With candles, ribbons and donations, Berkeley responds to Philippine typhoon

typhoonvigil350The UC Berkeley campus community is responding to the disaster wrought by Typhoon Haiphan (Yolanda) in the Philippines with a series of events that aim to honor victims and survivors, and to raise money for relief efforts.

Tonight, people will gather with candles on the steps of International House for a vigil, and events will stretch through the next week, with a benefit, a moment of silence on Sproul Plaza, a candlelight night of solidarity (also on Sproul Plaza) and ribbon-selling to raise relief money among the efforts under way.

The half-hour vigil, starting tonight at 5:30 p.m., is to show the campus community’s solidarity with the typhoon’s many thousands of victims and survivors, say the organizers, among them I-House resident Aya Fabros and I-House staffer Larnie Macasieb, both of whom are from the Philippines. Details are available here

“It is impossible to simply watch things unfold without doing something, anything, even from afar,” says Fabros. “I am inspired by the outpouring of initiatives from around the world and within the country, especially from survivors themselves who help each other out despite the tragic loss and continued suffering they have to endure.”

The Pilipino/Pilipino American student community at Berkeley, in collaboration with the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), the Office of the President and the Residence Hall Assembly (RHA) is mounting a fundraising effort, with the goal of raising $10,000 for relief efforts by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON). The initiative is called “Act for the Philippines;” full details are available on the #Act4thePhilippines page on Facebook.

As part of the effort, the community is selling ribbons on Sproul Plaza, and has scheduled two events next week. 

#Act4thePhilippines “Ribbons for Relief,” in the colors of the Philippine flag, are available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily through Nov. 27, through Pilipino/Pilipino American organizations on Sproul Plaza, according to an email message to all students from ASUC President DeeJay Pepito. Tables with ribbons will be set up outside some dining commons starting Monday, Nov. 18, she added. Individuals, groups or campus departments interested in helping sell ribbons can get more information at tinyurl.com/sellribbons.

A moment of silence for typhoon victims and survivors will be held Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 11 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. on Sproul Plaza.  

And Thursday, Nov. 21, a “Candlelight Night of Solidarity” will be held, also on Sproul Plaza, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. People attending are asked to wear white shirts.

“Berkeley in itself stands to be a global community and we want to make sure that we act as one,” Pepito said in her message to the campus.

In addition, a benefit concert for typhoon relief is being planned for Wednesday, Dec. 4, at I-House’s Chevron Auditorium. More information is posted online here

Earlier this week, Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent out a message in response to the typhoon-wrought devastation in the Philippines. He wrote:

To Berkeley faculty, staff, students and alumni:

Today our thoughts are with the people of the Philippines as they struggle to cope with the terrible devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful cyclones ever recorded.

We are also reminded that our campus is a global community that includes students, faculty, staff, scholars, alumni and friends with ties to the Philippines. We are currently trying to gather information about the effects of this disaster on members of our campus community so that we are in position to provide them support and resources during these difficult days. We will also be ready to support efforts by faculty, student and/or staff associations with an interest in supporting aid and relief activities. Together, we will do all we can to help those in need.

At the moment, we are not aware of any faculty, staff or students who are currently in the Philippines. However, should you know of someone who may be there and in need of assistance, please notify Andrew Goldblatt, risk manager, at omandias@berkeley.edu.

I would also ask that you please take a moment to reach out to colleagues, friends and students with loved ones in the Philippines. Students in need of counseling should contact Counseling and Psychological Services at the Tang Center at 510-642-9494. Faculty and staff should call CARE Services at 510-643-7754.

If you are interested in learning more about ways you can help victims of the typhoon, a good place to start would be this list of aid organizations recently compiled by the New York Times.

In the days ahead we will keep you updated as we learn more about efforts of our community members to assist with disaster relief.