March 12, 2014
Filipino Student Association Raises Funds for Typhoon Relief Efforts
Dec. 16, 2013
Mito Are, Mark Sampelo and Madeleine Palma, members of the Filipino Student Association at UT Dallas, sell baked goods in the Student Union as a fundraiser for relief efforts for people affected by Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in November.
When Benedict Bernadas BS’10 heard that Typhoon Haiyan was heading toward his hometown of Tacloban in the Philippines on Nov. 8, he scrambled to find out if his relatives were all right.
Electrical power was out in hard-hit Tacloban, located in the Leyte province of the Philippines, but Bernadas was able to reach relatives who lived nearby in Cebu. They hitched a ride with military rescue workers to Tacloban and found the city’s buildings were leveled, the infrastructure destroyed and the downtown area under 20 feet of water.
Bernadas’ family had suffered great property loss, but they were alive.
“Everyone was all accounted for, but my grandmother and cousin had lost their homes,” said Bernadas, a marketing alumnus who now works for Banana Republic. “I was pretty shocked. We knew the storm was going to hit, but didn’t know how bad it would be.”
The typhoon, one of the worst storms on record in the Philippines, had flattened entire towns and villages, leaving more than 5,600 dead, nearly 2,000 missing, 26,000 injured and millions homeless, according to news reports. Survivors were left scavenging for food, water and medical help.
Bernadas, who had been cultural chair of the Filipino Student Association (FSA) at UT Dallas his senior year, turned to the campus community for help through social media.
“I wanted everyone to know what had happened,” he said, “and students have responded overwhelmingly.”
“We would like to send a message to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan that the Filipino community here is thinking of them, and our hearts go out to them because of the hardships and challenges they are going through right now, and that will last a long time.”
In the weeks since the typhoon hit, UT Dallas students have pitched in to collect funds for international relief efforts.
FSA members raised more than $350 for relief efforts in November by holding a two-day bake sale in the Student Union, selling pastries for $2. All proceeds went to the American Red Cross.
FSA members also worked with area restaurants to organize an “Eat Out 2 Help Out” fundraiser in early December. Fuddruckers, Raising Cane’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Yumilicious Frozen Yogurt each donated a portion of their profits to relief efforts when diners mentioned FSA as they paid their bills.
In spring, FSA members plan to sell T-shirts to raise more funds for typhoon relief efforts.
Diane “Nikki” DeOcampo, a computer science senior and president of FSA, said Filipino students at UT Dallas have been concerned about the welfare of others back home. Her family was not in the area most affected by the disaster.
“We would like to send a message to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan that the Filipino community here is thinking of them, and our hearts go out to them because of the hardships and challenges they are going through right now, and that will last a long time,” DeOcampo said.
Bernadas hopes he can get home to visit family in the Philippines soon. He said the recovery efforts in Tacloban are improving, and food and medical help is starting to reach those who need assistance.
“We all thought it was just another typhoon,” he said. “But it really hit hard, knowing that you want to do as much as you can, but there’s not a whole lot because you’re so far away.”