are. In fact, we’re all messengers.

Every day, our lives carry messages. Some of these can be messages of love and hope, and some can be messages of bitterness and anger. The options are endless. Every life tells a different story, and every story is made up of different messages.

Do you know what messages you carry? Are your messages getting to where they need to be?

I’ll help you answer those in a bit, but first, let me put the spotlight on two groups of people who are telling great stories and broadcasting life-changing messages:

True Love Waits

In last Friday’s edition of The Philippine Star, there was an article written by Maria Jorica B. Pamintuan entitled, Love is not that 3-letter word.

It’s a feature on  True Love Waits (TLW) Philippines, one of the organizations that I support and volunteer for. As I was reading the article, I was reminded of why I decided to volunteer for them in the first place. Please take the time to read it here.

Team TLW (Photo by Ree Soria)

I am constantly inspired by the team behind True Love Waits Philippines. Their passion to reach  and help young people is extraordinary. There’s Derek Ross, the National Director of True Love Waits Philippines, and his wife Amanda, and there’s Ree, Franco, Oda, Leslie, and Christin–the passionate and tireless TLW coordinators. All these people pour their hearts out into the work that they do, so that they can make a difference in the lives of students. These people travel constantly, bringing their love and compassion to young people all over the Philippines. Their schedules are hectic, and they really travel far distances (hello Butuan!), but you’ll never hear them complain. For them, what matters is getting their life-saving and life-changing messages to the people who need them the most.

The Smokey Mountain youth

Smokey Mountain in Tondo, Manila is one of the biggest slum areas in the Philippines. It is, however, a place with lots of hope. And I say that, because I look at the young people there and the groups that have invested in them and I believe that change is coming.

That's my brother, Toby (who is also the current Manila Jaycees president), throwing the ceremonial 1st pitch

Last Saturday, I took a trip to Smokey Mountain to pay a visit to the Young Focus Student Center where I do some volunteer work, but also to witness the turnover of a baseball field–aptly called the Field of Dreams–which was a project of Junior Chamber International-Manila (also known as the Manila Jaycees). It was a BIG day for the kids of Smokey Mountain, because they finally got to have their own field where they could run and play without worrying about potholes, shards of glass, and untrimmed grass.

It was a special day indeed, but what made the day even more awesome was seeing some of my former students from Young Focus covering the event as bloggers! Turns out, the Jaycees had another project together with Young Focus (YF which is a non-profit organization that does a lot of great work for the children and teenagers from Smokey Mountain). The project is called Buhay Ko sa Smokey Mountain (My Life in Smokey Mountain), and it was conceptualized as a way for these young people to tell their stories, and in effect, increase awareness of what they–and others–go through in their part of the city.

I like that it’s such a unique idea. These students have a lot to say and they need outlets for their thoughts. What better way to get their messages out there?

Reading some of the blogs, I experience a wide range of emotions. On the one hand, Rameses wrote a very insightful and patriotic post about President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address, and Glenn shared his phenomenal perspective on life at Smokey Mountain (and where it’s going in the future!) through this post. But then I read a post like this one written by Edmon and I can’t help but be sad, and at the same time, also be in awe of the way he still lives with hope and perseverance (if you’d see his smiling face, you’d know what I mean!)

When you have the time, please drop by their blogs and encourage them with some comments! Most of them are written in Filipino, but they’ve been trained to take photos and videos, so you’ll see a lot of those in their blogs, too :)

I mention all of these people from True Love Waits and Smokey Mountain because they’re examples of extraordinary messengers. They’ve got messages–special, meaningful, uncommon, inspiring messages. But they don’t stop there. They work at delivering their messages. They do what they can to get their messages to where they need to be.

Now back to you and me.

We all carry messages. And I believe each person has at least one special message to share (although I’m sure there’s more)! Inside of each person, there can be a message of hope, acceptance, love, mercy, grace, commitment, passion, loyalty…like I said, the list goes on.

This week, I want to encourage you:

1) Ask yourself these questions: What messages do I carry? What burns in my heart? Who do I want to share these with? Draw those messages out. Some examples:

  • I want to help young girls understand what true beauty is.
  • I want to give young boys a vision of leading the nation.
  • I want to tell orphans that they’re loved and not forgotten.
  • I want to tell people struggling with alcoholism that there’s hope.

2) Once you’ve got the idea, do the next thing that will make all the difference: Take your message and deliver it. Don’t let your ideas and thoughts die. Write them down. Map them. Blog about them. Tell your friend about them. Draft that letter. Record that song. Do some research. Start moving. Take those steps, one day at a time.

Don’t know where to start? You can check out some blog posts I wrote a while back about volunteering: part 1 and part 2. Whether or not you’re interested in doing volunteer work, some of the principles might help you in your delivery journey.

Are you already out there, sharing your message to the world? Tell us about it!

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ROCK and RUN on June 19!

Hi Friends!

As some of you may or may not know, I’m part of a non-profit organization called REPUBLIKHA, and we are PASSIONATE about empowering the next generation through music. Or to break it down further, we work with artists, musicians, educators, parenting advocates, and people from the academe and the music industry to create high-quality educational children’s music that we can distribute for FREE (together with Parent and Teachers’ Manuals too!) to public schools and community day care centers all over the Philippines. Because how awesome (and effective!) would it be to teach preschool children about lessons like counting, colors, making friends, saving money, conserving energy, and more through English and Filipino music? :)

That’s our vision, but we need help to make the vision a reality! We’re set to release our album for preschool children before the end of the year (the songs–written and performed by some of the country’s best artists like Barbie Almalbis, Julianne, The Dawn, Rivermaya, Itchyworms, Coffeebreak Island, Brigada, Lougee Basabas, DJ Benjo Marquez, Salamin, Joey Ayala, Cynthia Alexander, and a lot more–have already been tested in classrooms and are ready to be produced), but in order to do that, we need to raise the finances that are required to produce the albums and the manuals.

Thanks to our friends from JCI Manila, CANON, BROOKS, CROCS, and RED BULL (and more), we have a chance to reach our goal. ROCK and RUN is happening on June 19, Saturday, 5 pm onwards at the Bonifacio Global City, and it’s a one-of-a-kind run that will feature live bands like The Dawn, Kjwan, Taken By Cars, Brigada, Coffeebreak Island, and more, performing along the race route. How fun is that?!

And of course, the best news is that they’ve chosen REPUBLIKHA to be the beneficiary, which has been an enormous blessing for us this year. So here’s where I ask you to be a part of our exciting journey by literally RUNNING with us! (And by “us”, I mean REPUBLIKHA and friends because I’ll still be in the USA…but I’ll be running with you in spirit!!!)

If you’re interested in being a part of this event, please log on to http://rockandrun.com.ph/ to get more information, or visit RUNNR in Bonifacio High Street or select Toby’s Sports outlets (Mall of Asia, SM The Block, Trinoma, Glorietta 4, ATC). Registration fees are as follows:
a) 3km – P 450
b) 5km – P 500
c) 10km – P 550
and the registration deadline is on June 13. So go go go! :)

And if you want to learn more about RepubLIKHA, log on http://www.republikha.org/. :)

If you’ve read all the way to the end, THANK YOU! And please feel free to invite your friends to run too!

FISH & KIDS!

Last December, a couple of my friends and I wanted to throw a Christmas party for the kids and teens of the Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation. But our schedules weren’t working out so we moved it to 2010 with a different plan: a field trip to Manila Ocean Park. Meanwhile, a friend of ours from church, Harvard Uy de Baron, also had a desire for the foundation he leads (U! Happy Events Foundation) to have an Ocean Park event. To cut the long story short, we all joined together to come up with the event now known as Fish & Kids.

Here’s our grand “family picture” from last Saturday:

I really appreciate Harvard and the U! Happy Events team for the work they put into this. Because of them, more kids were able to come, and everything just went smoothly. The volunteers were awesome for donating their time and funds to sponsor the kids, not to mention that they were all excellent ates and kuyas! Thank you to everyone who supported this event–you all made this happen! Everyone had a blast! :)

Fish & Kids on February 6

Come one, come all! If you’re free on February 6 (this Saturday) from 10 am to 2 pm, come and be an ate or kuya for a day! For more details (fees, directions, etc.), click here or on the photo below. I hope you can join us! (And if you’re coming, wear blue — the brighter, the better!)

Superhero series: KYTHE

Today I want to talk about an organization called KYTHE. I’ve been hearing about Kythe since my college days, but I never got around to joining. I’m thankful that I finally had a chance to be a Kythe volunteer last weekend when my family decided to spend a morning at the National Children’s Hospital cancer ward as volunteer play buddies.

Kythe is an organization that aims to help alleviate the anxiety of pediatric patients and their families by uplifting their spirits and strengthening hope. Their slogan–“Because children should be flying kits, not fighting cancer”–says a lot about the heart behind the foundation. They have a lot of programs (they’ve been around since the early ’90s) and they serve several hospitals, making it a good organization to join if you have a heart for children and you’re looking for an opportunity to serve as a volunteer.

Last Saturday at National Children’s Hospital, a child went up to me and grabbed my hand and asked me what my name was. The boy’s name is Macmac, and he has leukemia. He also has the brightest eyes and one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen:

He says he’s been in and out of the hospital for years. He’s originally from Bicol, but moved to Manila with his family for his treatments. He’s friendly, funny, and full of life. Because he’s been in and out of there, he knows a lot of the patients and he knows his way around the hospital (he gave me a mini-tour of sorts!). During the time we spent together, we read books, answered word puzzles, played board games with his fellow patients, and spotted the tallest buildings that we could see from the hospital window. I watched him happily wolf down his Jollibee Chickenjoy and Spaghetti meal (we both agreed that between the two, we liked the Chickenjoy more). I wish I could’ve spent more time with him, but when it was time to go, I took a photo of him, and he insisted on taking a photo of me. I said a prayer for him and we hugged each other tight, and then he waved goodbye as he went back to reading his new books.

Meanwhile, not all children are as fortunate to have the energy of Macmac. A lot of the other children in the ward were extremely weak and could barely speak or move. There was one boy who was happily playing a board game with us, but later on in the hour, he was wailing in pain because his condition caused his knee to swell and the pain was nearly unbearable for him. His mother went out to call the nurse and the doctor, so we had to comfort and console him in the meantime. Unfortunately, as much as we wanted to help him at that moment, there wasn’t anything we could do but hug him and pray for him. And as he wailed and twisted in pain, I couldn’t help but feel a deep pain in my heart for this child.

During times like these, you realize that your own struggles are tiny compared to what other people are going through, and if you let it happen, your heart will grow as you learn that you are capable of loving more than you thought you could.

If you have some time and love to share, be a Kythe volunteer. For more information on Kythe and how to volunteer or support their projects, check out their website at http://www.kythe.org.

How to Love Your Life: Listen to some good music AND support a good cause while you’re at it!

I know I said I’d blog about the recent RepubLIKHA Children’s Music Fest, but I’m excitied about this event that we have coming up, so this couldn’t wait. I’d like to invite you (yes, YOU!) to come to a fundraising event for our non-profit org, REPUBLIKHA, which is being produced by the awesome people from Light It Up Productions. Not only will you get to enjoy a one-of-a-kind gig (you’ll get to watch some of the country’s coolest artists playing their hits AND some children’s songs too), but you’ll also make a contribution to our efforts to bring good quality, educational music to Filipino children. Find out more about RepubLIKHA at www.republikha.org.

Please come! It’ll surely be fun, and we’d love to see you there. :)

November 27, 2009 • Friday
Mag:Net Cafe at Bonifacio High Street

Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Philippines
(I just had to throw that in there, just in case!)
Tickets will be sold at P250 — proceeds go to RepubLIKHA

Superhero series: JOREL CORPUS

I miss one of my best buddies, Jorel (also known as the guitarist of the local rock band, Kjwan), who’s over at Boston, living it up at his dream school: Berklee College of Music. He recently put together a benefit concert for the Typhoon Ondoy victims. Check it out here:

We were already proud of Jorel way before this, but seeing this video reminds me of how much we miss him and how talented, passionate, and selfless this guy really is. We miss you Jor, see you when you get back! (Huwag ka na humirit! Haha!)

Latest update on the Philippines

Day 4! The number of people rescued has increased, but so has the number of fatalities.

In case you missed it, the Philippines has been in a state of calamity this past week due to Tropical Storm Ketsana (Philippine name: ‘Ondoy’). I blogged about it here.

Photos from TIME Magazine: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1926456,00.html

Photos from LIFE: http://www.life.com/image/91234037/in-gallery/34262/a-killer-flood-hits-the-philippines

According to the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), these are the latest statistics (taken from this article):

Reported dead: 240

Missing: 37

Affected Filipinos: 319,881 families 1,872,036 persons

Damaged houses: 3,272

Totally damaged: 2,223    Partially damaged: 1,049

Cost of damages: P2,339,620,884

Infrastructure: P1,517,096  Agriculture: P882,524,884

The outpouring of support has been amazing. Relief and rescue efforts are happening all over the metro, but it’s still not enough. We still need more relief goods (there are so many people out there who need water and food, the goods disappear in minutes!) and better road access to reach those who are still inaccessible. On the one hand, we don’t want it to rain anymore so the flooded areas won’t get worse, but at the same time, some areas need the rain to wash away the massive amounts of mud that are drying up and making rescue operations more difficult.

Here’s a video of one of our Victory pastors (Coach Robert Gonzalez!) together with some of our church staffers, campus ministers and students from University of Makati (UMAK), taking relief goods to evacuated families in Taguig City:

I’m so proud of these guys, especially the UMAK students! This is just one of the dozens of areas these guys have gone to in the last couple of days.

If you’d like to help, do check out my last blog post for ways to support the relief and rescue efforts. Since I wrote that post, there has been lots of good news pouring in. Abby, Bridel, and their respective families are all safe (thank God!). And as for the kids from the Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation (JLLCF), here’s the update I posted on Facebook:

I dropped by the River of God center at Galleria earlier to give a donation for JLLCF, and the pastors were telling me that the area is still inaccessible by vehicles. Only boats/rafts/amphibians can go near the center. The older boys (the ‘kuyas’–Benjie, Aldren, Loget, Ariel, Jovie, Jobeth, etc.) were able to build a makeshift raft that allows them to go to the market to buy stuff when they’re low on supplies and food. However, it’s still not completely safe because there’s still a current.

According to the pastors, the best items to donate would be non-perishable food items, because they still have trouble bringing them in. If the goods are to last them throughout the month (because the water still isn’t going down), they’ll need to be able to ration them.

Given that fact, they said it’s easier to give them RICE, CANNED GOODS or instant noodles. Not to worry, they have can openers on hand at the center :) Sana raw wag na muna yung sardines, because the first batch of food they got was sardines, so that’s all they’ve been having so far and for the next couple of days. Hahaha.

BOTTLED WATER is the most important need right now. Doesn’t matter which size, but the bigger ones (i think that’s 1.5ml or 1L?) are better for easier transport.

They also need CLOTHES for the little boys (ages 4 and up). They’ve been getting donations of clothes for the older kids and the houseparents, so don’t worry about them.

They decided that it’s best for everyone to stay in the center for now instead of evacuating them. At least at the center, they’re all safe and comfortable. They are so blessed because of that new school bldg in their center that was donated by HSBC. All the essentials are in the 2nd floor: kitchen, beds, bathrooms, etc. Plus they have a rooftop where the little kids can play. They also have one working landline that was just installed last week! Ain’t that a blessing? So we can check on them constantly. I just got to talk to Jovie earlier, and he said they’re all doing good. They get to hang out on the rooftop all the time and the little kids have just been playing.

The pastors said that the kids keep saying they’re doing good kasi “sanay na sa hirap” (in English: “they’re used to hardship”). They said that they’re so proud of the older boys (the ‘kuyas’) because they’ve really been doing everything they can to take care of the younger boys and houseparents and make sure they’re fed, even periodically going through the waist-deep water to get some food.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross is also going to be sending volunteers to check how they’re all doing, health-wise. Also, I was super thrilled to enter Victory Fort the yesterday and I saw that they had already set aside and sent a lot of donated goods to River of God and the Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation. Yay!

Let’s keep praying that the donations keep pouring in, and that everyone there is kept safe and healthy. Let’s also pray for better transportation for them–sturdier boats are needed; boats that can be covered so that the relief goods can be protected and not stolen…but at the same time let’s also pray that the people in the surrounding areas are also safe and provided for. I know that the River of God church will also use the excess goods to provide for the other people in the surrounding areas.

Again, let’s praise God that they’re safe and let’s thank Him for everything He has blessed them with! They should rename the place to “Jesus REALLY LOVES These Children Foundation”. Haha :) Thanks again to everyone for keeping them in your thoughts and prayers! :)

Hooray for these heroes! –>

Philippines in a STATE OF CALAMITY.

There are so many people that need help in our country right now, I don’t know where to start. I’ve been gathering clothes to donate, then stopping to post updates. If it’s possible and safe, I wish I could leave the house and physically do something to help, but before I do that, I just want to get the word out there. In case you haven’t heard of what is happening in the Philippines, do check these out:

News, photos, and videos here: http://www.nowpublic.com/environment/philippines-flooding-60-dead-tropical-storm-kestana-hits

More here from ABS CBN News: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/09/26/09/arroyo-visits-hard-hit-marikina

CNN report: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/09/26/philippines.floods/index.html

BBC report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8277018.stm

It broke the record for the largest amount of rainfall ever to hit Metro Manila. Reports say we experienced one month’s worth of rain in just 6 hours. That was yesterday.

Today, it’s still raining, and while thousands have already been rescued (last count was 5,146), thousands are still waiting to be rescued, stranded on their rooftops or in the second or third floors of their homes or buildings. Even if they are safe, they lack food and have been freezing, due to being engulfed by winds and rain since yesterday morning. Some of the areas are still unreachable because the floods have not entirely subsided, and the sad part about it is that these areas are spread out across Metro Manila, not just concentrated in one area. And to make things worse, the sun is about to set in around an hour, making it more difficult for rescue operations to navigate the affected locations.

Evacuation centers and hospitals are filled, and they badly need bottled water, food, and supplies, among others. As of last night, some places (even hospitals) did not have electricity and their ground floors were already flooded. Some streets and highways are still clogged up, making it difficult for rescue operations to go through. The mobile phone lines are erratic, and by now, the phone batteries of those stranded have run out, making it impossible to communicate with them at the moment.

I still haven’t heard from my friend, Abby. Her parents live in Cainta, and I know she’s been staying at their place the last couple of days. Cainta is one of the areas most badly hit by Typhoon Ondoy/Kestana. Another friend, Bridel, is unreachable too. Her family home is in one of the villages hit in Pasig. Across Metro Manila, in Del Monte, Quezon City, my uncle (my mom’s brother) and his family were stranded on the roof of their home. Last we heard from them was yesterday. As the hours go by, I get more reports of missing friends. Two of my former co-workers at MTV are in trouble: one is stranded with her family in Cainta, and another one still can’t be reached. Another friend, Acel, is stranded with her husband and their 1 y.o. baby who now has a fever. (Update as of 10 pm: Bridel and her family are stranded in 2nd floor of their home and badly need edible/cooked food. I heard that Abby and her family are at her neighbors’ house, but they are still unreachable. My uncle and his family were able to get to dry land via a makeshift raft. Right now, I’m grateful that they’re all safe and alive.)

I just got a text message that the people (houseparents + kids) at the Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation in Pinagbuhatan in Pasig City are safe but stranded in the second floor of the school building next door to their home that was just recently finished. Praise God for that! Unfortunately, they’re going to need help soon; I don’t know how long they can last without food. There are a lot of kids there, and I’m sure a lot of others from the community have taken refuge in the building. These people are very special to me, and my heart is breaking at this news. From Pastor Rachel Sanchez of Jesus Loves the Little Children (she and Bishop Chito live near the center):

“Flood and high waters everywhere specially in Pinagbuhatan. We cant go to the home. We’re trapped inside our houses. Children and staff at the orphanage are safe. They are in the 2nd floor of building. Literally, building is their noah’s ark. Praise God the construction is so timely. Community houses are gone. Bishop walked in waist deep water to get to church. No power and houseparents could not go anywhere to buy food, everything is submerged. Praise God we are safe! Many died. Many are missing too. Need food and toiletries for kids. Not passable for vehicles. We need help asap.”

Weather reports say that the rain will continue pouring all day. Let’s pray that the situation doesn’t get worse. Lives still need to be saved, people need to be clothed and fed, and after all this, thousands of lives need to be rebuilt. People lost their homes, cars, and everything they owned. Some have lost family members as well. According to this report from the Red Cross, 96,138 people have been affected.

If you live in Metro Manila and you’d like to help, there are many ways to do so. Right now, all evacuation centers and hospitals need bottled water, food, clothes, blankets, and milk for children. I can imagine they also need medicines, medical supplies, rubber boats and life vests, and even things like cellphone chargers and prepaid load to help them communicate. Facebook and Twitter are flooded with options of venues to send donations; you’re sure to find one in an area near you. Here’s another resource to check out that lists down a list of places where you can drop off relief goods: http://spreadsheets.google.com/lv?key=tBMVeBvbdAtYRaRB6ErFWnA&toomany=true. I am also updating a list of helpful links to websites with comprehensive information at the end of this post. For most of these places, volunteers are also needed in these areas to help pack and distribute food and emergency supplies.

If you’re in the Philippines and you’d like to donate quickly and easily, you can donate to the Philippine Red Cross Flood Rescue Operations by sending a text message: type RED<space>AMOUNT and send to 2899 (Globe) or 4483 (Smart). To those who live in Canada and the US who wish to help in the rescue and relief operations, I’m not sure, but I think you may donate through the American Red Cross. Call 1-800-435-7669 (just got this info from Facebook and Twitter). You can also donate via the Canadian Red Cross here: https://www.paypaq.com/redcross/new/index.php. For those who would like to remit their $ for donation, please remit to ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. Account # 5630020111 or coordinate with ABS-CBN Foundation if you’re in the U.S. at 1-800-5272820. More info on how to donate to the Philippine Red Cross here: http://www.redcross.org.ph/Site/PNRC/wtd.aspx. You can also donate through our church here: http://victory.org.ph/archive/typhoon-ondoy-relief.html. We have ongoing relief efforts coming out of all our churches all over Metro Manila.

Understandably, we are all overwhelmed, and it’s difficult to decide where to start. I hope, after reading this, you’ll have an idea of what you can do to help. Even if it’s just spreading the word to people who would be able to offer goods or assistance, please do it, because every little thing we can do right now will count.

Most of all, do keep our country in your prayers. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says that “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” If you’re reading this now, let’s thank and praise God for keeping us safe, but let’s also do whatever we can to help rescue, heal, and rebuild our nation. Let’s spread the blessings and love to those who need them the most right now.

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More useful links here (I’ll be updating this list):

http://sites.google.com/site/ondoymanila/home

http://sourpolitics.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/typhoon-ondoy-emergency-hotlines-and-relief-operations/

http://randomsalt.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/helplines-and-hotlines-for-typhoon-ondoy-victims/

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/173248/list-of-addresses-of-flood-stranded-people-needing-rescue-with-interactive-map

http://beta.ateneosanggu.com/

* * *

UPDATE as of September 28. 12:48 AM:

From Rachel Sanchez of the Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation:

“Hi liz. The children are ok. They are in the second floor of the new building. The water is still waist deep. We bring food to them daily. The roads are not passable, only rafts and boats.”

“Donations of canned goods, noodles, rice, milk, medicines, and toiletries for the orphanage and community are being accepted at the River of God church located at lower level east lane, Robinsons Galleria mall, Ortigas, next to LTO and Ryan Cayabyab’s music school. Tel #4701439.”

“Monetary support for Jesus Loves the Little Children can be sent to these accounts:
Direct Deposit – Peso Account
Account Name: Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation, Inc.
Account No.: 6791001283
Bank: BPI Family Bank – Ortigas Branch, Emerald Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City 1600 Philippines

Direct Deposit – US Dollar Account
Account Name: Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation, Inc.
Account No.: 398929500013

Bank: Philippine National Bank, JMT Bldg., ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City 1600 Philippines”

(You can verify that these are the real account numbers here: http://jllcf.com/sponsorship.htm)

According to her, they estimate that it could take 1 month for the water to recede :(

We love these kids. I’m so thankful that they’re safe.

We love these kids. I'm thankful that they're all safe right now.