Winnipeg's Filipino community fundraising for people affected by Taal volcano
Roughly 125,000 people fled homes, living in emergency shelters waiting for eruption
Winnipeg's Filipino community is rallying to aid people affected by the Taal volcano, which started spewing ash and caused earth tremors earlier this month.
Taal is one of the smallest volcanoes in the world, but is the second-most-active in the Philippines. The recent activity started on Jan. 12, forcing approximately 125,000 people to evacuate their homes and live in emergency shelters in anticipation of a larger eruption.
In Winnipeg, 204 Neighbourhood Watch hosted a fundraiser Friday evening at Maples Collegiate, to help raise funds to help those displaced.
"Everything is still unknown," said founder Leila Castro, speaking about the situation in the Philippines with Ismaila Alfa, host of CBC Radio's Up To Speed.
Before immigrating to Manitoba, Castro lived in the province of Batangas — where Taal is also situated. She continues checking the news for updates, and said ash continued gushing from the volcano on Friday, "which makes it more unknown for the evacuees, as to when they will be going back and moving on with their life."
Castro knows of one person who has taken 40 evacuees into their home.
"They took them in because this is really a bad situation and they don't know where to go."
Castro's concerns are not just about the displacement in general, but also short-term and long-term effects an eruption would have on life in the region.
She says the people in that area live in older houses and live off the land and seas nearby. Consuming canned foods, for example, will be an adjustment, Castro explained.
She also noted that there was once an eruption in the northern part of the Philippines that took the affected community about a decade to recover from.
Sheila Redublo, who attended Friday's event, has family that lives in the area affected by Taal.
Her relatives are spread out, she says, with some members living in another person's home, and others living in various emergency shelters.
"It's very stressful. [Me and my husband] can't really eat, we can't sleep. We're always trying to see the news and check what's going," said Redublo.
"They're all still waiting if they're able to come home," she said. "But most of them don't really have a home to come home to anywhere because of the earthquakes."
Friday's event is one step to help fund relief efforts in the Philippines, Castro said.
There was food, drinks and live entertainment, as well as a silent auction and a 50/50 draw, said Charmaine Hernandez, lead organizer of the event.
Hernandez said the money will go toward medication, food and people who may lose their homes and livelihoods.
Ultimately, any sum of money will help, but Castro said that if the neighbourhood group could get $20,000, it would be ideal.
The neighbourhood watch group is not the only one trying to help: Tulong kaBayan, a local non-profit group, is hosting a donation drive at Seafood City in Winnipeg Saturday.
All proceeds will go to an international non-profit, ABS-CBN Foundation, to help people affected by Taal, as well as the victims of a 6.5-magnitude earthquake that struck Mindanao Island in the Philippines in October.
Joanne Viviezca of Tulong kaBayan said they have asked ABS-CBN to send proof that affected people have received donations, such as photographs and/or videos of people receiving blankets, food or water.
With files from Ismaila Alfa