Fresno Filipino groups help with Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts

FRESNO, Calif.

The U.S. also pledged $20 million in humanitarian assistance funds Monday, along with military aid.

Filipino Catholics are planning a special mass at St. Anthony of Padua for Tuesday at 6:30 in the evening.

While prayers are needed the Filipino Catholic League and other Filipino groups are pleading with the public for money to fund the relief effort.

The exact impact of the giant storm is still too big to tally. Some estimates say more than 660,000 people are now homeless.

Here at home, the Filipino Catholic League starts its board meeting with a prayer. Its president is in the Philippines for her father's funeral. She is currently unaccounted for.

"She's in the central Philippines right now and we don't have any contact," Titus Verzosa. "I sent her text and I tried to call her. And some of our friends have tried to get ahold of her."

The league says it will begin Tuesday asking for financial donations at mass. The money is transferred to Catholic Relief Services, a division of Catholic Charities,that is already working in the middle of the destruction.

"It's kind of hard to think through what they've gone through," said Fely Guzman of the Filipino-American Association of Fresno. She says her family is accounted for and so are many of her friends.

"I was able to connect with some of them through Facebook or text," she said. "They've been sending me images."

Images Guzman admits are sometimes too hard to watch. Her group is one of the largest Filipino organizations in Central California. It is also beginning fundraising efforts.

Fil-Am president Lou Artacho knows it will take a lot for the Philippines to recover. "This is just the start," he said. "The effect of this devastation is going to be months or years, especially for the children."

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