Fresno Filipino congregation makes plans to raise money for victims of Typhoon Haiyan

A massive relief effort is underway in the Philippines after one of the worst storms ever recorded.
November 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A massive relief effort is underway in the Philippines after one of the worst storms ever recorded. Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in Vietnam as a tropical depression Sunday after wreaking havoc across the island nation.

Authorities estimate as many as 10,000 people have died in one city alone and hundreds more in other areas. About four million people have been impacted by the storm. Communication, power and water are shut off in most places.

The United States and other governments are now pledging money and resources to help the country recover. Sunday the first of several U.S. military aid planes left for the devastated region.

The Fresno Filipino Catholic League mobilized its members to collect donations for the relief efforts. Pastor Carlito Villanueva led members of the Valley Springs Filipino American Community Church in Northeast Fresno in a moment of silence and prayer for the victims of the disaster.

"They're telling (me) about the distress, the devastation that happens to their family," Villanueva said.

Many of the church members like Joe Arceo have been trying desperately to reach family members. Arceo has been calling his brother but so far has had no luck.

"The phone lines have been down a couple of days. I've been trying to reach him. The subscriber cannot be reached, that's the message I get every time I call his phone," Arceo said.

The despair caused by the devastation is causing some Filipinos in the Central Valley to take action.

"There are more than 10,000 people who perished. And not only that, the people that left behind, the people who are suffering they have no food, no water," Titus Verzosa with the Filipino Catholic League said.

Verzosa is on the board of the Filipino Catholic League, a group with St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. While he and other board members still have to hash out details of the fundraiser, they plan to ask for donations at catholic masses. From there they hope to get the money to religious organizations in the Philippines involved in the relief effort.

"For sure, the Catholic organizations in the Philippines are on top of relief efforts when a big disaster comes like this," Verzosa said.

In 2009, Catholic youth groups collected nearly $5,000 when a typhoon devastated the Philippines and the Filipino Catholic League was the conduit that got the money overseas.

Verzosa said that aid is needed again, this time more than ever.

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