Winnipeg's Filipino community hit hard by Typhoon Haiyan

Winnipeg's Filipino community is worried, watching and waiting for news about loved ones overseas, after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines Friday.

Winnipeg's Filipino community is worried, watching and waiting for news about loved ones overseas.

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever, hit the Philippines on Friday, leaving at least four people dead, and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes.

At a popular Filipino restaurant in Winnipeg, it's all staff and customers could talk about.

Carmelita Pescuela's extended family doesn't live in the region directly affected by the storm, but she's still worried because communication is down.

"We can't contact them, there's no communication at all," she said. "We pray for them that they won't get hurt or anything. Most of them are losing their houses, losing their lives. I feel very, very... We just pray for them," she said, fighting back tears.

Winnipegger Chidela Cantiga has family near where the typhoon landed.

She hasn't been able to contact them since the storm hit. 

"It's very worrying, especially now that we're not hearing anything from them, so we don't really know what's happening, what's going on," she said.

Precy Sumayod's husband is from area directly affected, and they've had no word from friends or family. 

"We're so scared," she said. "My husband didn't even sleep last night, he's so worried."

Fred DeVilla of the Philippine Disaster Committee of Manitoba said fundraising efforts are well underway.

"We are trying to raise money for the earthquake and here comes the typhoon," he said. "In the next few hours, we'll know what do they need."

Ron Cantiveros of Winnipeg's Filipino Journal said the community is all too familiar with raising money to help those back home.

"We're resilient people," he said. "We've gone through these natural disasters before and we'll get through this one. We'll get together and put together a relief effort here in Winnipeg."

Aida Champagne, president of the Manitoba Filipino Street Festival, is helping to organize a fundraiser later this month. She said the community here has been hit hard by the storm.

"A lot of our community members here are from the same province," she said. "So yesterday, we were talking to them and some of them are crying already because they can't get ahold of their family."

Champagne said when the region lost power, information on damage or injuries stopped.

"It's so far away from home and that's our homeland," she said. "And there's 65,000 Filipinos here and a lot of them are devastated with this calamity after calamity."

Chester Pangan, the host of the local radio program Good Morning Philippines, has family about two hours from Manila. He said it's hard to be watching the devastation unfold so far away.

"It's hard to fathom," he said. "Everyone complains here about being cold and about dreading the winter. At least here we're ready for it. Back home we're never ready."

A fundraiser is in the works for November 29.

Anyone wanting to donate can contact The Red Cross or the Philippine Association of Manitoba.


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