Last Oct 11, I was witness to how a typhoon can slam into the coast, create giant waves and carry off a person like a plastic bag into the wind in just a matter of seconds. Typhoon Santi had arrived in Aurora while I was living at a beach front surf resort and wreaked havoc. We had to be rescued out of there.

Typhoon Santi had but a fraction of the power of Haiyan.

Super Typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines), which made landfall on Friday morning, Nov 7, is one of the strongest storms ever recorded on the planet. It had the winds of 195 mph and gusts of 235 mph. This is one of the highest wind speeds ever recorded in a storm in world history. It's the fourth typhoon to hit the country this year. 

As of November 14, 2013 (6:00 a.m.), Haiyan has left more 2,357 dead, 3,853 injured, 77 missing with a total of 359,574 persons in 1,099 evacuation centers. Info from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Thousands more are starving and there have been reports of looting and crime. 

It's taking time for aid to arrive and the victims have no other choice but to survive. 

If you're reading this right now in front of your computer screen, you must be feeling as helpless as I am. I'm currently in Penang watching the news closely. I've seen a lot of my friends post messages, organize fundraisers and a few bold ones are even going to affected areas as I type this. You're probably asking yourself the same question:

"How can I help?"

Here are 5 ways we can come together and do our small part to help alleviate suffering:

1 Donate

The Philippine Red Cross is providing a tracking service for family members looking for missing people. The organization is accepting donations on its website and is looking for volunteers to help assemble relief packages at its headquarters in Manila. 

Better yet, send your donations to people whom you personally know who are making independent efforts to help. I met Kitya Ferrer of Turtle Surf Camp Siargao a few months ago. I've received a message from her recently saying:

Hello Guys, we will be in Iloilo this Saturday (after the low pressure and if there are available boats to Surigao) to do volunteer work with my friends to make sure your donations are used for the victims in Iloilo City.

Please continue donating and be a HERO to those who need immediate help! Just imagine if we were in this situation! You can donate as little as 10 pesos to as much as you want. Your help will go a long way. There are people there who need WATER, FOOD, SHELTER and CLOTHING! 

For those who want to extend the same help to the victims of this devastating typhoon, please visit: http://reliefop.org/. All donations will go to the families affected by the typhoon in Northern Iloilo because they are not receiving a lot of help.
They are also transparent about receipts and where the funds are going. You can learn more through the Northern Iloilo Typhoon Yolanda facebook page

Think twice before donating money directly to personal bank accounts. Ask the organization or individual receiving the deposit for an acknowledgement receipt and how they intend to spend the money.

2 Start Fundraisers

I am overwhelmed at the volume of people online who are simply doing their own little thing to help. Yoga instructors conducting donation-based classes. Students organizing garage sales. Artists coming together by selling their work for the benefit of the typhoon victims. Our very own Sole Sisters Lauren and Stephanie are selling their prints and donating 100% of the proceeds. You can help typhoon victims through purchasing art. View the album here: http://on.fb.me/1brsCoy

Lauren is also organizing an Art Fundraiser for the Philippines in Manly, Australia. She's bringing people together through live music, a barbecue, custom painting surfboards/skateboards to raise funds that will go to typhoon victims. Sure Aqua is also donating some portable water filtration devices to help people get clean water.

There are many ways you can raise funds and awareness in your community. Your small efforts can make a big impact. 

3 Volunteer

Share your time and resources to these organizations:

Repacking of relief goods ongoing at DSWD-NROC, Pasay City. Interested volunteers can call 8512681 to schedule.

Cebu Provincial Government, is in need of volunteers to repack relief goods for Northern Cebu, Leyte, and Bohol. Contact Ms. Evelyn Senajon at 254-7198 and 254-8397, PSWDO, Ground Floor Executive Bldg., Cebu Provincial Capitol.

TindogTacloban, a partnership among private individuals, Victory Christian Fellowship (VFC), and the City Mayor’s Office of Tacloban are accepting donations and volunteers for deployment. Contact Ms. Joey Hernandez at 347-3975 for inquiries. 

Source: Price Panda

The Yolanda Relief Boat dubbed "MV Akbayanihan" will leave on Friday night for Eastern Visayas to help the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. On board are close to 100 medical & relief volunteers, thousands of relief goods, bottled water & generator sets.

To all those who want to volunteer, please get in touch with Dondon Chan at mobile no. 0917 835 0342, Gibby Gorres at 0906 424 6962 and Rafaela David at 0917 864 0143. You can also call the Akbayanihan secretariat at telephone numbers (632) 433 6933 and (632) 433 6831.

They are specifically looking for two types of volunteers: 1) Medical Volunteers such as doctors, nurses, medical students and/or any other medical giver who are ready to serve, and 2) All-around Volunteers who can help in preparing food packs, transporting and distributing relief foods, assisting in rescue and recovery, etc.

4 Independent Efforts

We've been hearing heroic stories of people who go on their own and do everything they can to help.

An AFP pilot who drops off sacks of rice in typhoon hit areas. Photographer John Javellana who is currently in Eastern Samar taking photos of survivors and posting them on social networks to let their family know they are alive.

CPL Annjanette Obligado who went to the evacuation center in Tacloban last Sunday and breastfed some of the babies there. She is one of the unsung heroes of our Armed Forces.

I'm sure you can think of countless ways you can use your skills and talents to help. 

Photo Credit: Staff Sergeant Randulf Obinque PAF

5 Promote Philippines

We still encourage people from all over the world to come visit the Philippines. We have a lot more islands in Luzon and Mindanao that have not been affected by the recent calamity where you can visit. You not only help with tourism, you can see first hand how we live. We have stories to tell.

The Filipino people have been known to survive many disasters, natural or otherwise. And often enough, we emerge still with a graceful smile, our spirit strong and our dignity intact.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Dandan

We hope you can be witness to how we can relieve, rebuild and restore. And furthermore, we hope you can be part of it.

Main photo credit: John Javellana

Lois has traveled extensively and has called the USA, Germany, Switzerland and the Philippines home in various stages of her life. When she's not having adventures around the globe, she can be found surfing, surfing someone's couch or giving talks, workshops and retreats. She is a certified Passion Test facilitator who believes that people can find what they love and make a living from their passions. She is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of wearesolesisters.com.

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2 Responses so far.

  1. I remember when the tsunami struck in 2004 and lots of people had become afraid to visit Thailand and the area after that, but it was precisely what was needed. I was thinking about visiting the Philippines this upcoming summer when I have time off from school, and now I know it is maybe more important that I visit now! Thanks for doing this post. It is helpful in pointing people in the right direction...

  2. Hi Colleen! Thank you so much for still considering to visit the Philippines even after the calamity. If you need any info/resources to help you plan the trip, please send us an email at sole sisters.weare @gmail.

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